The entire nation of Israel had gathered together at Jerusalem for a momentous occasion in the history of the nation of Israel- the dedication of the long awaited temple of God. And as King Solomon leads the nation in this dedication, we are told that God’s glory fills the temple, but in a most unusual description of God- that of a dark cloud.

When the priests withdrew from the Holy Place, the cloud filled the temple of the LORD. And the priests could not perform their service because of the cloud, for the glory of the LORD filled his temple. Then Solomon said, “The Lord has said that he would dwell in a dark cloud”.  (1Kings 8:10-12)

While it is a most unusual description of God, it also helps us to understand the nature of God.

What defines a dark cloud is the inability to define it- there is a sense of haziness and lack of definition about it. It is no different about God when man tries to understand him. Our sensory attributes and mental faculties have finiteness about them and with their limited capabilities, God does appear to be something like a ‘dark cloud’. The Sunday school description of God as a good old man, someone akin to Santa Claus, is obviously way off the mark. The infinite, eternal Reality that God is, cannot be contained by human expression, precisely the reason why idol worship is abhorrent to God. It follows that the purest experience of God- described as contemplation by many saints, is a hazy experience, something that cannot be described in human terms. When someone comes out and makes a grandiose declaration that he heard a clear voice of God, or saw a clear vision, it is more likely to be an error than the contemplative who comes away from having experienced the presence of God, but cannot find words to describe it.    

The term ‘dark cloud’ also denotes power. You do not mess around with a dark cloud- the energy contained within; especially during a thunderstorm is something to be wary of. The dark cloud materializes out of thin air, so to speak, and charged with electricity, releases a devastating lightning that can utterly destroy anything it comes into contact with. With God, it is no different. He is not visible and cannot be contained; yet his power is real- a fact that believers grow to enjoy and the enemies of God come to dread.     

While a description of God that has to do with light is readily understood, it is in fact a dark cloud that truly describes the nature of God. This description is also found elsewhere in the Word,                 

Clouds and thick darkness surround him; righteousness and justice are the foundation of his throne. (Psalms 97:2)

It is the dark cloud that Solomon and the Israelites saw on that grand day when God came down and made his presence known. It is in a dark cloud that he truly dwells.

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