THIS SERIES: WHEN IT'S GOOD TO CHANGE YOUR MIND
1. When it's Good to Change your Mind
2. I Shall Not Want
3. Need Soul Restoration?
4. Walking Right
5. When Life is Difficult
6. Enjoy the Feast
7. Smeared with Oil
8. More Than Enough
9. Pursued by Grace
10. Living in the Presence
And I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever
[Psalm 23: 6]
What did David mean by ‘the house of the Lord’?
The tabernacle of Moses had long gone, and the temple was yet to be built. David had erected a tent for worship, and although there’s no record of its design, and it was not known for its beauty, this ordinary space housed the most important item in the world. The Ark of the Covenant, on which the Presence of God rested, sat for the first time in open view; anyone could approach it, there being no dividing curtain.
In doing this, David violated many of the instructions given to Moses; and couldn’t even claim Levitical authority as he came from the tribe of Judah, which significantly means ‘praise’. David knew that the success of his calling was totally dependent on having the Lord’s presence with Him, and his tabernacle was a physical expression of that understanding. David’s tent was not known for its sacrifices (which continued at Shiloh), but for its 24-hour praise.
This whole episode was a prophetic act looking forward to the time when no further sacrifice would be necessary, when everyone would have access to the Presence, and the response to that invitation would be whole-hearted worship. And it’s that ‘tent’ that James believed was being restored, as the Spirit was poured out across the Jewish and Gentile world [Acts 15:16]. David had tasted of that superior reality—and made it accessible to others. (I know he wanted to build a temple later on in his life—but that’s another story…)
However, I don’t think it was the tent of worship David was referring to in this verse, as amazing as it was, because it wasn’t practically possible to spend all his time in the tent, he had to go about his business. So, either David was speaking figuratively, or had something else in mind.
We know that in his years as a shepherd, he had discovered the amazing truth that the presence and power of God was not confined to a place. His ancestor, Jacob, had had a revelation of this many years before. The first mention of ‘house of God’ in the Bible does not refer to a building but an experience on a hillside [Genesis 28:17]. And the word for ‘house’ does not necessarily indicate a structure, but means ‘habitation’ or ‘dwelling place’.
David had learned that the dwelling place of God was to be found all around him, at every moment of the day:
Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence?
If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea,
even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast.
The habitation of God was one he could enter whenever he wished. Interestingly, the word for ‘dwell’ means essentially to ‘sit down’ and was specifically used of thrones and judgement seats used for the exercise of authority. As king, David had learned that the safest place from which to rule was the presence of God.
David looked prophetically to a day when these things would find their fulfilment. We are privileged to live in that day. We have Jesus’ promise that He will never leave us or forsake us. Not only do we live and move and have our being in Him, but He also has taken up residence in us—Emmanuel really has come to us. And ‘forever’ means just that. When Jesus came to earth, He brought His world with Him; eternal life starts as soon as we believe.
The invitation is there—to dwell in His Presence forever.
NEW SERIES: 'SEASON OF NEW BEGINNINGS'
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[Photo credits: Jeremy Bishop (tree); Brett Jordan (mail sign)@ Unsplash, with thanks]
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