For September 2022, I’m trying to read and reflect – briefly – on a Psalm each day. I’ll read the Psalm, pray, and then ponder a few questions:
- What is this Psalm about?
- What does this Psalm teach about God?
- How does this Psalm connect to God’s people today?
I’ll close the post with a simple prayer, trying to draw the themes together.
On the penultimate day of September, here’s Psalm 29:
1 Ascribe to the Lord, you heavenly beings,
ascribe to the Lord glory and strength.
2 Ascribe to the Lord the glory due his name;
worship the Lord in the splendor of his holiness.
3 The voice of the Lord is over the waters;
the God of glory thunders,
the Lord thunders over the mighty waters.
4 The voice of the Lord is powerful;
the voice of the Lord is majestic.
5 The voice of the Lord breaks the cedars;
the Lord breaks in pieces the cedars of Lebanon.
6 He makes Lebanon leap like a calf,
Sirion like a young wild ox.
7 The voice of the Lord strikes
with flashes of lightning.
8 The voice of the Lord shakes the desert;
the Lord shakes the Desert of Kadesh.
9 The voice of the Lord twists the oaks
and strips the forests bare.
And in his temple all cry, “Glory!”
10 The Lord sits enthroned over the flood;
the Lord is enthroned as King forever.
11 The Lord gives strength to his people;
the Lord blesses his people with peace.
What is this Psalm about?
Psalm 29 begins in quite a unique way – not one we’ve seen in the Psalter before – by addressing ‘heavenly beings’, rather than God, the Psalmist himself, or other people. It seems, in my reading, that the awareness of the Psalmist of the glory and kingship of God is so great that it is overwhelmingly overflowing – the opposite or inversion of previous Psalms where the feeling of being overwhelmed was negative and internal, pressing in on the Psalmist. This is a Psalm about the glory of the Lord – it draws the eye, ear and heart of the reader or singer to this great theme. Nature and the heavenly realms, all of creation, everything is involved. And the word that they cry? Verse 9 – ‘Glory!’.
What does this Psalm teach about God?
Psalm 29 emphasises firmly the kingship and Lordship of God – and adds in a new thing, ‘glory’. The glory of God is a multifaceted thing – echoing and resounding from God’s character. And so the words used of God in Psalm 29 are important – ‘splendor’, ‘powerful’, ‘majestic’, and so on. God’s activity is also in view – with verse 11 providing a summing up of God’s activity for/to his people, having focused before that on the voice of the Lord and the effects of God’s speech.
How does this Psalm connect to God’s people today?
There is no room in Psalm 29 for a small view of God. Even the angels are roped in to praise him! This makes, I think, Psalm 29 an encouraging and exhorting Psalm, a Psalm that challenges our tendency to have a small view of God. In a world where creation is flawed, where the human affect on our environment is so clearly damaging, Psalm 29 also offers reassurance about God’s sovereignty over creation, and the ultimate promise that he will protect and bless his people. This doesn’t discharge us of our creation mandate as stewards and gardeners, but it reminds us that our hope and peace is to be found in God, and in nothing else.
A prayer from Psalm 29:
Lord, you sit enthroned over everything, over every natural and man-made disaster, and those that we don’t understand. You are King forever – grant your people strength and blessing, as we seek to follow you. Amen.