The Treasury of David

The Treasury of David is one of several C.H. Spurgeon books that are in the public domain. If you propose to study the Psalms, I suggest you download this as a companion for your other references.

Psalm 29

Title. A Psalm of David. The title affords us no information beyond the fact that David is the author of this sublime song.

Subject. It seems to be the general opinion of modern annotators, that this Psalm is meant to express the glory of God as heard in the pealing thunder, and seen in the equinoctial tornado. Just as the eighth Psalm is to be read by moonlight, when the stars are bright, as the nineteenth needs the rays of the rising sun to bring out its beauty, so this can be best rehearsed beneath the black wing of tempest, by the glare of the lightning, or amid that dubious dusk which heralds the war of elements. The verses march to the tune of thunderbolts. God is everywhere conspicuous, and all the earth is hushed by the majesty of his presence. The word of God in the law and gospel is here also depicted in its majesty of power. True ministers are sons of thunder, and the voice of God in Christ Jesus is full of majesty. Thus we have God’s works and God’s word joined together: let no man put them asunder by a false idea that theology and science can by any possibility oppose each other. We may, perhaps, by a prophetic glance, behold in this Psalm the dread tempests of the latter days, and the security of the elect people.

Division. The first two verses are a call to adoration. From Psalms 29:3-10 the path of the tempest is traced, the attributes of God’s word are rehearsed, and God magnified in all the terrible grandeur of his power; and the last verse sweetly closes the scene with the assurance that the omnipotent Jehovah will give both strength and peace to his people. Let heaven and earth pass away, the Lord will surely bless his people.
The Treasury of David.

Psalm 29:1-11 (KJV)
1  Give unto the LORD, O ye mighty, give unto the LORD glory and strength.
2  Give unto the LORD the glory due unto his name; worship the LORD in the beauty of holiness.
3  The voice of the LORD is upon the waters: the God of glory thundereth: the LORD is upon many waters.
4  The voice of the LORD is powerful; the voice of the LORD is full of majesty.
5  The voice of the LORD breaketh the cedars; yea, the LORD breaketh the cedars of Lebanon.
6  He maketh them also to skip like a calf; Lebanon and Sirion like a young unicorn.
7  The voice of the LORD divideth the flames of fire.
8  The voice of the LORD shaketh the wilderness; the LORD shaketh the wilderness of Kadesh.
9  The voice of the LORD maketh the hinds to calve, and discovereth the forests: and in his temple doth every one speak of his glory.
10  The LORD sitteth upon the flood; yea, the LORD sitteth King for ever.
11  The LORD will give strength unto his people; the LORD will bless his people with peace.

Psalm 29:3

Exposition

The voice of the Lord is upon the waters. The thunder is not only poetically but instructively called “the voice of God, “since it peals from on high; it surpasses all other sounds, it inspires awe, it is entirely independent of man, and has been used on some occasions as the grand accompaniment of God’s speech to Adam’s sons. There is a peculiar terror in a tempest at sea, when deep calleth unto deep, and the raging sea echoes to the angry sky. No sight more alarming than the flash of lightning around the mast of the ship; and no sound more calculated to inspire reverent awe than the roar of the storm. The children of heaven have often enjoyed the tumult with humble joy peculiar to the saints, and even those who know not God have been forced into unwilling reverence while the storm has lasted. The glory of God thundereth. Thunder is in truth no mere electric phenomenon, but is caused by the interposition of God himself. Even the old heathen spake of Jupiter Tonans; but our modern wise men will have us believe in laws and forces, and anything or nothing so they may be rid of God. Electricity of itself can do nothing, it must be called and sent upon its errand; and until the almighty Lord commissions it, its bolt of fire is inert and powerless. As well might a rock of granite, or a bar of iron fly in the midst of heaven, as the lightning go without being sent by the great First Cause. The Lord is upon many waters. Still the Psalmist’s ear hears no voice but that of Jehovah, resounding from the multitudinous and dark waters of the upper ocean of clouds, and echoing from the innumerable billows of the storm tossed sea below. The waters above and beneath the firmament are astonished at the eternal voice. When the Holy Spirit makes the divine promise to be heard above the many waters of our soul’s trouble, then is God as glorious in the spiritual world as in the universe of matter. Above us and beneath us all is the peace of God when he gives us quiet.

Explanatory Notes and Quaint Sayings

The voice of the Lord is upon the waters: the God of glory thundereth: the Lord is upon many waters. Yes, great God, these torrents of tears which flow down from my eyes announce thy divine presence in my soul. This heart hitherto so dry, so arid, so hard; this rock which thou hast struck a second time, will not resist thee any longer, for out of it there now gushes healthful waters in abundance. The selfsame voice of God which overturns the mountains, thunders, lightens, and divides the heaven above the sinner, now commands the clouds to pour forth showers of blessings, changing the desert of his soul into a field producing a hundredfold; that voice I hear. J. B. Massillon.

Ver. 3-10. The Lord, etc. All things which we commonly say are the effects of the natural powers of matter and laws of motion, are, indeed (if we will speak strictly and properly), the effects of God’s acting upon matter continually and at every moment, either immediately by himself, or mediately by some created intelligent being. Consequently there is no such thing as the cause of nature, or the power of nature. Samuel Clarke, 1675-1729. “The friend and disciple of Newton.”

Ver. 3-10.

The voice of the Lord on the ocean is known,

The God of eternity thundereth abroad;

The voice of the Lord from the depth of his throne

Is terror and power;—all nature is awed.

The voice of the Lord through the calm of the wood

Awakens its echoes, strikes light through its caves;

The Lord sitteth King on the turbulent flood,

The winds are his servants, his servants the waves. James Montgomery, 1771-1854.

Messiah’s voice is in the cloud,

The God of glory thunders loud.

Messiah rides along the floods,

He treads upon the flying clouds.

Messiah’s voice is full of power,

His lightnings play when tempests lower.

Messiah’s voice the cedars breaks,

While Lebanon’s foundation quakes.

Messiah’s voice removes the hills,

And all the plains with rivers fills.

The voice of their expiring God,

Shall make the rocks to start abroad;

Mount Zion and Mount Sirion,

Shall bound along with Lebanon:

The flames of fire shall round him wreathe,

When he shall on the ether breathe.

Messiah’s voice shall shake the earth,

And, lo! the graves shall groan in birth,

Ten thousand thousand living sons

Shall be the issue of their groans.

The peace of God the gospel sounds;

The peace of God, the earth rebounds,

The gospel everlasting shines

A light from God that never declines.

This is the light Jehovah sends,

To bless the world’s remotest ends.

Barclay’s Paraphrase.

Hints to the Village Preacher

God’s voice heard in trouble and above trouble, or in great personal and national calamities.
The Treasury of David.

Singing psalms

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