We might think that a poem this narrowly focused would be dull, but the psalm avoids dullness by two forms of motion. One is the passing of the storm which is described as sweeping over the entire country from north to south (vv. 3-9). The other is the movement from heaven where the psalm begins (vv. 1, 2) to earth where it ends (vv. 10, 11). The more I study it, the less surprised I am that Harry Ironside called Psalm 29 probably the finest poem in the Bible and "one of the loveliest poems I have ever seen.2

I do not know of any book of the Bible that requires more knowledge, more experience of life and more skill of interpretation to understand it well than the book of Psalms. It is because the psalms are so diverse. They cover the vast range of biblical theology and the full scope of human experience from doubt to faith, suffering to jubilation, defeat to victory—and they do so in an amazing variety of poetic forms. The psalms are so deep, so diverse, so challenging that I do not believe anyone can ever really master them. Moreover, as soon as the student begins to get hold of one type of psalm and thinks he understands it, he is suddenly confronted with another that is entirely different.

Up to this point the twenty-eighth psalm has been intensely personal, a true psalm of David the individual. But now it suddenly broadens to include all the Lord's people (vv. 8, 9). A verse earlier David called the Lord his strength and shield (v. 7). Now he claims the same thing for others: “The LORD is the strength of his people, a fortress of salvation for his anointed one.” He closes by praying, "Save your people and bless your inheritance; be their shepherd and carry them forever.”

It is important for the sake of all who are looking on that right be vindicated. This is the other side of what we were looking at in Psalm 25, where David prayed that he might not be put to shame (vv. 2, 3, 20). He said there that he was trying to live an upright and moral life while those about him were doing the opposite, and his appeal was for God to vindicate the right way. If David should be overcome and perish in spite of having lived for God, people would say that righteousness does not pay, and that the only way to survive in a wicked world like ours is to do evil. David wanted those who observed him to say, "No, the way of the righteous is the right way. The way may be hard, but in the end it is better to have obeyed and served God."

The central stanza of this psalm, the one that contains three verses rather than two, is the second. It expresses David's actual petition (vv. 3-5): “Do not drag me away with the wicked, with those who do evil, who speak cordially with their neighbors but harbor malice in their hearts. Repay them for their deeds and for their evil work; repay them for what their hands have done and bring back upon them what they deserve.”