Psalm 29: The Lord Almighty
This psalm was written either during a thunderstorm or when one was still fresh in the mind. This Psalm describes the power of God like a raging storm. Charles Spurgeon writes, “This Psalm is meant to express the glory of God as heard in the pealing thunder and seen in... [a] tornado...” God reveals his majesty, power, and glory in the furious wind, pelting rain, blinding flashes of lightning, and deafening thunder of a violent tempest.
To appreciate this powerful Psalm, one must look at the context: Psalm 28 says: “The Lord is the strength of his people; He is the saving refuge of his anointed.” Despite this, Israel was tempted to worship other gods and to look for strength in the idols their neighbors worshiped. Psalm 29 was a wake-up call—a reminder that the Lord, the God of Israel, is the one true and mighty God.
This is an incredibly significant psalm for it mentions the Lord eighteen times. If we add to that the use of pronouns and the mention of God and King, we have God mentioned no less than twenty-five times in eleven short verses.
David is overwhelmed with the majesty of God revealed in the storm that he has witnessed and is now going to describe. To praise God adequately the entire created order must join in and even then, sufficient praise will be lacking. So, he calls upon the angels, O you mighty ones, to join in this praise.
The appeal describes the praise of God as consisting of two things: ascribing glory to Him, that is, acknowledging His supreme worth with our minds, and worshiping or bowing down to Him which means a subordination of our wills and minds to His.
This is an inspired and dramatic description of a thunderstorm that started somewhere over the Mediterranean Sea and moved eastward to the Lebanon mountain range in the northern part of the land of Israel. As you read through this beautiful psalm you must keep in mind that this is pure poetry. No sound is more impressive than the voice of thunder. It is grand and imposing. One never understands his weakness more nor his dependence greater than when he sees the towering trees unable to stand in the path of a thunderstorm. The voice of God shakes the strongest such as the mountains of Lebanon. Sirion” is the Sidonian name for Mount Hermon (Deut. 3:9). So “Lebanon” and “Sirion” refer to the two great mountains in the north, Mount Lebanon and Mount Hermon. When God speaks, his voice shakes these majestic mountains.
The vivid lightening is the violence of the storm. God divides the flames of fire and is in full control and is the Master of the storm.
Beyond the physical picture of this growing storm, though, the voice of God thundering over the waters represents a spiritual victory over the Canaanite gods. “The region of the sea was considered by the Canaanites to be the battleground between Yam, the god of the sea and of chaos, and Baal, the god of fertility and thunderstorms.” Willem A. VanGemeren, Psalms, The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, rev. ed. (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2008).
When we read this psalm, we are supposed to say, “Wow!” at the awesome display of God’s power. God reveals his impressive, overwhelming power as his lightning splits the trees of the forest and his thunder shakes the mountains.
The voice of the Lord is a phrase that occurs seven times. It indicates that, although David is describing the majesty of God as revealed in a storm, what he is concerned with is the power of God’s voice, and not just thunder!.
This is an important biblical theme. We think of the power of the voice of God in creation. The Bible begins with God speaking and the created order springs into being. The power of the voice of God is also revealed as He calls in grace to draw sinners to Himself. We may also think of the power of the voice of God in judgment.
First, God is said to sit “enthroned over the flood (v. 10). It was such flooding Jesus was thinking of when he described the falling rains, rising streams, and destruction of the house of the man who built on sand without an adequate foundation (Matt. 7:26-27).
Second, God’s voice will be heard in judgment. We are being warned to get ready. The only ones who will be ready for that judgment are God’s people, to whom the Lord “gives strength” and “blesses….with peace.
Are you listening to God’s voice as He has spoken through His beloved Son (Heb. 1:1-2)?