“I have been with you wherever you have gone and have cut off all your enemies from before you; and I will make you a great name, like the names of the great men who are on the earth.” – 2 Sam 7:9 (NASB)
What’s In A Name?
With the promise of a great name in the Davidic Covenant, the first question that arose in my mind is “what’s in a name?” Biblically, a person’s name is a reflection of the person’s destiny in God. This explains why God specifically told Mary to name her son Jesus (Matthew 1:21), which means God is salvation. Jesus is the Saviour of the world through his birth, death and resurrection. There are many more Biblical names that we can discuss but here, our focus is on David, and in relation to the Tabernacle of David.
The Name of David
The Hebrew characters of David is דָּוִד which can be pronounced as “da-wid.” David means “beloved”, derived from the root דּוֹד dôwd, which had an etymological meaning of “to boil”. Interestingly, it evolves in Biblical Hebrew only in figurative usage “to love” and also specifically a term for an uncle (father’s brother). The two meanings of “beloved” and “uncle” of David bears significance in the calling of David.
The Tabernacle of the Uncle
Tabernacle of the Uncle sounds really strange. I was ready to put this aside until I felt a prompting to dwell on it a little more. I am going to try to explain a complex relationship between God, David and the Son of David/God, Jesus here. God and David have a common son, Jesus, who is both called the Son of God and Son of David. As absurd as this may sound, in this context, God and David are in the same generation standing in a family tree. God and David are both fathers of Jesus, and in a sense uncles, “brothers” of each other.
This relationship from the name paints a picture of close kinship – family. To the Israelites who related to God through the Tabernacle of the Lord, to consider God as family will be sacrilegious and complete dishonouring of God. The Tabernacle of David was erected before the Davidic Covenant was given though. One might see the name as prophetic to the Davidic Covenant that is to come. For me, I am more convicted that the relationship David had with God already reflected kinship and the covenant was a seal of what had already developed.
The Tabernacle of the Beloved
When I put the word “Beloved” into the phrase Tabernacle of David, my whole being leaped in joy. Here we see a deepening in relationship from kinship to intimacy. Embedded in the simple name of David, the significance of the Tabernacle of David came to light. Two popular verses immediately came to mind:
- Song of Solomon 6:3 “I am my beloved’s and my beloved is mine, He who pastures his flock among the lilies.“
- Revelation 22:17 “The Spirit and the bride say, “Come.” And let the one who hears say, “Come.” And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who wishes take the water of life without cost.“
The image of the end time bride of Christ emerges from these verses. In Song of Solomon, the beloved is often times allegorically interpreted as the end-times church. The bride in Revelation is also interpreted as the church of Christ (ref Eph 5:25-32; 2 Cor 11:2). Notwithstanding that in the Old Testament, Israel is often referred to as wife and God as the husband (E.g. Hos 2:7; Isa 54:6). There is an intimacy suggested by the name of the Tabernacle of David, an intimacy that lasts through the end of time of this earth and beyond.
Beloved pronounced the status of relationship of intimacy. In the Tabernacle of David, there was no ceremonial sacrifice and separation between God and man. David was able to meet with God face to face, and others who seek Him bypassing required rituals. It baffled me why God allowed David to break the laws punishable by death to erect this tabernacle without instruction from God like with Moses, but simply by David’s initiation. David had the audacity to do so because he knew God intimately. The Tabernacle of David was birthed from a place of intimacy and not of legality. This intimacy is expressed through joy instead of the solemn fear portrayed in the Tabernacle of the Lord with Moses.
A Great Name
“He shall build a house for My name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever.” 2 Samuel 7:13 (NASB)
The Davidic Covenant promised a great name. As we read further to verse 13, the name of David will be great because it is tied to God’s name. The Davidic Covenant is not solely about David but God. God has willingly tied His name intricately to David’s, where the house of David bears the name of God. This is seen in Jesus who is known as both Son of David and Son of God.
How can David’s name not be great when it is so intimately tied to God? It is not the great name, or fame that is the key here. I believe the key lesson here is the relationship that David has with God. The great name is simply a byproduct of intimacy by rubbing off the greatness of God, but never a goal or objective to be achieved.