The Book of Psalms

The Lord, the Lord Almighty, Part 5


Theme: Peace on Earth
This week’s lessons teach us how and why to praise God, and what will happen for us as we do.
Scripture: Psalm 29:1-11
Elijah’s experience of God’s presence in the gentle whisper is what it is like as we come to the end of Psalm 29. The storm has passed by, and what remains is God himself, as peaceful and as much in control of all things as he has always been. Yet here are two more points.
First, God is said to sit “enthroned over the flood” (v. 10). That is a natural thing to say in this final stanza, for the normal aftermath of a storm of this scope would be localized flooding as the rains deposited on the slopes coursed down the hillsides and filled the valley bottoms. It was just such flooding Jesus was thinking of when he described the falling rains, rising streams and destruction of the house of the man who built on sand without an adequate foundation (Matt. 7:26, 27).
Yet there may be more to the idea of a flood than this. This is because Psalm 29:10 is the only place in the Old Testament where this word for “flood” occurs except for the classic flood narrative of Genesis 6-9. It is as if the word should occur in our English translations as “Deluge” or “The Flood.” Every Jew would know the flood story. So the use of this word for “flood” would immediately remind them of that great judgment and would associate the storm that has just been described with it. In fact, the tenses of verse 10 seem to call for this association, since the word “sits” is actually “sat” (past tense), and the contrast is between the Genesis Flood as a past event over which God presided and the storm as a present experience. The verse probably means: “The LORD sat enthroned over the Genesis Flood, continues to be enthroned and will be enthroned forever.”
This is what I referred to above when I said that the last stanza speaks of the voice of God in judgment explicitly. It is telling us that a final storm of judgment is coming and warning people to get ready for it, using the thunderstorm as a powerful image. The only ones who will be ready for that judgment are God’s people, to whom the Lord “gives strength” and “blesses … with peace” (v. 11). Today we know that this peace is only to be found when we are in Christ, since he bore the storm of God’s judgment in our place.
This brings us to a point with which to end. Do you remember the words of the angels to the shepherds at the midnight announcement of the birth of Jesus in Luke 2:14? The words were: “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests.”
This is the very pattern of Psalm 29, as Franz Delitzsch noted more than a hundred years ago. It begins with the angels singing praise to God in heaven: Gloria in excelsis. And it ends with the blessing et in terra pax, peace to those on whom his favor rests.6
Study Questions:

How might the word “flood” in verse 10 be understood?
What imagery is used to describe God’s judgment?
What does the Lord do for his people in this psalm?

Application: How can you incorporate the themes of praise from this psalm into your own prayers?
6Franz Delitzsch, Biblical Commentary on the Psalms, trans. by Francis Bolton, vol. 1 (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, n.d.), p. 373. Revised German edition 1867.

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