A popular preaching point in many modern churches is the Tabernacle of David. Some pastors proclaim that the Tabernacle of David is a shadow of type of the freedom that we have to come directly before the presence of God through worship. They claim that Davidic worship emulates heavenly patterns of worship around the throne room and releases victory to the church. Reference is made to a promise in Amos 9:11.

I will restore David's fallen shelter—
I will repair its broken walls and restore its ruins—
and will rebuild it as it used to be.
James quoted this verse in the church meeting at Jerusalem (Acts 15:16,17) but he was not referring to worship, but explaining the preaching of the gospel to the Gentiles.

The main problem with this teaching is that there is no tabernacle of David in the scriptures. There is only one Tabernacle and that is the one established by Moses according to God's instructions. This Tabernacle provided the Israelites with protection from the spiritual powers of evil.

God did not command David to put the covenant box in a tent in Jerusalem. In contrast to Moses' tabernacle, he gave no instructions for how it should be built. The tent in Jerusalem was David's idea, and was mainly for his convenience, because the true tabernacle was still at Gibeon (1 Kings 3:4). Unfortunately, by separating the covenant box from the tabernacle, David undermined its capacity to provide spiritual protection for the people.

The Hebrew word used to describe the tabernacle is mishkan, which means a "residence". A mishkan can be quite simple, but it is place where someone dwells. God dwelt in the tabernacle created by Moses.

The tent that David put up in Jerusalem was not a tabernacle (mishkan). The Hebrew word that Amos used used to describe it is "sukah", which is used to describe a hut or lair, booth, cottage, pavilion, or tent. (The other common word for tent in Hebrew is ohel).

The so-called Tabernacle of David would more correctly be called the shelter of David. Referring to it as a tabernacle gives it a spiritual significance that it does not have.

The shelter of David was the booth that he stayed in when he went out to battle with his army. Being the king, he would have had a good one. When he got too old to go to war, he moved the covenant-box into this shelter and used it as a place of worship (2 Sam 6:1-18), God had instructed Moses how the Tabernacle should function to provide spiritual protection to the children of Israel, and especially to deal with the spirit called Death.

David prioritised having the covenant box in Jerusalem because he loved to worship God, but by separating it from the Tabernacle, he undermined the spiritual protection God had provided for the people. There is no suggestion in the OT account that God told him to perpetuate this separation. Unfortunately, this allowed Death to keep on attacking Israel and its leaders when he should have been defeated by the giving of the law. When dealing with the spiritual powers of evil, worship cannot compensate for following God's instructions that provide for spiritual protection.

James explained word given through was Amos was a promise the God would restore David's kingdom through Jesus.

After this I will return
and rebuild David's fallen tent.
Its ruins I will rebuild,
and I will restore it,
that the rest of mankind may seek the Lord,
even all the Gentiles who bear my name,
says the Lord, who does these things (Acts 15:16-17).
God had promised David that one of his sons would remain on his throne forever. That promise was fulfilled by Jesus when he initiated the Kingdom of God by dying on the cross and rising and ascending to God's right hand in heaven. This restoration of David's kingdom is what Amos meant when he said the Shelter of David would be restored. The promise did not refer to a use mode of worship. Isaiah made a similar promise, but he used the other word for tent (ohel).
In mercy a throne will be established;
and one will sit on it in truth, in the tent of David,
judging and seeking justice and hastening righteousness (Isaiah 16:5).
Isaiah is clearer than Amos. He explained that a descendent of David would be established on his throne. He would bring in justice and righteousness. This prophecy was fulfilled by Jesus.

The promise of the restoration of the Shelter of David was not a promise of restored Davidic worship, it was a messianic promise that was fulfilled by Jesus. Jesus has been appointed as King in David's line, and his Kingdom will grow and fill the earth.

When a king was too frightened to fight, bought off, or defeated, his pavilion would disappear from the battlefield. The return of David's pavilion indicates that a successor has returned to the battlefield and will be victorious.

False Teaching

A common teaching that parallels the Tabernacle of David teaching is that intense corporate worship produces a spiritual victory. Worship leaders frequently tell the people that praise defeats the spiritual powers of evil. Many of the modern worship-songs articulate this view, but it is not true.

The truth is that the spiritual powers of evil were defeated by Jesus' death on the cross. They had used Adam and Eves sin to gain authority on the earth and enslave their descendants. They demanded an expensive ransom for their release. Jesus gave his life as a ransom to redeem humans from their bondage to the spiritual powers of evil. Once their right to accuse humans of sin was gone their authority on earth was broken.

Jesus' defeat of the spiritual powers of evil is enforced by his followers preaching the good news of release from captivity to the world. To fully experience that victory his followers must walk in obedience to him. They must form together into a united body that can stand firm against the attacks of the spiritual powers of evil. Although defeated, they continue to try to cheat their way back into power by attacking the body of Jesus wherever they perceive weakness.

Jesus instructed elders to watch over the flock they have been called to care for and guard them from the attacks of the enemy.

Be on guard for yourselves and for all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood (Acts 20:28).
The spiritual powers of evil will be defeated in the territory occupied by the body of Jesus following the leading of the Holy Spirit.

Victory over evil comes through obedience, not through worship and praise.

Worship and praise are good because they express a correct attitude to God. He is so far above us in goodness and glory, that the only way that we can respond to him correctly is with praise. If we know him our full life should be filled with constant thanksgiving and praise. However, God does not need human praise. He is fulfilled in himself, but we need to praise him to be consistent with who he is.

I don't think that praise affects the spiritual powers of evil that much. It annoys them because they hate God and do not like to hear him being honoured. Praise probably spurs them on to do evil, but it does not defeat them, because it changes nothing in the spiritual realm. The spiritual powers of evil are not defeated by noise; they can only be defeated by human obedience on earth.

The irony is that during a century when church worship has been developed to unprecedented levels of elaboration and intensity with thousands of new songs and sophisticated musical instruments, the church in the west has gone backwards. Worship has not translated into victory; it has decorated defeat by creating an illusion of success.

Open Heaven

The associated teaching about an "Open Heaven" is another idea that is not supported by the scriptures.

The Holy Spirit provides the link between us and God. During the Old Testament, his presence on earth was intermittent. Only special people experienced his presence, and even then, he came and went. The Old Testament writers spoke of the heavens being closed as a way of saying that the Holy Spirit was not present with them. They often felt as if God was far away, and this was a good way to describe it. This was true, because Jesus had not come.

Jesus changed everything in the spiritual realms. On the day of Pentecost, he poured the Holy Spirit out on all those who believe and trust in him.

Exalted to the right hand of God, he has received from the Father the promised Holy Spirit and has poured out what you now see and hear (Acts 2:33).
This event changed everything. The Holy Spirit is with followers of Jesus all the time. He no longer comes and goes as he did in Old Testament times. We should expect him to be with us all the time, and if he is there, we have a direct connection to the Father, because he and the Father are one.

The Holy Spirit only moves away from us if we grieve him by persisting with unrighteous behaviour, but even when we push him away, he keeps on knocking on the door to come back to us (Eph 4:25).

Following Pentecost, we no longer have a closed heaven in the sense used by the Old Testament. Since the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, the heavens are open to God's people all the time, unless they move away. That is why, when the Holy Spirit came down on Jesus at his baptism, John saw the heavens being opened (Matt 3:16). Saying that the heavens were opened was another way of saying that the Holy Spirit had come. The heavens have remained open for believers ever since. When people are baptised into Jesus' name, the Holy Spirit will come onto them in all his fulness and the heavens are opened to him all the time through his presence.

Because we humans are locked into the physical world, we often have difficulty in discerning the presence of the Holy Spirit. Different personalities discern his presence in different ways. Some people find it easier to discern the presence of the Holy Spirit in a large group of people singing and praising together (other things work for different personalities). If that helps them, that is really good. But they need to understand what is happening.

The worshippers are the ones who have changed and become aware of the Holy Spirit's presence. The Holy Spirit has not come back, because he has never gone away from his people. The heavens have not opened, because they are always open for God's people. The spiritual powers of evil have not been pushed away by the praise. The Holy Spirit is always present on earth with his people, so if our awareness of his presence increases, it is because we have changed, not him.

The associated teaching that the evil powers control the second heaven and that they can prevent our prayers from passing through it to reach the father is nonsense (for more on this topic see Third Heaven Intercession. The Holy Spirit is with us and he hears our prayers directly (Romans 8:26-27). The powers of evil cannot prevent him from hearing us.

The spiritual powers of evil cannot separate us from the Holy Spirit. We can always communicate with him, just by thinking and speaking. The evil powers can try to make us take actions that will grieve the Holy Spirit, but they cannot become a barrier that stops us from connecting with the Holy Spirit.


Years ago, I attended a large worship service in the city centre. A team of a dozen musicians led the worship in a very polished manner. The singing was enthusiastic and the presence of God could be felt. As we were singing a song about Jesus seated on the throne in heaven, the Holy Spirit allowed me to hear what the evil one was saying. The voice I heard said:

Who cares;
I am winning.
You can do what you like in here,
I am winning out there where it all happens.
You can sing about heaven as much as you like.
I am winning in the world where it counts.


Praise is good. It is the right way to enter God's presence, but praise does not change the authority situation on earth.

David did not create a superior tabernacle that could replace Moses Tabernacle. The Ol Testament does not even use the same Hebrew word for David's shelter. The Tabernacle of David covered sins and provided for the spiritual protection of the Israelites. David created some beautiful songs and loved to worship, but that was not a substitute for the real victory provided by Moses' Tabernacle.

The Psalms provide plenty of justification and guidance for community worship (see Psalms 144, 148, 150) so we do not need to create an artificial justification using the shelter of David.