Ascribe to the Lord, O heavenly beings,
ascribe to the Lord glory and strength.
2 Ascribe to the Lord the glory of his name;
worship the Lord in holy splendor.
3 The voice of the Lord is over the waters;
the God of glory thunders,
the Lord, over mighty waters.
4 The voice of the Lord is powerful;
the voice of the Lord is full of majesty.
5 The voice of the Lord breaks the cedars;
the Lord breaks the cedars of Lebanon.
6 He makes Lebanon skip like a calf,
and Sirion like a young wild ox.
7 The voice of the Lord flashes forth flames of fire.
8 The voice of the Lord shakes the wilderness;
the Lord shakes the wilderness of Kadesh.
9 The voice of the Lord causes the oaks to whirl,*
and strips the forest bare;
and in his temple all say, ‘Glory!’
10 The Lord sits enthroned over the flood;
the Lord sits enthroned as king forever.
11 May the Lord give strength to his people!
May the Lord bless his people with peace!
Summary— Just as our minister calls us, each Sunday, to worship with angels and archangels, so may we call those angels and archangels to worship. This psalm opens in the Throne Room with just such a call: the psalmist, energized by what is about to come, summons the heavenly beings to ascribe glory to God (v.1 and 2). We do the same in the Doxology, when we sing, “Praise Him above ye heavenly hosts.” The scene now shifts to an awesomely tempestuous ocean, and the roaring thunder is nothing less than the voice of Yahweh (v.3). That thundering voice in the storm sweeps inland, breaking down cedars (v.5), making all that is impressive to man bow down to Him. Yahweh’s lightning flashes forth (v.7), shaking the wilderness (v.8) and stripping the forest bare (v.9). All in His temple joyfully reel at the earth-shaking surge of power and in exhilarated awe shout “Glory!” (v.9). The storm then passes over, and the people—in the wonder of the calm—look up between the dissipating clouds to see Yahweh enthroned serenely over the situation, as He sends the trailing end of His storm toward the horizon (v.10). May He give the strength of that storm and the peace that follows it to us (v.11)!
Insight— Last summer, my kids and I got stuck under a park pavilion during the most ear-splitting and torrential storm I’ve ever experienced. Lightning was striking all around us with incredible frequency, apparently a stone’s throw away, while water rose on the concrete slab where I stood holding one child in each arm. With each strike of lightning and immediate peal of thunder, I’d yell out above the torrent, “What does thunder say!?” and the kids would yell back, “God is awesome!” It’s a special memory. I understand that not everybody likes storms, but at the risk of pushing my preference onto you (mainly because it’s the psalmist’s preference) you really should learn to like them, too, if you don’t already. They’re awesome. Don’t worry—Yahweh’s throne is over them, and it’s His voice that thunders in them. It’s His voice that roars in the clash of wave and rock on the jetty just before the storm rolls inland. Don’t miss God’s self-disclosure in nature: storms say something about Him—so do trees, flowers, mountains, canyons, snowflakes, raindrops. As we traverse this valley of longing between glory and greater glory, where faith is not yet sight, we cherish the tokens of glory which God graciously gives to stir our longing and hint at its fulfillment. So joyfully reel at His earth-shaking surges of power and in exhilarated awe shout, “Glory!”
Q: What does thunder say?
A: God is awesome!
Discussion—What are some other events or objects of God’s world which reveal Him? What do they say?
Prayer—Yahweh, You are glorious and strong and we fall down before the splendor of Your holiness. You are the God of glory and Your voice is powerful and full of majesty, thundering over the mighty waters. As your voice breaks down cedars and flashes forth flames of fire and shakes the wilderness, we in Your temple say, “Glory!” You sit enthroned over the flood as king forever. Give us strength and bless us with the peace of Christ through whom we pray. Amen.
Contributed by Scott Cline