Summary: With displays of the power of nature, it seems appropriate to turn to Scripture to provide us with lessons from nature’s storms. You may not have had to face hurricanes lately, but all of us have, and will, face our share of storms in our lives.
Psalm 29 The Voice of the Lord
11/21/04 D. Marion Clark
I first preached this sermon to my congregation in Florida. At that time two hurricanes had struck the state – Hurricane Charley, then hurricane Frances, which passed over our community. Florida had never been hit by two such powerful storms in the same season. We were then facing the likelihood of Hurricane Ivan coming on shore as well. It would not be long before a fourth – Hurricane Jeanne – would also come, it also hitting our community. With such displays of the power of nature, it seems appropriate to turn to Scripture to provide us with lessons from nature’s storms. You may not have had to face hurricanes lately, but all of us have, and will, face our share of storms in our lives.
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.
David calls out to the angels of heaven to worship God. Why the angels? For one reason, he is looking up heavenward into the sky. The “heavens” are thundering, and he, a mere mortal, is too small to offer to God the true worship that belongs to him in this circumstance.
In these verses, David defines worship: it is ascribing (attributing) to God his true worth. “Ascribe to the Lord glory and strength…the glory due his name.” One definition I was given for worship is that it is our expressing our love for God. Certainly worship involves such expression. But David’s definition is better. Since worship is the worship of God, we are to offer to him what he wants, which is to be glorified for who he is. Thus, we are to offer the glory “due his name.” That includes expressing love, but it takes us further to knowing his majestic and holy traits, and then exalting him by calling these traits forth in his praise.
We are also told today that worship should address the felt-needs of the worshipper. David might actually have agreed with that idea, except he would have missed the point. This storm that David witnesses draws forth from him the yearning, the felt-need to give God his due. The storm is declaring to him the glory of God and he feels the need to ascribe to God the glory due his name. This is not the first time that nature has such an impact upon him.
In Psalm 19, David writes:
1 The heavens declare the glory of God;
the skies proclaim the work of his hands.
2 Day after day they pour forth speech;
night after night they display knowledge.
3 There is no speech or language
where their voice is not heard.
4 Their voice goes out into all the earth,
their words to the ends of the world.
How many times did David worship God while out in the fields with his sheep or camping in the mountains? The stormy heavens are declaring God’s glory to David now, and what he beholds is the “splendor of God’s holiness.”
What does David see? The impression given is that he is watching a storm coming up from the Mediterranean, a common sight. He pictures the storm’s path hitting north in the mountains of Lebanon, then moving southward over Mt. Hermon in the northern portion of Israel, and finally either in the southernmost wilderness region or perhaps an area about midway down in a desert region. Whatever the exact locations, the imagery is a storm over water, crossing the mountains, and finishing up in the desert. Let’s follow that path.
3 The voice of the LORD is over the waters;
the God of glory thunders,
the LORD, over many waters.
Can you hear the thunder that resonates over the waters? This is imagery we can identify with. We easily imagine thunder as the voice of God for two reasons. One is that it comes to us from “heaven,” up in the sky; the other is the deep, deafening, even terrifying sound that thunder makes. How many of us have heard the crack of a lightening bolt nearby and then started running as fast as we could for shelter? Or we hear it from afar as an ominous sound that stirs a sense of foreboding of the approaching power. Once, when Jesus was in Jerusalem, he prayed aloud to God, “Father glorify your name.” God actually replied, “I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again.” Then we are told, “The crowd that stood there and heard it said that it had thundered” (cf. John 12:27ff).
The psalm continues:
4 The voice of the LORD is powerful;
the voice of the LORD is full of majesty.