The Voice and Glory of the Lord
Sermon Text: Psalm 29
Sermon Theme: The Lord is worthy of so much more.
The mighty and honorable of the earth are especially bound to honor 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 honorable 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 defenseless 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.
[From Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary]
- Are we ascribing to the Lord that which rightly is due to Him? The key word in the two introductory verses is hāḇû, translated by most versions as “ascribe” in this context. The term is related to the root yāhaḇ, which most simply means “to give.” The term occurs in its imperative form in the context of hymns with the sense of “acknowledge” or “ascribe” (Psalms 96:7-8; 1 Chronicles 16:28; Deuteronomy 32:3). As the parallels in Psalm 96:7-8 and Deuteronomy 32:3 indicate, the sense of the Hebrew term is certainly stronger than the English word “ascribe” can accurately capture. In Deuteronomy 32:3, to “ascribe greatness to the LORD” is parallel to the poet’s proclamation of “the name of the LORD.” And in Psalm 96:7-8, the call to ascribe to the Lord the glory and strength “of his name” is paralleled by the universal call to bring offerings, worship, and tremble. In other words, to ascribe glory and strength to the name of the Lord is to acknowledge that glory and strength belong only to the Lord and to none other. The threefold use of the imperative hāḇû here is the syntactical throwing down the polemical gauntlet to any who would withhold from the Lord that which rightly is due to him — and only to him.
- What thoughts should we form when we see the word glory (kāḇôḏ)? In Psalm 29:3, the term is used in construct in an adjectival sense to describe a quality that belongs to God — the God of glory (ʾēl hakkāḇôḏ). The implication is that glory is a quality that belongs to God and God alone. God comes in order to reveal God’s glory to God’s creatures. And those creatures, having experienced the manifestation of the Lord, are to recognize both the reality and the meaning of God’s appearance. The exclamation “Glory!” is both a recognition that God has come — that the God of glory is now present — and at the same time a recognition that true glory, and thus true worship, obedience, and discipleship, belongs to God alone. For His glory as Creator fills the whole earth, as the seraphim sang, but the glory of His name is the explicit revelation of who He is, given to His servants in His words and works. True worship reflects this back to Him in love and wonder.
- “Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God?” (1 Corinthians 6:19) Does everything in the temple say, Glory? Are all your powers devoted to the service of God? Are all the wondrous influences that you exercise employed to the praise of Jesus? Do our highest faculties of thought and memory and affection and imagination, pay to God the homage that is due unto His Name? “The chief end of man is to glorify God, and to enjoy Him for ever.” Oh Lord, give us strength for this full consecration, this entire surrender.
- Is not God sovereign in both realms of history and of nature? Can there be any separation of these two realms? To be sovereign in human affairs, God must also be sovereign over the human environment, the world of nature; conversely, God’s sovereignty in nature, demonstrated in the fertility-giving rains and storm, was a part of his provision for the continuity of human history. The ultimate praise of God is praise for his gift of victory, a gift given by virtue of his strength as Lord of History.
- Can you say that you are seeking the Lord and his strength? Are you seeking his presence continually? (1 Chronicles 16:11). An attribute of the Lord, which only the Lord possesses, namely strength (ʿōz), is imparted to his people. The significance of God’s coming is that God comes both to be known and to impart something to the people that only God can impart. That God comes to be known is evident in the Psalm’s witness that, at God’s coming, the people in the temple acknowledge God’s nature by responding with the chant, “Glory!” That God comes to impart a unique gift to the people is evident in the detail that precisely that quality (strength) that even the supernatural sons of God have to acknowledge belongs properly only to God is, in the end, bestowed upon God’s people in a free and gracious gift. The nature of God’s strength, moreover, is qualified by the closing line: The LORD blesses his people with peace! The strength of God is given not for the purpose of warfare or conquering power, but paradoxically God’s strength quells the warring madness of the children of Adam and Eve. Psalm 46 promises that the Lord breaks the bow and shatters the spear. Similarly, Psalm 29 promises that God’s strength is made known when God blesses the people with peace. McCann writes, “Thus shalom — peace, well-being, security — does not begin with our efforts but with our openness to God’s claim upon us and the ways God has gifted us.” And maybe even better, the search for true strength and peace is not a search in which we can ever hope to be successful. Rather, true strength and peace were forged in the moment that God decided to bridge the gap between divine infinity and human finiteness.
- “I sink in deep mire, where there is no foothold; I have come into deep waters, and the flood sweeps over me” (Psalm 69:2). What is the character of this man’s crisis? “Iniquities prevail against me” (Psalm 65:3). He is the victim of unclean desire. The inner rooms of the spirit, the holy place, is defiled. He is unable to contemplate the beautiful and to love it. The floods of carnality overflow him. Or perhaps the victim is overborne by the spirit of envy which too frequently manifest itself in deceit and treachery, or he is possessed by the passion of jealousy which makes him a conspirator against his neighbor’s good. Whatever may be the type of the man’s besetment, the flood is at the gate, and he is overpowered by the invasion of its unclean deeps. What shall we say to him? One would perhaps advise him that the secret of his redemption will consist in “plain living and high thinking.” But the counsel is worthless. We are advising a man who is overborne by appetite to control the appetite, and suggesting that a man who is the victim of his own thought should order it in beautiful regularity. How shall it be if we call in the Lord Himself? The Master’s voice is full of healing confidence and hope. He speaks of a clean heart and a right spirit. He not only unfolds an ideal, but He offers the power by which it can be realized. The unclean channels are flushed and cleansed, and all the powers in the life are quickened and revived. See the mighty power of the Master’s voice in His Scripture.
- Are you ready for the final storm of judgment? Are the storms a powerful image warning the people to get ready for judgment? The only ones who will be ready for that judgment are God’s people, to whom the Lord “gives strength” and “blesses … with peace.” Do you remember the words of the angels to the shepherds at the midnight announcement of the birth of Jesus in Luke 2:14? The words were: “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests.” — this is the very pattern of Psalm 29. It begins with the angels singing praise to God in heaven: Gloria in excelsis. And it ends with the blessing et in terra pax, that is, “peace” to those on whom his favor rests. Take comfort that we are the recipients of His blessed promises. How we need His strength, for sin has made us weak. We try to hide our weakness, but in vain. Nor can we heal ourselves. We always need God’s strength, “who gives power to the faint” (Isaiah 40:29) — we would certainly fall and perish without it. And from this gift of strength comes peace. For we have been chosen from the beginning, brought to Christ, and received His adoption as Sons of God. And with humility and faith, we shall be blessed with peace. But, do not be like some men who are cursed with it — the peace of indifference, hypocrisy, and the hardened heart. For unbelief produces a counterfeit peace when God lets a sinner alone in his sin; waiting for that final storm of judgment.
- You know what peace is, do you? Few common terms are less understood. Silence is not peace; nor is indifference; nor is insensibility; nor is the quiescence which comes of selfish fear of consequences. There cannot be peace where there cannot be passion. When we speak of a peaceful sea we speak accurately, for the sea is exposed to forces which rouse it into terrible tempests. Peace must, then, be understood as a composite term, — as an affirmative, not as a negative condition. Some men have no sensibilities towards God; they see Him, hear Him, feel Him but nowhere do they response to His truth — not in the light, not in the wind, not in gift of love and mercy; they are in a state of moral inertia. Are they at peace with God? Most truly not, for peace is other than death. Where there is true peace there is of necessity a right relation of forces; nothing preponderant, nothing conflicting; everything has its due. In the case of the heart there must be life — that life must balance the entire nature, judgment, conscience, will, affection. Towards God there must be intelligence, devotion, constancy. Towards man there must be justice, modesty, honor. Finding all this, and we find peace; finding a tendency towards this, and we find a tendency towards peace; finding this in perfection, and we find a peace which passes understanding. [J. Parker, DD]
- How may the enjoyment of Gods peace be fully realized? If you would enjoy this peace, you must cultivate a devotional habit — a habit of communion with your Father which is in heaven. We can hardly doubt that one great reason why Christians make so little progress, and have so little enjoyment is, that they are so scant in their private devotions. God is ready to bestow great blessings; but then they must be asked for, and beg urgently for. “Open your mouth wide, and I will fill it” (Psalms 81:10). We have but to enlarge our desires; and God will increase His supplies. Let none of us then wonder if he have not much of that Divine “peace which passes all understanding”, and if, in consequence, he be often overcome by temptations and disturbed by fears, if he be little in the habit of secret prayer and meditation. It is a good thing to be diligent in public worship; but also, be diligence in private. You may learn and obtain much in church, and so forsake not the assembling of yourselves; but it may be that in the closet you may expect great lessons. See to it, then, you who name the name of Christ, that you be frequent and fervent in both public and private prayer to God. Thus shall our text be fulfilled in your experience, and the Lord Himself shall “bless you with peace.”
The meaning of the New Testament Greek word most often translated “worship” (proskuneo) is “to fall down before” or “bow down before.” Worship is a state (an attitude) of spirit. Since it’s an internal, individual action, it could/should be done most of the time (or all the time) in our lives, regardless of place or situation (John 4:21). Therefore, Christians worship all the time, seven days a week. When Christians formally gather together in worship, still the emphasis should be on individually worshiping the Lord. Even in a congregation, participants need to be aware that they are worshiping God fully on an individual basis.
The nature of Christian worship is from the inside out and has two equally important parts. We must worship “in spirit and in truth” (John 4:23-24). Worshiping in the spirit has nothing to do with our physical posture. It has to do with our innermost being and requires several things. First, we must be born again. Without the Holy Spirit residing within us, we cannot respond to God in worship because we do not know Him. “No one knows the things of God except the Spirit of God” (1 Corinthians 2:11). The Holy Spirit within us is the one who energizes worship because He is in essence glorifying Himself, and all true worship glorifies God.
Second, worshiping in spirit requires a mind centered on God and renewed by Truth. Paul exhorts us to “present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind” (Romans 12:1-2). Only when our minds are changed from being centered on worldly things to being centered on God can we worship in spirit. Distractions of many kinds can flood our minds as we try to praise and glorify God, hindering our true worship.
Third, we can only worship in spirit by having a pure heart, open and repentant. When King David’s heart was filled with guilt over his sin with Bathsheba (2 Samuel 11), he found it impossible to worship. He felt that God was far from him, and he “groaned all day long” feeling God’s hand heavy upon him (Psalm 32:3-4). But when he confessed, fellowship with God was restored and worship and praise poured forth from him. He understood that “the sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart” (Psalm 51:17). Praise and worship toward God cannot come from hearts filled with unconfessed sin.
The second part of true worship is worship “in truth.” All worship is a response to truth, and that which is truth is contained in the Word of God. Jesus said to His Father, “Thy word is truth” (John 17:17). Psalm 119 says, “Thy law is truth” (Psalm 119:142) and “Thy word is true” (Psalm 119:160). To truly worship God, we must understand who He is and what He has done, and the only place He has fully revealed Himself is in the Bible. Worship is an expression of praise from the depths of our hearts toward a God who is understood through His Word. If we do not have the truth of the Bible, we do not know God and we cannot be truly worshiping.
Since external actions are unimportant in Christian worship, there is no rule regarding whether we should sit, stand, fall down, be quiet, or sing praises loudly while in corporate worship. These things should be decided based on the nature of the congregation. The most important thing is that we worship God in spirit (in our hearts) and in truth (in our minds.) [From www.gotquestions.org]
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