Let me quote Psalm 29 before I share my thoughts on it. Read it carefully, and let it sink in:
A Psalm of David.
1 Ascribe to the LORD, O 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 holiness.
3 The voice of the LORD is over the waters;
the God of glory thunders,
the Lord, over many waters.
4 The voice of the LORD is powerful;
the voice of the LORD is full of majesty.
5 The voice of the LORD breaks the cedars;
the LORD breaks the cedars of Lebanon.
6 He makes Lebanon to skip like a calf,
and Sirion like a young wild ox.
7 The voice of the LORD flashes forth flames of fire.
8 The voice of the LORD shakes the wilderness;
the LORD shakes the wilderness of Kadesh.
9 The voice of the LORD makes the deer give birth
and strips the forests bare,
and in his temple all cry, “Glory!”
10 The LORD sits enthroned over the flood;
the Lord sits enthroned as king forever.
11 May the LORD give strength to his people!
May the LORD bless his people with peace!
Today, I stumbled on a blog commenting on the flooding in Lake Delton, Wisconson. I hadn’t heard of it, but apparently there isn’t really a Lake Delton anymore. Due to a recent flash flood, the waters damaged much of the town and ultimately overflowed the dam, escaping from the lake and leaving behind a muddy basin. It’s a tragedy for those who live there, but the blog author painted it as part of the struggle of man vs. nature: “Mother Nature is watching. She knows who is really in control.” I’ve heard it said that “Mother Nature” is merely a flimsy euphemism for “Father God.” It’s ridiculous to talk about the creation as though it were in control rather than its Creator. In Psalm 29, we see who really is in charge. It is not a nebulous “Mother Nature” at work in the lightning, in the thunder, in the breaking of cedars, in the shaking of the wilderness. It is the resounding voice of the Lord. I remember driving through Mississippi the summer after Hurricane Katrina and seeing an entire forest ruined, its greatest trees snapped in half by the force of the storm. (The heat energy produced by a hurricane is about the equivalent of a 10-megaton nuclear warhead exploding every 20 minutes.) The psalmist had witnessed a similar storm shatter the thick cedar forests of Lebanon, and in it he saw the power of the Lord.
I especially love v. 9. “The voice of the LORD makes the deer give birth and strips the forests bare, and in his temple all cry, ‘Glory!'” I heard that verse quoted once in a “Sermon Jam” made from a John Piper sermon. The awe and wonder with which Piper quotes it as part of a prayer—it is something I don’t think I can ever forget. There is something incredible about the reading of scripture with passion, when the reader clearly believes that these are the words of the Almighty. Too often we fail to express this as we read scripture.
What I love about this verse, beyond the visceral impact, is that last line: “And in his temple all cry, ‘Glory!'” The temple was the place where man encountered God and experienced His presence. It was the intersection of heaven and earth; in terms of ultimate significance, it was the center of the universe. The true worshipers of God who stood in His temple were stunned by His power, and only one word escaped from their lips: glory!
All that we see around us leads to the inescapable conclusion that there is an unbelievable gravity to God—what the dictionary calls an “alarming importance” or “seriousness.” The Hebrew word for glory referred to something heavy—something weighty or significant. Those standing in the temple could see and hear the power of the storm, and they knew Someone big was behind it all. And the Lord has not changed; His voice retains its power and authority today.
Our God is a colossus.