Power and Peace, Two Sides of the Same Coin (Psalm 29)

Imagine it is three millennia from now into the future and you are living somewhere in Asia in a culture far advanced from our own time. And you then and there read the following 3,000-year-old American poem:

O beautiful for spacious skies, For amber waves of grain, For purple mountain majesties Above the fruited plain!

What would that mean to you? Would you be able to understand the imagery upon the first reading of it – having never been to America? You would likely need to do some historical research to learn that this famous song was speaking of the vast great plains covered in fields of wheat, the purple glow of the Rocky Mountains at sundown, and the big sky country of the vast open expanses of the USA.

Likewise with our reading for today in Psalm 29, we need to understand the poetic and geographic references of this 3,000-year-old song written by David.

After calling even the heavenly beings to praise God for his glory and strength, David begins in verse three to talk about a powerful display of nature – a large storm that has blown from the Mediterranean Sea into the coastline and interior of the modern day country of Lebanon.

The song pictures the Creator God as the powerful voice in the storm – with the noise of the thunder and the energy of the lightening… calling it “powerful” and “majestic.”

We know even within the last week in our region of the powerful nature of storms and the results that leave us in awe of the fury of nature. I often bike on the C&O Canal and Potomac River, where massive trees are the common scene. After certain large storms over the years, I have been amazed to see even massive trees twisted and shredded as if but tiny sticks.


Cedars in Lebanon

In verse five it says, “The voice of the Lord breaks the cedars; the Lord breaks in pieces the cedars of Lebanon.”  The most impressive trees in the ancient world of Palestine grew in the forests of Lebanon. They were huge cedar trees! In the Old Testament it says that King Hiram of Tyre sent wood from these trees to Solomon for construction of the temple in Jerusalem.

This powerful storm moves over the mountains in that region, making them almost leap from the power of it all. And finally the desert of Kadesh is rocked by the energy of this fierce display of nature.

God is the creator over all of this; therefore HE is more powerful than this natural fury. Such a storm, and floods that may follow, are just about the biggest/baddest thing imaginable – with nothing able to stand in its path.

So what circumstance in your life do you need God to prove to be powerful? Can the God who is bigger than the storm do it? Why of course!

Beyond that, there is a flip side to the power, and that is the peace that is the by-product of the power … as the Psalm finishes, “The Lord gives strength to his people; the Lord blesses his people with peace.”

That is good stuff! But how does it play out in life? Let’s think of a big, hairy, audacious problem – let’s say a horrific cancer diagnosis. Now, let’s put God’s power alongside it. What is bigger? And with that answer, what is the by-product? It is a blessing of peace.

This stuff works.

Psalm 29

A psalm of David.

Ascribe to the Lord, you heavenly beings, ascribe to the Lord glory and strength.
Ascribe to the Lord the glory due his name; worship the Lord in the splendor of his holiness.

The voice of the Lord is over the waters; the God of glory thunders, the Lord thunders over the mighty waters.
The voice of the Lord is powerful; the voice of the Lord is majestic.
The voice of the Lord breaks the cedars; the Lord breaks in pieces the cedars of Lebanon.
He makes Lebanon leap like a calf, Sirion <this is Mount Herman> like a young wild ox.
The voice of the Lord strikes with flashes of lightning.
The voice of the Lord shakes the desert; the Lord shakes the Desert of Kadesh.
The voice of the Lord twists the oaksand strips the forests bare. And in his temple all cry, “Glory!”

10 The Lord sits enthroned over the flood; the Lord is enthroned as King forever.
11 The Lord gives strength to his people; the Lord blesses his people with peace.