“He shrouded Himself in darkness, veiling his approach with dark rain clouds.” -Psalms 18:11 (NLT)
It was in the early morning hours of a random Tuesday when my heart awoke my mind with reverberations of this strange phrase, He shrouds Himself in darkness. Unaware at the time, I now know The Father was so kindly preparing me for where He’d be going, and in turn, where I would be going too. There are moments, sometimes seasons, in life when your greatest refuge is found within the places of darkness. This is not because you’re out of the intruder’s sight or because The Lord is intent on “making you pay for your shortcomings”. On the contrary, it’s simply because He’s there. It’s the place He has chosen to dwell for a specific time. And if He’s there, there’s nowhere heaven or earth could reach that’s safer or more full of the pleasure of His presence.
It was in this place of veiled glory that The Lord invited me on a journey to learn a lesson from an ancient Israelite king, full of destiny and wisdom. The time is 10th century BCE and Solomon, the son of the beloved King David, is on the throne. David, a unique and anointed individual in more ways than one, was a lover of God’s presence. Though mighty in battle and steadfast in kingly duties, it was the stewarding and enjoyment of this presence that was his greatest desire and utmost pursuit. His devotion to relationship with God would fuel his longing to build a house for the ark of The Lord to dwell (prior to this the ark, or presence of God, lived in a tent). The Lord confirmed his yearning, however, and specified the way in which this should happen. Instead of David building a house for The Lord, The Lord promised to build a house for him. Catch this incredible promise.
“Moreover, The Lord declares to you that The Lord will make a house for you. When your days are done and you sleep with your fathers, I will raise up your seed, who will come forth from you after you, and I will establish his kingdom. He will build a house for My Name, and I will establish his royal throne forever…so your house and your kingship will be secure forever.” -2 Samuel 7:11-13, 16 (TLV)
This promise meant that The Lord approved of David’s desire to build a house for Him to dwell in, however, appropriated this task to David’s son, Solomon. Additionally He was ensuring David that his seed would reign on the throne forever. Though not the subject of our concern for today, this promise would see its complete fulfilment in Jesus, born from the seed of David and appointed King over Israel and the world forever.
As we fast forward to 1 Kings 8, Solomon has succeeded his father David, constructed the temple, and is now dedicating it to The Lord in the presence of the congregation of Israel. However, at the dedication, something alarming occurs that causes the priests of The Lord great distress.
“Now when the priests came out of the Holy Place, the cloud filled the House of The Lord, so that the priests could not stand to minister because of the cloud, for the glory of The Lord filled the House of the Lord.” -1 Kings 8:10-11
Perhaps unnoticed at one’s first glance of reading, this cloud wasn’t a white puff of brilliance. Contrarily, in the Hebrew we find this cloud was a“heavy or dark cloud” or perceived as “thick darkness”. In the next verse Solomon has to reassure the priests that this dark cloud is a GOOD thing because The Lord SAID He would dwell in the place of darkness.
“Then Solomon spoke, ‘The Lord said that He would dwell in the thick cloud. I have surely built You a magnificent House, a place for Your dwelling forever.’” -1 Kings 8:12-13
For Solomon, the thick darkness falling upon the temple wasn’t a formidable sign of The Lord’s disapproval, rather proof that Solomon had built the temple according to The Lord’s will. It was the assurance that The Lord was delighted to dwell there and indeed was dwelling there. More than that, this seemingly frightening bundle of darkness was the fulfilment of The Lord’s promise to Solomon’s father, King David. Hear Solomon’s praise.
“You have kept what You promised with Your servant David my father. Yes, You spoke with Your mouth and fulfilled it with Your hand, as it is this day.” -1 Kings 8:24
As humans, it’s our fleshly nature to oppose dwelling within the places of darkness – the places where we can’t see. It’s our first inclination that The Lord has withdrawn His presence, we’re out of His will, and the promise He’s spoken over our life is void. Yet the Word of God tells us something different. Sometimes, it’s in the darkness where He makes His home. And if the darkness is where He is hiding, it’s the safest place for us to dwell. Yet even greater than that, this is the truth I have found – not only is this place your most sheltered spot, sometimes it is also the place of most desired intimacy and pleasure. This is simply because HE is there. The NKJV translation says it like this, “He made darkness His secret place…” (Psalm 18:11).
Perhaps the secret place of The Lord’s presence, the place He wants to meet with you, is surrounded by darkness. If it’s the place He’s designated for this time, though dark and unknown, it’s the place where deeper realms of communion with Him are experienced. It’s here where we taste broader love exchanges and an abundance of desired pleasure (Psalms 16:11). And sometimes, like the fulfilment of The Lord’s promise to David, it’s the place where promises are realized and seized.
Like me, you may find yourself currently walking Into the Darkness. Don’t allow this place to convince you the enemy has won, you’re still in need of “learning a lesson”, or The Father has withdrawn His love from you. Remember Solomon’s comfort and assurance to the priests concerning the darkness that fell before them, “The Lord SAID He would dwell in the thick cloud” (1 Kings 8:12). He is with you and His promises are not far off.
“Who among you fears The Lord? Who hears the voice of His servant? Who walks in darkness and has no light? Let him trust in the Name of The Lord and lean on His God.” -Isaiah 50:10 (TLV)
Today’s writer is Jill Sazera, WoCo’s Director of Faith. From Georgia and currently living right outside D.C., Jill spends her days flying the friendly skies. When she’s not on an airplane, you can find her discovering new coffee shops, mingling in music, and going on long drives. She’s a lover of all things fall, could break out in dance at any moment, and gets her fuel from long mornings with Jesus. You can reach Jill by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Instagram @jillsazera.