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Bible Commentaries

Joseph Benson's Commentary of the Old and New Testaments
Psalms 29

 

 

Verse 1-2

Psalms 29:1-2. Give unto the Lord, ye mighty — Hebrew, בני אלים, benee eelim, ye sons of the mighty, or of gods: ye potentates and rulers of the earth. To these he addresses his speech, 1st, Because they are very apt to forget and contemn God, and insolently to assume a kind of deity to themselves: and, 2d, Because their conviction and conversion were likely to have a great and powerful influence upon their people, and therefore it was much for the honour of God that they should acknowledge his divine majesty, and do homage to him. Give unto the Lord — By an humble and thankful acknowledgment; for in any other way we can give nothing to God; glory and strength — That is, the glory of his strength or power, which is the attribute set forth in this Psalm; or, his glorious strength. Give unto the Lord — It is repeated a third time, perhaps to intimate that great men are very backward to this duty, and are hardly persuaded to practise it; and, on account of its great consequence to the interest of the kingdom of God among men, that they should comply with it; the glory due to his name — That is, the honour which he deserves and claims, namely, to prefer him before all other gods, and to forsake all others, and to own him as the Almighty, and only true God. Worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness — In worshipping the Lord we ought to have an eye to his beauty; to adore him, not only as infinitely awful, and therefore to be feared above all beings, but as infinitely amiable, and therefore to be loved and delighted in above all; especially we must have an eye to the beauty of his holiness, which the angels particularly celebrate in their praises, Revelation 4:8. Some, however, prefer rendering the words, the beauty of the sanctuary, for קדשׁ, kodesh, is often put for the sanctuary, or holy place, as קדשׁ קדשׁים, kodesh kodeshim, is for the holy of holies, or most holy. Thus the temple is termed, Isaiah 64:11, God’s holy and beautiful house. The chief beauty of the sanctuary was the exact agreement of the worship there performed with the divine appointment, the pattern shown in the mount. Now, in this holy place, says the psalmist, worship Jehovah; here, and only here, will he accept your prayers, praises, and oblations. So he exhorts them to turn proselytes to the Jewish religion; which was their duty and interest. Or he speaks of the manner of worship. We must be holy in all our religious performances, that is, devoted to God, and to his will and glory. There is a beauty in holiness, and it is that which puts an acceptable beauty upon all the acts of worship.


Verse 3

Psalms 29:3. The voice of the Lord — That is, thunder, frequently so called; is upon the waters — Upon the seas, where its noise spreads far and wide, and is very terrible; or rather above the clouds, which are sometimes called waters, as Genesis 1:7; Psalms 18:11, because they are of a watery substance, and frequently much water is contained in them. And this circumstance is noticed here as being of considerable importance to magnify the divine power, which displays itself in these superior regions, 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. The Lord is upon many waters — Upon the clouds, in which there are sometimes vast treasures of water, and upon which God is said to sit and ride, Psalms 18:10-11; Psalms 104:3.


Verses 4-6

Psalms 29:4-6. The voice of the Lord is full of majesty — Is a very awful and evident proof of God’s glorious majesty. Breaketh the cedars — By lightning, vulgarly called thunderbolts; which have torn asunder and destroyed trees and towers. The cedars of Lebanon — A place famous for strong and lofty cedars. He maketh them also — The cedars last mentioned; to skip like a calf — For, being broken by the lightning, the fragments of them are suddenly and violently hurled about hither and thither; Lebanon also, and Sirion — A high mountain beyond Jordan, joining to Lebanon: and these mountains may here be understood, either, 1st, Properly, and so they are said to skip and leap, both here and Psalms 114:4, by a poetical hyberbole, very usual both in Scripture and other authors; or, 2d, Metonymically, being put for the trees or people of them, as the wilderness is to be understood, Psalms 29:8; and as the earth, by the same figure, is frequently put for the inhabitants of it; like a young unicorn — Hebrew reem: see Numbers 23:22; Psalms 22:21.


Verse 7-8

Psalms 29:7-8. Divideth the flames of fire — That is, casteth out many flashes of lightning. The Hebrew, חצב, chatzeb, signifies hews, or cuts up, divides, or distributes. “So the thunder, or voice of the Lord, is said to send forth the lightning; which is, indeed, the precursor of the thunder; the cause, and not the effect of it. The thunder, however, or voice of the Lord, is here, with great beauty and propriety, considered as that which commands and distributes the lightning.” Shaketh the wilderness — That is, either the trees, or rather, the beasts of the wilderness, by a metonymy, as before. Compare this with the next verse; the wilderness of Kadesh — Which he mentions as an eminent wilderness, vast and terrible, and well known to the Israelites, Numbers 20:1; Numbers 20:16, wherein, possibly, they had seen some such effects of thunder as are here mentioned.


Verse 9

Psalms 29:9. Maketh the hinds to calve — Through the terror which it causeth, which hastens parturition in these and some other creatures. But he names hinds, because they usually bring forth their young with difficulty. See note on Job 39:1. And discovereth the forests — Hebrew יחשׂŠ, jechesoph, maketh bare, &c., either of their trees, which it breaks and strips of their leaves; or of the beasts, which it forces to run into their dens. And, or but, in his temple doth every one speak, &c. — Having shown 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 world are trembling under the tokens of his displeasure. By this 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 exhorted, Psalms 29:2. Or, therefore in his temple, that is, because of these, and such like discoveries of God’s excellent majesty and power, his people fear, praise, and adore him in his temple.


Verse 10

Psalms 29:10. The Lord sitteth upon the flood — He moderates and rules the most abundant and violent effusions of waters which are sometimes poured from the clouds, and fall upon the earth, where they cause inundations which would do much mischief if God did not prevent it. And this may be mentioned as another reason why God’s people praised and worshipped him in his temple; because, as he sendeth terrible tempests, thunders, lightnings, and floods, so he restrains and overrules them. But most interpreters refer this to Noah’s flood, to which the word מבול, mabbul, here used, is elsewhere appropriated. And so the words may be rendered, The Lord sat upon the deluge; namely, in Noah’s time, when, it is probable, those vehement and unceasing rains were accompanied with terrible thunders. Bishop Hare thus paraphrases the verse, “This is the same God who, in Noah’s flood, sat as judge, and sent that destruction upon the earth.” And so the psalmist, having spoken of the manifestation of God’s power in storms and tempests in general, takes an occasion to go 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 had 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 as it pleases him to send. And therefore his people have great reason to worship and serve him.


Verse 11

Psalms 29:11. The Lord will give strength unto his people — To support and preserve them in the most dreadful storms and commotions, whether of the earth or its inhabitants; and, consequently, in all other dangers, and against all their enemies. He will strengthen and fortify them against every evil work, and furnish them for every good work: out of weakness they shall be made strong; nay, he will perfect strength in their weakness. He will bless his people with peace — Though now he sees fit to exercise them with some troubles. He will encourage them in his service, and give them to find by experience that the work of righteousness is peace, and that great peace have they that love his law, and walk according to it.

 


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Bibliography Information
Benson, Joseph. "Commentary on Psalms 29:4". Joseph Benson's Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/rbc/psalms-29.html. 1857.

Lectionary Calendar
Tuesday, August 20th, 2019
the Week of Proper 15 / Ordinary 20
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