July 7, 2014

Tom Lowe

Psalm 29 (KJV)

Title: He Rides upon the Storm

A psalm of David.

Psalm 29 (KJV)

1 Give unto the LORD, O ye mighty, give unto the LORD glory and strength.

2 Give unto the LORD the glory due unto his name; worship the LORD in the beauty of holiness.

3 The voice of the LORD is upon the waters: the God of glory thundereth: the LORD is upon many waters.

4 The voice of the LORD is powerful; the voice of the LORD is full of majesty.

5 The voice of the LORD breaketh the cedars; yea, the LORD breaketh the cedars of Lebanon.

6 He maketh them also to skip like a calf; Lebanon and Sirion like a young unicorn.

7 The voice of the LORD divideth the flames of fire.

8 The voice of the LORD shaketh the wilderness; the LORD shaketh the wilderness of Kadesh.

9 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.

10 The LORD sitteth upon the flood; yea, the LORD sitteth King for ever.

11 The LORD will give strength unto his people; the LORD will bless his people with peace.





1 Give unto the LORD, O ye mighty, give unto the LORD glory and strength.


Give unto the Lord, O ye mighty

“Give unto the Lord,” that is, give (or, render) to Yahweh; or, recognize that He is entitled to what is ascribedto Himhere. The word “give” cannot be understood, as it is commonly with us, to denote the imparting to another, or granting to another what he does NOT now possess—for God is always in possession of what is ascribed to Him here.


“O ye mighty”—there are several opinions concerning the identity of the “mighty” which I will share with you:

(1)   The angels. In the Hebrew this is “ye sons of the mighty.” The Hebrew word used here is Eliym, the plural form of one of the names of God—El. The word means “strong, mighty, a mighty one, a hero;” then, “strength, might, power;” and then it is applied to God as “the Mighty One,” the Almighty. In the plural form, the word means “mighty ones, heroes, gods.” The phrase "sons of the mighty" is used only here and in Psalm 89:6—“For who in the heaven can be compared unto the LORD? who among the sons of the mighty can be likened unto the LORD?” The allusion is undoubtedly to the angels who are in a sense the sons of God, or of the mighty ones; and they are referred to here under that designation as being themselves endowed with power or strength. “Bless the LORD, ye his angels, that excel in strength, that do his commandments, hearkening unto the voice of his word” Psalm 103:20. In view of the wonderful exhibitions of God's power which can be seen in the storm—exhibitions far above the power of the most exalted of His creatures, the psalmist calls upon the angels to acknowledge the existence of a power so much beyond their own.


The Targum [an Aramaic translation, usually in the form of an expanded paraphrase, of various books or sections of the Old Testament] also refers this to the angels; there it says, “Give praise before the Lord, ye companies of angels, sons of the Mighty.” Angels are mighty ones, and excel all other creatures in strength; and are the sons of the Mighty, or of God; it is their duty and their business to glorify and to worship Him and his Son Jesus Christ, as they do continually

(2)  The princes and great men of the earth. These are those who receive much honor and glory from man; but because they are apt to seek their own glory, and ascribe too much to themselves, they are particularly called upon to give glory to God. Moreover, they have the ability to involve their subjects by their influence and example, to do the same as they do, so they may be included with them; for this is not to be understood as applying to them exclusive of others, as appears from Psalms 96:7-9: “Give unto the LORD, O ye kindreds of the people, give unto the LORD glory and strength. Give unto the LORD the glory due unto his name: bring an offering, and come into his courts. O worship the LORD in the beauty of holiness: fear before him, all the earth.”It is proper that the great men of this world should pay their homage to God; and they are bound to do it, not only because, high as they are, He is infinitely above them, and therefore they must bow to him, but because they have received their power from Him, and are to use it for Him, and they owe this tribute of acknowledgment to Him.

(3)  All the saints and people of God may be intended, for they are all princes and kings; and may be said to be mighty, especially those who are strong in faith; and these are those who give the most glory to God

(4)  The lightning and storm. The poet calls on the grand forces of nature themselves to offer praise to their Divine Master, for the glory which they have been commissioned to reveal. It is they who at the beginning and end of this psalm sing the praises of Him, who summoned them to speak to men in His name, and make His voice to be heard. “He makes winds his messengers, flames of fire his servants” (Psalm 104:4).Every object we behold calls on us to bless and praise the Lord, who is great. His eternal power and Godhead are clearly shown by the things which he hath made. God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. The Lord Jesus, the Son of his love, is the Light of the world.


“Give unto the Lord,” is a request that is often heard, but here it implies that the mighty men do not consider it their duty to “give to the Lord” and must, with great difficulty, be persuaded to do so. But it is very important to the wellbeing and prosperity of God’s kingdom among men that the mighty ones “Give unto the Lord” whole-heartedly. Jerusalem flourishes when the “kings of the earth bring their glory and honour into it” (Rev. 21:24). They are called to “give unto the Lord,” not because He needs anything, or could be benefited by any gifts of ours, nor do we have anything to give him that is not his own already. He is willing, though, to accept as a gift, the recognition of his glory, and of his dominion over us: Give unto the Lord your own selves, and then give Him your services. 


Unto the Lord, and unto him alone, must honour be given. Natural causes, as men call them, are God in action, and we must not ascribe power to them, but to the infinite Invisible who is the true source of all power. “O ye mighty.” Ye great ones of earth and of heaven, kings and angels, join in rendering worship to the blessed and only Potentate; ye lords among men need to be reminded, for you often fail where humbler men are zealous; but fail no longer, bow your heads at once, and dutifully do homage to the King of kings. How frequently do dignitaries and rulers think it beneath them to show respect to the Lord; but, when they have been led to exalt Jehovah, their piety has been the greatest jewel in their crowns.


Give unto the Lord glory and strength
“Glory and strength”—“Majesty and might.” Acknowledge Him as the God of glory; as endowed with power. That is, learn from the manifestations of the power demonstrated in the storm how great is the power and the glory of God.

  • Give glory to Jehovah the Father, by celebrating the perfections of His nature; by commending the works of His hands, the works of creation; by submitting to His revealed commands; by returning thanks to Him for mercies received, worldly and spiritual; particularly for salvation by Christ, and, above all, for Christ himself; by exercising faith in Him and in the promises contained in His Word; by living to honor His Gospel, and to bring honour of His name.
  • Give glory to the Son of God, by attributing all divine perfections to Him, by attributing salvation to Him, and by trusting in Him alone for it.
  • Give glory to the Spirit of God, by declaring His deity, by attributing the work of grace and conversion to Him, and by depending upon Him for the completion of the good work already begun.
  • Give "strength" to each person—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit—by acknowledging that power belongs to them, which is seen in creation, redemption, and the effectual calling of sinners;.


“Give unto the Lord glory and strength;” acknowledge His glory and strength, and praise Him as a God of infinite majesty and irresistible power; and whatever glory or strength He has by His providence entrusted you with offer it to Him in service, to be used for his honour, in his service. Give Him your crowns; let them be laid at His feet; give Him your scepters, your swords, your keys, put all into His hand, that you, in the use of them, may bring glory and  praise to His name. Princes and kings value themselves by their glory and strength; they must ascribe these to God, bearing in mind that He is infinitely more glorious and powerful than they. This demand of homage from the mighty must be looked upon as directed either to the dignitaries of David’s own kingdom, the nobles of the realm, the princes of the tribes (and it is for the purpose of motivating them to be more diligent and consistent in their attendance at God’s altars, for he had observed that they had neglected worship), or to the neighboring kings whom David by his sword had made tributaries to Israel and now would persuade them to become tributaries to the God of Israel. Crowned heads must bow before the King of kings. What is here said to the mighty is said to all: Worship God; it is the sum and substance of the everlasting gospel—“And I saw another angel fly in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach unto them that dwell on the earth, and to every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people, Saying with a loud voice, Fear God, and give glory to him; for the hour of his judgment is come: and worship him that made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and the fountains of waters” (Rev. 14:6, 7) .



2 Give unto the LORD the glory due unto his name; worship the LORD in the beauty of holiness.


Give unto the Lord the glory due unto his name

“Give unto the Lord”—Give, give, give: This shows how unwilling some people, especially those considered “great and powerful” are to give God His rightful place, and the honor which is justly due Him.

“The glory due unto his name” refers to“the honor of his name.” The honor of His name is that which is due to it, or which properly belongs to it. The “name” is put here, as it often is, for God Himself; and the meaning is, “Ascribe to God the honor that is appropriately due him.” This is a demand addressed to the angels, but it is a demand which is certainly not less binding on people. It is a call to all creatures in the universe to ascribe due honor to God. Compare:

  • Psalms 148:13: “Let them praise the name of the LORD: for his name alone is excellent; his glory is above the earth and heaven.” Let them praise the name of the Lord, His nature and perfections, and celebrate the glory of them; and his wonderful works, and the blessings of his goodness, both of providence and grace; even all the above creatures and things (v.1), celestial and terrestrial.
  • Malachi 1:14: “Cursed is the cheat who promises to give a fine ram from his flock but then sacrifices a defective one to the Lord. ‘For I am a great king,’ says the LORD of Heaven's Armies, ‘and my name is feared among the nations!’” “For I am a great King, saith the Lord of hosts;” the King of the whole world, the King of kings, and Lord of lords; and therefore to be honored and worshiped in a manner suitable to His dignity and greatness.


We are to prefer Him ahead of all other gods, and to forsake all others, and love Him above everyone else and all things, and honor Him as the Almighty, and the only true God. The Psalmist, perhaps thinking back to verse 1, continues to call on the mighty heavenly host (angels), “the sons of heavenly ones,” to behold the storm and ascribe glory and strength to YHWH (Yahweh), and to worship Him in their holy array (their holy garments for beauty—[“Make holy garments for your brother Aaron, for glory and beauty” (Exodus 28:2).]. For he feels that even to them this mighty storm must surely indicate something of the glory and strength of YHWH, and reveal Him as suitable to receive all honour, and as having power over all things (v. 10).


Worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness.

Worship the Lord—The appeal describes the praising of God by way of  two things: ascribing glory to Him, that is, acknowledging with our minds His supreme worth; and worshipping or bowing down to Him (the Hebrew word for “worship” means “to bow down”), which means a subordination of our wills and minds to him.The idea is that man should bow in humble recognition of the greatness, the beauty, and the surpassing holiness of God.


This exhortation is made particularly in view of the manifestations of His power in the storm. The idea is that One who is capable of putting forth such power as that displayed in a tempest, has a valid claim to adoration and praise. The angels all worship God and ascribe glory to Him, and they CAN’T help but do it in the face of this mighty storm with its primordial connections going to the very heart of creation. It is not just a question of very bad weather or even the majesty of the storm. It is a seeing in the mighty storm all the forces of nature that lie behind it, forces which God has under His control, and which are generated in a way similar to the way He created the world. As such they had once been unleashed at the Flood, and the thought behind it is that if God were not reigning over it then the whole universe would go into reversal or be set back for ages. Jesus is described in terms of “He is before all things, and by Him all things hold together, in Colossians 1:17—“He existed before anything else, and he holds all creation together.” The meaning is, that they are kept in the present state; their existence, order, and arrangement are maintained by His power. If unsupported by Him, they would fall into disorder, or sink back to nothing. If this is the proper interpretation, then it is the ascription to Christ of infinite power


“In the beauty of holiness”—There appears to be a number of alternative suggestions as to the meaning of this clause:

(1)   Worship Him in His glorious sanctuary; glorious, because there they might hear His voice in His ordinances. Do away with your superstitions and fake worship, and bring your gifts to his beautiful sanctuary. The sanctuary is called “Our holy and our beautiful house, where our fathers praised you” (Isaiah 64:11). So he exhorts them to become proselytes to the Jewish religion; which was their duty and for their own good.

(2)  That ‘the beauty’ refers to God in the beauty of His holiness. God’s holiness, His “set-apart-ness,” has a wonderful and distinct beauty about it. It is beautiful that God is God and not man; that He is more than the greatest man or a super-man. His holy love, grace, justice, and majesty are beautiful.

(3)  That the heavenly court are seen as wholly dedicated as servants to God, which makes them truly ‘beautiful’ in their behavior and attitude.

(4)  The Hebrew phrase would properly mean “holy beauty.” Some have supposed that it means “in holy adorning,” and refers to those consecrated garments which were worn by priests in the sacred services of the sanctuary, or when they came into the presence of Yahweh.

(5)  That the moral holiness of these heavenly beings is in itself their beauty.

(6)  Heaven is a place of holy beauty both because God is there and because of the angels who do His bidding.

(7)  But the more probable interpretation is that which relates it to the state of the heart—the “internal” condition with which we should approach God—to a holy and pure state of mind—that beauty or appropriateness of the soul which entails holiness or purity. Compared to this the external clothing of the priesthood was merely a symbol, and this is what God desires in those who approach Him in an act of worship. It may be added that there is no “beauty” like this; that there is no external loveliness, no personal charm or nature, no adorning with costly robes, which can be compared with this. It is this which God seeks, and He will be pleased with it, whether the external form is more or less attractive; whether their clothing is rich and costly, or the plain and decent clothing of poverty. Beauty and holiness are not often connected ideas in our popular culture. Yet in reality, there is surpassing allure and attractiveness in true holiness. If an alleged type of holiness has little beauty, it may be questioned if it is true holiness.


There are three more Biblical passages presenting the idea of the beauty of holiness and each of them associates worship or praise with the concept. Perceiving the beauty of holiness should compel one to offer true worship and praise.

  • 1 Chronicles 16:29: “Give to the LORD the glory due to his name: bring an offering, and come before him: worship the LORD in the beauty of holiness.”
  • 2 Chronicles 20:21: “And when he had consulted with the people, he appointed singers to the LORD, and that should praise the beauty of holiness, as they went out before the army, and to say, Praise the LORD; for his mercy endures for ever.”
  • Psalms 96:9: “O worship the LORD in the beauty of holiness: fear before him, all the earth.”



3 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 upon the waters

Here thunder is called, and rightly so, “the voice of the Lord” (being one example of those many glorious works of His in nature). The best way to think of this is that we hear God Almighty by His thunder speaking to us from heaven; and we see him in His lightning, watching, to observe what we had been doing. This voice of the Lord is evidence of the Divine power and majesty. What follows concerning thunder, the voice of the Lord, is many reasons why the Lord should have glory given Him and why He should be worshipped; the Heathens paid their devotion to thunder and lightning: but this should be done to the maker of them—“The LORD also thundered in the heavens, and the Highest gave his voice; hail stones and coals of fire” (Psalm 18:13).


In the land of Palestine, where David lived, such a statement clearly means that “It is thundering out in the Mediterranean Sea as a great thunderstorm approaches the land.” Another acceptable interpretation is that the “waters” mentioned here, “Are the waters stored in the clouds that float high in the air.” Some writers have proposed that the “waters” are the “waters above the firmament, mentioned in Genesis 1:7”—“And God made the firmament, and divided the waters which were under the firmament from the waters which were above the firmament: and it was so.” This is true, of course, only if those “waters above the firmament” are truly interpreted as being "those billions of tons of water stored in the clouds."


“Is upon the waters” The word “is” is supplied by the translators. The whole passage might be read as an exclamation: “The voice of Jehovah upon the waters!” It is the utterance of one who is overpowered by a sudden clap of thunder. The mind is awed. God seems to speak; His voice is heard rolling over the waters. A thunderstorm is awe-inspiring anywhere, in mountain scenery or upon the plains, upon the land or upon the ocean; but there are circumstances which give it special grandeur at sea, when the thunder seems to “roll” along with nothing to check or break it, and when the chilling effect is increased by the solitude which reigns everywhere on the ocean.


One writer thought that the best understanding of “The voice of the Lord is upon the waters” is to take it as meaning the mass of water gathered together in the thick, black storm clouds.“The voice of the Lord” appears no less than seven times in this psalm. That voice is metaphorically presented here as thunder, bringing to mind instantly the reference in Revelation to the effect that, “The seven thunders uttered their voices”—“And cried with a loud voice, as when a lion roars: and when he had cried, seven thunders uttered their voices” (Revelation 10:3).The Jews were accustomed to call thunder the seven voices, and to regard it as the voice of the Lord. The voice of the Lord”—the voice of Yahweh—the voice of the seven thunders is repeated seven times:

The voice of Jehovah is upon the waters (Psalms 29:3).

The voice of Jehovah is powerful (Psalms 29:4).

The voice of Jehovah is full of majesty (Psalms 29:4).

The voice of Jehovah breaketh the cedars (Psalms 29:5).

The voice of Jehovah cleaveth the flames of fire (Psalms 29:7).

The voice of Jehovah shaketh the wilderness (Psalms 29:8).

The voice of Jehovah maketh the hinds to calve (Psalms 29:9).


There can be no doubt that the expression which is repeatedseven times in the psalm, “the voice of Jehovah,” refers to thunder; and no one can fail to see the appropriateness of the expression. In a violent thunder storm it seems as if God is speaking. The crack of thunder comes from above. It fills us with awe. We know, without question, that thunder as well as the other phenomena in the world, is produced by what are called “natural causes;” that there is no miracle in thunder; and that really God does not “speak” anymore in the thunder than he does in the sighing of the breeze or in the gurgling of the stream; but, when it thunders, we are reminded of His power, His majesty, His greatness; but we are also stirred to think of our own weakness, feebleness, and dependence; and to contemplate the ease with which our life may be taken away, and of the importance of being prepared to stand before Almighty God.


The God of glory thundereth

“The God of glory thunders”—the association of thunder and the voice of the Lord suggests this Psalm was prompted by David witnessing a great storm, hearing the power of thunder, and associating it with the voice of God. The spiritual man or woman can see something of the hand of God, or the shadow of God, in almost every event of life. “The thunder is not only poetically but instructively called ‘the voice of God,’ since it peals from on high; it surpasses all other sounds, it inspires awe, it is entirely independent of man, and has been used on some occasions as the grand accompaniment of God’s speech to Adam’s sons.” (Spurgeon) When Israel heard from God at Mount Sinai (Exodus 19:1-25), they associated God’s voice with thunder. Two passages from Job also clearly make this connection:

  • Job 37:4-5: “He thunders with His majestic voice, and He does not restrain them when His voice is heard. God thunders marvelously with His voice. “
  • Job 40:9: “Have you an arm like God? or can you thunder with a voice like him?


“The God of glory” may be applied to Christ, who is the Lord of glory, and whose ministers, at least some of them, are sons of thunder—“Which none of the princes of this world knew: for had they known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory” (1 Corinthians 2:8). “The God of glory”—the glorious God is in every verse of Psalm 24:7-10.


The Lord is upon many waters

He speaks of the waters in the clouds, which are many, and potentially possess great force, such as that which appeared in the great Flood; and does still appear in that immeasurable deluge of rain that falls in the midst of the thunder claps. Some render it, “the Lord (his voice),” or, “the voice of the Lord,” is heard above many waters, that is, above the loud roaring of many waters, which is even drowned out by the thunder. Generally, the ancient Hebrews were not a seafaring people and they saw the many waters of the sea as dangerous and foreboding. Yet David knew that the powerful voice of God, full of majesty, was over “many waters.” The ancient Canaanites recognized deities over the sea (the god Yam) and the god of fertility and thunder (Baal). Here David recognized that Yahweh, the covenant God of Israel was the real Master over many waters and the God of glory who thunders.


Scientists calculate that a typical thunderstorm (not even the kind of great or major storm described here by David) releases around 10,000,000 kilowatt-hours of energy—the equivalent of a 20-kiloton nuclear warhead. Storms still are examples of the massive power of God.


The Lord is upon many waters (or, “great waters”)—Yahweh Himself seems to be on the ocean. His voice is heard there, and He Himself appears to be there. This would seem to imply that the psalm was composed when David could see waters more vast than a lake or a river, and sustains the idea expressedabove, that he was where he could see the great waters of the Mediterranean. It is indeed a true discernment of ultimate reality to find Almighty God Himself in the marvelous Creation which He made. God is in every blooming flower, in every sunrise or sunset; he is in the wings of the smallest humming bird, and in the incredible masses of the mighty snow-covered mountains; he is in the skies and seas, the grass and the trees, the songs of wild geese, and the swarms of the bees. As Elizabeth Barrett Browning put it:

“Every bush is aflame with God;

But only he who sees takes off his shoes.”


David here saw the power and the glory of God in a thunderstorm. I remember seeing the Gulf of Mexico for the first time and thinking, “How can anyone see that and not believe in God?" Oh God, give us eyes to see!



4 The voice of the LORD is powerful; the voice of the LORD is full of majesty.


The voice of the Lord is powerful

Or, is mighty; or, has strength. Allusion may be made to what seems to be the effect of thunder (or rather, lightning in the thunder) in bringing down trees, or tearing off their limbs, or it may be merely a reference to the loud sound of the thunder. And so is there power in the Gospel, for when it comes, not in word only, but is accompanied with the power of God, there is enough force to convert sinners and save souls. It is then that it becomes quick and powerful—“For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two edged 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” (Hebrews 4:12). And the word of Christ, when He was here on earth, was also accompanied with power—“And they were astonished at his doctrine: for his word was with power” (Luke 4:32).


The voice of the Lord is powerful, as appears from the effects of it, for it works wonders. Those that write natural histories relate the phenomenal effects of thunder and lightning, even beyond the ordinary course of natural causes, which must be attributed to the omnipotence of the God of nature. The voice of the Lord is so powerful that it shakes heaven and earth—“Whose voice then shook the earth: but now he has promised, saying, Yet once more I shake not the earth only, but also heaven” (Hebrews 12:26). Let those that think of themselves as someone great consider God’s infinite power manifesting itself in thunder and lightning, and they will soon be crest fallen.


The voice of the Lord is full of majesty

The Hebrew is “in majesty:” that is, it is grand, awe-inspiring, and overpowering. Christ, while here on earth and in His state of humiliation, spake and taught as one having authority; and now, in the ministration of his Gospel by his servants, He goes forth with glory and majesty—“Gird your sword on your thigh, O most mighty, with your glory and your majesty” (Psalm 45:3). “The voice of the Lord is full of majesty;” it is magnificent and immutable, though some fools have attempted to imitate it.



5 The voice of the LORD breaketh the cedars; yea, the LORD breaketh the cedars of Lebanon.


The voice of the LORD breaketh the cedars

 “The voice of the Lord”—literally, the voice of Jehovah: the thunder, and those things that either occur before it or following it, such as lightning, high winds, thunder bolts, storms, gale whirlwind.


“Breaketh the cedars”—the thunder breaks the lofty trees of the forest. The psalmist speaks of things as they seemed, attributing to thunder that which was really produced by the lightning. It is now commonly understood that the destruction referred to here is not produced by thunder, but by the electrical power produced in the clouds, which then passes from the clouds to the earth. That power is so great that when it strikes the oak or the cedar, it can split or twist off their limbs, or topple their lofty trunks to the ground, or turn up the roots huge trees.


Yea, the LORD breaketh the cedars of Lebanon.

Lebanon’s cedars are loftiest and longest-living of Eastern trees; they are often referred to in the Scriptures as remarkable for their size and grandeur:

  • 1 Kings 4:33: “He spoke about plant life, from the cedar of Lebanon to the hyssop that grows out of walls.”
  • 1 Kings 5:6: “So give orders that cedars of Lebanon be cut for me.”
  • Psalm 92:12: “The righteous will flourish like a palm tree, they will grow like a cedar of Lebanon.”
  • Ezra 3:7: “Then they gave money to the masons and carpenters, and gave food and drink and olive oil to the people of Sidon and Tyre, so that they would bring cedar logs by sea from Lebanon to Joppa, as authorized by Cyrus king of Persia.”
  • 2 Samuel 7:2: “he said to Nathan the prophet, "Here I am, living in a house of cedar, while the ark of God remains in a tent.”


Lebanon was a part of northern Canaan, and consequently became the homeland of Canaanite descendants. It was famous for its cedar trees which were the tallest, thickest, and most durable of any place in the habitable world. “The LORD breaketh the cedars of Lebanon” by the lightning bolts which emanate in heavens.


6 He maketh them also to skip like a calf; Lebanon and Sirion like a young unicorn.


He maketh them also to skip like a calf

This probably refers to the cedars of Lebanon mentioned in the preceding verse. The meaning is that the lightning tore off the large branches, and uprooted the loftiest trees, so that they seemed to play and dance like calves frolicking in their pasture.


If the cedars of Lebanon are not meant, then the psalmist means the moving of mountains by the force of the sound of thunder. There are definitely implications in this psalm that suggest the final judgment of the Great Day. In this verse, the great mountains of Lebanon and Hermon are moved out of their places, or at least are made to appear as moving. Furthermore, there is a mighty earthquake that shakes the wilderness of Kadesh. Among the features listed in the Apocalyptic description of the Judgment Day in Revelation 6, is "A great earthquake . . . and every mountain and island were moved out of their place" (Psalms 29:12, 14). God revealed to the Prophet Joel that there were overtones and warnings of the Final Judgment in the terrible Locust Plague featured in that Book; and it is not unthinkable that this devastating thunderstorm may have been intended to convey the same kind of warning. Compare:

  • Psalm 114:4: “The mountains skipped like rams, and the little hills like lambs.” The mountains skipped like rams. . . The Mountains of Sinai and Horeb quaked and moved at the presence of the Lord, when he descended on them to give the law; they saw his glory and trembled (Exodus 19:18).
  • Psalm 68:16, “Why gaze in envy, you rugged mountain, at the mountain where God chooses to reign, where the LORD himself will dwell forever?”


Lebanon and Sirion like a young unicorn.

“Lebanon and Sirion, like a young unicorn;” that is, these mountains move and skip about through the force of thunder, and the violence of an earthquake which accompanies it.


This may concern the inward movements of the mind, produced by the Gospel of Christ under a divine influence—“Then will the lame leap like a deer, and the mute tongue shout for joy. Water will gush forth in the wilderness and streams in the desert” (Isaiah 35:6).In the wilderness shall waters break out, and streams in the desert; not literally, but mystically; and this may be understood to refer to both the doctrines of the Gospel breaking out in ministry, in the minds of unbelievers, which like the wilderness and desert are quite barren, and destitute of the knowledge, grace, and fear of God. Compare Joel 3:18: “In that day the mountains will drip new wine, and the hills will flow with milk; all the ravines of Judah will run with water. A fountain will flow out of the LORD's house and will water the valley of acacias.”


“Sirion” was a mountain in Judea, called that by the Sidonians, and it is also called Mount Hermon; and was located beside Mount Lebanon—“(Mount Hermon is called Sirion by the Sidonians, and the Amorites call it Senir.)” (Deut. 3:9). Lebanon and Her-mon are the highest mountains in Palestine. It is the lightning and thunder that makes the mountains bound like young antelopes!


“Like a young unicorn”—the meaning of the word “unicorn” is uncertain, but here it refers to a strong, and fierce, and untamable wild beast; though some think the reference is to wild oxen, buffalo, rhinoceros, or antelope: “Snatch me from the lion's jaws and from the horns of these wild oxen” (Psalm 22:21). The illustration would be the same if any young wild animal were referred to.



7 The voice of the LORD divideth the flames of fire.


Or “cuts with flames of fire;” that is, the thunder breaks through the clouds with flames of fire, or lightning—“He gave them hail for rain, and flaming fire in their land” (Psalm 105:32)—and the lightening cleaves into pieces trees and masts of ships; it cuts and hews them down, and divides them into a thousand splinters.


Some believe this refers, in a figurative and mystical sense, to the giving of the law on Mount Sinai, the Lord descended in fire, and from his right hand went a fiery law. But this may also be applied to the cloven or divided tongues of fire which sat upon the disciples on the day of Pentecost, as a symbol of the extraordinary gifts of the Spirit bestowed on them. However, the best application for this verse may be, as before, to the voice of Christ in the Gospel, which cuts and hews down all the pretended goodness of men, and lays them to the ground, as it says in Hosea 6:5—“Therefore have I hewed them by the prophets; I have slain them by the words of my mouth: and your judgments are as the light that goes forth.” The Gospel, which is sharp and quick, lays open all the secrets of the heart—“For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two edged 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” (Hebrews 4:12). The Gospel is the means of enlightening men's eyes to see their sad estate, and their need of Christ, and salvation by faith in Him; and of warming their souls with its refreshing truths and promises, and of inflaming their love for God and Christ, and of setting their affections on things above, and of causing their hearts to burn within them.


“Divideth the flames of fire,” or “cutteth out.” The Hebrew word means “to cut, to hew, to hew out;” as, for example, stones. The allusion here is undoubtedly to lightning; and the image is either that it seems to be cut out, or cut into tongues and streaks across the sky in a zig-zag pattern; or, more probably, that the “clouds” seem to be cut or hewed so as to make openings or paths for the lightning. The eye is evidently fixed on the clouds, and on the sudden flash of lightning, as if the clouds had been “cleaved” or “opened” for the passage of it. The idea of the psalmist is that the “voice of the Lord,” or the thunder, seems to cleave or open the clouds for the flames of fire to play amidst the storm. Of course this language, as well as that which has already been mentioned in verse 5, must be understood to mean what it “appears” to be to the eye, and not as a scientific statement or the reality of the situation. The rolling thunder not only shakes the cedars, and makes the lofty trees on Lebanon and Sirion skip like a calf or a young unicorn, but it rends asunder or cleaves the clouds, and cuts out paths for the flames of fire.



8 The voice of the LORD shaketh the wilderness; the LORD shaketh the wilderness of Kadesh.


The voice of the LORD shaketh the wilderness


“The voice of the Lord shaketh” is literally, “maketh to tremble.” At least one writer believes this is an allusion to the effect of the storm on the sands of the desert. The thunderstorm has moved southward over Palestine, and spends its last fury on the southern wilderness, and the poet seizes on what is one of the most striking phenomena of a storm in such a terrain—the whirlwind of sand (sandstorm). “But soon Red Sea and all were lost in a sandstorm, which lasted the whole day. Imagine all distant objects entirely lost to view, the sheets of sand fleeting along the surface of the desert like streams of water, the whole air filled, though invisibly, with a tempest of sand, driving in your face like sleet” (Stanley, Sinai and Palestine, p. 67).


“Shaketh the wilderness,” or rather,causes it to shake or to tremble. The word used here means “to dance;” to be whirled or twisted upon anything; to twist, as with pain—or, to writhe; and then, to tremble, to quake. The forests, the ground itself, the trees in it, and the beasts that live there are caused to be in pain,  and are made to tremble or quake by the fierceness of the storm, referring still to what the thunder, lightning, and the wind, seems to do.


“The voice of the Lord shaketh the wilderness” may supernaturally signify the preaching of the Gospel among the Gentiles, and the result of it. The Gentile world may be compared to a wilderness, and is called the wilderness of the people in Ezekiel 20:35: “And I will bring you into the wilderness of the people, and there will I plead with you face to face.” The inhabitants of the Gentile world are ignorant, barren, and unfruitful as far as their knowledge of God and His salvation are concerned; and the conversion of them is expressed by turning a wilderness into a fruitful land—“The wilderness and the solitary place shall be glad for them; and the desert shall rejoice, and blossom as the rose” (Isaiah 35:1)—and the Gospel when sent there has been the means of shaking the minds of many with strong and saving convictions; which made them tremble and cry out, “what shall we do to be saved?” Compare:

  • Psalm 96:9: “O worship the LORD in the beauty of holiness: fear before him, all the earth.” The word rendered "fear" means to writhe, to twist, to be in pain; and then, to tremble, to quake, to be afraid. The word "tremble" would perhaps best express the idea here. It is that solemn awe produced by the sense of the divine presence and majesty which causes trembling. It denotes profound reverence for God.
  • Psalm 97:4: “His lightning enlightened the world: the earth saw, and trembled.” In times of tempest the whole of nature is lighted up with a lurid glare, even the light of the sun itself seems dim compared with the blaze of lightning. If such are the common lights of nature what must be the glories of the Godhead itself? When God draws aside the curtain for a moment how astonished are the nations, the light compels them to cover their eyes and bow their heads in solemn awe. Jesus in the gospel lights up the earth with such a blaze of truth and grace as was never seen or even imagined before.
  • Psalm 114:7: “Tremble, you earth, at the presence of the Lord, at the presence of the God of Jacob.” Let us acknowledge God's power and goodness in what he did for Israel, applying it to that much greater work of wonder, our redemption by Christ; and encourage ourselves and others to trust in God in the greatest hardships. When Christ comes for the salvation of his people, he redeems them from the power of sin and Satan, separates them from an ungodly world, forms them to be his people, and becomes their King.

The LORD shaketh the wilderness of Kadesh.

“The wilderness of Kadesh” was the wilderness or forest located on the southeastern border of the Promised Land, and on the northern border of Edom, and not far from Mount Hor. It is distinguished as having been the place where the Israelites twice encamped with the intention of entering Palestine from that point, but from where they were twice driven back. The first time after having been given the sentence that they must wander forty years in the wilderness; and the second time, because of the refusal of the king of Edom to allow them to pass through his territories. It was from Kadesh that the spies entered Palestine. See Numbers 13:17, Numbers 13:26; Numbers 14:40-45; Numbers 21:1-3; Deuteronomy 1:41-46; Judges 1:7. There seems to have been nothing special about this wilderness which led the author of the psalm to select it for his illustration, except that it was well known and it would suggest an image that would be familiar to the Israelites. In verses 5 and 6 he spoke of the effect of the storm on lofty trees, and he had given poetic beauty to the description by "specifying" Lebanon and Sirion, so here he refers, for the same purpose, to a particular forest when illustrating the power of the tempest, to wit, the forest or wilderness of “Kadesh.”


With the mention of Kadesh, a vast and desolate region, which is at the opposite extremity of Palestine from Lebanon and Mount Hermon, the storm is made to extend over the entire Holy Land, from the far north to the extreme south, and to embrace the lofty mountain-chains, the hills and valleys of Palestine proper, and the arid region of the south where Judea merges into Arabia. Compare:

  • Numbers 13:26: “And they went and came to Moses, and to Aaron, and to all the congregation of the children of Israel, to the wilderness of Paran, to Kadesh; and brought back word to them, and to all the congregation, and showed them the fruit of the land.”
  • Numbers 20:1, 16: “Then came the children of Israel, even the whole congregation, into the desert of Zin in the first month: and the people abode in Kadesh; and Miriam died there, and was buried there.
    And when we cried unto the LORD, he heard our voice, and sent an angel, and hath brought us forth out of Egypt: and, behold, we are in Kadesh, a city in the uttermost of thy border”



9 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.


The voice of the Lord maketh the hinds to calve

“The voice of the Lord” means, as it has throughout this psalm, the thunder present during the storm.


“Maketh the hinds to calve”— the word hinds denotes the deer, the fawn, the most timid and defenseless, perhaps, of all animals. The terror which the storm triggers in the deer and some other creatures may cause them to give birth prematurely. Deer have a habit of hiding their young for safety, but it is a habit which the violence of the storm makes it forget. The meaning is that this animal seems to always be timid and apprehensive of danger, and that there is special care bestowed upon an animal so defenseless in enabling it to rear its young. The reference here is to the special care and protection of God shown for them.


One writer notes that “Shepherds keep their flocks together in a thunderstorm, and put their heads in the same direction; for such as are left alone and separated from the rest through terror cast their young [give birth prematurely].” And another says, “Solitary sheep cast their lambs [give birth prematurely] in thunderstorms; the remedy is to keep the flock together, since those left alone and are separated from the flock and are apt, through terror, to cast their young.”


And discovereth the forests

There are three ideas which may be represented here:

(1)   The storm, with its thunder, lightning, and high winds make the forests bare by beating off the leaves and branches of trees.

(2)  The storm causes the wild beasts that live in the forests to retire to their holes and dens.

(3)  The Gospel, which is a revelation of secrets, of the thickets and deep things of God; of his council, covenant, mind, and will; and of the mysteries of his grace to the sons of men, and generally to babes, or rather men who have the capacity of babes; and of its stripping them of all their own righteousness, and dependence on it.


And in his temple doth everyone speak of his glory

“And in his temple” has one of the following meanings:

(1)   In heaven, where angels and glorified saints are continually employed in speaking of His glorious name, nature, and works. “The LORD is in his holy temple, the LORD's throne is in heaven: his eyes behold, his eyelids try, the children of men” (Psalm 11:4). The Lord’s throne is in heaven—God is a king, ruling the universe. As such, the seat of his power or dominion is represented as in heaven, where he administers his government.

(2)  In the temple, or tabernacle at Jerusalem, where the Levites stood to praise the Lord morning and evening, and where the tribes went up to worship, and to give thanks unto the Lord—“And to stand every morning to thank and praise the LORD, and likewise at even” (1 Chronicles 23:30). The two solemn times of offering sacrifices; which included public prayer and thanksgiving.

(3)  The church of God, which is the temple of the living God, where saints get together, and speak of the glory of God, of His divine perfections, and of His works of creation and providence; and of the glory of the person of Christ, and salvation by Him; and of the glorious work of grace begun in their souls by the blessed Spirit; for they have heard the voice of Christ, and have felt the power of it, and have found it to be a soul-shaking, an heart-breaking, and an illuminating voice, and they have come to declare it to the glory of the grace of God.

(4)  The world itself, which is considered the residence or dwelling-place of God. Perhaps the true translation would be, "And in his temple everything says, Glory!" That is, in the dwelling-place of God—the world of nature—the sky, the earth, the forests, the waters, everything in the storm, echoes "glory, glory!" All these things declare the glory of God; all these wonders—the voice of God upon the waters; the thunder; the crash of the trees upon the hills; the shaking of the wilderness; the universal amazement; the leaves stripped from the trees and flying in every direction—all proclaim the majesty and glory of Yahweh.

“Doth everyone speak of his glory”—having showed the terrible effects of God’s power in other places, he now shows the blessed privilege of God’s people, who are praising and glorifying God, and receiving the comfortable influences of His grace in His temple, while the rest of the world is trembling under the signs of His displeasure; by which He secretly invites and persuades the Gentiles, for their own safety and comfort, to trust and receive the true God and to worship Him in His sanctuary, as he did exhort them (v. 2). Or, rather, it is because of these and similar discoveries of God’s excellent majesty and power that His people fear, and praise, and adore Him in His temple. And in His temple, everyone or everything speaks of His glory; that is, literally, "says, Glory!" Glory is the chant of the angelic worshippers (vs. 1, 2) as they watch the manifestation of Jehovah’s majesty. While this is going on, man listens, and is mute.



10 The LORD sitteth upon the flood; yea, the LORD sitteth King for ever.


The LORD sitteth upon the flood

“The Lord sitteth upon the flood” means that God is enthroned upon the flood, or presides over it. The obvious meaning is, that God is enthroned upon the storm, or presides over that which produces such anxiety. It is not undirected; it is not the result of chance or fate; it is not produced by mere physical laws; it is not without restraint (without a ruler), for Yahweh presides over all He has created, and all this may be regarded as his throne. Compare:

  • Psalm 18:7-11: “Then the earth shook and trembled; the foundations also of the hills moved and were shaken, because he was wroth. There went up a smoke out of his nostrils, and fire out of his mouth devoured: coals were kindled by it. He bowed the heavens also, and came down: and darkness was under his feet. And he rode upon a cherub, and did fly: yea, he did fly upon the wings of the wind. He made darkness his secret place; his pavilion round about him were dark waters and thick clouds of the skies.” This describes God’s anger with the Jews, for disbelieving and rejecting the Messiah; for hardening themselves, and taking counsel together against Him, and putting Him to death; for these things God was angry with them, and His wrath came upon them, and their nation, city, and temple were destroyed (Psalms 2:1-5) (1 Thessalonians 2:16); and with the Pagan empire and antichristian powers (Revelation 6:16, 17; 11:18).
  • Psalm 97:2: “Clouds and darkness are round about him: righteousness and judgment are the habitation of his throne.” This is a description of the majesty of God, derived probably from the manner in which he manifested himself at Mount Sinai.


The word “flood” used here is commonly applied to the deluge in the time of Noah, but there would be an obvious unfitness in supposing here that the mind of the psalmist referred to that, or that his thought would be directed to that, and it is most natural, therefore, to suppose that the reference is to the floods which emanate from above—the vast reservoirs of waters stored in the clouds, which are poured out upon the earth amidst the fury of the tempest.


The Lord “sitteth” (sitting is the posture of a judge, or ruler; see Psalm 9:7-9; 47:8; Joel 3:12) and rules the most abundant and violent deluges of water, which sometimes fall upon the earth from the clouds; and they could cause great damage and loss of life if God did not prevent it. And this may be yet another reason why God’s people praised and worshiped Him in His temple, because just as He sends terrible tempests, and lightning, and floods, so he also restrains and overrules them.


Yea, the LORD sitteth King for ever

This is an appropriate close for the entire psalm; this is a thought which tends to make the mind calm and restores confidence when the winds howl and the thunder rolls; this concurs with the leading purpose of the psalm—the call upon the sons of the mighty (v. 1) to ascribe strength and glory to God. From all the terrors of the storm; from all that is fearful, on the waters, in the forests, on the hills, when it would seem as if everything would be swept away—the mind turns calmly to the thought that God is enthroned upon the clouds, that He is in control, that He presides over all that produces this widespread alarm and commotion, and that He will reign forever and ever. Just as God had showed himself to be the King and the Judge of the world at the time of the Great Flood, so he does still sit, and will sit as King for ever, sending such tempests as it pleases him to send. And therefore his people have great reason to worship and serve him.



11 The LORD will give strength unto his people; the LORD will bless his people with peace.


The LORD will give strength unto his people

“The Lord will give strength unto his people” is a practical application of the sentiments of the psalm, or a conclusion which is legitimately derived from the main thought in the psalm. The idea is that the God who presides over the tempest and the storm, the God who has such power, and can produce such effects, is abundantly able to sustain His people, and to defend them. In other words, the amazing power of Almighty God will be used to protect His people, and to save them from danger. When we look on the rolling clouds in the tempest, when we hear the roaring of the thunder, and see the flashing of the lightning, when we hear the oak crash on the hills, and see the waves piled mountain high, if we feel that God presides over all, and that He controls all this with infinite ease, then it’s for certain we have no reason to doubt that He can protect us; no reason to fear that His strength cannot support us.


 The Lord will give strength to his people to support and preserve them in the most dreadful storms and disturbances, whether they are products of nature or of earth’s inhabitants; and, consequently, in all the dangers they face, and against all their enemies. He will strengthen and fortify them against every evil work, and furnish them for every good work: out of weakness they shall be made strong; nay, he will perfect their strength in their weakness. The Lord will give strength unto his people—His special people, his covenant people, whom he has chosen for himself; these who are seized with infirmities, and are weak in themselves; but there is strength for them in Christ: the Lord promises it to them, and bestows it on them, and which is a pure gift of his grace unto them; this may more especially regard that strength, power, and dominion, which will be given to the people of the most High in the latter day; since it follows, upon the account of the everlasting kingdom of Christ.


Power was displayed in the hurricane, whose destruction is pictured in this Psalm; and now, in the cool calm after the storm, that power is promised to be the strength of the chosen. He who gives wings to the unerring lightning bolt, will give to His redeemed the wings of eagles; He who shakes the earth with his voice, will terrify the enemies of his saints, and give his children peace. Why are we weak when we have divine strength to flee to? Why are we troubled when the Lord's own peace is ours? Jesus the mighty God is our peace—what a blessing is this today! What a blessing it will be to us in that day of the Lord which will be in darkness and not light to the ungodly!


The Lord will give strength, to support and preserve them in the most dreadful tempests, and consequently in all other dangers, and against all their enemies. 


The LORD will bless his people with peace

The Lord will bless his people with peace”—they have nothing to fear in the tempest and storm; nothing to fear from anything. He will bless them with peace in the tempest; He will bless them with peace through that power by which He controls the tempest. Let them, therefore, not fear in the storm, however fiercely it may rage; let them not be afraid in any of the troubles and trials of life. In the storm, and in those troubles and trials of life, he can make the mind calm; beyond those storms and those troubles he can give them eternal peace in a world where no "angry tempest blows."


“He will bless his people with peace”—though now he sees fit to send them some troubles. He will encourage them in his service, and show by experience that the work of righteousness is peace, and that great peace have they that love his law, and walk according to it. And the Lord will bless his people with peace: with internal peace, which is peculiar to them, and to which wicked men are strangers; and which arises from a comfortable apprehension of justification by the righteousness of Christ, of pardon by his blood, and atonement by his sacrifice; and is enjoyed by those who have been born again. The same ones will enjoy external peace in the latter day, when there shall be no more war, nor persecution; but there shall be abundance of peace, and that without end; and at last there will be eternal peace, which is the end of the perfect and upright man; and the whole is a great blessing. “And the peace of God, which passes all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus” (Phil. 4:7).