Devotion: 2015-05-26

The Voice of the Lord

Psalm 29

What exactly is this psalm about?  Certainly it urges us to praise the Lord for a number of great and mighty works, but what exactly are the events being described here?  When was the voice of the Lord most powerfully over the waters?  When were cedars broken, when did lands skip and buck, when was the forest stripped bare?  Is David simply being poetic when he describes the Lord as enthroned over the flood (Psalm 29:10), or is this meant to be taken more literally?

Some who take seriously the historical accounts of Genesis 1-11 see this Psalm as a reflection on the greatest cataclysm of human history, the Great Flood of Noah.  The word used for flood in verse 10 is the Hebrew mabbul, a word that is used exclusively for a cataclysm of the type described in Genesis 6-9.  Seven times the Lord spoke to Noah (Genesis 6:13, 7:1, 8:15, 9:1, 9:8, 9:12 and 9:17), and seven times in this Psalm the voice of the Lord is praised.  The phrase translated as “heavenly beings” in Psalm 29:1, bene el,  is almost identical to what are identified as “sons of God” in Genesis 6:1 and 6:4.

In short, David is reflecting back on the relationship of God to the great destructive events wrought on earth which reflect the effects of sin.  The Lord remains firmly in control; he speaks from the throne, and things happen.  He doesn’t even need to stand for them to take place.  The only time the Lord is moved to leave his throne is not to destroy, but to save.  Christ Jesus takes human flesh and walks with us, dies for us, and rises for us so that sin can be forgiven and death destroyed.  When God takes a stand, it is to deliver his wayward people, to flood the earth not with water but with his grace and truth.

Lord, thank you for speaking the Word made flesh, your Son and our Savior Jesus Christ.  Amen.