1 Kings 8:12 MEANING

1 Kings 8:12
(12) The Lord said . . .--The words of Solomon, though--as is natural in a moment of mingled awe and thankfulness--somewhat broken and abrupt, are clear enough in their general meaning and connection. He refers to the frequent declarations made in old time that the cloud is the symbol of God's indwelling presence (such as Exodus 19:9, and Leviticus 16:2);

he recognises in the appearance of the cloud the sign that the Divine presence is granted to the Temple; and accordingly he exults in the proof that his foreordained work is accomplished by the building of a house, a "settled habitation" for the Lord. The description of the cloud as "thick darkness," in no way contradicts the idea of the glory shining through it; for human eyes are easily "darkened by excess of light." This mingled light and darkness symbolises--perhaps more strikingly than even the literal darkness of the Most Holy Place--the mystery which veils the presence of God, known to be, and to be infinitely glorious, but in its nature incomprehensible.

Thenius, from a single Chaldee version, suggests for "thick darkness" the correction "Jerusalem;" dwelling on the closer harmony of the reading with 1 Kings 8:16, quoting the promise of Psalm 132:13-14 (closely connected there with the great promise of David), and urging the likelihood of the citation of this promise by Solomon, and the greater simplicity thus given to his whole utterance. The suggestion is ingenious; but it lacks authority, both external and internal. The LXX., in the Alexandrine MS. (for the Vatican MS. omits the whole), and the Vulg. agree with the Hebrew text; and Josephus, though he gives a verbose paraphrase of the prayer, evidently had our reading before him, for he contrasts the mystery and ubiquity of the Divine presence with the material shrine. Nor is it easy to conceive how from a passage so simple and prosaic, as this would be with the reading "Jerusalem," the more difficult, but far more striking, reading of the present text could have arisen.

Verse 12. - Then spake Solomon [in a transport of emotion at the sight. The cloud and the glory proved that his pious work was accepted. These blessed tokens assured him that "the Lord was there" (Ezekiel 48:35); that the incomprehensible Godhead had entered the earthly shrine he had prepared, and would dwell there], The Lord said that he would dwell in the thick darkness. [Heb. עֲרָפֶל, lit., darkness of clouds. When did God speak of dwelling in dark cloud? The reference, probably, is to Exodus 19:9; Exodus 20:21, Deuteronomy 4:11; Exodus 5:22 (note that, in the three last cited passages, this same word is used, and in the last two in connexion with cloud, which would appear to be a practically synonymous term), but especially to Leviticus 16:2, "I will appear in the cloud upon the mercy seat." Solomon had thus every warrant for connecting a theophany with the thick dark cloud. Cf. Psalm 18:11; Psalm 97:2. The words cannot refer to "the holy of holies not lighted by windows" (Wordsworth).

8:12-21 Solomon encouraged the priests, who were much astonished at the dark cloud. The dark dispensations of Providence should quicken us in fleeing for refuge to the hope of the gospel. Nothing can more reconcile us to them, than to consider what God has said, and to compare his word and works together. Whatever good we do, we must look on it as the performance of God's promise to us, not of our promises to him.And then spake Solomon,.... Perceiving by this symbol that the Lord was come into his house, to take up his dwelling in it, and seeing the priests and people in consternation at it, spake the following words to their comfort:

the Lord said that he would dwell in the thick darkness; and now was fulfilling his promise, and therefore to be considered not as a token of his displeasure, but of his gracious presence; this was done for the greater awe of the divine Majesty, and to denote the darkness of the former dispensation; reference may be had to Leviticus 16:2 or rather this was now said by the Lord, that is, it appeared to be his resolution and determination to dwell in this manner; the Targum is,

"the Lord is pleased to cause his Shechinah or divine Majesty to dwell in Jerusalem,''

in the temple there. This was imitated by the Heathens; hence the Lacedemonians had a temple dedicated to Jupiter Scotitas, or the dark, as Pausanias (u) relates; and the Indian Pagans to this day affect darkness in their temples, and are very careful that no light enter into them but by the door, which is commonly strait and low, and by little crevices in the windows (w).

(u) Laconica, sive, I. 3. p. 178. (w) Agreement of Customs between the East-Indians and Jews, art. 5. p. 35.

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