Solomon, and the elders of Israel, had done what they could to grace the solemnity of the introduction of the ark; but God, by testifying his acceptance of what they did, put the greatest honour upon it. The cloud of glory that filled the house beautified it more than all the gold with which it was overlaid or the precious stones with which it was garnished; and yet that was no glory in comparison with the glory of the gospel dispensation, 2 Cor. 3:8-10. Observe,
I. How God took possession of the temple: He filled it with a cloud, 2 Chron. 5:13. 1. Thus he signified his acceptance of this temple to be the same to him that the tabernacle of Moses was, and assured them that he would be the same in it; for it was by a cloud that he made his public entry into that, Exod. 40:34. 2. Thus he considered the weakness and infirmity of those to whom he manifested himself, who could not bear the dazzling lustre of the divine light: it would have overpowered them; he therefore spread his cloud upon it, Job 26:9. Christ revealed things unto his disciples as they were able to bear them, and in parables, which wrapped up divine things as in a cloud. 3. Thus he would affect all that worshipped in his courts with holy reverence and fear. Christ’s disciples were afraid when they entered into a cloud, Luke 9:34. 4. Thus he would intimate the darkness of that dispensation, by reason of which they could not stedfastly look to the end of those things which were now abolished, 2 Cor. 3:13.
II. When he took possession of it. 1. When the priests had come out of the holy place, 2 Chron. 5:11. This is the way of giving possession. All must come out, that the rightful owner may come in. Would we have God dwell in our hearts? We must leave room for him; let every thing else give way. We are here told that upon this occasion the whole family of the priests attended, and not any one particular course: All the priests that were present were sanctified (2 Chron. 5:11), because there was work enough for them all, when such a multitude of sacrifices were to be offered, and because it was fit that they should all be eye-witnesses of this solemnity and receive the impressions of it. 2. When the singers and musicians praised God, then the house was filled with a cloud. This is very observable; it was not when they offered sacrifices, but when they sang the praises of God, that God gave them this token of his favour; for the sacrifice of praise pleaseth the Lord better than that of an ox or bullock, Ps. 69:31. All the singers and musicians were employed, those of all the three families; and, to complete the concert, 120 priests, with their trumpets, joined with them, all standing at the east end of the altar, on that side of the court which lay outmost towards the people, 2 Chron. 5:12. And, when this part of the service began, the glory of God appeared. Observe, (1.) It was when they were unanimous, when they were as one, to make one sound. The Holy God descended on the apostles when they met with one accord, Acts 2:1-4. Where unity is the Lord commands the blessing. (2.) It was when they were lively and hearty, and lifted up their voice to praise the Lord. Then we serve God acceptably when we are fervent in spirit serving him. (3.) It was when they were, in their praises, celebrating the everlasting mercy and goodness of God. As there is one saying oftener repeated in scripture than this, his mercy endureth for ever (twenty-six times in one psalm, Ps. 136:1-26, and often elsewhere), so there is none more signally owned from heaven; for it was not the expression of some rapturous flights that the priests were singing when the glory of God appeared, but this plain song, He is good, and his mercy endureth for ever. God’s goodness is his glory, and he is pleased when we give him the glory of it.
III. What was the effect of it. The priests themselves could not stand to minister, by reason of the cloud (2 Chron. 5:14), which, as it was an evidence that the law made men priests that had infirmity, so (as bishop Patrick observes) it was a plain intimation that the Levitical priesthood should cease, and stand no longer to minister, when the Messiah should come, in whom the fulness of the godhead should dwell bodily. In him the glory of God dwelt among us, but covered with a cloud. The Word was made flesh; and when he comes to his temple, like a refiner’s fire, who may abide the day of his coming? And who shall stand when he appeareth? Mal. 3:1, 2.