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It is supposed that this Psalm was made upon the occasion of some terrible tempest of thunder and rain; which God might possibly send in the time of battle to assist David, and discomfit his enemies; as he had done formerly upon like occasions. It contains an admonition to the potentates of the earth, and especially to those who bordered upon the land of Israel, that they would own and worship the true God; which he presseth from the great majesty and power of Israel’s God above all other gods, and particularly from that great and glorious instance thereof in thunder; which hath struck the proudest monarchs with the dread of that God, whom at other times they despised.
David exhorteth the mighty of this world to give glory to God, Psalms 29:1,Psalms 29:2; who manifesteth his power by thunder, lightning, and other creatures, Psalms 29:3-10. He showeth God’s protection and blessing of his people, Psalms 29:11.
O ye mighty; ye potentates and rulers of the earth. To these he addresseth his speech; partly because they are most apt to forget and contemn God, and insolently to assume a kind of deity to themselves; and partly because their conviction and conversion was likely to have a great and powerful influence upon their people.
Give unto the Lord, by a humble and thankful acknowledgment of it; for otherwise we can give nothing to God.
Glory and strength, i.e. the glory of his strength, or power, which is the attribute set forth in this Psalm; or, his glorious strength.
The glory due unto his name, i.e. the honour which he deserves; which is to prefer him before all other gods, and to forsake all others, and to own him as the Almighty, and the only true God.
In the beauty of holiness; or, of the sanctuary, which is commonly called by this name; in his holy and beautiful house, as it is called, Isaiah 64:11, the only place where he will receive worship. So he exhorts them to turn proselytes to the Jewish religion; which was their duty and interest.
The voice of the Lord, i.e. thunder, as is manifest from the next clause, and the following effects; which is oft called the Lord’s voice, as Exodus 9:23,Exodus 9:28,Exodus 9:29; Job 37:4,Job 37:5; Psalms 18:14; Psalms 46:6. Upon the waters; either,
1. Upon the seas; where its noise spreads far and wide, and is very terrible. But the following verses speak of the effects of it upon the earth only. Or rather,
2. Above in the clouds, which are called waters, Genesis 1:7; Psalms 18:11, because they are of a watery substance. And this circumstance is considerable here, to magnify the Divine power, which displayeth itself in those high places, which are far above the reach of all earthly potentates, and from whence he can easily and unavoidably smite all that dwell upon the earth, and will not submit to him. Upon many waters, i.e. upon the clouds, in which there are vast treasures of water, and upon which God is said to sit or ride, Psalms 18:10,Psalms 18:11; Psalms 104:3.
Is an evident proof of God’s glorious majesty.
By thunder-bolts; which have oft thrown down trees and towers.
Lebanon; a place famous for strong and lofty cedars. See 2 Chronicles 2:8; Song of Solomon 3:9; Song of Solomon 5:15.
He maketh them; the cedars last mentioned; which being broken by the thunder, the parts of them are suddenly and violently hurled about hither and thither.
Sirion; a high mountain beyond Jordan joining to Lebanon; of which see Deuteronomy 3:9; Deuteronomy 4:48. Lebanon and Sirion are here understood, either,
1. Properly; and so they are said to skip or leap, both here and Psalms 114:4, by a poetical hyperbole, very usual both in Scripture and other authors; which is so known, that it is needless to give any instances of it. Or,
2. Metonymically for the trees or people of them, as the wilderness, Psalms 29:8, may seem to be taken; and as the earth, by the same figure, is frequently put for the people which dwell in it.
Unicorn, Heb. reem; of which see See Poole "Numbers 23:22; Psalms 22:21".
Divideth, Heb. heweth out, i.e. it breaketh out of the clouds, and thereby makes way for the lightnings, which are suddenly dispersed over the face of the earth.
The wilderness, i.e. either the trees, or rather the beasts of the wilderness, by a metonymy, as before, Psalms 29:6. Compare this with the next verse.
Kadesh; which he mentions as an eminent wilderness, vast and terrible, and well known to the Israelites, Numbers 20:1,Numbers 20:16, and wherein possibly they had seen and observed some such effects of thunder as are here mentioned.
Maketh the hinds to calve, through the terror which it causeth, which hastens the birth in these and other places: see 1 Samuel 4:19. He nameth the
hinds, because they bring forth their young with difficulty, Job 39:1,Job 39:2.
Discovereth, Heb. maketh bare; either of its trees, which it either breaks or strips off their leaves; or of the beasts, which it forceth to run into their dens.
And in his temple; or, but. Having showed the terrible effects of God’s power in other places, he now shows the blessed privilege of God’s people, that are praising and glorifying God, and receiving the comfortable influences of his grace in his temple, when the rest of the world are trembling under the tokens of his displeasure; by which he secretly invites and persuades the Gentiles, for their own safety and comfort, to own the true God and to worship him in his sanctuary, as he did exhort them, Psalms 29:2. Or, therefore, i.e. because of these and such-like discoveries of God’s excellent majesty and power, his people fear, and praise, and adore him in his temple.
He moderateth and ruleth (which is oft signified by sitting, this being the posture of a judge, or ruler; of which see Psalms 9:7-9; Psalms 47:8; Joel 3:12) the most abundant and violent inundations of waters, which sometimes fall from the clouds upon the earth; where they would do much mischief if God did not prevent it. And these are here fitly mentioned, as being many times the companions of great thunders. And this may be alleged as another reason why God’s people did praise and worship him in his temple, because as he sendeth terrible tempests, and thunders, and floods, so he also restrains and overrules them. But most interpreters refer this to Noah’s flood, to whom the word here used is elsewhere appropriated. And so the words may be rendered, The Lord did sit upon, or at, the flood in Noah’s time, when it is probable those vehement rains were accompanied with terrible thunders. And so having spoken of the manifestation of God’s power in storms and tempests in general, he takes an occasion to run back to that ancient and most dreadful example of that kind, in which the Divine power was most eminently seen. And having mentioned that instance, he adds, that as God showed himself to be the King and the Judge of the world at that time, so he doth still sit, and will sit, as
King for ever, sending such tempests when it pleaseth him. And therefore his people have great reason to worship and serve him.
The Lord will give strength, to support and preserve them in the most dreadful tempests, and consequently in all other dangers, and against all their enemies.
The Lord will bless his people with peace, though now he sees fit to exercise them with some troubles.
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Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Psalms 29". Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. https://studylight.org/
the Second Week of Advent