The Storm Begins

Psalm 29 – A Psalm of David:
Ascribe to the LORD, O sons of the mighty, ascribe to the LORD glory and strength.  Ascribe to the LORD the glory due to His name; worship the LORD in holy array.  The voice of the LORD is upon the waters; the God of glory thunders, the LORD is over many waters.  The voice of the LORD is powerful, the voice of the LORD is majestic.  The voice of the LORD breaks the cedars; yes, the LORD breaks in pieces the cedars of Lebanon.  He makes Lebanon skip like a calf, and Sirion like a young wild ox.  The voice of the LORD hews out flames of fire.  The voice of the LORD shakes the wilderness; the LORD shakes the wilderness of Kadesh.  The voice of the LORD makes the deer to calve and strips the forests bare; and in His temple everything says, “Glory!”  The LORD sat as King at the flood; yes, the LORD sits as King forever.  The LORD will give strength to His people; the LORD will bless His people with peace.

This second section (29:3-9) gives the reasons or grounds for praising God.  Why praise the God of Israel in the splendor of holiness?  Because the glory of God’s voice booms like majestic and powerful thunder in the sky, and all creation is the theatre of His glory!  In this passage the storm begins.  While many today simply see thunderstorms as mere storms, the people of Israel saw them as an illustration displaying the majesty and power of Yahweh.  The all-glorious God makes Himself known in the language of deep booming thunder and reveals Himself in the storm.  In this section the major theme, “The voice of the LORD”, is repeated seven times, and every instance of “the voice of the Lord” mentions a kind of audible noise men on earth would hear and be familiar with.  Powerful and majestic rushing water (29:3-4), cedars of Lebanon snapping in two like twigs (29:5), uncontrollable roaring flames (29:7), and ground shaking earthquakes (29:8).  The Lord’s voice causes the deer to give birth (29:9a), and it strips the forest bare (29:9b).  The voice of the Lord is nothing to be taken lightly.  This seems especially true when we take the location of the two mountains in 29:5-6 into account.  Mt. Lebanon and Mt. Hermon were both in the north, where the Canaanites lived.  This implies that Yahweh shows little care for the pagan gods of Canaan, He is tearing down their forests in His glory!  The picture being painted is a storm drawing near, letting us know the Lord is approaching in glory and power, and all of creation waits to see His glory in fear and trembling.  Charles Spurgeon said it like this:

There is a peculiar terror in a storm at sea, when deep calls unto deep, and the raging sea echoes to the angry sky.  No sight more alarming than the flash of lightning around the mast of the ship; and no sound more calculated to inspire a reverent awe than the roar of a storm…As when a lion roars, all the beasts of the forest  are still, so is the earth hushed and mute while Jehovah thunders marvelously.

After these deep claps of thunder and lightning come from God in the storm, a response is given in 29:9c, “…in His temple all cry, ‘Glory’!”  Is this not “awe” defined in its most simple form?  The people see the wonder of the storm, and respond in awe-struck wonder, crying out “Glory!”  The storm intensifies as you continue reading from 29:3-9, and when it comes to the response of ‘Glory!’ the storm has reached its apex, climaxing in its most violent manner.  It’s almost as it the Psalm winds its way up, as if traveling up a staircase, unveiling further and further with each new step, until we’re at the highest point we can possibly go.  The Hebrew word for glory means ‘weight’, or ‘heaviness’, and this is indeed what the original reader would have known and understood from their own experience in storms.  Thunder carries a certain weight or heaviness to it that frightens the soul; it is not to be taken lightly.  The same is true of the God of glory; he is not to be taken lightly.


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