Ascribe to the LORD, O heavenly beings, ascribe to the LORD glory and strength.
Job 26., 28., 38.; Isaiah 40.; Psalm 104., 19., 147., and that in the psalm before us now, which rises to the very noblest heights of Hebrew poetry, in its symmetry and grandeur. Bishop Perowne (who acknowledges his obligations to Ewald therein) has a most interesting introduction to this psalm, in which he points out the beauty of its structure, as in its grand description of a tempest it shows the storm at its height of majesty, and then in its subsidence to comparative calm. And, verily, even on this lower ground of poetic beauty, he would be by no means to be envied who could read it without a strange commingling of rapture, wonder, and awe. We seem to hear the roll of the ocean, to listen to the pealing thunder, to watch the flash of the lightning, the crashing of the trees of the forest, the heaving of the mountains, as if they were loosed from their foundations by an earthquake, Lebanon and Sirion leaping as wild creatures free from all restraint. But while it is to the descriptions of all this grandeur and majesty that some expositors chiefly call our attention, neither nature's grandeur nor majesty is the main topic of the psalm. By no means; but rather the glory of HIM whose dominion extendeth over all! In the eye of the psalmist, all the forces of nature are under one sceptre; that sceptre is wielded by one hand; that hand is moved by one heart, even that of our redeeming God. Such is the theme before us.
I. HERE POWER IN VARIED MANIFESTATIONS IS TRACED TO ONE SOURCE. There are five thoughts which are presented cumulatively.
1. Power in nature's works and wonders specially as shown in storm and tempest, lightning and thunder, earthquake and mountain wave. Note: The larger our knowledge of natural science, the more capable shall we be of discoursing with interest, delight, and profit to others on these "wonderful works of God."
2. Power in providential administration. (Ver. 10.) "The Lord sat enthroned at the flood." This word rendered "flood" is the one applied to the Deluge of Noah, and only so applied. Hence it seems to include the specific thought that over and above all merely natural disclosures of power, there is a moral enthronement, whereby natural phenomena are made subservient to moral ends. Not only is every atom kept in harness, but the collocation of atoms is subsidiary to the discipline of souls.
3. There is gracious loving-kindness towards his own people. (Ver. 11.) "His people." There are those in the world marked off from the rest by tokens known to God alone. They are his, having "made a covenant with him by sacrifice" (Psalm 50:5). And with reference to them, there is a grace marvellous in its tenderness. The same Being who can thunder most loudly can also whisper most sweetly, and can also give out blessings to his own.
(2) Peace. While the fiercest storm is raging without, God can and does give us peace within; a peace which becomes richer and fuller, till it is exceedingly abundant "above all we can ask or think." It is "the peace of God, passing all understanding" (John 14:27; Philippians 4:6, 7; Romans 5:1; Ephesians 2:14).
4. He who thus rules in nature, providence, grace, is the everlasting King. (Ver. 10.) "King for ever! 'The sceptre of universal power will never drop from his hands, nor will he ever transfer it to another (Psalm 97:1). The hand that upholds all will never become weary. The eye that watches all will never droop with fatigue. The arms that clasp believers in their embrace will never relax their hold. The voice that whispers, "Peace!" will never be stilled in death. The love that enriches with blessing will never be chilled. "King for ever!"
5. He who is this everlasting King is our redeeming God. The usual term for God as the God of nature is "Elohim" (Genesis 1:1). But here we are reminded that the God who thunders in the heavens and controls the swelling seas; that he who guides the forked lightning, is "Jehovah," the "I am that I am," the Lord who has thus revealed himself to his people as their God. And the great Ruler of nature is he who exercises loving-kindness, righteousness, and judgment in the earth, in order that he that glorieth may glory in the Lord.
II. SUCH THOUGHTS OF GOD MAY WELL EVOKE GRATEFUL SONG. They know not how much of gladness and inspiration they lose who cannot see God everywhere. To see law everywhere and God nowhere would be enough to crush us. To see God everywhere working by law inspires rest and joy: our "Father is at the helm." Note: Since we have such disclosures of God, we have:
1. Unity in diversity. The seemingly complicated question of" the origin of force " is settled once for all by the man who sees God. And this privilege is reserved for "the pure in heart" (Matthew 5:8).
2. Since one God is over all, natural phenomena as well as providential incident may be made fuel for the religious life. A thunderstorm may aid worship.
3. Since one Being is the Origin of all kinds of force, prayer for natural blessings and temporal mercies is perfectly reasonable; e.g. prayer for rain. It is quite true that prayer and rain lie in totally distinct spheres. But since the same Being who hears one sends the other, the spheres find their unity at his throne.
4. Since the God who governs all is One whom we know, we may read and sing of glory under all circumstances and everywhere. (Ver. 9.) "In his temple every whir of it uttereth glory; "or, "In his temple every one says, Glory!" Yes; we may triumph everywhere since our God is "King for ever!"
5. Holy awe may well combine with triumph, and loyalty with praise. For God "sits enthroned" - such is the sublime figure suggested here. And "his people" though we are by grace, his absolute sovereignty must never be forgotten by us (ver. 2); ever must we give unto the Lord "the glory due unto his Name," and "worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness" - in holy attire, even in the "fine linen which is the righteousness of saints" (Revelation 19:8), "having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water" (Hebrews 10:22).
6. Amid all natural convulsions and national upheavings, let confidence and hope remain undisturbed. "King for ever!" Then, however gloomy the outlook of events, nothing can happen beyond the bounds of Divine control, nothing which he cannot make subservient to the inbringing of his everlasting kingdom. "Therefore will not we fear, though the earth be removed, and the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea" (Psalm 46:2). - C.
1. For salvation.
Save Thy people, and bless Thine inheritance; feed them also and lift them up for ever.
I. SAVE THY PEOPLE. This prayer may refer —
1. To their conversion.
2. Their sanctification.
3. Their recovery from backsliding.
4. Their deliverance from temptation.
5. The need of the whole church. If we pray this prayer we must try and save souls.
II. BLESS THINE INHERITANCE. After men are saved they have still many wants: such as —
1. Greater unity in the Church.
2. More earnestness.
3. More happiness.When we pray this prayer select some out of God's inheritance and pray especially for them. And take care practically to prove the sincerity of your prayer.
III. FEED THEM ALSO. Hence pray —
1. For ministers to be provided.
2. A clear insight into God's truth.
3. Invoke communion with Christ. And here, also, see that we practically carry out this prayer.
IV. LIFT THEM UP FOR EVER. God's people want lifting up, they are heavy by nature. They need it —
1. In character.
2. When in conflict; and —
3. At the last, that we may get home to be with God;
( C. H. Spurgeon.)
Homilist.This short prayer contains a sketch of the blessedness of the good — here called God's people and His inheritance.
I. DELIVERANCE. "Save Thy people." They are in danger. From what must men be delivered in order to be made happy? Sin. This is the great enemy.
1. Man must be delivered from its guilt. Sin resting on the conscience is the thundercloud of hell; this cloud must be "blotted out."
2. Man must be delivered from its dominion. Man under the control of sin must be miserable. He has eternal battling with self, the universe, and God.
3. Man must be delivered from its consequences — remorse, despair, etc. From all this man must be saved, and the salvation can only be accomplished through Jesus Christ.
II. GUARDIANSHIP. "Feed them also," that is, "take care of them." Be to them what the faithful shepherd is to the sheep.
1. Ward off the enemy, Keep the lion and the wolf at a distance.
2. Restrain from dangers. Let not the flock fall over precipices, or go into bewildering thickets.
3. Supply with provisions. Lead them into "green pastures." All this the Great Shepherd of souls does for His flock.
III. SUSTENTATION. "Lift them up for ever." Deal tenderly with them, as the shepherd with the weaklings of his flock. It is said of Christ that "He shall lead His people like a flock," etc.
2. For blessing.
3. For a Shepherd's care.
(J. E. Scott.)
Give unto the Lord glory and strength.Psalm 68:7-8). The last circumstance introduced seems to be derived from the effect of all. "The voice of the Lord maketh the hinds to calve." In their terror the pains of parturition come upon them prematurely, and the hurricane makes bare the forests, penetrates their thick array, discloses their dark recesses, strips and scatters their leaves, and lays their twining honours low. The beasts of prey are driven forth from their hiding-places, and their covert is concealed no longer.. But over all this wild war, as it seems, God rules, and from all receives homage, and His power is for His people.
(John Mitchell, D. D.)
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