Psalms Chapter 29

Psalms Chapter 29 #Mighty #King #Storm #Strength #Prayer #Praise #Teach #Learn (Unless otherwise stated all Scriptures in this devotional are from the King James Version of the Bible.)

“Sovereignty characterizes the whole being of God. He is sovereign in all his attributes.” -A. W. Pink

Context

Psalm 29 is a song that acknowledges God as the makers of the elements in a storm. He does not stop there though. He also declares that God is the “king of the storm.”

Historical Information:

Historical information helps us to understand the culture when this song was written. Longman describes the connections between the parts of this song and the culture of the time when David wrote it.

Many of the features of this psalm bear resemblance to Ugaritic poetry, raising the question of the relationship between the two. In the first place, the parallelism is highly repetitive, as in Ugaritic poetry. Secondly, the geographical references (Lebanon, Sirion [Mount Hermon] and Kadesh ) are all in the north, even beyond the border of Israel. Thirdly, the reference to the heavenly beings (bĕnê ’ēlîm) is similar to the way in which Ugaritic texts refer to the divine assembly (bn ilm). The picture of the Lord enthroned as King over the flood (v. 10) is reminiscent of the Ancient Near Eastern mythic idea of the God of creation’s defeat of the god of the sea (see commentary). And, finally, the picture of God as the power of the storm evokes a connection with Baal, the storm god and primary deity of Ugarit (Canaan).

These connections suggest that there is an intentional link between Psalm 29 and Ugaritic/Canaanite religion. Some scholars have even concluded that Psalm 29 is an original Canaanite hymn in which the Israelite hymn writer has simply substituted the name Yahweh for Baal. 41 Perhaps this view is correct; otherwise, the composer has constructed his poem intentionally using these Canaanite devices and imagery. But for what purpose? The best explanation is that the Hebrew poet is stating that it is Yahweh, and not Baal, who is the power of the storm. In other words, the purpose would be polemical or apologetic, appealing to those Israelites who were tempted to worship Baal as the provider of the storm and the one who controlled the chaos waters (Longman 2014, 155).

How does this information impact how you think about this song?

Many times we read the Bible, but we do not connect it with the culture when and where the writers wrote the book. It is crucial that we understand that Israel was surrounded by many nations who did not worship the God of Israel. They had their own Gods. Many times they had a god for everything in nature. Baal is the God of storm. Longman suggests that this Psalm serve notice to the people who were worshipping Baal (155). 

  • (A Psalm of David.) Give unto the LORD, O ye mighty, give unto the LORD glory and strength.
  • Give unto the LORD the glory due unto his name; worship the LORD in the beauty of holiness.

David declares a call to worship. However, Longman proposes that the Hebrew in these verses show that the call to worship is not for the people of Israel, but was in fact directed to the heavenly hosts.  “Interestingly, the call to worship is directed not to the human congregation but to the heavenly beings ( bĕnê ’ēlîm , lit. ‘sons of God’), again reminiscent of Ugaritic poetry where the ‘sons of god/El’ are the multitude of gods who compose the divine assembly. In an Israelite context, these gods are created spiritual beings, who are called angels in other contexts. They are urged to attribute strength, glory and holiness to God” (156).

And to give God the glory and honor that is due only to God, Give unto the LORD, O ye mighty, give unto the LORD glory and strength. Cayce states that “The reference here (in Psalm 29), is most likely to Yahweh’s mighty angels (Cayce 2018, Psalm 29). 

Where have we read about the heavenly hosts glorifying God before? Revelation 7:11-12And all the angels stood round about the throne, and about the elders and the four beasts, and fell before the throne on their faces, and worshipped God, Saying, Amen: Blessing, and glory, and wisdom, and thanksgiving, and honour, and power, and might, be unto our God forever and ever. Amen.”

There will come a time when all nations will bow before the face of the Godhead. Not only will God The Father be worshipped, but also the Holy Spirit, and Jesus Christ. Now David uses a theophany [meaning a visible manifestation to humankind of God or a god] in verses 3-9.

  • The voice of the LORD is upon the waters: the God of glory thundereth: the LORD is upon many waters.
  • The voice of the LORD is powerful; the voice of the LORD is full of majesty.
  • The voice of the LORD breaketh the cedars; yea, the LORD breaketh the cedars of Lebanon.

David begins to describe the theopany of God regarding things in nature. The power of what a storm is like is attributed to the power and essence of God. The voice of the LORD is upon the waters: the God of glory thundereth: the LORD is upon many waters. Longman describes the significance of this statement to the culture of the times. 

“God and his voice over the [many] waters evoke the memory of the conflict between the Creator God and the waters of chaos typically connected to the god of the sea (Yamm; Tiamat or Apsu) in Ancient Near Eastern mythology. God’s voice, indeed God himself, dominates the waters that represent chaos (Read these other Psalms to connect the importance of this concept to David and his people.Ps 18:4; 46:2– 3; 69:1, 2)

Click here for other Scriptures that describe the voice of God.

 Have you ever seen lightning and as splits open the sky and heads to the waters below? 

https://youtu.be/1mtwC4f9z3A

  • The voice of the LORD is powerful; the voice of the LORD is full of majesty.
  • The voice of the LORD breaketh the cedars; yea, the LORD breaketh the cedars of Lebanon.

Just look at this tree. Click on the picture to learn about its thickness and strength.  It is a cedar that grows in Lebanon. Look at how thick the trunk is. David says God’s voice is so powerful that it “breaks the cedars.”

Hebrews 4:12 For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.” The Cedars of Lebanon is talked about in many scriptures (1 Kgs 5:6; Ps. 104:16; Isa. 2:13).

  • He maketh them also to skip like a calf; Lebanon and Sirion like a young unicorn.
  • The voice of the LORD divideth the flames of fire.
  • The voice of the LORD shaketh the wilderness; the LORD shaketh the wilderness of Kadesh.
  • The voice of the LORD maketh the hinds to calve, and discovereth the forests: and in his temple doth every one speak of his glory.
  • He maketh them also to skip like a calf; Lebanon and Sirion like a young unicorn. ” What is Sirion? 

    SIRIONsir’-i-on (siryon; Sanior): The name of Mt. Hermon among the Phoenicians (Deuteronomy 3:9). It is given as “Shirion” in Psalm 29:6 (Hebrew “breastplate” or “body armor”). Here it is named with Lebanon. Sirion therefore probably did not denote a particular part of the Hermon Range, as did Senir, but may have been suggested by the conformation of the range itself, as seen from the heights above the Phoenician coast.

David is stating that even the mountains are moving/skipping because of the power of the “voice of the Lord.

  • Isaiah 54:10 “For the mountains shall depart, and the hills be removed; but my kindness shall not depart from thee, neither shall the covenant of my peace be removed, saith the LORD that hath mercy on thee.”

The authority in the voice of God makes all mountains obey, whether they are physical or spiritual mountains.

Jesus said,

  • Mark 11:23 “For verily I say unto you, That whosoever shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; and shall not doubt in his heart, but shall believe that those things which he saith shall come to pass; he shall have whatsoever he saith.”
  • The voice of the LORD shaketh the wilderness; the LORD shaketh the wilderness of Kadesh. Where is Kadesh and why is it so important to David?

Kadesh was a strategic place in the travels of Israel. (See these scriptural references.)It is known for a famous battle with the Pharoah of Egypt. Kadesh was a city in the region of Syria and an important center of trade in the ancient world (https://www.ancient.eu/Kadesh). Kadesh, modern Tall an-Nabī Mind, ancient city on the Orontes (Al-ʿĀṣī) River in western Syria. The site is located about 15 miles (24 km) southwest of Homs. It was the site of two battles in ancient times.

When The Lord speaks with His booming voice, even nature responds. 9 “The voice of the LORD maketh the hinds to calve, [Mothers are having babies prematurely.] Longman explains it even better than I did. “Perhaps, as the niv translation indicates, God’s storm twists the mighty oak tree, or else the unsettling thunder and lightning make the deer give (premature) birth (156). 

Have you ever driven down a road after a severe thunderstorm, or even after a hurricane? What do you see all over the road? Leaves stripped from the trees! Sometimes areas of the forest are now on the forest floor! That is what this section of the verse means “and discovereth the forests.

The Sunday after hurricane Matthew ravaged the South Carolina coast, the churches were filled with people speaking about the glory of Godand in his temple doth every one speak of his glory.” After 911 occurred, the same thing happened. Today, churches are closing their doors for lack of attendance.

  • 10 The LORD sitteth upon the flood; yea, the LORD sitteth King forever.
  • 11 The LORD will give strength unto his people; the LORD will bless his people with peace.

Verses 10 and 11 visualizes the stance of another well-known Ancient Near Eastern mythology.  Biblical historians are aware of the “Babylonian creation story (Enuma Elish), when the god Ea defeats Apsu, the god of the salt waters, he sets his throne on top of his watery body” (Longman 157). Read about this story here. It always amazes me that every culture or religion has a “flood story!” It should not be that amazing, after all, Noah and his three sons were the only human beings left after the flood.

But David is saying “

  • 10 The LORD sitteth upon the flood; yea, the LORD sitteth King forever.
  • 11 The LORD will give strength unto his people; the LORD will bless his people with peace.

Yahweh “The LORD sitteth upon the flood…” no one is King, not Baal, Ra, or any other Ancient Near Eastern God only “the LORD sitteth King forever.” 

 

References

Cayce, Ken. 2017. “Books of the Bible.”  http://www.bible-studys.org/About%20Me.html. Accessed September 15,, 2018.

Longman, Tremper, III. 2014. Psalms: An Introduction and Commentary. Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press. Accessed September 15, 2018. ProQuest Ebook Central.

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