Praising the God of the Thunderstorm
Last week we finished up our look at Jesus’ high priestly prayer; which is found in John 17. In that passage, Jesus prayed for Himself, for His disciples, and then for the entire world. But this week, we are going to pause for a moment to get just a small glimpse of God’s power and glory. For the past two weeks we have looked at what God desires for us, but tonight we are going to look at who God is. Now I hope I don’t offend Brother Morris too much this evening, but I’m going to tread on his territory a little bit tonight. Tonight the prayer we are going to examine is found in Psalm 29. So please turn there in your Bibles.
“Give unto the LORD, O ye mighty, give unto the LORD glory and strength. Give unto the LORD the glory due unto His holy name; worship the LORD in the beauty of holiness. 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 powerful; the voice of the LORD is full of majesty. The voice of the LORD breaketh the cedars; yea, the LORD breaketh the cedars of Lebanon. He maketh them also to skip like a calf; Lebanon and Sirion like a young unicorn. The voice of the LORD divideth the flames of fire. The voice of the LORD shaketh the wilderness; the LORD shaketh the wilderness of Kadesh. 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 LORD sitteth upon His flood; yea, the LORD sitteth King forever. The LORD will give strength unto His people; the LORD will bless His people with peace.”
Let us pray.
The title of my devotion tonight is “Praising the God of the Thunderstorm.” As you probably noticed, this entire psalm paints a picture of a massive thunderstorm that is a ripping through the land. It’s impossible to tell for sure, but I like to believe that David was watching a literal storm blow in from sea, and that thunderstorm is what inspired him to write this psalm to God. The storm is extremely destructive, but as David watches the storm, his heart is filled with peace, because He knows the One who created the storm. Let’s look at verses one and two again together. “Give unto the LORD, O ye mighty, give unto the LORD glory and strength. Give unto the LORD the glory due unto his name; worship the LORD in the beauty of holiness.” These two verses act as an introduction to the storm that we are about to see. You notice the phrase “O ye mighty” in verse one. The Hebrew for the phrase is literally “sons of God.” In the Old Testament, “sons of God” normally refers to angels, and I believe that “angels” is the idea that David was trying to convey here. David tells the angels to give glory and strength to God. In verse two, David continues this thought by charging the angels to give God the glory due to His name. Now, we know that God is absolutely strong, and He is absolutely glorious. So what does the text mean when it tells the angels to give strength and glory to God? Since it is obvious that no being, whether human or heavenly, can give God any more strength, or can give Him any more glory, this verse must mean that the angels are supposed to give God the credit for the glory and strength He has exhibited. As David sees this massive storm approaching in the distance, He knows that God is in complete control, because God is the one that has all of the strength, and all of the glory.
Moving on to verses three and four, “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 powerful; the voice of the LORD is full of majesty.” The imagery in these two verses is of a massive storm at sea. We’ve all heard stories of some horrible storms at sea. The story that immediately pops into my mind is when Paul was on his way to Rome, and their ship was caught in such a tremendous storm that they did not see the light of day for a full two weeks. And what happened at the end of two weeks? Their ship was completely destroyed, and all of the passengers floated to a nearby island. And when David thought about this huge storm at sea, the thought struck Him that God’s power is similar to this stormy sea. Just like a storm at sea can demolish the best ships that we can build, God has the power to do whatever He pleases with humanity.
But the storm that destroyed Paul’s ship was not the only sea storm that the Bible mentions. The Bible also tells about the time that the disciples were on a fishing boat in the Sea of Galilee. That storm was so bad that they feared that their ship was about to be sunk. Just when they had lost all hope that they were going to survive, Jesus, with the mere power of His voice, calmed the stormy sea. The disciples marveled that even the winds and the seas obeyed His voice. As we read the words of David, our minds should be filled with peace, because God is not only able to raise up a huge storm, but He can calm that storm with a single word. Our God is truly all powerful.
Next David describes what this mighty storm does when it reaches land. Let’s read verses five and six again. “The voice of the LORD breaketh the cedars; yea, the LORD breaketh the cedars of Lebanon. He maketh them also to skip like a calf; Lebanon and Sirion like a young unicorn.” There are four important things we need to note about these two verses. The first thing is that God is powerful enough to snap cedar trees in half as it they were twigs. But these aren’t just any cedars. These are the cedars of Lebanon. In David and Solomon’s day, the cedars of Lebanon were famous for their size and strength. Whenever Solomon was building his royal palace and the temple of the LORD, he did not settle for the local trees. He was willing to pay top dollar for the trees that came from Lebanon, because of their superior quality. God was even able to break these. The second thing you need to notice is that God made these trees skip like calves. This reminds me of video footage where massive tornados rip through towns and send trees and electric poles flying like they were pieces of paper. This is the image that David is describing. The third thing to notice is the reference to Sirion. Sirion was a mountain that was better known as Mount Hermon. Mount Hermon was the tallest mountain in all of Israel. It stood at over 9,000 feet, and was considered a symbol of strength. Even this mighty mountain was affected by the storm. The fourth thing you need to know to understand about these verses is that Mount Hermon was not only the tallest mountain in Israel, but it also served as the extreme northern boundary for the country.
On May 8th, 2009, my hometown of Fredericktown, Missouri experienced perhaps the worst storm in its 200 year history. My mother called me that day from the basement of the house to tell me that the large tree that I used to climb as a kid had just landed on the front porch. A few weeks after that horrible storm, I had the opportunity to go home for the weekend. The destruction that Lydia and I saw was worse than anything I had ever witnessed. At least half of the trees on the forested hills were knocked down. Almost everyone had some sort of damage to their property. Many people lost roofs. Many people’s cars were smashed by trees. Some people even lost their entire homes. But that storm was nothing in comparison to what David is describing here. God made a huge storm that day in southeast Missouri, but it was simply a small display of His true power. Let’s see where the storm moves next.
Verses seven through nine read, “The voice of the LORD divideth the flames of fire. The voice of the LORD shaketh the wilderness; the LORD shaketh the wilderness of Kadesh. 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." Verse seven says that God divides the flames of fire. Taken in context of a thunderstorm, I believe that David is referring to forks of lightning. Whenever we look out and see a huge bolt of lightning, we can know that God both made the lightning, but He also controls where it goes. Verse eight says that the voice of the LORD shakes the wilderness of Kadesh. Kadesh is the name of the wilderness at the extreme southern border of Israel. So first the storm was at the sea on Israel’s western border, then it moved and was at the northern tip of Israel, and now it is all the way at the southern tip of the country. And after saying all of that, David says that all the people within the temple speak of His glory.
Before I make any comments about that statement, let’s finish the chapter together. The LORD sitteth upon the flood; yea, the LORD sitteth King forever. The LORD will give strength unto His people; the LORD will bless His people with peace. This is one of the only places in the Bible where this specific Hebrew word for “flood” is used. The only other time the Bible uses this word is in Genesis when Noah built the ark. So David here is not just referring to some time when the river Jordan flooded its banks. No, David is looking back in time when God flooded the entire world, and everybody except for Noah and his family died. David realized that not only is God the God of the thunderstorm he saw in the distance. Our God is the God that wiped out the entire world with one huge storm. This realization prompted David to exclaim that “the LORD sitteth King forever!” If our God can snap cedars, control lightning itself, and flood the entire world, then He is surely the King of everything! But then what does David say next? David says that the LORD will give strength unto His people, and that He will bless them with what? David says that He will bless them with peace.
We have seen in this little psalm that God is supremely powerful. We have seen that sometimes God displays His power through massive thunderstorms. Every time you see a storm in the future, I pray that you will remember this psalm, and remember that God is more powerful than anything you or I can imagine. But I also hope you remember that in the midst of the storm, God blesses His people with peace.
I don’t know where all of you are in your life’s journey right now, but if you are going through one of life’s many storms, my prayer for you is that you will never forget the One who is in complete control of every situation. And my prayer is that knowing the God of the thunderstorm will give you complete and perfect peace. Give glory to God, because He is the only One that deserves it. Our God is so good.
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