Originally published Monday, 25 June 2012.
At the beginning of the year, when I was doing a mini-series on Bible study, I mentioned that instead of following a pre-made Bible reading plan (like the chronological one I did in 2011), I was going to slow down and read slowly through a couple of books of the Bible.
Right now, I’m making my way, bit by bit, through the Psalms. And I thought that every once in awhile, I might share what I’m reading and taking away from some of these passages.
I’m no Bible scholar, but I have made an effort to include notes from various commentaries in my studying, some of which I’ve included below. I’d encourage you to take anything you read here and study it on your own, in light of the rest of Scripture and let the Holy Spirit speak to your own heart about it.
First up, Psalm 29 (using the New Living Translation):
A psalm of David.1 Honor the Lord, you heavenly beings;
honor the Lord for his glory and strength.
2 Honor the Lord for the glory of his name.
Worship the Lord in the splendor of his holiness.3 The voice of the Lord echoes above the sea.
The God of glory thunders.
The Lord thunders over the mighty sea.
4 The voice of the Lord is powerful;
the voice of the Lord is majestic.
5 The voice of the Lord splits the mighty cedars;
the Lord shatters the cedars of Lebanon.
6 He makes Lebanon’s mountains skip like a calf;
he makes Mount Hermon leap like a young wild ox.
7 The voice of the Lord strikes
with bolts of lightning.
8 The voice of the Lord makes the barren wilderness quake;
the Lord shakes the wilderness of Kadesh.
9 The voice of the Lord twists mighty oaks
and strips the forests bare.
In his Temple everyone shouts, “Glory!”10 The Lord rules over the floodwaters.
The Lord reigns as king forever.
11 The Lord gives his people strength.
The Lord blesses them with peace.
This Psalm is attributed to David and may have been written upon seeing a thunderstorm in action, possibly ending a famine that had been in effect for three years (mentioned in 2 Samuel)
There’s some debate about whether the phrase “sons of God” in verse 1 is accurately translated as “angels” (or “heavenly beings” as it is here). Some think that it might be more accurately referring to all of God’s followers, including people as well. Personally, I like this thought more, because then the psalter is talking directly to me.
The violence of the storm may be an allusion to the End Days, when God will bring judgment to the earth. This is compounded by the use of the word "floodwaters" in verse 10, which is only used elsewhere in Scripture when referring to the flood of Noah, when God was exacting judgment on man’s wickedness.
- Some versions of the text (in the Septuagint, specifically) note that this psalm might have been used during the Festival of Booths. (That festival was when the Jewish people remembered how God protected them when they lived in the wilderness in tents and looked forward to the day when God would redeem them again, this time with the Messiah.)
The most beautiful part of this psalm to me is this: Almost the entire psalm is talking about how God is powerful over all the earth. He conquers the trees and the mountains and the desserts and the weather. Specifically, these are the things that we cannot conquer and that, typically, are intimidating and threatening to us as humans. We see God crushing all these things that can crush us. But then, at the very end, we see this powerful Being turn and deal with us with such kindness, imparting his own strength and peace to us. He could crush us much easier than crushing a mountain or a giant tree, and yet he doesn’t. He lifts us up, closer to him. That picture is unfathomable to me, and perhaps that’s part of the point of the psalm, to draw that dichotomy between those two images.
We also see that it is by his voice alone that he can accomplish all this destruction. He need not even lift a finger. It calls us back to Genesis where he speaks everything into being—and here we see his voice calling much of it away. If his voice can do that much, what about when he lifts his entire body and comes to earth as a man?
- When the people see God’s power and glory, they come together with one voice and shout, “Glory to God!” If the note that this psalm is hinting at God’s impending judgment on the earth is true (see note #3, above), then it seems that we should rejoice at that judgment to come and that it is through that judgment, perhaps, that we see his glory, get strength from him and find peace.
What else do you see in this psalm? What other insights or lessons do you find in it?
Carmen writes the blog, Life Blessons, which provides an intimate look into her life as a twentysomething woman as she details her experiences learning how to live out her faith, enjoy the simple things in life and be the woman God created to her to be. Along the way, she shares the blessings and lessons that are a part of this journey, the things she likes to call her "blessons." Feel free to read more at her blog, Life Blessons.
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