|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
40:34-38 The cloud covered the tabernacle even in the clearest day; it was not a cloud which the sun scatters. This cloud was a token of God's presence to be seen day and night, by all Israel, that they might never again question, Is the Lord among us, or is he not? It guided the camp of Israel through the wilderness. While the cloud rested on the tabernacle, they rested; when it removed, they followed it. The glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle. In light and fire the Shechinah made itself visible: God is Light; our God is a consuming Fire. Yet so dazzling was the light, and so dreadful the fire, that Moses was not able to enter into the tent of the congregation, till the splendour was abated. But what Moses could not do, our Lord Jesus has done, whom God caused to draw near; and who has invited us to come boldly, even to the mercy-seat. Being taught by the Holy Spirit to follow the example of Christ, as well as to depend upon him, to attend his ordinances, and obey his precepts, we shall be kept from losing our way, and be led in the midst of the paths of judgment, till we come to heaven, the habitation of his holiness. BLESSED BE GOD FOR JESUS CHRIST!
Verse 38. - The cloud... was upon the tabernacle by day and fire was on. it by night. Compare Exodus 13:21, 22; and Exodus 14:20, 24; Numbers 9:15, 16. The cloud had two aspects - one obscure, the other radiant. It was a dark column by day - a pillar of fire by night. Thus it was always visible.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
For the cloud of the Lord was upon the tabernacle by day,.... Or over it (g), it covered it, when it abode upon it, and rested; and stood on high over it when it moved and the people journeyed:
and fire was on it by night; the same phenomenon which had the appearance of a cloud in the day time shone like fire in the night time: or "fire was in it" (h); that is, in the cloud; so it appeared in the night, and was, as the Targum of Jonathan here calls it, a pillar of fire; the same with the pillar of cloud and fire, which departed not from the people all the while they were in the wilderness, Exodus 13:21 and this was
in the sight of all the house of Israel, throughout all their journeys; whether by night or by day; for in hot countries they travel much by night; and as the cloud was both a shelter from the heat of the sun in the daytime, and a direction of their way; so the fire by night was of the same use for direction, and might be also terrifying to wild beasts in the wilderness, who are afraid of fire, and so be a security to the Israelites from them; all which is an emblem of the guidance and protection, light, joy, and comfort, the church of God has from his gracious presence, while in the wilderness of this world; see Isaiah 4:5.
(g) "supra tabernaculum", Drusius. (h) "in ea"; Fagius, Junius & Tremellius; Drusius.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
38. the cloud of the Lord was upon the tabernacle, &c.—While it had hitherto appeared sometimes in one place, sometimes in another, it was now found on the tabernacle only; so that from the moment that sanctuary was erected, and the glory of the Lord had filled the sacred edifice, the Israelites had to look to the place which God had chosen to put His name there, in order that they might enjoy the benefit of a heavenly Guide (Nu 9:15-23). In like manner, the church had divine revelation for its guide from the first—long before the Word of God existed in a written form; but ever since the setting up of that sacred canon, it rests on that as its tabernacle and there only is it to be found. It accompanies us wherever we are or go, just as the cloud led the way of the Israelites. It is always accessible and can be carried in our pockets when we walk abroad; it may be engraved on the inner tablets of our memories and our hearts; and so true, faithful, and complete a guide is it, that there is not a scene of duty or of trial through which we may be called to pass in the world, but it furnishes a clear, a safe, and unerring direction (Col 3:16).
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