Today: [Psalm 104] The Tabernacle of David and the Glory of God in the Face of Stephen. In this psalm we see a composition prepared by David when he stood before the Ark of the Covenant. David had prepared an open air tabernacle where the glory of God above the mercy seat was visible to all. This same glory shone in Stephen’s face when he was martyred. It speaks of us of God being IN us in regeneration and God being ON us in signs, miracles and wonders.
[Psa 104:1-35 KJV] 1 Bless the LORD, O my soul. O LORD my God, thou art very great; thou art clothed with honour and majesty. 2 Who coverest [thyself] with light as [with] a garment: who stretchest out the heavens like a curtain: 3 Who layeth the beams of his chambers in the waters: who maketh the clouds his chariot: who walketh upon the wings of the wind: 4 Who maketh his angels spirits; his ministers a flaming fire: 5 [Who] laid the foundations of the earth, [that] it should not be removed for ever. 6 Thou coveredst it with the deep as [with] a garment: the waters stood above the mountains. 7 At thy rebuke they fled; at the voice of thy thunder they hasted away. 8 They go up by the mountains; they go down by the valleys unto the place which thou hast founded for them. 9 Thou hast set a bound that they may not pass over; that they turn not again to cover the earth. 10 He sendeth the springs into the valleys, [which] run among the hills. 11 They give drink to every beast of the field: the wild asses quench their thirst. 12 By them shall the fowls of the heaven have their habitation, [which] sing among the branches.
Psalm 104 is untitled and unattributed but there are versions of the bible predating the time of Christ that place the authorship with David. The Syriac version of the Old Testament describes this as a psalm written by David specifically when he planned to go and worship before the ark in what is known as the Tabernacle of David. The Tabernacle of David you may recall was an open air tent that David pitch near his own residence on Mount Zion. He brought the ark to this tent when it returned from the home of Obed-Edom. It has prophetic significance because there are three scriptures that describe the church age as the time that the Tabernacle of David would be raised up from its ruins.
[Isa 16:5 KJV] 5 And in mercy shall the throne be established: and he shall sit upon it in truth in the tabernacle of David, judging, and seeking judgment, and hasting righteousness.
[Amo 9:11 KJV] 11 In that day will I raise up the tabernacle of David that is fallen, and close up the breaches thereof; and I will raise up his ruins, and I will build it as in the days of old:
When the early church was deciding whether or not to allow Gentiles into their ranks, James quoted from the prophet Amos regarding the Tabernacle of David as indication that the church would not be a Jewish-only sect but would include all peoples:
[Act 15:16 KJV] 16 After this I will return, and will build again the tabernacle of David, which is fallen down; and I will build again the ruins thereof, and I will set it up:
For us we can be glad that Amos didn’t speak of the tabernacle of Moses being raised back up. With its partitions, doors, veils and prohibitions Christianity patterned after it would look very different than it does today. The difference between the Tabernacle of David and that of Moses would be very apparent to any worshipper in David’s day. The first thing would be the 100’s of worshippers, poets and musicians surrounding the ark 24 hours a day – praising the Lord in the beauty of holiness. The sight of the ark would be completely astounding to the Old Testament worshippers who since the time of Moses would have never laid eyes on the ark at all. When David would write of being under the shadow of the wings of the cherubim he was reclining quite literally in the shadow cast by the golden figures of angels on top of the mercy seat. The presence of God in the ark of David was very accessible to all peoples – its most remarkable feature.
13 He watereth the hills from his chambers: the earth is satisfied with the fruit of thy works. 14 He causeth the grass to grow for the cattle, and herb for the service of man: that he may bring forth food out of the earth; 15 And wine [that] maketh glad the heart of man, [and] oil to make [his] face to shine, and bread [which] strengtheneth man’s heart. 16 The trees of the LORD are full [of sap]; the cedars of Lebanon, which he hath planted; 17 Where the birds make their nests: [as for] the stork, the fir trees [are] her house. 18 The high hills [are] a refuge for the wild goats; [and] the rocks for the conies. 19 He appointed the moon for seasons: the sun knoweth his going down. 20 Thou makest darkness, and it is night: wherein all the beasts of the forest do creep [forth]. 21 The young lions roar after their prey, and seek their meat from God.
Verse 4 of the psalm tells us something of the nature of angels being spiritual beings with the appearance of a pillar of fire when they would be visible to the human eye. Hebrews 1:14 elaborates on this and specifically tells us what the scope of many angels tasks on earth are:
[Heb 1:14 KJV] 14 Are they not all ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation?
The subject of angels is controversial. Some suggest that it is sinful to even speak of them. The contention is that all attention should be upon Jesus and no thought or regard given to the presence or manifestation of angels. Others go the other direction and see angels, portals, and many other manifestations leaving the uninitiated in a state of dubious disbelief of any such thing. The fact of the matter is however that angels are a part of God’s economy and part of our lives whether we are aware of them or not. Is it proper to speak of angels? David in the previous chapter clearly speaks of angels and gives command to them over the city of Jerusalem and Mount Zion to praise and give honor and glory to God. Angels are spoken of 283 times in the scriptures. Believing them to be inspired by God we can only assume that God isn’t timid about us being aware that they are around us affecting our lives.
22 The sun ariseth, they gather themselves together, and lay them down in their dens. 23 Man goeth forth unto his work and to his labour until the evening. 24 O LORD, how manifold are thy works! in wisdom hast thou made them all: the earth is full of thy riches. 25 [So is] this great and wide sea, wherein [are] things creeping innumerable, both small and great beasts. 26 There go the ships: [there is] that leviathan, [whom] thou hast made to play therein. 27 These wait all upon thee; that thou mayest give [them] their meat in due season. 28 [That] thou givest them they gather: thou openest thine hand, they are filled with good. 29 Thou hidest thy face, they are troubled: thou takest away their breath, they die, and return to their dust. 30 Thou sendest forth thy spirit, they are created: and thou renewest the face of the earth. 31 The glory of the LORD shall endure for ever: the LORD shall rejoice in his works. 32 He looketh on the earth, and it trembleth: he toucheth the hills, and they smoke. 33 I will sing unto the LORD as long as I live: I will sing praise to my God while I have my being. 34 My meditation of him shall be sweet: I will be glad in the LORD. 35 Let the sinners be consumed out of the earth, and let the wicked be no more. Bless thou the LORD, O my soul. Praise ye the LORD.
Verse 15 of our psalm speaks of God making oil to cause our face to shine. The writer of the psalm would have been speaking quite literally as olive oil was used in this time to literally cause the face to shine but there is a metaphor here as well. The face is a type and metaphor of the spirit – whether God’s spirit or the spirit of man. Oil is a type of the Holy Spirit. The term or title Christ means literally “the smeared one” or “one whose face is smeared with oil”. Hence we see that this word picture of one’s face covered in oil is not of obscure interest but actually gives us a picture of Jesus Himself. The Spirit of God is spoken of throughout the bible in two aspects: God IN us and God ON us.
The Spirit of God is within us as a well or river of living water (John 7:38; John 4:14) from our belly or from the inside of us. In Exodus 34:35 we see that Moses’ face shone when he came from the presence of God. The light from his countenance would beam out like a search light in the night over the tents of the people camped round about the tabernacle. During this time when Moses would talk with God the people would stand reverently in the doors of their tents and would witness the glory of God reflected in Moses’ face.
When Stephen stood before the council answering for his faith Acts 6:15 tells us his face shone like an angel’s face no doubt much the same way as Moses’ face shone. Was this a special sign from God only for this situation or was it an evidence simply of a man who lived his life so close to God that the Spirit of God manifested visibly upon him? When he was dying the Jews stoned him and simultaneously rushed upon him and gnawed him with their teeth while he looked up and saw Jesus standing at the right hand of the Father. Can you imagine that for all eternity Jesus is pictured as seated at the right hand of God but as Stephen his martyr died Jesus could not sit idly but stood up in his passion to receive the soul of Stephen to himself in the glory of heaven. This is the picture of God not only in us but on us as well.
As we conclude our study I want to encourage you to explore the understanding of God IN you and God ON you. Most of the Old Testament examples speak of God being ON this one or that one. The Spirit of God would come ON Samson and he would demonstrate supernatural strength. The Spirit of God would come ON Saul and he would prophesy with the prophets. The Spirit of God would come on David and he would play the harp and demons would flee. So we know that God is in us in regeneration and He is on us from time to time in witness to His power. Open your heart to this and allow Him to move upon you throughout your day among those in your life in need of a touch from heaven.
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