Davidic Worship

By Fredric A. Carlson

"Davidic Worship" is the practice of including enthusiastic dance, shouting, and spontaneous singing while worship God in a congregation. It began in the 50s with the Later Rain Movement. A brief survey of websites that describe Davidic Worship, known since the 1940s as Tent (Tabernacle) of David (TOD) worship, gathered the following information:

The TOD movement promotes the use of worship forms instituted by King David when he assembled a new tent to shelter the Ark of the Covenant after the tent that Moses had made during Israel's wilderness wanderings deteriorated or was lost. David's new forms included priestly and congregational singing accompanied by various musical instruments, chants, dancing and bodily movements, and other participatory worship activities. The new forms contrasted with the earlier Old Testament worship that centered on the priests offering sacrifices in and near Moses' Tabernacle of the Covenant.

Today's TOD worship is most closely associated with the charismatic movement that originated it. In that context, TOD teaches that its contemporary forms of heavily rhythmic music are means of attracting God's powerful presence that He demonstrates by His worshipers speaking in tongues, prophesying new truth through modern day apostles and prophets, corporate spiritual warfare, and other manifestations common to charismatic groups.

Is it biblical? The TOD movement asserts two Bible passages as its source and foundation: Psalm 22:3 and Acts 15:16.

The first foundation relies on the wording of the King James Version of Psalm 22:3: "But thou art holy, O thou that inhabitest the praises of Israel." From this language, the TOD movement teaches that God especially inhabits and responds in powerful charismatic demonstrations to the worship of believers when it follows the TOD model. Therefore, God will act — that is, the church will see charismatic demonstrations — if it worships Him with the same (right) instruments, body motions, and songs used in David's Tent. However, the Hebrew of that passage literally reads, "But Thou/Holy/enthroned/the praise of Israel." The NIV correctly translates it, "Yet you are enthroned as the Holy One; you are the praise of Israel." In context, and in contemporary language, the meaning is, "God, you are the One whom Israel praises because you HAVE shown up for us!"

TOD teaching justifies itself also on God's promise to "rebuild the tabernacle of David" quoted by James, the leader of the Jerusalem church, in Acts 15:16. That passage records what James said as he served as moderator of the Council of Jerusalem that resolved the question of whether Jesus' non-Jewish believers had to be circumcised according to the Law of Moses, that is, to become Jewish Christians (Acts 15:135). In verses 1321, James summed up the arguments of Peter, Paul, and Barnabas that salvation is the free gift of God's grace, and is received by faith alone by Gentiles as well as by Jews, and therefore that a work such as Jewish circumcision was not only unnecessary, but wrong for Gentile believers in Christ, for it was a work that implied that faith alone was not sufficient to receive the gift. He concluded the debate by affirming the consensus of the council, that because some Gentile hearts had been cleansed by faith in Christ (Acts 15:9-12, 19), such believers were to be welcomed into the early church without being circumcised.

Then, to show that this decision did not violate the Old Testament passages to which the promoters of the necessity of circumcision had appealed, James quoted Amos 9:11, which includes, "'After this I will return and rebuild David's fallen tent. Its ruins I will rebuild, and I will restore it, that the remnant of men may seek the Lord, and all the Gentiles who bear my name,' says the Lord, who does these things that have been known for ages." Amos did not speak of David's "fallen tent" as the tent (tabernacle) that he erected for the Ark of the Covenant to replace Moses' Tabernacle, where national worship was conducted. And he was not speaking of any form or style of worship. Instead, Amos referred to David's endless dynasty, the "house of David" (2 Samuel 7:5-11). Amos was passing on to Israel God's promise that some day, David's dynasty would be restored from its then fallen state. James quoted the promise in order to show the Jerusalem council that the restoration of David's dynasty referred to the spiritual incorporation of believing Gentiles into the New Testament Church, for God had intended from the beginning to welcome believing Gentiles along with believing Jews into His Kingdom. As one analyst says:
The only way to teach the restoration of Davidic Worship from Acts 15:16 is to snatch the phrase 'restore David's fallen tent' out of its historical meaning, isolate it from both the immediate and Old Testament contexts, and give it a meaning that Amos, James, Paul, Barnabas, Peter and the original New Testament readers would not have recognized.
Therefore, despite the TOD movement's conviction, Davidic Worship and its meaning are based on misunderstandings of the two texts that it asserts form its foundation.

This does not imply either that anything was wrong with the forms of worship that David instituted, or that today's believers ought not incorporate some of those same forms into their worship of the living God. But because the referenced passages of Scripture do not say what TOD teachers believe they mean, they are not solid foundations for TOD's charismatic beliefs or practices.

Image Credit: ClkerFreeVectorImages; Untitled; Creative Commons

TagsBiblical-Truth  | Christian-Life  | Current-Issues  | False-Teaching

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Published 8-11-15