(Exo 25:17-22) And thou shalt make a mercy seat of pure gold: two cubits and a half [5 feet] shall be the length thereof, and a cubit and a half [3 feet] the breadth thereof. And thou shalt make two cherubims [a kind of angel] of gold, of beaten work shalt thou make them [“beaten out of one piece made he them” Exo 37:7], in the two ends of the mercy seat. And make one cherub on the one end, and the other cherub on the other end: even of the mercy seat shall ye make the cherubims on the two ends thereof. And the cherubims shall stretch forth their wings on high, covering the mercy seat with their wings, and their faces shall look one to another; toward the mercy seat shall the faces of the cherubims be [“even to the mercy seatward were the faces of the cherubims” Exo 37:9]. And thou shalt put the mercy seat above upon the ark; and in the ark thou shalt put the testimony [of the two tables (tablets) of stone originally engraved with the ten commandments by the finger of God] that I shall give thee [the latter phrase is an entire repeat of v.16]. And there I will meet with thee, and I will commune [connotating a much deeper more personal experience than “communicate”] with thee from above the mercy seat, from between the two cherubims which are upon the ark of the testimony, of all things which I will give thee in commandment [why in commandment?] unto the children of Israel.
1. (Heb 8:10) For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith the Lord; I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people:
a. (Heb 8:10 Amplif.) For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the LORD: I will imprint My laws upon their minds, even upon their innermost thoughts and understanding, and engrave them upon their hearts [what kind of hearts are alluded to?]; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people.
2. mercy seat = Heb: kapporeth; a lid (used only of the cover of the sacred Ark) /// kaphar; to cover (spec. with bitumen); fig. to expiate or condone, to placate or cancel:--appease, make (an) atonement, cleanse, disannul, forgive, be merciful, pacify, pardon, to pitch [as in Noah’s ark in the OT, and Capernaum in the NT], purge (away), put off, (make) reconcile (-liation).
3. Matthew Henry’s Commentary: That this ark was the chief token of God’s presence teaches us that the first and great evidence and assurance of God’s favour is the putting of His law in the heart. God dwells where that rules. In allusion to this mercy-seat, we are said to come boldly to the throne of grace (Heb 4:16); for we are not under the law, which is covered, but under grace, which is displayed; its wings are stretched out, and we are invited to come under the shadow of them.
4. (1 Pet 1:12) Unto whom [the prophets] it was revealed, that not unto themselves, but unto us they did minister the things, which are now reported unto you by them that have preached the gospel unto you with the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven; which things the angels desire to look into.
5. The Pulpit Commentary: Collectively, as to the bearing of the several parts one upon another. The teaching of the ark in this respect was, primarily, that of David in the eighty-fifth psalm: “Mercy and truth are met together; righteousness and peace have kissed each other.” Mercy without justice is a weak sentimentality, subversive of moral order. Justice without mercy is a moral severity—theoretically without a flaw, but revolting to man’s instinctive feelings. The synthesis of the two is required. The law, enshrined in the holiest place of the sanctuary, vindicated the awful purity and perfection of God. The mercy seat, extended above the law, assigned to mercy its superior directive position. The cherubic figures showed the gaze of the angels riveted in astonishment and admiration of God’s mode of uniting mercy with justice, by means if vicarious suffering, which He can accept as atonement. Finally, the Divine presence, promised as a permanent thing, gave God’s sanction to the expiatory scheme, whereby alone man can be reconciled to Him, and the claims of both justice and of mercy satisfied. //// Over the mercy seat rests the cloud of God’s glory. We shall meet God only as we seek Him here. On the basis of mere law, there can be no communion between God and man. The blood-sprinkled mercy seat must intervene. Only on the ground of Christ’s mediation and intercession, can God transact with sinners.
AmenClick here, or on the diagram for a printable (PDF) version.