The voice over the waters thunders
The voice of the LORD is on the waters: the God of glory thunders: the LORD is on many waters.
The voice.–The invocation to the angels over, the storm bursts, and seven successive peals of thunder mark its course of fury and destruction. It is first heard rolling over the waters from the west (comp. 1Kings 18:44), unless the “waters” and “many waters,” as in Psalm 18:11-12, refer to the gathered masses of rain-cloud, when we might compare
“Then broke the thunder
Like a whole sea overhead.”
BROWNING: Pippa Passes.
The Hebrew kol (“voice”), used also of any loud sound (2Samuel 15:10, of the trumpet; Ezekiel 1:24, of water), is sometimes used (Genesis 4:10; Isaiah 52:8) to call attention, like our “Hark !” So Ewald here. Others refer it to the thunder, as in Psalm 77:18; but it seems better to take it for the combined noise of the storm, thunder, wind, and rain, as in Shakespeare–
“The gods who keep this pudder o’er our heads.”
Verse 3. – The voice of the Lord is upon the waters. The description of God’s might in the thunderstorm now begins with one of the sudden transitions which David loves. “The voice of the Lord” – already identified with the thunder in Psalm 18:13 – is suddenly heard muttering in the height of heaven, “upon the waters;” i.e. the waters stored in the clouds that float on high in the air. The God of glory – the God set forth in vers. 1, 2 – thundereth. It is he himself, according to the psalmist, no minor agent. The Lord (Jehovah) is upon the many (or, great) waters (comp. Job 37:2-5 and Psalm 18:7-14).
The voice of the Lord is upon the waters,…. What follows concerning thunder, the voice of the Lord, gives so many reasons why he should have glory given him and be worshipped; the Heathens (y) paid their devotion to thunder and lightning: but this should be done to the author of them; which may be literally understood of thunder, and is the voice of the Lord; see Psalm 18:13; and which is commonly attended with large showers of rain, Jeremiah 10:13; and is very terrible upon the waters, and has its effect there, Psalm 104:7; and this is the rather mentioned, because that there is a God above, who is higher than the mighty, who are called upon to give glory to him, and because that thunder has been terrible to kings and great men of the earth; or this may be figuratively interpreted of the voice of Christ in the Gospel, which reaches to many nations and people, compared to waters, Revelation 17:15. The disciples had a commission to preach it to all nations, and the sound of their words went into all the world, Romans 10:18;
the God of glory thundereth; this shows that thunder may be meant by the voice of the Lord, who is glorious in himself, and in all his works; and may be applied to the Gospel of Christ, who is the Lord of glory, and whose ministers, at least some of them, are sons of thunder; see 1 Corinthians 2:8;
the Lord is upon many waters; that is, his voice is, as before, which is thunder; and that this belongs to God, the Heathens were so sensible of, that they called their chief deity Jupiter Tonans (z).
(y) Pausan. Arcad. sive l. 8. p. 503. (z) Horat. Epod. l. 5. Ode 2. v. 29. Martial. l. 2. Ep. 95.
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.
“The voice of the Lord is upon the waters.” The thunder is not only poetically but instructively called “the voice of God,” since it peals from on high; it surpasses all other sounds, it inspires awe, it is entirely independent of man, and has been used on some occasions as the grand accompaniment of God’s speech to Adam’s sons. There is peculiar terror in a tempest at sea, when deep calleth unto deep, and the raging sea echoes to the angry sky. No sight more alarming than the flash of lightning around the mast of the ship; and no sound more calculated to inspire a reverent awe than the roar of the storm. The children of heaven have often enjoyed the tumult with humble joy peculiar to the saints, and even those who know not God have been forced into unwilling reverence while the storm has lasted. “The God of glory thundereth.” Thunder is in truth no mere electric phenomenon, but is caused by the interposition of God himself. Even the old heathen spake of Jupiter Tonans; but our modern wise men will have us believe in laws and forces, and anything or nothing so that they may be rid of God. Electricity of itself can do nothing; it must be called and sent upon its errand; and until the almighty Lord commissions it, its bolt of fire is inert and powerless. As well might a rock of granite, or a bar of iron fly in the midst of heaven, as the lightning go without being sent by the great First Cause. “The Lord is upon many waters.” Still the Psalmist’s ear hears no voice but that of Jehovah, resounding from the multitudinous and dark waters of the upper ocean of clouds, and echoing from the innumerable billows of the storm-tossed sea below. The waters above and beneath the firmament are astonished at the eternal voice. When the holy Spirit makes the divine promise to be heard above the many waters of our soul’s trouble, then is God as glorious in the spiritual world as in the universe of matter. Above us and beneath us all is the peace of God when he gives us quiet.
“The voice of the Lord is powerful.” An irresistible power attends the lightning of which the thunder is the report. In an instant, when the Lord wills it, the force of electricity produces amazing results. A writer upon this subject, speaks of these results as including a light of the intensity of the sun in his strength, a heat capable of fusing the compactest metals, a force in a moment paralysing the muscles of the most powerful animals; a power suspending the all-pervading gravity of the earth, and an energy capable of decomposing and recomposing the closest affinities of the most intimate combinations. Well does Thompson speak of “the unconquerable lightning,” for it is the chief of the ways at God in physical forces, and none can measure its power.
As the voice of God in nature is so powerful, so is it in grace; the reader will do well to draw a parallel, and he will find much in the gospel, which may be illustrated by the thunder of the Lord in the tempest. His voice, whether in nature or revelation, shakes both earth and heaven; see that ye refuse not him that speaketh. If his voice be thus mighty, what must his hand be! beware lest ye provoke a blow. “The voice of the Lord is powerful; the voice of the Lord is full of majesty.” The King of kings speaks like a king. As when a lion roareth, all the beasts of the forest are still, so is the earth hushed and mute while Jehovah thundereth marvellously.
“Tis listening fear and dumb amazement all.”
3. The voice of the Lord—audible exhibition of His power in the tempest, of which thunder is a specimen, but not the uniform or sole example.
the waters—the clouds or vapors (Ps 18:11; Jer 10:13).
29:1-11 Exhortation to give glory to God. – The mighty and honourable of the earth are especially bound to honour and worship him; but, alas, few attempt to worship him in the beauty of holiness. When we come before him as the Redeemer of sinners, in repentance faith, and love, he will accept our defective services, pardon the sin that cleaves to them, and approve of that measure of holiness which the Holy Spirit enables us to exercise. We have here the nature of religious worship; it is giving to the Lord the glory due to his name. We must be holy in all our religious services, devoted to God, and to his will and glory. There is a beauty in holiness, and that puts beauty upon all acts of worship. The psalmist here sets forth God’s dominion in the kingdom of nature. In the thunder, and lightning, and storm, we may see and hear his glory. Let our hearts be thereby filled with great, and high, and honourable thoughts of God, in the holy adoring of whom, the power of godliness so much consists. O Lord our God, thou art very great! The power of the lightning equals the terror of the thunder. The fear caused by these effects of the Divine power, should remind us of the mighty power of God, of man’s weakness, and of the defenceless and desperate condition of the wicked in the day of judgment. But the effects of the Divine word upon the souls of men, under the power of the Holy Spirit, are far greater than those of thunder storms in the nature world. Thereby the stoutest are made to tremble, the proudest are cast down, the secrets of the heart are brought to light, sinners are converted, the savage, sensual, and unclean, become harmless, gentle, and pure. If we have heard God’s voice, and have fled for refuge to the hope set before us, let us remember that children need not fear their Father’s voice, when he speaks in anger to his enemies. While those tremble who are without shelter, let those who abide in his appointed refuge bless him for their security, looking forward to the day of judgment without dismay, safe as Noah in the ark.