Psalm 29 – “Hymn of God’s Power”

Hebrew-English Text
I. Summary
The people praise God’s power.

II. Photo
The people describe God’s might: “The voice of the Lord is majesty; the voice of the Lord breaks cedars; the Lord shatters the cedars of Lebanon!” (v. 5)

III. Select Verses
1b-2: Ascribe to the LORD, O divine beings, ascribe to the LORD glory and strength. Ascribe to the LORD the glory of His name; bow down to the LORD, majestic in holiness.
4-7: The voice of the LORD is power; the voice of the LORD is majesty; the voice of the LORD breaks cedars; the LORD shatters the cedars of Lebanon. He makes Lebanon skip like a calf, Sirion, like a young wild ox. The voice of the LORD kindles flames of fire
10: The LORD sat enthroned at the Flood; the LORD sits enthroned, king forever.
11: May the LORD grant strength to His people; may the LORD bestow on His people wellbeing.

IV. Outline
1a. Superscription
1-2. Call to angels for worship
3-10. Hymnic praise of God’s power over nature
11. Wish: power for the people

V. Comment
Psalm 29, which is a hymn structured around the repetition of the Hebrew word kol “voice,” begins with a call to worship: “Ascribe to the Lord, O divine beings, ascribe to the Lord glory and strength. Ascribe to the Lord the glory of His name; bow down to the Lord, majestic in holiness.” (1b-2). While this call to worship is somewhat unique in that it is directed toward the heavenly beings and not the people, it is otherwise a standard way to begin a hymn. Gerstenberger quotes Mowinckel: “The hymn opens with the exhortation to sing unto the Lord, to praise, thank, exalt and bless him, to fall down and worship him, to proclaim him, to ‘clap your hands and shout unto God’ etc. – usually in the imperative plural.” (130) As Gerstenberger notes, “The hymnic overture reflects very clearly the thronging of a large, festive crowd and the ritual activities involved in a worship of praise.” (130)

Many of the calls to worship share similar features:
Singing:

  • Sing Him a new song; play sweetly with shouts of joy. (33:3)
  • Sing to the LORD a new song, sing to the LORD, all the earth. Sing to the LORD, bless His name, proclaim His victory day after day. (96:1-2)
  • A psalm. Sing to the LORD a new song, for He has worked wonders; His right hand, His holy arm, has won Him victory. (98:1)
  • Sing praises to Him; speak of all His wondrous acts. (105:2)
  • Hallelujah. Sing to the LORD a new song, His praises in the congregation of the faithful. (149:1)

Instruments:

  • Praise the LORD with the lyre; with the ten-stringed harp sing to Him (33:2)
  • Take up the song, sound the timbrel, the melodious lyre and harp. Blow the horn on the new moon, on the full moon for our feast day. (81:3-4)
  • With a ten-stringed harp, with voice and lyre together. (92:4)
  • Sing praise to the LORD with the lyre, with the lyre and melodious song. With trumpets and the blast of the horn raise a shout before the LORD, the king. (98:5-6)
  • Sing to the LORD a song of praise, chant a hymn with a lyre to our God, (147:7)
  • Praise Him with blasts of the horn; praise Him with harp and lyre. Praise Him with timbrel and dance; praise Him with lute and pipe. Praise Him with resounding cymbals; praise Him with loud-clashing cymbals. (150:3-5)

Gestures of submission:

  • All you peoples, clap your hands, raise a joyous shout for God. (47:2)
  • Come, let us bow down and kneel, bend the knee before the LORD our maker (95:6)
  • Exalt the LORD our God and bow down to His footstool; He is holy! (99:5)
  • Lift your hands toward the sanctuary and bless the LORD. (134:2)

VI. Works Used
(see “Commentaries” page)
Collins, John J. “Introduction to the Hebrew Bible,” (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2004).
Craigie, Peter C. “Psalms 1-50” Word Biblical Commentary vol. 19 (Waco, Texas: Wordbooks, 1983).
Gerstenberger, Erhard S. “Psalms Part 1 with an Introduction to Cultic Poetry” Forms of Old Testament Literature (Michigan: Eerdmans, 1988).
Photo taken from http://www.loughrigg.org/belgium/snappedTree.jpg

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