Useful Bible Studies > 1 Kings Commentary > chapter 8

The cloud of God’s glory

1 Kings 8:10-11

God is present everywhere, although people are usually unaware of him (Psalm 139:7-10). However, sometimes he chooses to be present in a special way at a particular place. That was especially true at the temple, which was God’s house on the earth. This was the place where God lived among his people.

Solomon had built the temple; and the priests were carrying out the opening ceremonies to hand the building over to God. Then something extraordinary happened. A dark cloud filled the building. That cloud was an expression of God’s greatness, his glory, his splendid beauty. There had been such a cloud at the tabernacle, the tent that formerly was God’s house. That same cloud had guided Israel’s people through the desert (Exodus 40:34-38). There are references to such a cloud elsewhere in the Bible too (for example, Psalm 97:2-6; Luke 9:34-35). Perhaps the cloud hides God’s glory, so that people do not see his splendid beauty. In all these passages, God is present in a very powerful way.

The priests became very aware that God was actually present with them. During this very holy experience they could not continue to carry out their ceremonies and their sacred tasks. In the original language, the Bible says that they could not even ‘stand’. We do not know whether they actually fell to the ground - the passage seems to describe a more gentle experience. Perhaps, like Moses in Exodus 34:8, they lay down with their faces on the ground. There they prayed and praised God until this special experience had ended.

Next part: God accepts the temple as his home (1 Kings 8:12-14)


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