I remember how abruptly storms came up during hot summer days on the prairies of Saskatchewan.
It might be an oppressively steamy hot, sunny day. The air would be still. Then, to the west, a menacing dark cloud would form on the horizon. In a very short time it would expand and ascend to fill the sky.
Streetlights came on prematurely. In the semi-darkness the rain came in a torrent. Lightning flashed like a giant’s welding torch, followed by thunderclaps that shook the earth.
After drenching the fields the storm moved on and the sun filled the sky again. Our world had been refreshed.
As a child, it was one thing to be caught running for home in terror during such a pyrotechnical display. It was another thing to be safe inside, looking out the window with a parent at one’s side. Nature’s fireworks were both terrifying and awe-inspiring.
Psalm 29 is built on such a description. During his fugitive days the psalmist David must have watched many times from the mouth of a cave as the amazing drama in the heavens displayed this wonder.
In his case, the storm would be coming in from the Mediterranean Sea — hence his statement that “the voice of the LORD is over the [mighty] waters…” (v. 3a).
It would have moved inland over Lebanon where it exerted its enormous strength on the mighty cedars of that region, snapping some of them as though they were spindly saplings (v. 5).
And as the wind drove sheets of rain across the forest, the trees bending back and forth in unison reminded him of a playful, skipping calf (v. 6a). The storm then drove further inland and toward the south where it showed its force over towering Mount Hermon (Sirion). Again it appeared to skip playfully, but here like a young wild ox (v. 6b).
Driving southward it washed over the desert in the southern regions of Kadesh, where it seemed without effort to twist the oaks and strip the forests bare (v. 9).
How should a devout observer consider such a demonstration of nature’s power? As the nasty work of some malevolent force? As nothing more than the unfeeling tricks of nature? As an act of Baal, whom the Canaanites worshiped as the storm god?
No, none of the above. Rather, the sight should fill us, as it did the psalmist, with an impulse to call all the unseen heavenly beings to praise the Almighty (vv. 1,2):
Ascribe to the LORD, O mighty ones,
ascribe to the LORD glory and strength.
Ascribe to the LORD the glory due his name;
worship the LORD in the splendor of his holiness.
His closing words are no less exultant (vv. 10,11):
The LORD sits enthroned over the flood;
the LORD is enthroned as King forever.
The LORD gives strength to his people;
the LORD blesses his people with peace.
To enter the spirit of Psalm 29 is to enlarge our vision of our God. We worship him even while the wind blows and the thunder rumbles. He is God, not only over the storms, but over all.
And we always remember that he is the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.