Psalm 29 – Rock You Like a Hurricane

Bible opened to Psalm 29 with hand holding Alter Eco blackout dark chocolate in foreground

Today’s passage: Psalm 29

Today’s chocolateAlter Eco Blackout Dark Chocolate

Have you ever heard the voice of God? Like out loud, literally, sound waves traveling through the air, miraculously caused by God at their point of origin, vibrating your eardrums and delivering their holy meaning into your central nervous system? Yeah, me neither. However God speaks to you and me, it’s rarely if ever through direct audible sound. So, when David writes an entire psalm around the theme of God’s voice, just what does he mean by “voice?”

As in many psalms, David posits that God speaks through his created world. A millennium before Paul wrote that God has revealed his eternal power and divine nature through what has been made (Romans 1:19-20), David was singing, “Ascribe to the Lord, O sons of the mighty, / Ascribe to the Lord glory and strength” (Psalm 29:1). “Ascribe” means to regard a quality as belonging to something: in this case, to consider God as glorious and strong, because that’s what he actually is. Worship can be as simple as saying true things about God.

David uses this call to worship to introduce his central theme of the voice of the Lord, implying that his strength and glory are manifested in the created world. In a repeated poetic form, he describes the voice of the Lord as:

  • upon the waters, thundering (v.3),
  • breaking the cedars of Lebanon (v.5),
  • hewing out flames of fire (v.7),
  • shaking the wilderness of Kadesh (v.8),
  • making the deer calve (v.9), and
  • stripping the forests bare (v.9).

These are all potent images, and when you imagine them, they hit like gale-force winds. Cedar trees can grow up to 130 feet tall and over 8 feet in diameter, and breaking and stripping one would be no easy feat. If the voice of God can break a forest, it’s got to be powerful indeed. As I don’t think David ever witnessed God literally shouting down the woods, I have to assume he’s viewing lightning as the metaphorical voice of God here: striking and toppling a tree, starting a forest fire that strips the cedars. Presumably the storm is so loud that it’s making the deer give birth prematurely from shock. I don’t know much about deer, so I’ll defer to David on this one.

What do you hear in the thunder? To some, it’s just a noise, no meaning or purpose behind it at all. But in the thunder, David hears the voice of God. “I am here,” the Lord shouts in the storm. “I am here, and I am powerful.”

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