The Feast of Tabernacles, or Sukkot, features the building of booths or huts, temporary structures which represent the tents the children of Israel lived in during their forty years in the wilderness. While the Hebrew word sukkah (סֻכָּה) is often translated “booth” or “tabernacle,” it appears a few times in the King James Bible as “pavilion.”
In several of the psalms, King David conjured the image of God in one of these temporary shelters, hidden from view. For example:
He made darkness his secret place; his pavilion round about him were dark waters and thick clouds of the skies.Psalm 18:11, 2 Samuel 22:12
In another psalm, David longs to be hidden with God:
One thing have I desired of the Lord, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord, and to inquire in his temple.
For in the time of trouble he shall hide me in his pavilion: in the secret of his tabernacle shall he hide me; he shall set me up upon a rock.Psalm 27:4-5
Isaiah shared his determination to continue searching for God, even when He seems to be hidden from view:
I will wait upon the Lord, that hideth his face from the house of Jacob, and I will look for him.Isaiah 8:17, 2 Nephi 18:17
In the cold basement of Liberty Jail, surrounded by walls four feet thick, Joseph Smith could certainly be forgiven for wondering where God was hiding. “O God, where art thou?” he prayed. “And where is the pavilion that covereth thy hiding place?” (Doctrine and Covenants 121:1). Then he pleaded. “Let thy pavilion be taken up; let thy hiding place no longer be covered; let thine ear be inclined; let thine heart be softened, and thy bowels moved with compassion toward us” (Doctrine and Covenants 121:4).
President Henry B. Eyring explained that God does not hide from His children. When He seems to be hidden, we need to redouble our efforts to find Him:
The pavilion that seems to intercept divine aid does not cover God but occasionally covers us. God is never hidden, yet sometimes we are, covered by a pavilion of motivations that draw us away from God and make Him seem distant and inaccessible….
Our feelings of separation from God will diminish as we become more childlike before Him….
God is close to us and aware of us and never hides from His faithful children.“Where Is the Pavilion?” General Conference, October 2012
Today, I will strive to draw close to God. When I feel that He is distant, I will ask for His help to remove the pavilion which separates me from Him.