psalm xxix – storm God

Give unto the Lord, O you mighty ones,
Give unto the Lord glory and strength.
Give unto the Lord the glory due to His name;
Worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness.

The voice of the Lord is over the waters;
The God of glory thunders;
The Lord is over many waters.
The voice of the Lord is powerful;
The voice of the Lord is full of majesty.

The voice of the Lord breaks the cedars,
Yes, the Lord splinters the cedars of Lebanon.
He makes them also skip like a calf,
Lebanon and Sirion like a young wild ox.
The voice of the Lord divides the flames of fire.
The voice of the Lord shakes the wilderness;
The Lord shakes the Wilderness of Kadesh.
The voice of the Lord makes the deer give birth,
And strips the forests bare;
And in His temple everyone says, “Glory!”

The Lord sat enthroned over the Flood,
And the Lord sits as King forever.
The Lord will give strength to His people;
The Lord will bless His people with peace.

- ps xxix (nkjv)

The ‘voice’ of the Lord in this Psalm is a moving thunderstorm. It clatters over the ocean, up and around Lebanon’s highest mountain, south through Israel and finishing just below there in Egypt’s territory. Thunderstorms don’t terrify the way they used to. When this Psalm was composed, the ability to survive was determined by the weather. A nation built on farming knows they are not gods, but at the mercy of God. How fearsome is God in this Psalm, the one enthroned over the Flood. Even the trauma of a destructive, chaotic flood is under the dominion of God. This is the God of thunder and lightning, of destruction and power. 

And yet, this is also the God that lay as a baby in Mary’s arms, cooing softly. That thunderous, mouthless voice was transposed into the cry of a human child. How different are the pictures we get of God when we contrast these truths. If you were to tell someone this enthroned God of Psalm 29 made Himself vulnerable and subject to beatings and death for those who hated Him, they would call you foolish. It simply would not fit, logically speaking. Rightly so, as Paul said himself: “…the world did not know God through wisdom, it pleased God through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe” (1 cor 1:20). We must accept that God can and is both these things, the omnipotent God and the lowly Man. But how are we to address this God who may either be to me a storm-god or a saviour? 

God’s most complete revelation of His own character and desire toward you is in the Incarnation, life, Death, Resurrection and Ascension of Jesus Christ. Salvation has been won for you that you need never look to God except through the eyes of one united to Christ. You sit in the safe Temple, where the thunder clatter overhead has been transposed into the soft words of the Saviour, no longer threatening. Outside the Temple of Christ, you only can see the storm clouds of God. He is to you a chaotic entity you must fear and appease lest he strike you down. But inside the Temple of Christ, the clatter turns to honey and the chaos to lowliness. The God of the storm is seen for who He is there, and that is the God who is for you.

The storm is there to prod you and disturb you, to make you see your vulnerability to the elements. It prods you into the Temple, where the air is light and voices are soft. This was the point of the storm all along, to drive you indoors to the calm where God wanted us since Genesis 1.

<— psalm xxviii psalm xxx —>