David begins with a call for God to be praised in the highest realms. Here are his words. Ascribe to the LORD, O sons of the mighty, Ascribe to the LORD glory and strength. 2 Ascribe to the LORD the glory due to His name; Worship the LORD in holy array. (Psalm 29:1-2, NASB)
David wanted Jehovah God to be described in reference to His glory and strength. But he is commanding that the “sons of the mighty” do this. Who are these “sons of the mighty?” The Hebrew says that they are sons of El – which is the Hebrew word for God. Sons of God in the Old Testament Scriptures is another name for angels. But why would David be calling for angels to praise God? It is because he knew that his own praise would not be sufficient for such an infinite, glorious, and mighty God. Therefore he calls for angels to join him in his praise of Jehovah – a thing that they would be more than delighted to do. He asks for them to describe God in reference to His glory – the brightness and heaviness of Who He is. He also asks for them to describe God in reference to His strength. The word used here is “oz” and it refers to strength both outward and inwardly. God is mighty in power as well as mighty in the glorious inward strength of character and inward perfections that are infinite as well. Jehovah’s name is also to be given glory. He is the self-existent One who reveals Himself – the great I Am – God Who knows no bounds or limits – infinite and eternal. Finally, David requests that the angels wrap themselves in God’s holiness and worship Him. The word worship means to fall on one’s knees or to lay totally prostrate before another in praise and adoration. Our God is so great and awesome that all the holy angels should give Him worship, adoration and praise for how glorious, strong, and inwardly perfect He is!
Next, David begins to speak of God’s power experienced in a storm that he describes as it moves from the Mediteranean Sea through Lebanon and then over Israel. He calls for Jehovah God to be praised for His works on the earth. One of the things we need to grasp in Psalm 29 is that this is poetry. It is meant to be read and felt. It was fascinating in my research to learn that often this Psalm was read both in the synagogue and the church during a raging storm. Charles Spurgeon wrote this about how we should approach the 29th Psalm:
“'Just as the eighth psalm is to be read by moonlight, when the stars are bright, as the nineteenth needs the rays of the rising sun to bring out its beauty, so this can be best rehearsed beneath the black wing of tempest, by the glare of the lightning, or amid that dubious dusk which heralds the war of elements. The verses march to the tune of thunderbolts. God is everywhere conspicuous, and all the earth is hushed by the majesty of his presence.”
The voice of the LORD is upon the waters; The God of glory thunders, The LORD is over many waters. 4 The voice of the LORD is powerful, The voice of the LORD is majestic. 5 The voice of the LORD breaks the cedars; Yes, the LORD breaks in pieces 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 hews out 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 makes the deer to calve And strips the forests bare; And in His temple everything says, "Glory!" (Psalm 29:3-9, NASB)
As David describes this approaching storm, He refers to the sound and effect of it in reference to the “voice of Jehovah.” He first speaks of the approaching storm with two references to “waters.” The first is a reference to the clouds and it speaks of how they are boiling and how the thunder resounds through them. He speaks of how the God of glory thunders. Then he speaks of the Lord over many waters – a reference to how the Mediteranean Sea was driven and tossed as waves crashed and the wind drove the waters toward the shore. Jehovah’s voice is majestic in the midst of the storm. Storm imagery is common in Scripture. God revealed Himself often in them with Moses and Israel at Sinai, with Samuel, Elijah, Job, and many of the prophets. The arrival of a major storm can be an astounding and intimidating thing. I find it fascinating that when storms hit even today they are described by insurance companies as an “act of God.” Indeed!
When the storm arrives in Lebanon and then Israel David’s descriptions continue. Mighty cedar trees in Lebanon are broken and shattered in pieces. Other trees are stripped bare. The entire country of Lebanon and their highest peak Sirion (which is another name for Mount Hermon) are described as writhing, bucking calves and wild oxen. As the winds blow and surge through the mountainous region the mountains themselves seem to writhe and twist and turn as the trees are whipped around and even destroyed by the power that is unleashed in the storm. The wilderness shakes and shudders under the blast of God’s nostrils as the storm continues through Israel and then into the wilderness to the south. Deer give birth in the tempest and entire forests are stripped bare. And as they watch and hunker down in the temple – all those who see the power of God cry, “Glory!” as they are given a front row seat to the power and majesty of God.
Man prides himself on his accomplishments and feats. Yet there is nothing like the humility that a storm brings to mankind. We cannot stop them – and we cannot adequately prepare everyone for them. As I wrote this piece the Caribbean was still trying to put things back together after Hurricane Irma, the most powerful Atlantic hurricane on record. She pounded the island nations of the Caribbean with sustained winds of 185 miles an hour. Several meterologists came together to try to describe the power unleashed by this massive storm. Their estimate was that as this hurricane was at a Category 5 level – she packed 7 trillion watts of power. They went on to say that this was greater than the equivalent of all the bombs dropped during World War II. When I read that I gasped. I remember watching footage of Flying Fortresses dropping hundreds of bombs at a time – leveling entire cities. I remember the pictures of the fireball that enveloped Hiroshima and Nagasaki. And yet, all that power manifested in WWII was matched by God with one storm. Kind of puts man in his place doesn’t it?
David puts a fitting close to this Psalm of praise to Jehovah God. He has spoken of glory to God in heaven – glory to God on the earth – and now he will speak of glory to God among men. Here are his words, “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.” (Psalm 29:10-11, NASB)
The God of the storm can seem terrifying. Some might even thing the storm is out of control – but that is not the truth. David continues by telling us that Jehovah sat as King at the flood. Of all the storms ever experienced in the history of mankind on earth – none was as great and terrifying as that of the flood of Noah’s day. We were awed when a hurricane was stranded over southeast Texas and dropped 50 inches of rain over certain areas. But we are not talking about a measly 50 inch rain storm. We are speaking of enough rain and water to reach far past the highest peaks of the earth – thousands of feet of water. If there ever was a time to think that nothing and no one was in control – that would have been it. Yet God sat as King over the flood. His sovereignty knows no bounds or limits. He also sits as King forever, according to His revelation here through David. That is a very comforting (although I agree, also terrifying) thought. There is NOTHING that has happened (i.e. the flood) or ever will happen (i.e. what you are currently freaking out over) that is beyond God’s sovereignty and control. He is in, through, above, and beyond every storm, whether it is physical or emotional or spiritual. There is no financial storm – no personal storm – no national storm over which He is not Lord. Therefore, there is nothing or no one I should fear or honor more than Him.
David ends Psalm 29 on a beautiful note of praise. This praise is in reference to this mighty, all-powerful God and how He deals with His own people. Jehovah God will give strength to His people. This is the word “oz” again which, if you remember, refers not just to outward strength – but also inward strength. This God who can make earth itself writhe and buck like a wild ox is there to grant to you the strength you need every day! What a glorious thing to know – especially after seeing a God Whose glory and might is seen in terrifying and humbling ways in a major storm. There is nothing you will ever face in life that is beyond Him. There is nothing you will ever have to walk through for which He does not have not just adequate – but super-abounding strength (both inwardly and outwardly) from which you can draw. Lastly, David reminds us that Jehovah will also give His people peace. He will bless us with peace. The word here is the Hebrew word “shalom” which refers to a wholeness, a soundness, a completeness from God. It is also a reminder that the sweet peace that guards our hearts and minds is a gift from Him.
Let me end this look at God with this. The greatest storm you and I will ever face is to stand before this infinitely powerful God on the day of judgment to give an account before Him of our lives. The storm that has been and is still currently gathering that will be unleashed on that day is far beyond anything can ever describe. It will be the full unleashing of the fury and wrath of God against sin. On that day, if we have nothing that will speak for our sins – and that will make us acceptable to God with a perfect righteousness – we will face that storm with nothing to protect us. Only two times in history will this wrath and full measure of God’s holy fury ever be released. One is after the final judgment on that final day. The other happened about 2000 years ago outside Jerusalem. You see that storm gathered in all its full rage as Jesus gave Himself to be crucified on the cross. He then bore the full brunt of the wrath of God against sin – a storm infinite in its power and passionate ferocity. Jesus faced that storm and paid the full price for sin for us. It is a thought that is beyond our comprehension as to the love that was given. But the fact remains – He gave it. We do not have to face that storm alone or unprotected. God offers us life and the only shelter from it – which is found in Jesus Christ. Jehovah God Himself will give His people peace! What a glorious fact! Oh that we would hear the sirens – heed the flags that warn of this impending storm. Oh that we would awaken to our utterly unprotected state – and flee to the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ for refuge. The very One who revealed Himself to us in the storm – bore the full brunt of that storm – so that we might have life and shelter from it. What will you do? How else can you prepare? What other Shelter is there than Christ Jesus our Lord?