Psalm 29 Sermon From February 2014 Prayer Service - All cry, “Glory!”
Mount Olive Lutheran Church / Rev. Ted A. Giese / Prayer Service Wednesday February 5th 2014 / Psalm 29
Ascribe to the LORD, O heavenly beings,
ascribe to the LORD glory and strength.
Ascribe to the LORD the glory due His name;
worship the LORD in the splendour of holiness.
The voice of the LORD is over the waters;
the God of glory thunders,
the LORD, over many waters.
The voice of the LORD is powerful;
the voice of the LORD is full of majesty.
The voice of the LORD breaks the cedars;
the LORD breaks the cedars of Lebanon.
He makes Lebanon to skip like a calf,
and Sirion like a young wild ox.
The voice of the LORD flashes forth flames of fire.
The voice of the LORD shakes the wilderness;
the LORD shakes the wilderness of Kadesh.
The voice of the LORD makes the deer give birth
and strips the forests bare,
and in His temple all cry, “Glory!”
The LORD sits enthroned over the flood;
the LORD sits enthroned as king forever.
May the LORD give strength to His people!
May the LORD bless His people with peace!
Let us pray: May the words of my mouth and the meditations of all our hearts be acceptable in your sight O Lord. Amen.
Grace peace and mercy to you from God our Father and from our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Good Christian Friends. “Turn to Me and be saved, all the ends of the earth! For I Am God, and there is no other. By Myself I have sworn; from My mouth has gone out in righteousness a word that shall not return: ‘To Me every knee shall bow, every tongue shall swear allegiance.’" The Prophet Isaiah by the will of the Holy Spirit recorded these words, just as the same Holy Spirit in Psalm 29 willed for king David to explain how "in [the LORD's] temple all cry, “Glory!”" In the Temple of God all cry "Glory." Psalm 29 describes God as being "enthroned as King forever" The LORD sits enthroned as king forever.
One of the key principles of orthodox Lutheran Biblical interpretation is to have one part of Scripture interpret another part. We do this because God's Word is Truth and it is therefore the best Word we have, we do this because in doing so we can shed light on a passage which might be hard to grasp otherwise. So Isaiah 45 can help us understand Psalm 29 and vice versa. While Psalm 29 is very straight forward, it is poetic - poetry as we think of it today is subjective and open to interpretation - this can be a trouble for the Christian. This is why even the straight forward parts of Scripture, like Psalm 29, are best engaged by considering them in light of the rest of Scripture. Doing this really cuts down on that subjectivity and in the end you are left with something much more concrete to rest your faith in. As we think on Psalm 29 let's remember that God's word while sometimes very poetic isn't as malleable as modern poetry and if we think of some of the other passages of Scripture and events in Scripture in relation to this Psalm then Psalm 29 should come even clearer. Not only that, but Psalm 29 can be the sources of great comfort and peace.
So first things first, this is a Psalm of David, the shepherd king of Israel; but you might remember that in David's day there was no temple yet, so how does this all work? Back when we looked at Psalm 11 we talked about how "When we hear the word Temple we think first of David’s Son’s Temple, the temple built by Solomon, with its columns and gold, it’s walls and rooms, but in David’s time [like I just said] there was no physical building, the word for “temple” had a simple origin, it was the word used for the place where the king resided. This word was used to describe what the Children of Israel had in the form of the tabernacle, the tent of meeting, and at its centre was the Holy of Holies, and in that place the Ark of the Covenant was found. The Ark of the Covenant was called the “Mercy Seat” that is the throne of God, where His presence was promised to be located at the time (The place from which the mercy of God their King and Father would flow). This was a mirror image of the throne room of God in heaven and was the only place where God’s presence was promised to be located in David’s day. By saying, “The LORD is in His holy temple; the LORD's throne is in heaven;” [as we hear in Psalm 11] David is using a sort of poetic short hand to re-enforce a doctrine, a teaching that that people had already learned and known." Here in Psalm 29 we are hearing this same sort of language again, and when we look at the Psalm, in its entirety, we see that the voice of the LORD is not just in one place, not just in the tent of meeting not just in a future building. Here in Psalm 29 we see that His voice thunders from His throne, both in the moment and throughout all of time and into and out-of every corner of the universe and all of creation.
While in grace the LORD promises to be found enthroned upon His mercy seat, in the tabernacle tent and later in the physical temple, God thunderous power of God is not confined to that seat: He is omnipresent, He truly fills all things. We particularly think of this when we think about the person of Jesus the incarnate son of God. In the Apostles' creed we confess that Jesus after His crucifixion, death, and resurrection "ascended into heaven, and sits at the right hand of God the Father Almighty: From thence He shall come to judge the living and the dead." Because of the incarnation of Word of God, because of the birth of Jesus we look at Psalm 29 and we can say that, The LORD [Jesus] sits enthroned over the flood; the LORD [Jesus] sits enthroned as king forever. From the Revelation of Saint John we know that Jesus is called the King of kings and Lord of lords, and that Jesus has this name written on Him.
Let's dig a bit further into Scripture to better paint this picture. In his first letter to pastor Timothy Saint Paul describes Jesus as the "blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords" Everything David says about God in Psalm 29 David is saying about Jesus. Jesus then is worthy to be praised, His enthronement stretches everywhere, His omnipresence means that He is to be worshiped just as Psalm 29 says, that "all" will cry "Glory" to [Jesus] the LORD. When we think of this what are we then to make of Psalm 29? Because when I look around I don't see "all" crying "Glory" to Jesus. In fact when you and I are honest with ourselves we will confess, "I sin and break the 3rd commandment ... 'Remember the Sabbath Day and keep it Holy,' indeed sometimes I don't cry "glory" to God in the highest either. I have broken God's Holy Law and I have failed to cry Glory in God's House on Sunday, I've failed to cry Glory to God on the other days of the week too, I have despised preaching, I don't rejoice always and I have not prayed without ceasing." I have cultivated the vice of individualism and have abandoned the unity of the body of Christ to suit my own selfish desirers. I could easily say that I'm part of the problem and I'm not also crying glory as everyone is intended to do as we hear in Psalm 29.
If I'm like this and I know others are like this, how can Psalm 29 be true? When will every knee bow, and every tongue confess that Jesus is LORD, when will All cry Glory? Maybe you think to yourself, 'I find it hard to cry out Glory when I'm on my knees scrubbing the toilet or when I'm shovelling the walks, or when I'm filing my taxes, and I'm a Christian, I have every reason in the world to cry glory, what about everyone else?' You may think, 'There are lots of times when I forget to think of the LORD as I go about the daily activities of life, let alone sing His praise or cry out Glory. Is there forgiveness for my lack of devotion to the LORD? The whole world is guilty of breaking the third commandment. Where then will forgiveness come from, for you and for others? Forgiveness comes only in the person of Christ Jesus, you cannot forgive yourself, the one who followed the third commandant perfectly, He is the only one who cried out glory to God always, His innocence is applied to you as your very own in baptism.
Miserable and faltering devotion to God is a thing we struggles with today. In our part of the world it's a very real problem, a very real sin, a sin that has the same power to dame as murder or adultery or theft. But that's right here, right now, back in David's day things must have been better? They must have ascribed Glory to God all the time, right? It must have been as natural to them as breathing or walking, right? They too failed in giving God glory due His name. When David wrote Psalm 29 the people surrounding the Children of Israel worshiped the Baals and Dagon and all of these other gods, the whole world then didn't keep the third commandment, and even the Children of Israel failed in their devotion to the One True God. All people then didn't cry Glory to God just as all people now do not cry Glory to God.
When then will it happen? The heart yearns to know? 'When will I be free of sinning and breaking the third commandment? When will my devotion be perfected? When will I hear the voice of the LORD and not be broken, when will I hear the voice of the LORD and not be stripped bare, when will I hear the voice of the LORD and not be put into labour pains, when? When will my tongue with every tongue swear allegiance to the LORD?' When? To answer this first let's see what Scripture tells about what all this looks like and then let's look at when it will happen.
To draw a clearer picture of what Psalm 29 is saying, when it pictures all people crying glory to God, listen to these words written by Saint Paul, recorded for you by the will and the inspiration of the Holy Spirit:
"Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though He was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted Him and bestowed on Him the Name that is above every name, so that at the Name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is LORD, to the glory of God the Father."
There it is again: The same LORD whose voice in Psalm 29 is powerful and full of majesty, the same LORD whose voice is thunder, this same LORD is Jesus: The very same LORD Jesus who humbles Himself and does not count equality with God the Father a thing to be grasped, the same LORD Jesus who comes to a man like Zacchaeus and gently calls him out of the sycamore tree, the same Jesus who quietly restores Peter by the sea of Galilee when He asks Peter, "do you love Me?" and Peter says "Lord you know everything; You know that I love You," and [Jesus] says to [Peter] "feed My sheep." Over and over again we see Jesus in the Scriptures and He is full of mercy and grace, He doesn't knock poor Zacchaeus out of the tree with a voice of thunder, yet His kindness is as loud as thunder to Zacchaeus and everyone there; Jesus doesn't crush Peter with thunder and yet Peter is crushed when Jesus asks Peter the third time, "do you love Me." The thunder of the voice of Jesus still ends up coming to Peter as a voice full of peace, "peace ... which surpasses all understanding."
From king David to Zacchaeus to Saint Peter to the Apostle Paul to me to you: Every knee, all of them, will bow to Jesus. In the hymn 'Abide With Me' we pray as we sing, "Come not in terrors, as the King of kings, But kind and good, with healing in Thy wings; Tears for all woes, a heart for every plea. Come, Friend of sinners, thus abide with me." This is your Jesus, this is their Jesus, He is both merciful and gracious, He is slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love; while at the same time, as we hear in the Letter to the Hebrews, "our God is a consuming fire." He is forgiving and yet as we hear in Psalm 29 He is unyielding, everything kneels in His revealed presence and all do cry Glory, for when that day comes there will be nothing else to do. Dear Christian, while Jesus will be majestic and awe inspiring, and while many will be filled with fear at His appearing, you will not be dismayed, you will not be pulling the mountains down over top of you like the covers pulled over a child who doesn't want to get up at the voice of their parents. On that Day when Christ comes you will be filled with joy. Which day is that?
So here is the Day: The Day in which all knees will bow and every voice will confess that Jesus is LORD, and all will give glory to God, that Day is the Last Day and Psalm 29 points forward to that Day. The Day of the LORD full of Awe and wonder, the awful day of the LORD, because that is the Day when every knee will bow and all people will acknowledge Jesus as LORD. That day, for you, will not be awful as we think of the word awful, on that day, the Last Day, the Day when Jesus will return as the King of kings and LORD of Lord to judged the living and the dead, on that day His voice will not strip you bare, His voice will not break you, His voice will not force you into labour pains, except to strip you bare of your sin forever, break the grip of death on your body and cause your resurrected body to be transformed by, the final completion, the birth into perfection. That's the only kind of labour you can imagine or experience on that Day as the angels are pulling you up out of the earth and you stand before Christ. The majestic thunder-filled voice of God will be sweet music to your ears because it will mark the beginning of eternal life proper for all of eternity.
When we sing "Glory to God in the highest and peace to His people on earth" we echo the words of this Psalm in our hymn of praise! Psalm 29 starts out with the words, "Ascribe to the LORD, O heavenly beings, ascribe to the LORD glory and strength," and ends with these words of prayer, "May the LORD bless His people with peace!" Psalm 29 is a prayer that looks forward with faith to many thing, it looks forward to the coming Jesus, the Christ, it looks forward to His ascension and enthronement at God the Father's right hand, it looks forward to the Last Day and the resurrection of the dead and life everlasting: All the while it teaches the ever present and omnipresent reign of the Kingdome of God from the beginning of time, to the days of Noah and the flood, to Eternity: Where the LORD is enthroned amidst a sea of glass with Angles singing, "Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord God Almighty, who was and is and is to come!” Psalm 29 "Ascribe[s] to the LORD the glory due His name," "the name that is above every name" the name of Jesus.
Until the Day of Jesus' return, we can think on Psalm 29 and we can remember that when we gather together and we celebrate Holy Communion we are being given a glimpse into that future, in fact it's more than a glimpse, heaven and earth are coming together, we join our praise with the angels, and in this foretaste of the feast to come Jesus is actually present as He promises to be. Not just spiritually present but fully present. The enthronement of the LORD Jesus at God the Father's right hand is with the bread and the wine and is placed into your hands and into your mouth. How much closer could the kingdom of God be for you. In Holy Communion the LORD Jesus forgives sin, gives strength to His people and blesses His people with peace. He does this here this night, He does this in all our Divine Services, Jesus does this at the bed side in Hospital, Jesus does this when someone is in his death bed and the pastor comes and in the home when Communion is celebrated there too. Jesus' forgiveness extends to every corner of the earth and into every corner of your heart. "Believers [therefore] need not stand before Him in dread, for He uses His awesome power to bless His people with peace. It is very striking that this loud, thundering Psalm ends with "peace." For God's people eternity will be the calm after the storm." Amen.
Let us pray:
Lord have mercy on us, Christ have mercy on us, Lord have mercy on us, “take our minds and think through them, take our lips and speak through them, take our hearts and set them on fire; for the sake of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, Amen.
 Isaiah 45:22-23
 John 17:7
 Ephesians 4:10
 John 1:1-5, 14
 Revelation 19:16
 1 Thessalonians 5:16-17
 Philippians 2:5-11
 Luke 19:1-10
 John 21:17
 Philippians 4:7
 Hebrews 12:29
 Psalm 29:9b
 Psalm 29:5
 Psalm 29:9a
 Genesis 5-9
 Psalm 29:10
 Psalm 29:2a
 A Commentary on Psalms 1-72, Northwestern Publishing House 2004, John F. Burg, pg 333.