Psalm 29 – A Psalm of David titled The Voice of God in A Great Storm
Ascribe to the Lord, O heavenly beings, ascribe to the Lord glory and strength.2 Ascribe to the Lord the glory of his name; worship the Lord in holy splendor.
3 The voice of the Lord is over the waters; the God of glory thunders, the Lord, over mighty waters. 4 The voice of the Lord is powerful; the voice of the Lord is full of majesty. 5 The voice of the Lord breaks the cedars; the Lord breaks the cedars of Lebanon. 6 He makes Lebanon skip like a calf, and Sirion like a young wild ox. 7 The voice of the Lord flashes forth flames of fire. 8 The voice of the Lord shakes the wilderness; the Lord shakes the wilderness of Kadesh. 9 The voice of the Lord causes the oaks to whirl, and strips the forest bare; and in his temple all say, “Glory!” 10 The Lord sits enthroned over the flood; the Lord sits enthroned as king forever. 11 May the Lord give strength to his people! May the Lord bless his people with peace!
Prayer: Loving Father, there are so many examples of Your great glory and majesty – and yet You are interested in us, Your children. Help us tune our ears to hear Your voice, that we may live humbly and walk wisely before You, in spirit and truth. In Jesus' name AMEN.
An elderly gentlemen went in for his annual physical exam. The doctor said, "You're in incredible shape. How old are you again?" The man replied, "I am 84." The doctor exclaimed,
"Wow, 84. How do you stay so healthy? You look like a 60 year old." So, the man explained, "Well, my wife and I made a pact when we got married; That whenever she got mad she would go into the kitchen and cool off; And I would go outside and take a walk round the block!”
So, the doctor asked: "What does that have to do with it?" The man sighed, "Well, I guess I've lived an outdoor life."
David the writer of this Psalm; Was a man who “lived an outdoor life!" He was an outdoorsman who appreciated nature; And the open-air lifestyle he lived helped him to appreciate his creator. It may well be that David was out in the countryside; When he was caught up in a ferocious storm.
Thunderstorms are among nature’s most awesome displays of his power. Thunder is the sound caused by lightning. The intense heat from lightning causes the surrounding air to rapidly expand; And create a sonic wave that you hear as thunder. This huge electrical discharge results in the fireworks display in the skies; and it can be spectacular and sometimes frightening.
Many people suffer from ‘Astraphobia’ which is the fear of thunder and lightning.
Notice that David’s thoughts did not turn to fear… but to faith. He looked beyond the thunderstorm and saw it as an illustration of God’s power.
In verses 1 and 2 he hears God’s Powerful Voice. He doesn’t hear the thunderstorm, he doesn’t panic. He says:
Reminding us in storms we do not need to be afraid.
There is a great Peanuts cartoon from Charles Schultz where Charlie Brown says:
"Sometimes I lie awake at night, and I ask, ’Where have I gone wrong?’ Then a voice says to me, ’This is going to take more than one night.’"
In this psalm David talks about the voice of the Lord; In fact, that phrase; “The voice of the Lord” occurs seven times;
Verse 3: “The voice of the LORD is over the waters”
Verse 4: “The voice of the LORD is powerful; the voice of the LORD is full of majesty.”
Verse 5: “The voice of the LORD breaks the cedars”
Verse 7: “The voice of the LORD flashes forth flames of fire.”
Verse 8: “The voice of the LORD shakes the wilderness”
Verse 9: “The voice of the LORD causes the oaks to whirl, and strips the forest bare;”
Now obviously; David did not literally believe that the thunder was God speaking. Remember this psalm is expressive poetical literature; He simply saw the thunder as a picture showing us the power of God’s voice.
Many Bible commentators think this expression “The voice of the Lord”; Is David looking back to the creation story in Genesis chapter 1
In Geneses chapter 1 we read that on ten occasions God speaks;
Verse 3 – “Then God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light.”
Verse 6 – “And God said, “Let there be a dome in the midst of the waters, and let it separate the waters from the waters.”
Verse 9 – “And God said, “Let the waters under the sky be gathered together into one place, and let the dry land appear.”
Verse 11 – “Then God said, “Let the earth put forth vegetation: plant yielding seed, and fruit trees of every kind on earth that bear fruit with the seed in it.”
Verse 14 – “And God said, “Let there be lights in the dome of the sky to separate the day from the night; and let them be for signs and seasons and for days and years.”
Verse 20 – “And God said: “Let the waters bring forth swarms of living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the dome of the sky.”
Verse 24 – “And God said, “Let the earth bring forth living creatures of every kind: cattle and creeping things and wild animals of the earth of every kind.”
Verse 26 – “Then God said, “Let us make humankind” in our image, according to our likeness;”
Verse 28 – “And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it;
Verse 29 – “God said, “See, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit; you shall have them for food.”
Before God’s 10 commandment in Exodus Chapter 20 he commanded and spoke in these 10 verses of the creation story.
God speaks, he instructs, he commands; And his power is revealed, it is visibly manifested. It may well be that David casts his mind back to the voice of God at work in creation; as he wrote this Psalm. And this helped him to magnify the sovereignty of God and the power of God. He looked beyond the thunderstorm and saw it as an illustration of God’s supreme authority.
Now this psalm begins with a series of requests:
Notice in verse 1: David encourages all the angelic creatures (“heavenly beings”) to worship God.
Why invoke angels and call upon them to praise God? After all Isn’t that their job, their role in life? Aren’t they employed in doing that constantly?
James Montgomery Boice says:
“Why does David call on the angels then? As soon as we think of this poetically the reason is obvious. It is because he feels that his praise and that of other human beings is not adequate. David is overwhelmed with the majesty of God revealed in the storm that he has witnessed and is now going to describe. He feels that he needs help praising God properly. To praise God adequately the entire created order must join in, and even then sufficient praise will be lacking”.
In verse 1-2 David gives us some insights into worshipping God:
He gives the angels (and us) various reasons why we should worship God when he says “ascribe to the Lord glory and strength. Worship the Lord in holy splendor.”
Now giving reasons to worship is always a good idea!
If I said to you; “Everybody laugh!” Some of you out of politeness would put on a false laughter to co-operate. But actually, true laughter cannot be manufactured! If I want you to laugh I need to tell you something funny.
Worship does not just happen; you don’t just turn it on; If you want to help people to worship then show them a reason why! One of the reasons we sing hymns and have music is for this very reason:
They expand our appreciation of who God is and what God has done for us:
For example, The song Praise, My Soul, the King of Heaven contains the lyrics “Ransomed, healed, restored, forgiven who like thee His praise should sing?
David in verses 1-2 gives us some insights on worship:
FIRST: He demands us to ‘Ascribe’ glory to him; He makes that appeal three times in these two verses. And in doing this he is drawing our attention to what God is like: Verse 1: He is a God of “glory and strength.” Verse 2: He is a God of “holiness”.
David reminds us that God is worthy of praise, not just for what he has done; But for who he is - He is our creator – so twice he says: “..ascribe to the Lord glory and strength.” “Ascribe to the Lord the glory of his name”
David is reminding human beings that what the angels do naturally and consistently; We must learn to do habitually! The angels worship God and obey his will perfectly; We too must learn to ‘bow down’ and submit our lives to his will!
SECOND: David wants us to worship God for who he is; So, in verse 2 he brings to our attention some of God’s characteristics:
He is a God of “holiness”. So, he exhorts us to: “Worship the Lord in holy splendor.”
There is no other characteristic of God; That gets the emphasis than His holiness does.
We are never told in scripture that God is; “Wise, wise, wise”,
And we are never told that God is; “Strong, strong, strong”,
And we are never told that God is “Faithful, faithful, faithful”,
There is only one attribute of God that is repeated again and again and again, That is his holiness!
In Isaiah chapter 6 verses 1-3:
“In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, high and lofty; and the hem of his robe filled the temple. Seraphs were in attendance above him; each had six wings: with two they covered their faces, and with two they covered their feed, and with two they flew. And one called to another and said: Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory.”
In Revelation chapter 4 verse 8 (describing the throne of heaven):
“And the four living creatures, each of them with six wings, are full of eyes all around and inside. Day and night without ceasing they sing, :Holy, holy, holy, the Lord God the Almighty, who was and is and is to come.”
In these two passages the holiness of God is repeated three times. Now repeating a word in Hebrew is to emphasize something.
It is kind of like you using a highlighter to give emphasis to something.
So, in verse 2 David encourages the angelic beings (and us) to: Worship God for who he is: “Worship the Lord in holy splendor”
Before the days of modern navigational aids; Travelers crossing the Atlantic had their boats equipped with two compasses. One was fixed to the deck where the man at the wheel could see it. The other compass was fastened up on one of the masts, And often a sailor would be seen climbing up to inspect it. One day a passenger asked the captain: “Why do you have two compasses?” The captain replied: “This is an iron vessel, and the compass on the deck is often affected by its surroundings. Such is not the case with the compass at the masthead; That one is above the influence. We steer by the compass above.”
I think the psalmist is echoing that idea; With human eyes tainted by sin our worship is flawed.
So, in verse 2 we are encouraged to join with the angelic beings above; And to steer, to look, to worship from that perspective: To: “Worship the Lord in holy splendor.”
In verses 3-9 we see God’s Power in Action
The bulk of this psalm illustrates the power of God; by describing the movement of a storm.
Nearly 1,800 thunderstorms are happening at any moment around the world. That's 16 million a year!
Scientific studies suggest; That the chances of an individual getting struck by lightning is 1 in 600,000.
A typical thunderstorm is 15 miles in diameter and lasts an average of 30 minutes.
This storm appears to be much bigger and wider.
I want you to note: The bulk of this psalm illustrates the power of God; By describing in verse 3-8 the movement of a storm.
You can mark the movement of the storm as it travels the length of the country; In three parts.
Part 1: verses 3-4: The storm starts somewhere over the Mediterranean Sea.
Before coming ashore in full fury. It reads “The voice of the Lord is over the waters; the God of glory thunders, the Lord over mighty waters. The voice of the Lord is powerful; the voice of the Lord is full of majesty.
Part 2: verses 5-7: The storm strikes; it reads “The voice of the Lord breaks the cedars; the Lord breaks the cedars of Lebanon. He makes Lebanon skip like a calf, and Sirion like a young wild ox. The voice of the Lord flashes forth flames of fire.”
The Lebanon range was about 10,000 feet above sea level; And the Canaanites believed it was the home of their gods. It was famous for its cedar forests which were the grandest of forest trees; The great cedars of Lebanon were an important symbol of strength in the ancient world.
But the thunder of God broke even those mature strong trees.
I like the poetic language he uses; These mature strong trees ‘skip like a little calf’ at the sound of thunder. I think many of us do that when we hear a loud clap of thunder.
Part 3: verses 8-9:
“The voice of the Lord shakes the wilderness; the lord shake the wilderness of Kadesh. The voice of the Lord causes the oaks to whirls, and strips the forest bare; and in his temple all say, “Glory!”
These verses tell us that at Sirion the storm changes direction and moves south; It travels two hundred miles down to Kadesh in the southern desert country. And there it dispersed.
But before it disperses it again wreaks its havoc.
Even the mighty oak tree lays twisted on the ground; As if it was a discarded piece of paper.
When the storm sweeps over the forest; The trees are flattened as if they were 10 pins in a bowling alley
At the end of Verse 9. It is as if David says; you can’t resist it so enjoy! Get along to God’s temple and praise him! “And in his temple all say, ‘Glory!’”
Christian Singer Chris Tomlin’s song Indescribable reminds me of Psalm 29
“From the highest of heights to the depths of the sea Creation's revealing Your majesty from the colors of fall to the fragrance of spring.
Every creature unique in the song that it sings all exclaiming indescribable, uncontainable,
You placed the stars in the sky, and You know them by name. You are amazing God all powerful, untamable, awestruck we fall to our knees as we humbly proclaim You are amazing God who has told every lightning bolt where it should go or seen heavenly storehouses laden with snow
who imagined the sun and gives source to its light yet conceals it to bring us the coolness of night. You see the depths of my heart and You love me the same You are amazing God
This brings us to vs 10-11 God’s Power Enthroned
“The LORD sits enthroned over the flood; the Lord sits enthroned as king forever. May the Lord give strength to his people! May the Lord bless his people with peace!
The earth and the people have been shaken up especially this past year. It has been traumatic on earth; All around is the evidence of that in the aftermath of storm damage. But in contrast to earth – heaven is calm! God has not been shaken up, he has not been fearful or panicking.
So, David draws our attention to a God who is enthroned. He is the one in total control; Nature is his tool and not his master. The psalmist knows that God has more than enough power to control the elements;
Note: 18 times in these 11 verses, the title used for God is “Lord”; And that means he is Lord of heaven and earth, Lord of all! So, this Psalm concludes with God blessing his people: It is a twofold blessing: God gives to us “strength” and he gives to us “peace”. Strength to cope in the storms of life; His peace is our legacy - when after the storm the calm appears.
Let’s look at it this way. A contest is held to determine who could represent peace through painting. Three finalist were determined and a crowd of art enthusiasts, were used to declare the winner. The first painting was unveiled to reveal a portrait of a peaceful valley, with a quiet sunset in the background. Applause rang through the room. The second was unveiled to show a portrait of tranquil waters of a seashore, with the soft glow of a lighthouse. Applause once again rang through the room. When the final entry was unveiled, there was a collective gasp in the room, because this painting was of a dark, threatening sky. Rain poured down upon a sharp cliff with one straggly old tree jutting from it. However, from an elbow on the branch of that tree, could be seen a mother bird sitting atop her nest, sheltering her baby birds from the storm. Once the audience realize this detail in the picture, the room exploded with applause and a winner was chosen.
You see we are the winners when we remember to look for Peace in the midst of the storm!
‒ Pastor Pam