1 Kings 8:12
Then spake Solomon, The LORD said that he would dwell in the thick darkness.
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(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 1Kings 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.

1 Kings 8:12. Then spake Solomon — Perceiving both priests and people to be struck with consternation and horror at this supernatural and sudden darkness, he uttered the words which follow, to compose their minds and comfort them. The Lord said he would dwell in the thick darkness — This dark cloud, therefore, is not a sign of his displeasure, as some may imagine, but rather a token of his special presence with us, and approbation of us, and that he owns this for his house, and will dwell in it, according to his declaration respecting the tabernacle, that he would appear in a cloud upon the mercy-seat, Leviticus 16:2. See also Deuteronomy 4:11; Deuteronomy 5:22; Psalm 97:2; Exodus 40:35.

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.Rather, "The Lord spake of dwelling in the thick darkness" (margin reference). Solomon sees in the cloud the visible symbol of God's presence, and accepts the token as a proof that He has taken possession of the house built for Him, and will thenceforth dwell there 1 Kings 8:13. 1Ki 8:12-21. Solomon's Blessing.

12. Then spake Solomon—For the reassurance of the priests and people, the king reminded them that the cloud, instead of being a sign ominous of evil, was a token of approval.

The Lord said—not in express terms, but by a continuous course of action (Ex 13:21; 24:16; Nu 9:15).

Perceiving both priests and people struck with horror and wonder at this darkness, he minds them that this was no sign of God’s dislike or disfavour, as some of them might possibly imagine; but a token of his approbation, and grace, and special presence among them.

The Lord said; not in express words, but by plain consequence, because he hath declared, both by his words and actions, that he would manifest his presence with and dwelling among his people by a dark cloud, in which he would appear. See Exodus 13:21,22 24:16 40:35 Numbers 9:15 Deu 4:11 5:22 Psalm 18:12 97:2.

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.

Then spake Solomon, The LORD said that he would dwell in the thick darkness.
12–21. Solomon’s opening blessing (2 Chronicles 6:1-11)

12. The Lord said that he would dwell in the thick darkness] Better, as in 2 Chronicles 6:1, ‘The Lord hath said, &c.’ The king’s words are called forth by what he sees: the house enveloped in a thick cloud such that none could remain within nor enter. The allusion is to Leviticus 16:3, where God says ‘I will appear in the cloud upon the mercy seat.’ Cf. Psalm 97:2, ‘Clouds and darkness are round about Him.’ So too God speaks of coming to Moses ‘in a thick cloud,’ Exodus 19:9; Exodus 20:21.

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). 1 Kings 8:12Solomon extols this marvellous proof of the favour of the Lord. - 1 Kings 8:12. Then spake Solomon, "Jehovah hath spoken to dwell in the darkness." "Solomon saw that the temple was filled with a cloud, and remembered that God had been pleased to appear in a cloud in the tent of Moses also. Hence he assuredly believed that God was in this cloud also, and that, as formerly He had filled the tabernacle, so He would now fill the temple and dwell therein" (Seb. Schmidt). וגו יהוה אמר, which Thenius still renders incorrectly, "the Lord intends to dwell in the darkness," refers, as Rashi, C. a Lap., and others have seen, to the utterances of God in the Pentateuch concerning the manifestation of His gracious presence among His people, not merely to Leviticus 16:2 (I will appear in the cloud), but also to Exodus 19:9, where the Lord said to Moses, "I come to thee הענן בּעב," and still more to Exodus 20:21 and Deuteronomy 4:11; Deuteronomy 5:19, according to which God came down upon Sinai בּערפל. Solomon took the word ערפל from these passages. That he meant by this the black, dark cloud which filled the temple, is perfectly obvious from the combination והערפל הענן in Deuteronomy 5:19 and Deuteronomy 4:11.

(Note: Thenius, however, has built up all kinds of untenable conjectures as to alterations of the text, upon the erroneous assumption that ענן means the light and radiant cloud, and cannot be synonymous with ערפל. Bttcher adopts the same opinion, without taking any notice of the striking remarks of Bertheau on 2 Chronicles 5:14.)

Solomon saw this word of Jehovah realized in the filling of the temple with the cloud, and learned therefrom that the Lord would dwell in this temple. Hence, being firmly convinced of the presence of Jehovah in the cloud which filled the sanctuary, he adds in 1 Kings 8:13 : "I have built Thee a house to dwell in, a place for Thy seat for ever." We are not to understand עולמים as signifying that Solomon believed that the temple built by him would stand for ever; but it is to be explained partly from the contrast to the previous abode of God in the tabernacle, which from the very nature of the case could only be a temporary one, inasmuch as a tent, such as the tabernacle was, is not only a moveable and provisional dwelling, but also a very perishable one, and partly from the promise given to David in 2 Samuel 7:14-16, that the Lord would establish the throne of his kingdom for his seed for ever. This promise involved the eternal duration of the gracious connection between God and Israel, which was embodied in the dwelling of God in the temple. This connection, from its very nature, was an eternal one; even if the earthly form, from which Solomon at that moment abstracted himself, was temporal and perishable. - Solomon had spoken these words with his face turned to the Most Holy Place. He then (1 Kings 8:14) turned his face to the congregation, which was standing in the court, and blessed it. The word "blessed" (יברך) denotes the wish for a blessing with which the king greeted the assembled congregation, and introduced the praise of God which follows. - In 1 Kings 8:15-21 he praises the Lord for having now fulfilled with His hand what He spake with His mouth to his father David (2 Samuel 7).

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