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.
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.
He maketh them also to skip like a calf; Lebanon and Sirion like a young unicorn. Not only the trees, but the mountains themselves move as though they frisked and leaped like young bulls or antelopes. As our own poets would mention hills and valleys known to them, so the Psalmist hears the crash and roar among the ranges of Libanus, and depicts the tumult in graphic terms. Thus sings one of our own countrymen:—
“Amid Carnavon’s mountains rages loud
The repercussive roar: with mighty crash
Into the flashing deep, from the rude rocks
Of Penmaen Mawr, heaped hideous to the sky,
Tumble the smitten cliffs; and Snowdon’s peak,
Dissolving, instant yields his wintry load.
Far seen, the heights of heathy Cheviot blaze,
And Thule bellows through her utmost isles.”
The glorious gospel of the blessed God has more than equal power over the rocky obduracy and mountainous pride of man. The voice of our dying Lord rent the rocks and opened the graves: his living voice still works the like wonders. Glory be to his name, the hills of our sins leap into his grave, and are buried in the red sea of his blood, when the voice of his intercession is heard.
See Psalms on “Psalms 29:3“ for further information.
He maketh them also to skip like a calf; Lebanon and Sirion like a young unicorn; that is, the Lord by his thundering, powerful voice, first, will make them skip, as frightened with fear; and secondly, as revived with joy. Yet more Psalms 29:7, “The voice of the Lord divideth the flames of fire; “that is, will send and divide to every one as they need 1 Corinthians 12:11, the Holy Spirit, who is compared to and called fire Matthew 3:11, and who came as with a thunderstorm of a rushing mighty wind, and with the appearance of cloven tongues, like as of fire, and sat upon each one of the apostles. Acts 2:2-3. Nor did this voice of thunder, accompanied with divided flames of fire reach Jerusalem only; for, as it follows Psalms 29:8, “The voice of the Lord shaketh the wilderness; the Lord shaketh the wilderness of Kadesh; “that is, the Lord by the voice of the gospel shall go forth with power to those Gentiles, who are like a wilderness, barren of goodness, and not fertilized in spirituals, though they dwell in well governed cities, and are well furnished with morals. It shall go forth also to those Gentiles who inhabit waste wildernesses, and are not so much as reduced to civility. These wildernesses, the thundering voice of the Lord hath shaken heretofore, and doth shake at this day, and will yet further shake, that the fulness of the Gentiles may come in. Many of these wildernesses hath the Lord turned into fruitful fields, and pleasant lands, by the voice of the gospel sounding among them. For in these wildernesses (as it followeth, Psalms 29:9), “The voice of the Lord maketh the hinds to calve; “that is, they that were as wild, as untaught, and untamed as the hind, or any beast in the forest, he brings to the sorrows of their new birth, to repentance and gospel humiliation, and in doing this, “he (as the psalmist goes on), discovereth the forests;” that is, opens the hearts of men, which are as thick set and full grown with vanity, pride, hypocrisy, self love, and self sufficiency, as also with wantonness and sensuality, as any forest is overgrown with thickets of trees and bushes, which deny all passage through till cleared away with burning down or cutting up. Such an opening, such a discovery, doth the Lord make in the forests of men’s hearts, by the sword and fire, that is, by the word and spirit of the gospel; and when this is done, the forest becomes a temple, and as that verse concludes, “In his temple doth every one speak of his glory.” And if the floods of ungodliness rise up against the people, whom the thunder and lightning of the gospel have subdued to Christ, and framed into a holy temple, then the psalmist assures us Psalms 29:10, “The Lord sitteth upon the flood,” that is, it is under his power, he rules and overrules it; “Yea, the Lord sitteth King for ever;” and Psalms 29:11, “The Lord will give strength unto his people; the Lord will bless his people with peace.” Thus the Lord “thundereth marvellously” Job 37:5, and these are glorious marvels which he thundereth; he converts sinners. Thus, though I like not their way who are given to allegorize the Scriptures, yet I doubt not but we may make a profitable use of this and many other Scriptures by way of allegory. This being an undeniable truth, which is the ground of it—that the Lord puts forth, as it were, the power of thunder and lightning in the preaching of his Word; these two things are to be marked. Joseph Caryl.
He maketh them also to skip like a calf. That is to say, he hath made the splinters and broken pieces of trees that have been struck with lightning, to fly up into the air, or when they have been shaken by the wind, storms, or by earthquakes. John Diodati.
The original is—
“And makes them skip like a calf,
Lebanon and Sirion, like a young buffalo.”
At first sight it might appear that the cedars were still meant, and that Lebanon and Sirion were used by metonymy for the cedars which grew upon them. But,
“The mountains skipped like rams,
And the little hills like lambs.”
The same verb occurs here, the verb which means “to skip, to dance,” used in Nahum 3:2, to signify the jolting of chariots, and also in Joel 2:5. In both these instances, rough motion, accompanied with noise, seems intended. Now, though this may very well be understood as a highly figurative description, as it undoubtedly is, of the usual effect of a thunderstorm; yet it is interesting to compare it with the following passage of Volney, which described certain phenomena as frequent in Mount Lebanon, which may give a new meaning to the “skipping of the mountains:”—”When the traveller, “say he, “penetrates the interior of these mountains, the ruggedness of the roads, the steepness of the declivities, the depth of the precipices, have at first a terrific effect; but the sagacity of the mules which bear him soon inspires him with confidence, and enables him to examine at his ease the picturesque scenes which succeed one another, so as almost to bewilder him.” There, as in the Alps, he sometimes travels whole days to arrive at a spot which was in sight when he set out. He turns, he descends, he winds round, he climbs; and under the perpetual change of position, one is ready to think that a magical power is varying at every step the beauties of the landscapes. Sometimes villages are seen, ready as it were to slide down the deep declivities, and so disposed that the roofs of the one row of houses serve as a street to the row above. At another time, you see a convent seated on an isolated cone, like Marshaia in the valley of Tigre. Here a rock is pierced by a torrent, forming a natural cascade, as at Nahr el Leban; there another rock assumes the appearance of a natural wall! Often on the sides, ledges of stones, washed down and left by the waters, resemble ruins disposed by art. In some places, the waters meeting with inclined beds, have undermined the intermediate earth, and have formed caverns, as at Nahr el Kelb, near Antoura. In other places, they have worn for themselves subterranean channels, through which flow little rivulets during part of the year, as at Mar Hama. Sometimes these picturesque circumstances have become tragical ones. Rocks loosened or thrown off their equilibrium by thaw or earthquake, have been known to precipitate themselves on the adjacent dwellings, and crush the inhabitants. An accident of this kind, about twenty years ago, buried a whole village near Mar Djordos, so as to leave no trace of its existence. More recently, and near the same spot, the soil of a hill planted with mulberry trees and vines detached itself by a sudden thaw, and, sliding over the surface of the rock which it had covered, like a vessel launched from the stocks, established itself in the valley below. Robert Murray Macheyne.
The unsettling power of the gospel.
The Treasury of David.
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