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Bible Commentaries

Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible
Psalms 29

 

 

Verse 1

Psalms 29.

David exhorteth princes to give glory to God, by reason of his power, and protection of his people.

A Psalm of David.

Title. לדוד מזמור mizmor ledavid. This Psalm seems to have been composed by David after an extraordinary storm of thunder, lightning, and rain; whereby, it is probable, God had so discomfited his enemies, (See 2 Samuel 8.) and put their forces into such disorder, that he easily got the victory over them; and therefore he here exhorts them to submit themselves to that glorious majesty from whom the thunder came, and who can with the greatest ease strike a sudden terror into the hearts of his stoutest and most resolute opposers. As there are many Psalms which point to a great victory obtained with this circumstance of remarkable thunder, it is more reasonable to believe, that they were all made upon the same occasion, than that they had each their several occasion to call them forth.

Psalms 29:1. O ye mighty Ye sons of divinities. Mudge. אלים בני beni oelim: Ye princes and governors of the heathen people.


Verse 3

Psalms 29:3. The voice of the Lord is upon the waters The voice of the Lord was over the waters, (the God of glory thundered) of the Lord, over great waters. This, with the deluge mentioned Psalms 29:10., shews that there were violent rains.


Verse 5

Psalms 29:5. Cedars of Lebanon This may be an allegorical description of the conquest over the Syrians, who lived near Lebanon. See Psalms 92:12. 2 Samuel 8 and Grotius.


Verse 6

Psalms 29:6. And Sirion A high mountain on the other side of the river Jordan, near the country of the Ammonites, known also by the names of Hemnon and Shenir. See Deuteronomy 3:9. Bishop Hare thinks the passage should be read, And he maketh them to skip, Lebanon like a calf, and Sirion like a young unicorn, rhinoceros, or oryx. If by Lebanon we are to understand allegorically the Syrians; by Sirion may be meant the Ammonites; and in this view it is not improbable that the two animals here mentioned were either borne in the standards of these people, or the hieroglyphics used to denote them.


Verse 7-8

Psalms 29:7-8. The voice of the Lord divideth the flames, &c.— i.e. Casteth out several slashes of lightning: the original word חצב chotseb signifies to cut out, divide, or distribute; so the thunder, or, the 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, is rendered by Bishop Hare, maketh the desart tremble. Respecting Kadesh, See Numbers 33:36-37.


Verse 9

Psalms 29:9. The voice of the Lord maketh the hinds to calve Mr. Fenwick translates this verse,

The mighty oaks Jehovah's voice shall feel; 'Twill lay the woods and forests bare; All things his glory in his temple speak:

And he refers to Bishop Lowth's Prelections, p. 271 quarto, for a proof that the Hebrew should be thus rendered. The original is אילות יחולל yecholel aialoth; i.e. dolore afficit quercus, says the Bishop, for אלה eilah, or אילה or aialah, is an oak; in which sense it frequently occurs in the plural number and masculine gender, with a י jod, inserted: And so Syrus interprets it. This is vulgarly interpreted of hinds, which neither agrees with the other images in that place, nor yet with the nature and dignity of the subject. Mr. Mudge translates it, The voice of the Lord frightened the hinds, and laid bare the woods; and in his temple the whole of it spoke glory; i.e. says he, "it struck off all the leaves and small boughs, and by that means lest the hinds exposed to view. The latter part seems to intend some glorious appearance round the temple; wrapped up perhaps in flames, or something of that kind; so that the thunder might seem to be directed from thence." This Psalm possibly is explained by Psalms 76:4. Thou art more glorious and excellent than the mountains of prey, i.e. mount Sion, and the other mountains of Jerusalem, which the Assyrians had destined for their plunder. It may be proper just to observe from Dr. Hammond, in vindication of the common version, that hinds are said by naturalists to bring forth with great difficulty; and as fear is supposed to facilitate delivery, and this animal is remarkably timorous, the sound of thunder may be supposed to effect it, and hasten its delivery. Compare Job 39:1. As Kadesh in the former verse may poetically signify the kings and people both of the Edomites and Moabites, who were terribly shaken, that is, subdued by David; so this verse may represent the greatness of their consternation.


Verse 10

Psalms 29:10. The Lord sitteth upon the flood The Lord sat upon the deluge. "The Lord sat, and shall for ever sit, king over all this tremendous scene of desolation; directing it as he pleases, to the good of his people, and the confusion of their enemies." See Mudge and Houbigant. Bishop Hare, supposing the verse to refer to the deluge, has this gloss upon it: "This is the same God, who in Noah's flood sat as judge, and sent that destruction upon the earth." The verse seems more naturally to allude to the thunder-storm and shower here described.

REFLECTIONS.—The Psalm opens,

1. With a solemn admonition to all living, to render unto the Lord the glory due to his name. Let mighty angels bow in heaven, and mighty kings on earth fall prostrate at his feet, ascribing to him infinite power and eternal majesty, and worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness: either the tabernacle, where his magnificent and holy worship was paid, or with that holiness of heart and temper which is the beauty of all worship. Note; (1.) The greatest are not too high to bow at God's footstool; kings should set their subjects the good example. (2.) Repeated calls show our backwardness, and the need we have to be urged to the service and worship of the blessed God. (3.) It is not the formal ceremony of words, but the beauty of holiness in the heart, which in our worship God especially regards.

2. He gives a reason why they should worship this glorious God: his name is Jehovah, which is eighteen times repeated in these few verses, and intimates his self-existent and eternal excellence, which renders him the object of universal worship and praise; and his works declare his majesty, power, and greatness; his voice speaks in mighty thunderings, while dark clouds of the sky are spread under him; the forked lightnings glare around, the earth trembles at the terrible shock; and mountains, as affrighted, leap from their wide-spread bases; the cedars of Lebanon are shivered as the brittle reed, the beasts that lodge under their branches, affrighted, cast their burdens; and gloomy forests, before the resistless storm, stripped of their verdure, admit the flashing beam; while He, the mighty God, with majesty composed, sitteth upon the flood, and, as the eternal King, issues his mandate as in the deluge, saying, hitherto shalt thou come, and no further; and every element hears, and instantly obeys. Note; when God's thunder is near, and his floods of rain, mingled with fire, descend, let us think of this dread majesty, and bow before him; how glorious to have him our friend, how terrible to meet him as our enemy!

The whole may also be well applied to Christ; his voice, loud as these thunders, speaks to many people, kindreds, and nations, powerful to awaken, convince, and convert the soul: the proudest sinners, though like cedars of Lebanon, are broken before it; and, though fast rooted in sin as the mountain's base, yet by Christ's glorious word their bands are loosed; piercing and strong as the glaring beams of lightning, his gospel in the midst of darkness pours a flood of day upon the soul, and kindles up a fire of love in the heart, which many waters cannot quench: the wilderness of the Gentile world was shaken before it, and saving discoveries made to them of the glory of God; pangs came upon them at first, as sorrows of a woman in travail; but they were succeeded by the joys of Christ formed in them; he sitteth now as king over our hearts, and over the hearts of his faithful people for ever; and in the temple of his church on earth, and his more magnificent sanctuary in heaven, his majesty and glory shall be the theme of everlasting praise.

3. The Psalmist concludes with a comfortable prospect for God's faithful people. He will give them strength against every danger; and bless them with his peace, which passeth all understanding; internal peace, from a present sense of God's favour in Christ; and eternal peace, when the floods of wrath and the deluge of fire shall sweep away the ungodly for ever.

 


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Bibliography Information
Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on Psalms 29:4". Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tcc/psalms-29.html. 1801-1803.

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