New European Commentary


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Deeper Commentary

Psa 29:1 A Psalm by David- The last verse concludes: "A Song for the Dedication of the Temple". Perhaps this was written by David before his death in anticipation of the building of Solomon's temple.

Ascribe to Yahweh, you sons of the mighty, ascribe to Yahweh glory and strength-
This could refer to the Angels in the court of heaven (Ps. 89:6 cp. Ps. 29:5,7). David saw his praise of God in the sanctuary as reflecting that of the Angels in the heavenly sanctuary, which was mirrored in the earthly one (Heb. 9:23).  

Psa 29:2 Ascribe to Yahweh the glory due to His name. Worship Yahweh in holy array-
As noted on :1, this was "A Song for the Dedication of the Temple". David therefore feels that the heavely temple is reflected in the earthly temple. As the priests in the earthly temple were clothed in “holy garments for glory and for beauty” (Ex. 28:2) so were the Angels above.

Psa 29:3 Yahweh’s voice is on the waters. The God of glory thunders, even Yahweh on many waters-
This is all the language of theophany (Ex. 9:23; Ps. 18:9,13; 104:3; Rev. 10:3). Perhaps David expected a theophany at the dedication of the temple, and the voice of Yahweh to be heard as at Sinai. But I have argued elsewhere that David's obsession with the physical temple was misplaced idealism. God only reluctantly accepted it; His immediate response to David's request to build Him a house was that He didn't want one. Therefore it could be that here we have David as it were running ahead of himself in expectation that God would respond to the temple with the theophany he expectantly hoped for in this psalm.

Psa 29:4 Yahweh’s voice is powerful. Yahweh’s voice is full of majesty-
The sanctuary was full of power and majesty (Ps. 96:6 s.w.); David imagines God's voice booming in majesty through the new temple.

Psa 29:5 The voice of Yahweh breaks the cedars. Yes, Yahweh breaks in pieces the cedars of Lebanon-
David had made plans for cedars to be brought from Lebanon for the new temple. He imagines the voice of Yahweh tearing through the temple as a wind, stronger than the cedars.

Psa 29:6 He also makes them to skip like a calf; Lebanon and Sirion like a young wild ox-
GNB "He makes the mountains of Lebanon jump like calves and makes Mount Hermon leap like a young bull". It is as if the temple comes alive with joy now that God has entered it. And there is the idea that Lebanon and Hermon, from where the cedars came from, would join in response to God's word. For David ever had the hope of Gentile response to Israel's God.

Psa 29:7 Yahweh’s voice strikes with flashes of lightning-
This is the language of theophany (Ex. 9:23; Ps. 18:9,13; 104:3; Rev. 10:3), which David hoped and expected would happen when the temple was dedicated; see on :1.

Psa 29:8 Yahweh’s voice shakes the wilderness, Yahweh shakes the wilderness of Kadesh-
"Kadesh" is the same word as "sanctuary" (e.g. Ps. 20:2; 63:2). The idea is that the wilderness is as holy as the sanctuary. This is a common theme in the Psalms. Although David was exiled from the sanctuary (Ps. 27:4), he felt he was within the tabernacle, even under the shadow of the cherubic wings over the ark (Ps. 27:5); with the shekinah glory as it were around him, over the blood of atonement sprinkled upon the mercy seat. Again and again, Old Testament incidents taught that the intensest presence of God was not in fact in the Jerusalem sanctuary, but in the hearts of sincere, exiled believers. And so it has often been in the later Christian experience; spirituality and the most active presence of God has often been experienced in exile from the established, visible sanctuaries.

Psa 29:9 Yahweh’s voice makes the deer calve, and strips the forests bare. In His temple everything says, Glory!-
As explained on :8, David had learned that the glory and presence of God was as real in the wilderness and forests as in the Jerusalem sanctuary. And so in this proposed dedication of the temple, he makes the point that the same voice of God which would thunder "Glory!" in the temple was just as present and active in the desert.

Psa 29:10 Yahweh sat enthroned at the flood; truly, Yahweh sits as King forever-
The reference would be to the mercy seat as a kind of throne for God. As He had judged the earth at the time of the flood, so He would as it were reign in judgment when the ark was permanently settled in the new temple; that was David's idea. Note how David the king repeatedly calls God his "king". His exaltation didn't lead him to pride, as he was always under the deep impression that he was not the ultimate king (Ps. 5:2; 10:16; 29:10; 44:4; 47:6).

Psa 29:11 Yahweh will give strength to His people, Yahweh will bless His people with peace. A Psalm. A Song for the Dedication of the Temple
- See on :1. The allusion is to the priestly blessing of Num. 6:24. This was to be given from the new temple which David envisioned.