THE OPENING VERSES OF PSALM 29 SUGGEST that a great part of what it means to “worship the LORD in the splendor of his holiness” is to ascribe to him the praise that is his due: ascribe to him glory and strength, “the glory due his name”(29:1-2).
In this light, the central section of the psalm (29:3-9) is remarkable, for it focuses on just one element in God’s activity, viz. the voice of the Lord. “The voice of the LORD is over the waters” — possibly an allusion both to the original creation, when God simply “spoke” and the universe came into being and took form, and to the spectacular deliverance when God parted the Red Sea, but also to every storm-swept current; “the God of glory thunders, the LORD thunders over the mighty waters.” The voice of the Lord is both powerful and majestic. It “breaks in pieces the cedars of Lebanon,” proverbial for their size and strength — an allusion to the unleashed storms that God’s voice calls forth. Indeed, this is nothing to him, for nations and mountains alike perform his bidding, and all of them hear the thunder of his voice in the storm that traverses from Lebanon in the north to Kadesh in the south.
The secularist looks at a storm and thinks exclusively of the physical properties that have brought it about. The believer understands that those properties have been built into the material world by its Creator, and that God himself speaks in thunder and lightning. The only proper response is to gather in his temple, and in a spirit of mingled awe and humility cry, “Glory!” (29:9).
Small wonder that the psalm ends (29:10-11) by focusing on the universal reign of God: “the LORD is enthroned as King forever,” whether at the time of the deluge (the Hebrew word for “flood” in this passage is found only here and in Gen. 6-11) — the very deluge that most powerfully demonstrated God’s power to deploy the forces of “nature” as he sees fit — or in the perpetual blessings and strength God confers on his people.
Isaiah foresees the day when the “Root of Jesse will stand as a banner for the peoples,” when the nations will rally to him and his place of rest will be, literally, “the glory” (Isa. 11:10). When Stephen, the first Christian martyr, was about to be sent into eternity by the furious mob, his eyes were opened, and he looked up to heaven and saw “the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God” (Acts 7:55).
His is the final voice of God; he is the Word of God. “Ascribe to the LORD glory and strength” (29:1). Let all cry, “Glory!”