Seeing God’s Glory, Praising God’s Love

Psalm 63:2-3 says, “I have looked upon you in the sanctuary, beholding Your power and glory. Because Your steadfast love is better than life, my lips will praise you.”

These verses in Psalm 63 have always stuck out to me because of the transition David makes within it. In 63:2 David says that He has seen God in His sanctuary and beheld Him in His glory and power. In 63:3 David then says in response “because Your love is better than life my lips will praise you.” A question rises up upon seeing this. Why would David not say “because Your glory is better than life?” Didn’t he see His glory? How does God’s love come into the mix here?

I think the answer is quite revealing about the manner in which God loves mankind as well as revealing about the manner in which man receives the love of God. Here’s what I think is happening in these two verses.

David saw the glory and power of God and he rejoiced in that glory by praising God. Particularly, in praising the love of God. What then is the connection between seeing God’s glory and power and praising God’s love? I think it’s this. After seeing God’s glory and rejoicing in that glory by praising God, David expressed his joy in God’s love because allowing us to behold His glory is the primary way God loves us.

This would mean that God’s love does not make much of us (man-centered view), but God Himself (God-centered view). God is beheld in His glory, God is then praised in response, man’s soul is filled with joy, and God is glorified and made much of. This displays that God is love precisely because He graciously gives the elect the greatest possession they could ever have – Himself!

The Heavens Declare

The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork. – Psalm 19:1

Sometime ago I heard a pastor speaking about the size of our galaxy. It is incredible. We know that the speed of light is 186,000 miles per second. Not per hour, but per second. That is fast! To travel from one side of our galaxy to the other side of our galaxy would take 100,000 years traveling at the speed of light. Yes, you read that correctly. It would take 100,000 years to travel across our galaxy if you were traveling 186,000 miles per second. That is how enormous our galaxy is. And that is just our galaxy. It is estimated that there are billions of other galaxies in our universe. Billions! Our universe is absolutely gigantic. And planet earth is nothing more than a small speck in comparison to the universe that we live in. It really is amazing to think about the vastness of our universe.

I shared the above information with some family of mine at lunch one afternoon. And I remember someone responded, “Why? Why would God create such a huge universe?” Almost as if to say it was overkill. To that my wife Rachel responded, “To show how awesome God is!” That could not be more true. As Psalm 19 says, “The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.” God’s glory and greatness can be seen in His creation. When we explore the vastness of the universe and we see how great and awesome it is, we should be pointed to how great and awesome God is.

Then to think that this great and awesome God not only created us and allowed us to live in His universe, but He even lowered Himself to become one of us, so that He might redeem us from our sin, is an incredibly thought. David in Psalm 8 rightly asks the question, “When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him?” (Psalm 8:3-4)

It is truly amazing that our mighty God, who created everything and is in control of everything, would become one of us in order to save us, but He did. Philippians 2 tells us, “Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross” (Phil. 2:5b-8).

God is great and majestic and yet He cares enough about us to come down to where we are to rescue us from our sinful state. He does this, not because we are awesome and deserve His grace, but because He is awesome and pours His grace on sinners even though we are undeserving. The God who created the sun and the moon, and the billions of the galaxies in our universe also made you and me and then died so that by faith we could live.

As we think about who God is and what He has done may praise and adoration flow from our lips.

How Do the Psalms Relate to Jesus?

A good thing is happening in our day.  In more and more churches Christians are seeing the whole of Scripture in relation to Jesus.  What I mean is that it didn’t used to be this way a few decades ago.  People taught the Bible but it was in a vague or superficial manner in which they would draw principles out of it that were true but had nothing to do with the whole grand theme of Scripture.  What is the grand theme of the entire Bible?  Jesus Christ.  To say it another way: Jesus Christ is the end which every verse in the bible longs to take us.  To teach in any other way is to teach wrongly.

Sometimes this is easier to see in certain parts of the Bible than others.  In Luke 24:44 Jesus said, “These are My words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything written about Me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.”  Jesus means for us to learn the following from this verse:

He is the fulfillment of the Law of Moses, the Prophets, and the Psalms.  This means the entire Old Testament speaks of Jesus, and that from looking into them we get a glimpse of His Person, His Work, and His Coming.  That Jesus is the fulfillment of the Law of Moses is made much of in Romans 10:4 which says, “For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes.”  This means that though the Law is good (Romans 7:7-12) and though the Law points out our sin (Galatians 3:24) it cannot save us, condemns us, and leaves us guilty before the holy God (Galatians 2:16).  Paul’s aim in Romans 10:4 is that the law leads us to Christ, and even more, when a person puts their faith in Christ, we receive the perfect righteousness the Law demands of us (2 Cor. 5:21), and are therefore counted perfect before God.  That Jesus is the fulfillment of the Prophets is made much of throughout all the prophetic writings in the Old Testament and especially in the book of Acts.  For example, Peter’s sermon on Pentecost in Acts 2 traces the work of God through the Old Testament in preparation for the coming of the Messiah.  Lesson?  All of the prophets told of a greater Prophet who would one day come and usher in the Kingdom of God.

How then is Jesus the fulfillment of the Psalms?

This is a bit less clear to many people, but it doesn’t have to be.  Here’s why.  The Psalms are prayers and songs, they are the cries of God’s people.  Thus, see Jesus fulfill every Psalm in that Jesus Himself is the definitive answer to the cries of His people, in this manner Jesus is the fulfillment of every Psalm.

Hurt With God, Not Without Him

Psalm 13 – How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever?  How long will you hide your face from me?  How long must I take counsel in my soul and have sorrow in my heart all the day?  How long shall my enemy be exalted over me?  Consider and answer me, O Lord my God; light up my eyes, lest I sleep the sleep of death, lest my enemy say, “I have prevailed over him,” lest my foes rejoice because I am shaken.  But I have trusted in your steadfast love; my heart shall rejoice in your salvation.  I will sing to the Lord, because he has dealt bountifully with me.

Now we come to an end.  After David got out what was inside, he felt comfortable in the arms of God because he knows that God will care for these things, and work out all the things that are concerning him, crushing him, and captivating his heart at the present moment.  That’s what happened in Psalm 13, and that’s what’ll happen to you to if you go to God when you hurt.

Earlier I said that the purpose of Psalm 13 is to teach us to bring our pain, our confusion, and our sorrow to God, because He cares and can do something about it!  Psalm 13 gives us words, to give us vocabulary to say to God when the dark times don’t end or don’t get better!  When we hurt, we must hurt with God, rather than without Him.

So you see, I have to ask you a question now.  Are you hurting?  Have you cracked?  Are you under the ocean floor right now, feeling the weight of all the seas of the world pressing down on you?  Well, if that is you now, good.  If that’s not you, it’s coming.  Were not promised prosperity or a pain free life, Jesus Himself said in John 16:33, “I have spoken these things to you, so that in Me you may have peace.  In this world you will have trouble, but take heart, I have overcome the world.”  We will have trouble in this world, so will you, trusting that Jesus has overcome the world, overcome the world with Him by having faith in Him?

When you place your faith in Jesus having looked at the cross, treasuring it above all things because by it you now have God, you will overcome the world.  BUT, just because you’ve overcome the world because of Jesus, pain still comes – and when it comes, will you use the words that God has given you to do your hurting with God rather than without Him?

From Complaining to Confidence

David’s Appeal – 13:3b-5 – “…light up my eyes, lest I sleep the sleep of death, lest my enemy say, ‘I have prevailed over him’, lest me foes rejoice because I am shaken.  But I have trusted in your steadfast love my heart shall rejoice in your salvation.”

Notice that David here in Psalm 13 and other authors in other Psalms try to persuade God to act so that they’ll get out of their current problems!  David isn’t afraid to try and convince and motivate God to do something!  He is not afraid to do some “divine arm twisting” if that’s what it takes to get God to act.  David states that the reason God should act and save him is a) because he is in a mess, b) because of his enemies, and c) because of God!  You probably get these first two right?  Anytime we’re in a mess we beg God to take us out of it, and anytime people wrong us we talk God about it, or we should talk God about it, usually before we respond to them.  But notice the third reason?  David wanted God to act here, because he has trusted in God’s steadfast love.  What does this mean?  Well, David has trusted in this God for salvation, and God has proclaimed Himself to be “merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in love and faithfulness.”  If God is that good, David is saying, “Shouldn’t You show up God?”  In David’s mind, he is calling God to be what He has said He is, and if God doesn’t show up, David is implying that God’s loving and faithful reputation is on the line.  Now before you accuse David of doing something wrong here, let me indeed tell you that though David talks like this, he knows God is sovereign, all powerful, majestic, all glorious, that nothing happens on this earth apart from His will, and that God always does what is best for him.  But David knows that prayer can really make a difference in what happens or what does not happen in his own life!  So given the situation he is in, David goes for it in prayer with God, and he’s got nothing to lose in doing so, because God hears the cries of His children and always acts for them.  You know what’s crazy about this?  We should do this too.

David’s Confidence – 13:6 – “I will sing to the Lord because He has dealt bountifully with me.”

Now we’ve come to the last verse in our Psalm, and it is strange.  Well this whole Psalm is strange isn’t it?  But really, look at this last verse – the tone totally changes.  David was bleak and had cracked emotionally and spiritually.  He’s at the end of is rope and is calling God to action to rescue him from this mess.  Then in 13:6 we read this?  What?  Some scholars believe that this verse was added onto the end at a later time because it’s so different in tone.  I don’t believe that, and you shouldn’t either, it’s wrong.  I believe this different feel for an ending shows the heart of David and oh (!) is it awesome!  It reveals that David’s heart knows that regardless of how God answers this prayer, whether He shows up and rescues him, whether He does something totally unexpected, or whether He does nothing at all, David will be ok.  Why?  Because he’s gotten what was crushing his heart off his heart, it’s in God’s hands now, and David knows deep down inside that God has been faithful in the past, and that he can trust God with his future, even if he doesn’t understand the present.  David has just traveled from complaint to confidence, how?  By taking God to task, getting mad, screaming, throbbing, crying, all in prayer.  God is now taking care of His boy, and David knows…everything will be ok.

If God Doesn’t Show Up…..

David’s Complaint – 13:1b-2 – “Will You forget me forever?  How long will You hide Your face from me?  How long must I bear pain (take counsel) in my soul and have sorrow in my heart all the day?  How long shall my enemy be exalted over me?”

This is now the section of the prayer where David pours out his complaints.  Clearly, whatever David is going through he is not well.  He is experiencing all kinds of trouble and turmoil: he thinks God has forgotten him, that God has hidden his face from him, and these thoughts are tearing his soul apart, bringing him inner pain and sorrow in his soul every second of the day.  Then we learn that David has an enemy who has or is bringing extreme difficulty into his life, because they have somehow gained the upper hand with David and seem eager to proclaim their victory over him, rejoicing at the downfall of David.  Whatever the situation was the this enemy it is clear that David thinks it is not what God wants to happen, so he cries out about it.  David’s complaint can be summarized in a few statements: 1) I am in pain, 2) my enemy wants my demise, 3) God, where are you?

David’s Request – 13:3a – “Consider and answer me, O Lord my God; light up my eyes, lest I sleep the sleep of death…”

Often when someone makes a complaint to God and pours out there heart before Him, the person will beg for God to show up directly afterwards.  We need to remember that the Psalms are poetry, and that when David says, “…light up my eyes…” he is not saying that all he needs is physical light because he follows the statement with, “…lest I sleep the sleep of death.”  This is highly poetic language describing the fact that if God does not show up and save David from this awful time, his life – in his view – is done!  Light up my eyes means – save me, restore the health of my heart and soul, I’m in anguish, show up and lead me out of this mess, or else I’m at my end.

I wonder, where are you?  I mean, as you read this you’re doing life somewhere with other people, and I’m certain that some of you might be in this moment feeling the way David felt.  Is that you?  Do you feel that your circumstances are bleak enough to believe that God must show up sometime soon or else you are done?  I’ve been there.  It’s not fun, but the glorious thing is that God does show up.  Always, He is faithful, good, kind, and won’t leave us in a moment of weakness but sustain us with Himself to make it through.  If this is you, hold on.  God is coming, God is working, keep your eyes open for Him, He’ll reveal Himself soon and capture your heart.

“How long, O’ Lord?” Means it’s Been too Long Already

David’s Address to God – 13:1a – “How long, O’ Lord?”

Psalm 13 is a prayer and the thing so urgent and sharp about Psalms of Lament is how they start.  Most people, a lot of Psalms begin with a very high and lofty type of language, giving evidence that a human is entering into the presence of the King of Kings Himself.  But David is lamenting in Psalm 13, so notice two things.  First, notice the first words here, “How long?”  Remember that David has reached the end of his rope, he is in circumstances that we do not know about, but we can tell from this urgent cry that it must be pretty bad.  David, doesn’t have time for high and lofty language, he just gets straight to the point here, “HOW LONG!”  People who ask the question “how long?” are people who are not looking for an answer.  I know this because of preaching.  Sometimes when a sermon is bad, you know…really bad…people’s faces begin to twist and contort and I know exactly what they’re asking themselves, “How much longer is this sermon going to last?”  If that question is being asked, the sermon has already been too long!  In the same manner, if David has reached a point where he is crying out “How long?” we can know for sure that it’s already been too long.  If you’ve been here, you know that David’s world has seemed to lose its color, grown cold, feeling unkind at every turn.

Notice secondly who David addresses his cry to, “How long, O’ LORD?”  David is not talking to one of his servants or soldiers, he is not asking one of his children, he is asking this question to one Person – God Himself.  Some read this, get offended, try to explain things away and think, “You see?  This is simply wrong to approach God in a manner like this.  He is God, we are not.  How dare a man or woman enter into the heavenly throne in such an audacious and arrogant manner.”  But I wonder, is this arrogant?  Is this audacious?  No.  David has cracked, emotionally, spiritually, maybe physically even, and what is knee jerk reaction when he’s as low as he’s ever been?  To talk to God!  He could have gone anywhere else in the world to drown his sorrows, but he doesn’t.  He goes to God.  We could learn from this in day.  We are a people with constant noise around us, TV, radio, Pandora, internet, youtube, xbox, and it’s on our phones now too.  When we hit rock bottom do we go to God and fight it out, or do we just turn up the volume on one of our devices?

Don’t be too hard on David, he is going to the only place he knows is safe – God.

Psalms of Lament – Vocabulary for Pain

Psalm 13 – How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever?  How long will you hide your face from me?  How long must I take counsel in my soul and have sorrow in my heart all the day?  How long shall my enemy be exalted over me?  Consider and answer me, O Lord my God; light up my eyes, lest I sleep the sleep of death, lest my enemy say, “I have prevailed over him,” lest my foes rejoice because I am shaken.  But I have trusted in your steadfast love; my heart shall rejoice in your salvation.  I will sing to the Lord, because he has dealt bountifully with me.

Before I walk you through this Psalm, I need to tell you about Psalms like these.  These kind of Psalms are called “Psalms of Lament” because the Psalmist has reached his breaking point, he’s cracked, and this is the type of language that comes out of the human soul when you crack.  You should know though, that not everyone has looked nicely on these Psalms.  C.S. Lewis is among this group.  He said, “The men who wrote these psalms are almost shockingly alien, creatures of unrestrained emotion, wallowing in self pity, sobbing cursing, screaming, and dancing to the music of strange musical instruments.  What good can the modern man find in reading such stuff?”  Today, these Psalms are viewed as strange and inappropriate because they are filled with complaining and arguing against God, and Christians of all people shouldn’t complain or argue with God right?!  Most Christians avoid Psalms like this because they believe that Christians ought to know that no matter how hard things get in life, we ought to know Romans 8:28, that God is working all things for good, and that we should just trust that in the end all will be okay.  Didn’t Jesus Himself say that He’ll always be with us?  And if He’s with us, shouldn’t we always trust that we’ll be alright?

Well, though these things are all true and glorious, I do not look down on these Psalms as if they are out of line or inappropriate for Christians today and I don’t think you should look down on them either.  Out of all the 150 Psalms, 60 of them of Psalms of Lament, that’s 40% of the whole book.  This should teach us that God has purpose in inspiring so many Psalms of Lament in His Word.  I think the purpose is to show and teach us that God invites us to speak the truth about our lives, our pain, and our confusion to Him, because He cares and can do something about it.  We must see that Psalm 13 and those like it are in the Bible to give us words, to give us vocabulary to say to God when the dark times don’t end or don’t get better.  These Psalms help us learn that when we hurt, we must hurt with God, rather than without Him.  So, let’s get into Psalm 13 shall we?

Psalm 13 has five parts to it, the David’s address to God, David’s complaint, David’s request, David’s appeal, and David’s confidence.  We’ll take em one at a time beginning tomorrow.

Why Bailey Pee’d on A Pillow and What Happens When We Reach Our Breaking Point

I once read about a dog named Bailey.  Bailey was a two year old basset hound who had a gentle playful temper, eager to love anyone near him.  But though this is true, Bailey has a bit of baggage.  You see, Bailey was just a puppy when an F-5 tornado came through his backyard that he just happened to be playing in.  He survived, Bailey’s owner got to him in time, but it left a mark on Bailey that has never left, so deep a mark that anytime a storm comes to Bailey’s house and Bailey is in the backyard, he freaks out, runs up to the back door, and barks his tail off until someone comes to his rescue.  It could just be a few rain drops and no big deal to any normal person but to Bailey, the apocalypse has come!  A few years after this incident, wildfires were roaring about Baileys home and it did eventually catch on fire, and burn down.  But the important thing to notice about this fire is that it came to Baileys house through the backyard, where Bailey was playing.  His owner saw it, ran outside just in time to see his trees light up like fireballs, grabbed Bailey and got to safety.  During the time that a new house was being rebuilt for these guys they stayed in a little condo close by.  As soon as they got into the condo Bailey had a moment.  He walked in, sniffed around, found the bedroom, jumped onto the bed, found his owner’s pillow, and proceeded to pee.  The owner knew what this meant without the help of a vet.  Bailey clearly felt the need to make a few things clear.  First he acknowledged that his owner was the head of the family, (he chose his pillow rather than the others).  Second, he was not running away, he was still happily part of the family, knowing he is loved and cared for, but he wanted to make a statement to let his owner know that his life (to him) was out of control and that he didn’t like what was currently happening to him.  He had been chased by not only an F-5 tornado, but by a blazing fire and now his home had been destroyed twice!  He just couldn’t hold it inside any longer, he had to let out his feelings and make it known that he was not happy.

Now, I tell you this story, because when we go through tornadoes and blazing fires our their lives we do the same thing that Bailey does.  We don’t pee on pillows, hopefully, we just act out in different ways.  When times like this happen we feel displaced, confused, frustrated, angry, and eventually if we remain like this long enough, we reach our breaking point and we crack.  This is a fact, even if you’re a Christian.  We come to Psalm 13, listen to David express his hurt heart:

How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever?  How long will you hide your face from me?  How long must I take counsel in my soul and have sorrow in my heart all the day?  How long shall my enemy be exalted over me?  Consider and answer me, O Lord my God; light up my eyes, lest I sleep the sleep of death, lest my enemy say, “I have prevailed over him,” lest my foes rejoice because I am shaken.  But I have trusted in your steadfast love; my heart shall rejoice in your salvation.  I will sing to the Lord, because he has dealt bountifully with me.

This week we will explore Psalm 13 and see what God has for us there.

Psalm 29 Isn’t Vague about Jesus

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.

But we can’t stop here with our application, we must ask, “Can we Jesus in Psalm 29?”  Perhaps the largest way we see Psalm 29 coming into New Testament fulfillment is a further unveiling of “glory.”  When we talk about the glory of God, it is essential to talk about the Person in whom God’s glory is most fully revealed.  In 2 Cor. 4:3-6 Paul says it like this, “And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, in whose case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving so that they might not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.  For we do not preach ourselves but Christ Jesus as Lord, and ourselves as your bond-servants for Jesus’ sake.  For God, who said, ‘Light shall shine out of darkness,’ is the One who has shone in our hearts to give the Light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.”  Hebrews 1:3 similarly says, “Jesus is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of His being.”

David (the author of Psalm 29), Paul (the author of 2 Cor.), and the author of Hebrews are not vague about the glory of God, and we shouldn’t be either.  All these authors get very specific about the glory of God, and so is the whole of the Bible.  All of this glory talk is pointing towards the truth that the glory of God is most fully revealed in the gospel.  This gospel is called the gospel of the glory of Christ.  In other words, the glory of God, which encompasses Psalm 29 with awesome imagery, is most fully revealed in the face of Jesus Christ, God’s Son.  Therefore, when I talk about fearing, trembling, feasting, and treasuring the glory of God, I’m referring to God’s glory revealed most fully in His Son Jesus.

I want to show this to you in two ways.  When it comes to Jesus showing up, in the world and in the human soul, two images are helpful to us.

a) When Jesus comes into the heart in all His majesty and glory, Psalm 29 happens.  That same powerful voice that we saw in Psalm 29 enters in, see’s the barren wilderness of deadness and sin in us, and calls out into it.  Life is then found where death reigned!  Streams of rushing water begin to flow where dry cracked ground used to be!  Flowers, palm trees, and all sorts of beautiful vegetation grows where weeds and thorns used to grow.  Light bursts forth where darkness used to reign!  Sin runs away in fear as the God of glory sits down on the throne of your heart.  Just as Lazarus was raised from the dead when Jesus called out to him, so too, our dead heart awakes to life when Jesus calls out to us.  (“He spoke and my heart, it burst to life!”)

b) Jesus is not just a storm of glorious power that rushes into the heart, but a sweet and warm calm as well.  In fact, when Jesus enters the heart, there is a true rest that settles in, there is a true calm that takes the place of the storm of sin.  Just as Jesus calmed the storm while He was in the boat with the disciples, He can calm the storm in you and in me.

This is the promise of the gospel, when you turn from sin and turn toward God in faith, trusting in Him for salvation – life enters where deadness used to reign.  If you find yourself still dead inside, or still stormy within, come to Jesus.  Whether for the first time or for the four-hundreth  time, He only can replace emptiness with wholeness.

Psalm 29 As a Window to Glory

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.

The practical implications streaming out of Psalm 29 are innumerable, stunning, and all have to do with how we respond to God’s booming glory.  The glory of God, and the glory of the voice of God come through so clearly in this psalm, it is breathtaking to view.  By the time we see the people’s response in 29:9c, the reader is feeling the same surge rising within.  Perhaps this is what beholding the glory of God will be like for those of us who believe in Him?  I think when this moment comes, there will be both fear and trembling, because our God is wild, untamable, and more intense than we can ever imagine.  There will also be a fantastic feast of satisfaction when we, those made in the image of God, behold God Himself in all His glory!  Nothing satisfies the human soul like the glory of God.  Perhaps this is why storms are so fascinating to us (or me)?  David gave us his desire two psalms earlier in Psalm 27 when he said, “One thing I have asked of the LORD, that I will seek after: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD and to inquire (or meditate) in His temple.”  David desired one thing in life, to get in the dwelling place of God and gaze at Him forever!  Why did David want this?  Because in God’s presence is the fullness of joy, and pleasures forevermore (Psalm 16:11).  David drank from the river of God’s delight (Psalm 36:8), he tasted and he saw that the Lord was good (Psalm 34:8), and he concluded that God was his only desire and to be near Him was life itself (Psalm 73:25-28).

When I read Psalm 29, I feel these same things leap inside me.  Now, we have but a taste of the glory of God revealed in the storm, but soon, we will enjoy the full display of His infinite worth!  Therefore, if the only eternal happiness for my soul is a happiness found by gazing on the glory of God, and God is glorified by my doing so (which the above verses seem to imply), than God will uphold that which makes much of Him and makes me most happy, His glory.  I think this is part of the reason God calls us to give Him glory in 29:1-2.  Psalm 29 is a window into this glory for all to see.

He is On His Throne

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.

In 29:10-11 David concludes his psalm with a picture Yahweh enthroned on high, in His temple, giving strength, blessing, and bringing peace to His people.  We learn that God sits on His throne forever, even when the world looks out of control; He is sitting down, perfect in control, ruling, guiding, and blessing His people.  This thought alone, that God is always sitting on His throne is one that brings the surest and most stable rest into the heart of the believer even in the midst of the most trying times.  No matter what is going on in your life, God is not the false deity of Deism, aloof after creating the world.  He is here, present, and working out all things for our good and His glory.  He is on His throne right now, and will be forever.

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.

The Outward Gush of the Inward Reality

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.

In these first two verses the Lord Himself calls us to worship Him.  He calls the “the sons of the mighty” to worship and give Him the “glory due to His name”, in “holy array.”  Doubtless this command to worship is for all creatures.  Now, most of you have heard that God is worthy of worship, but notice here that He is commanding it?  It is fitting for all men to ascribe such honor to God rather than themselves.  God repeats this call four times (ascribe, ascribe, ascribe, worship), He does this because we are slow to worship something other than what they see in the mirror.

“Worship the LORD in holy array” in the Hebrew is not referring to the manner or costume these heavenly beings and great earthly kings will bear during their worship, as if God were merely concerned with the proper attire worn to worship.  Rather, it more likely refers to a combination of things.  “Worship the LORD in His holy court.”  “Worship the LORD in His holy habitation.”  “Worship the LORD in the court of His holiness.”  Worship the LORD with holy worship.”  Or it could even mean “Worship the LORD in the glorious beauty of holiness”, which implies that holiness ought to belong to both God and the one worshiping God.  The meaning in view is the outward gush of the inward reality.  When one see’s the holiness of God streaming forth from God Himself in His holy sanctuary, awe fills the soul.  We ought to worship God for the splendor of God’s holiness, in our own holiness which is a reflection of God’s.

The Theatre of the Glory of the Voice of God

Psalm 29 is a psalm that has stood out to me for many years.  It’s done so for two primary reasons.

First, the language, imagery, and description of the glory of the voice of God described in Psalm 29 overwhelms my soul.  There is such passion filled with so much energy over the glory of the voice of the Lord.  Second, I love thunderstorms.  They remind me of how small I am.  The noise, the bangs, the claps, the flashes of lightning, and the power move deep within me.  When thunder booms and claps loudly, everyone within hearing distance knows something far bigger than themselves is near.  There are few things on this planet that show this type of power.  Therefore, being stunned by these things moves me to study it further.  Why does God use the imagery and language of a thunderstorm in Psalm 29 and what is that supposed to teach us about Him, His glory, and His nature?  How are we to respond to this powerful display of majesty and glory?  Overall, I want to show you why this Psalm portrays “Creation” as the “Theatre of the Glory of the voice of God.”  So let’s get to this Psalm.

Psalm 29 begins with a call to praise God and gives us reasons to praise Him.  These reasons are the most important part of the Psalm 29, because God is not praised for no reason, but for specific reasons, qualities, and wonders; often for the way He specifically has saved and entered into the lives of His people.  The structure of Psalm 29 is clearly split up into three sections.  First, in 29:1-2 David calls us to ascribe glory to God because He holds supremacy over all heavenly beings.  Second, in 29:3-9 David gives a breath-taking display of the glory of the voice of the Lord, who is sovereign over all forces of nature and the entire created order.  Last, in 29:10-11 David closes the psalm with a description of the Lord enthroned on high, having supremacy over the realm of mankind, blessing His people with strength and peace.

Join me as we walk through this Psalm the rest of the week.