God Over The Storm
Give unto the Lord, O you mighty ones, Give unto the Lord glory and strength. Give unto the Lord the glory due to His name; Worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness. The voice of the Lord is over the waters; The God of glory thunders; The Lord is 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, Yes, the Lord splinters the cedars of Lebanon. He makes them also skip like a calf, Lebanon and Sirion like a young wild ox. The voice of the Lord divides the 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 forests bare; And in His temple everyone says, “Glory!” The Lord sat enthroned at the Flood, And the Lord sits as King forever. The Lord will give strength to His people; The Lord will bless His people with peace.
The seminary did not have a gymnasium, but the nearby high school did. Year after year, young men preparing for the ministry found a friend in the elderly black custodian who cleaned the gym. Late at night when he finished his chores, he would let in the seminarians who were ready to work off some energy on the basketball floor.
One evening during an intense scrimmage, a player looked up and saw the old man sitting in the bleachers, evidently done with his work. The seminary student broke away from the game to talk to the janitor and thank him for not hurrying them out of the gym.
As he approached, he noticed the black man was reading a Bible. Perfunctorily, the young man asked, “What are you reading?” The custodian emphatically responded, “I’m reading the Book of Revelation.”
The seminarian shot back flippantly, “Do you understand what you’re reading?” Confidently the custodian responded, “Yes I do.” “Well,” the student asked incredulously, “if you understand it what does it mean?” “It means,” the old man replied, “that Jesus is a-gonna win.”
The spirit of Psalm 29 is no different from that of the Book of Revelation, except that in the psalm the threatening circumstance is a thunderstorm rather than a storm of persecution and trial.
Whether your storm is physical, emotional, or spiritual- Jesus is Lord over the storm.
As David writes Psalm 29 he is tracing the path of the storm as it forms over the Mediterranean, moves southeastward across the mountains of Lebanon snapping the cedars and raging like an oxen or frolicking like a calf, and then moving downward across the expanse of Israel until it ends in the desert, leaving downed oaks and twisted trees in its path.
Psalm 29 personifies the thunderclaps as the “voice of the Lord.” Why? Has David adopted a pantheistic view that nature is God? Absolutely not. Using poetic license, he is saying that God’s voice is the predominant feature in any storm.
George Wood says, “His powerful and majestic voice is heard over the waters. The bolts of lightening toppling great cedars remind all of the awesome crack of God’s command. In the thunderstorm mortals cower at His omnipotence.”
Psalm 29 opens with a summons and a command to heavenly beings (mighty ones) to ascribe praise to the Lord. Often I’m asked why I encourage people to spend time in praise and worship. Here’s why. Before your storm- and there’s one waiting ahead- fill the sanctuary, the temple(that’s what you are) with song and praise and worship in the splendor of His holiness. A study of Revelation tells us that before the storm on earth begins, heaven is filled with worship. While the storm is raging, heaven is filled with praise. When the storm is over heaven is filled with celebration. In the dark day of the crucifixion when the storm and battle was raging on Golgotha, heaven worshipped. We don’t have to wait for the storm to be over and after we’ve assessed the damage. We worship because we see, hear, and feel the presence of the Lord rising above the storm. We know our anchor is sure and holds us secure for it is anchored to the Rock of Ages.
There is an incredible parallel that exists between Psalm 29 and Revelation. In Revelation we find many hymns of praise to God and the Lamb. That music in God’s presence is sent down to the saints on earth, so that in our time of difficult trial, we may sing from the same page that those around the throne are singing. I wonder if that night long ago as two beaten, chained missionaries locked up in a dungeon, began to sing if it was not that heaven’s host joined in for they knew the song of sacrificial worship too.
This is why we must move beyond mere singing and even praise. Only through heart-felt, soul-moving, lavish-adoring worship will we be able to keep our focus on Christ instead of the storm. If we focus on the terrifying elements of the storm- and they are terrifying- we will be destroyed. As David views the storm and its mighty power, he turns his thoughts over to the Lord whose voice is over the waters, a voice that turns chaos into creation, and seeming defeat by the adversary into a powerful revelation of His presence.
George Wood says, “When the storm is over, the worship is not. ‘And in his temple all cry, Glory.’ Is that what you are doing in your hour of trial- crying glory? Have you discerned His voice in the storm?”
In the end of Psalm 29 something of the holy tranquility of heaven spills out over the earth and penetrates the hearts of those in earthly struggles. Psalm 29 begins by summoning heavenly beings to worship and ends by assuring those of us on earth that He is in control. For those unsure of the purpose of Revelation, this is it. In a time of great storm, God calls John aside and gives to him and us heaven’s view of all that’s taking place in the world. Even though sometimes it may feel like that the devil and evil has the upper hand, Psalm 29 and Revelation remind us that God is the Sovereign Lord on the throne who rules and reigns over all.
George Wood says, “The power of God revealed in the storm is the same attribute in God which brings safety to His people. Since the Lord is enthroned over both storm and flood (and what is more uncontrollable than these frightening rampages in nature?). He who has power to create both storm and flood, also has the power to strengthen and bless His people with peace. The heavenly glory of God remains untouched and unperturbed by ever changing events which happen to us on earth.”
From our own experience and captured by Psalm 29 we know that storms certainly get our attention. And we can be mesmerized by the power of the storm. But should the storm get my exclusive focus? A thousand times no. Can we, like David, lift our hearts to the Lord who reigns over the lightening, thunder, and flood? The storms may come, but He never leaves nor forsakes us. The storm will pass but He never will.
In the words of the old custodian, “In the end, Jesus a-gonna win!”
Dr. John Thompson