These are the days of your servant David rebuilding a temple of praise.
“But David didn’t build the Temple!” That was the argument of several people I’ve known throughout the years who refused to sing the song Days of Elijah. Some would straight up refuse to sing it. Others would attempt to change the wording of the song – These are the days of your servant Solomon rebuilding a temple of praise. OR These are the days of your servant David preparing a temple of praise.
But all of these arguments miss the point. Here’s my attempt to explain why.
In 2 Samuel 6 we see an amazing celebration and worship parade led by King David as the Ark of the Covenant is brought into the newly established capital city, Jerusalem. They’re sacrificing bulls. They’re shouting and singing and blowing horns. David is dancing around wearing a linen ephod (a priestly garment that wraps around the waist), admittedly humiliating himself in worship to God. Then when the party is over, everyone gets dessert and heads home.
BBQ, music, dancing, desserts – that’s my kind of worship service!
In the very next chapter, David cannot get over the fact that he is living in his luxurious palace while the Ark of God is living in a tent pitched out back. David gets it in his head that he should begin construction on a beautiful Temple, a house for God the likes of which had never been seen.
But God says no. God tells David through the prophet Nathan that God does not want David to build a temple for him. God doesn’t really care that he is “living” in a tent. The account from 1 Chronicles informs us that, the way God sees it, David has too much blood on his hands to build the Temple. So that task would be left to his son Solomon who would reign as king after David. But for the time being (the next 35 years or so), people would come to the Tabernacle to worship, to offer sacrifices, to receive prayers and blessings, and to experience God.
So David didn’t build the Temple.
But it’s not Solomon’s Temple we are trying to get back to.
Check this out. Many years later through the prophet Amos, God gave a promise that inspired this line from the song Days of Elijah:
“On that day I will raise up
The tabernacle of David, which has fallen down,
And repair its damages;
I will raise up its ruins,
And rebuild it as in the days of old;
That they may possess the remnant of Edom,
And all the Gentiles who are called by My name,”
Says the Lord who does this thing. (Amos 9:11-12 | NKJV)
It’s David’s tent, not Solomon’s Temple, that God promises to restore. But why?
Think of it this way. You probably have between 4 and 7 friends that you are super close with – your gang, your clique, your posse, your squad. You probably love hanging out with these people, and your time together feels natural, fluid, organic. It’s never forced or contrived. You share everything with each other. There’s no real leader. Everybody is an equal member but through no official channels.
Imagine one day, however, you decided to get organized. You hold elections and appoint a president, a vice president, a secretary, and a treasurer of your clique. You begin to schedule formal meetings where you discuss important squad issues, and someone takes minutes, and those minutes are then voted on for approval. You pay dues. You have an elaborate induction process for new members.
Doesn’t that sound just awful?
That’s exactly what happened when Solomon’s Temple was constructed. David’s Tent was a place of open worship. It was free flowing and organic. Sure there were priests, but other people could enter the Tent, too. David himself did on a few different occasions. It was a place where all people of all nations could come and experience God.
But then the Temple went up. And with the Temple came structure and organization and walls signaling where people could and could not go. Gentiles could only get so close. Women could get a little closer. Men could approach closer still. But only the Priests were allowed to enter the actual Temple structure. There was a separation between God and his people that wasn’t there before.
The kind of Temple we’re trying to get back to looks a lot like this:
This is what the early church father’s had in mind, too. In fact, they quoted that passage from Amos in Acts 15 when they were debating what to do with the gentiles. Did the gentiles have to become Jewish? No, because we are getting back to David’s Tabernacle, not Solomon’s Temple.
Paul would go on to say, “There is no longer Jew or Gentile, slave or free, male and female. For you are all one in Christ Jesus.” (Galatians 3:28 | NLT) All the dividing walls have been broken down, and everyone is allowed to come to the Temple to worship and experience God.
But where is this Temple we are rebuilding? Peter tells us: “You also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.” (2 Peter 2:5 | NIV)
We are the Temple. We are the Priests. We are the spiritual house to which the nations may come and worship freely and approach God without hindrance or obstruction.
These are the days of your servant David rebuilding a Temple of Praise.