Psalm 29 is like watching the devastation of a raging storm from the safety of your front porch. Charles Spurgeon described Psalm 29 as a “Psalm that is meant to express the glory of God as heard in the pealing thunder, and seen in… [a] tornado…. These verses march to the tune of thunderbolts.”2
In terms of raging storms, I do not think I am overstating things at all when I say that it feels like we have been living through a raging storm for the last few years.
We are witnessing everything from a worldwide pandemic to increasing racial and social tensions to political upheaval that is off the charts to some of the most infuriating foreign interactions in the Middle East. We are witnessing all this on a scale that most of us have never experienced; it feels like a raging storm.
The things I have just mentioned do not even account for the normal day in and day out struggle in the lives of believers as we strive against the forces of Satan, Sin and Death; we still struggle daily with our own personal brokenness, limitations, temptation, sin patterns, worry, doubt, fear, and condemnation. It does not take much for life to feel like a raging storm.
It is not too hard to experience all that is going on both inside and outside of us and wind up feeling weak and hopeless in the face of these raging storms. Sometimes I almost feel like Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz looking out the window at the raging tornado headed my way.
This is where Psalm 29 is like a fresh drink of water for a thirsty person or a shelter for someone who has been facing the raging storms of this life. Psalm 29 is like the safety of the front porch.
1Ascribe to the Lord, O heavenly beings, ascribe to the Lord glory and strength. 2Ascribe to the Lord the glory due his name; worship the Lord in the splendor of his holiness. 3The voice of the Lord is over the waters; the God of glory thunders, the Lord, over many waters. 4The voice of the Lord is powerful; the voice of the Lord is full of majesty. 5The voice of the Lord breaks the cedars; the Lord breaks the cedars of Lebanon. 6He makes Lebanon to skip like a calf, and Sirion like a young wild ox. 7The voice of the Lord flashes forth flames of fire. 8The voice of the Lord shakes the wilderness; the Lord shakes the wilderness of Kadesh. 9The voice of the Lord makes the deer give birth and strips the forest bare, and in his temple all cry, “Glory!” 10The Lord sits enthroned over the flood; the Lord sits enthroned as king forever. 11May the Lord give strength to his people! May the Lord bless his people with peace!
The reality here is that this Psalm is meant to teach us that the God we serve is not a tame God; he’s not a god that we can lead around on a leash.3
Here’s the thing, a puny God results in a puny faith but a mighty God results in a mighty faith; Psalm 29 is meant to be a wake – up call and a reminder that the God we serve is powerful and mighty; this God, whose voice is mighty beyond comparison, whose voice turns cedar trees into tooth picks, this God, is our strength.4
Think about how often you and I bow down to or give in to the gods of money, lust, bitterness, anger, unforgiveness, doubt, despair, gossip, slander, laziness, control, comfort, power, and acceptance. You and I both know that these gods make really horrible taskmasters who enslave us for their own gain.
The good news of Psalm 29 is that God’s enemies have been warned (vv. 1 – 2); God’s enemies will be destroyed (vv. 3 – 9); and God’s people can remain secure (vv. 10 – 11). We have a place of refuge in the person and work of the crucified, risen and returning Christ amidst the raging storms of this life.
#1: GOD’S ENEMIES HAVE BEEN WARNED (VV. 1 – 2)
In verses 1 – 2 the Psalmist says “Ascribe to the Lord, O heavenly beings, ascribe to the Lord glory and strength. Ascribe to the Lord the glory due his name; worship the Lord in the splendor of his holiness” (Ps. 29:1 – 2). The “heavenly beings” in verse one is basically a Hebrew term that means foreign gods or idols.5 What God is basically saying here is “You tell my enemies that I am coming and heaven is coming with me!”
I love watching old westerns. One of the westerns that is a long – time favorite for me is the movie Tombstone. Tombstone tells the story of a U.S. Marshall named Wyatt Earp, who along with his brothers and the infamous Doc Holiday, take on a band of bad guys and eventually wipe them out.
There’s this scene near the end of the movie where Wyatt Earp sets a trap for some of his enemies and he catches one of them trying to sneak onto a train to kill his brothers. But Wyatt Earp outsmarts his enemy and with a double barrel shotgun in his enemy’s face, Wyatt Earp screams at him “Go back to your friends and tell them that I am coming. You tell them that I am coming and hell’s coming with me.”
That’s the tone of this text. God is thundering down from Heaven, and he is telling his enemies (foreign gods and idols) that he’s coming, and heaven is coming with him.
A foreign god or an idol is anything that we bow down to or that controls us. Things like lust or doubt or fear or laziness or greed or comfort or control or power; these are examples of foreign gods and idols that we oftentimes feel weak to overcome.
It oftentimes feels like they are the raging storm all around us. But in these opening verses we can be encouraged by the truth that God’s enemies have been warned and they literally do not hold any power over us except the power we allow them to have.
Our enemies don’t hold any power over us if we belong to God because ultimately God’s enemies will be destroyed! The work of Jesus at the cross and the empty tomb and his promise to return one day and set everything right and rescue his children… this is the fair warning that God’s enemies have been given; their days are numbered and one day they will meet the face of a raging storm that will lay them to absolute waste.
#2: GOD’S ENEMIES WILL BE DESTROYED (VV. 3 – 9)
One author I read this week recalled the devastation that happens when a huge tornado rolls through a community.6 The images in your mind are not pretty when you think about the devastating force of a tornado or a tsunami on a community of people. When a raging storm rolls through, it leaves a path of destruction in its wake.
This is the picture that the Psalmist paints of God’s enemies after they have been warned when he says “The voice of the Lord is over the waters; the God of glory thunders, the Lord, over many waters. The voice of the Lord is powerful; the voice of the Lord is full of majesty. The voice of the Lord breaks the cedars; the Lord breaks the cedars of Lebanon. He makes Lebanon to skip like a calf, and Sirion like a young wild ox. The voice of the Lord flashes forth flames of fire. The voice of the Lord shakes the wilderness; the Lord shakes the wilderness of Kadesh. The voice of the Lord makes the deer give birth and strips the forest bare, and in his temple all cry, “Glory” (Ps. 29:3 – 9). This is the image of God who is like a raging storm as he destroys any enemy who stands in his way.
When Satan, Sin and Death raise their evil heads in your presence through temptation, condemnation, or fear, you can remind them that your God is like a raging storm who is about to destroy their very existence.
You can stand against temptation, condemnation and fear and you can live in obedience to God’s Word because you know that God’s enemies are about to be completely annihilated by the raging storm of God’s fury as he rolls in from the ocean through the trees at landfall and continues moving through the mountains with a display of up close and personal lightning throughout the forest of idols that we are fighting our way through.7
The problem for us is that we often listen to voices that we shouldn’t. The voice of God is mentioned no less than seven times throughout this text, and it’s meant to remind us of God’s perfectly powerful voice not only in creation but also in the destruction of his enemies.8
God’s voice is so powerful that it turns cedar trees into toothpicks; it makes the mountains shake and tremble in fear; it is like the bright light of lightning striking right next to you with the loudest thunder you can imagine; it causes the forest to tremble, the deer to go into premature labor and it strips the forest into sawdust.
This is the awe-inspiring voice of God. And let’s not forget that the voice of God took on flesh in the form of Jesus Christ who is the Word of God in the flesh. He came and he died, and he left the tomb empty, and he ascended into heaven and he promised to return to judge the living and the dead and to utterly destroy his enemies by the power of his Word (Rev. 19:11 – 16).9
The voice of God’s enemies will never fulfill you. Temptation, sin, condemnation, shame, guilt, lust, greed, fear… they will always leave you empty. But God’s perfectly powerful voice will always leave you secure.
#3: GOD’S PEOPLE CAN REMAIN SECURE (VV. 10 – 11)
The image of someone who is totally secure is the image of someone who remains resolute in his or her obedience to God despite the whirlwind of condemnation, temptation and fear that surrounds him.
This kind of man or woman has laid hold of the truths contained in the final verses of our text where the Psalmist says that “The Lord sits enthroned over the flood; the Lord sits enthroned as king forever. May the Lord give strength to his people! May the Lord bless his people with peace” (Ps. 29:10 – 11). God’s people can remain strong and secure and full of peace when they believe that God has not only warned his enemies but that he will utterly destroy his enemies in the near future.
Every violent raging storm we face in this life is meant to remind us of the final raging storm of judgment that is coming for God’s enemies as our mighty king reigns his peaceful control over everything.10 Every time you find yourself in the midst of the raging storm of lust or greed or anger or gossip or control or laziness you can stand firm in obedience to God’s Word because you know you are being held securely in the hand of the God who reigns supreme over his enemies.
Once again… Psalm 29 is like watching the devastation of a raging storm from the safety of your front porch. I do not know what storms you are walking through right now. I can only guess that you may be facing some of the same raging storms that are common to every person in this room.
Relationships are hard. Family can be exhausting. Our mouths can get the best of us. Money is difficult to manage. Lust seems to lurk around every corner. Fear is an insidious little creature that can paralyze the largest of men. Guilt and shame will work overtime to keep you under their thumb. Anger can boil over at a moment’s notice. The desires for control, acceptance, power, and comfort can be tantalizing little idols. Loneliness, worry, doubt and fear can scream so loudly that it can be hard to hear the voice of God.
Whose voice are you listening to? And whose image is looming large in your mind right now? What enemies have you been fighting this week? Be encouraged my friends. I hope this text has reminded you that God’s enemies have been warned. God’s enemies will be destroyed. You can rest securely in the presence of God. The proof of all this is in the bloody cross; it’s in the doorway of the empty tomb and it’s in the promise of the hope of heaven.
When you kneel down at the foot of the bloody cross of Christ in the doorway of the empty tomb of Christ and you cling tightly to the promise of the hope of heaven, you will find that the God we serve is no puny god at all; he cannot be led around on a leash because he is like a raging storm that will consume his enemies and secure his children. I pray that you find refuge on the front porch as you watch our God move like a raging storm among his enemies. – Amen!
1 Unless otherwise specified, all Bible references in this paper are to the English Standard Version Bible, The New Classic Reference Edition (ESV) (Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers, 2001).
2 James A. Johnston, The Psalms: Rejoice, the Lord is King (Wheaton, Illinois: Crossway, 2015), 297.
4 Ibid., 297 – 298.
5 Ibid., 298 – 299.
6 Ibid., 297.
7 Ibid., 300 – 301.
8 Ibid., 303.
9 Ibid., 304.
10 Ibid., 305.