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29. Psalm 29

Give unto the Lord, O ye mighty, give unto the Lord glory and strength.

2Give unto the Lord the glory due unto his name; worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness.

3The voice of the Lord is upon the waters: the God of glory thundereth: the Lord is upon many waters.

4The voice of the Lord is powerful; the voice of the Lord is full of majesty.

5The voice of the Lord breaketh the cedars; yea, the Lord breaketh the cedars of Lebanon.

6He maketh them also to skip like a calf; Lebanon and Sirion like a young unicorn.

7The voice of the Lord divideth the flames of fire.

8The voice of the Lord shaketh the wilderness; the Lord shaketh the wilderness of Kadesh.

9The voice of the Lord maketh the hinds to calve, and discovereth the forests: and in his temple doth every one speak of his glory.

10The Lord sitteth upon the flood; yea, the Lord sitteth King for ever.

11The Lord will give strength unto his people; the Lord will bless his people with peace.

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9. The voice of Jehovah maketh the hinds to bring forth 615615     Bishop Lowth reads, “Maketh the oaks to tremble,” (Lectures on Hebrew Poetry, vol. 2, p.253,) in which he is followed by Dimock, Green, Seeker, Horsley, Fry, and others. But Dathe, Berlin, De Rossi, Dr Adam Clarke, Rogers, etc., adhere to the common interpretation, in which they are supported by all the ancient versions, except the Syriac, which seems to favor the view of Lowth. A main argument of Lowth and those who follow him in support of his rendering is, that the common translation, which supposes the passage to relate to the hinds bring forth their young, agrees very little with the rest of the imagery either in nature or dignity; whereas the oak struck with lightning, is a far nobler image, and one which falls in more naturally with the scattering of a forest’s foliage under the action of a storm. But Rogers justly observes, that “we are not warranted in altering the Hebrew text, because the oriental imagery which we meet with does not correspond with our ideas of poetical beauty and grandeur,” (Book of Psalms in Hebrew, metrically arranged, vol. it. p. 186.) With respect to the sense conveyed by the common reading, it may be observed, that birds bring forth their young with great difficulty and pain, bowing themselves, bruising their young ones, and casting out their sorrows, (Job 39:4, 6;) and it therefore heightens the description given of the terrific character of the thunder-storm, when the thunder, which is here called the voice of God, is represented as causing, through the terror which it inspires, the hinds in their pregnant state prematurely to drop their young; although, according to our ideas of poetical imagery, this may not accord so well with the other images in the passage nor appear so beautiful and sublime as the image of the oaks trembling at the voice of Jehovah. A tacit comparison, as I have said, is here made. It is worse than irrational, it is monstrous, that men are not moved at God’s voice, when it has such power and influence on wild beasts. It is base ingratitude, indeed, in men not to perceive his providence and government in the whole course of nature; but it is a detestable insensibility that at least his unusual and extraordinary works, which compel even wild beasts to obey him, will not teach them wisdom. Some interpreters think that hinds are mentioned, rather than other beasts, on account of their difficulty in bringing forth their young; which I disapprove not. The voice of the Lord is also said to discover or make bare the forests, either because there is no covering which can prevent it from penetrating into the most secret recesses and caverns; or, because lightnings, rains, and stormy winds, beat off the leaves and make the trees bare. Either sense is appropriate.

In his temple. God’s voice fills the whole world, and spreads itself to its farthest limits; but the prophet declares that his glory is celebrated only in his church, because God not only speaks intelligibly and distinctly there, but also there gently allures the faithful to himself. His terrible voice, which thunders in various ways in the air, strikes upon the ears, and causes the hearts of men to beat in such a manner, as to make them shrink from rather than approach him not to mention that a considerable portion turn a deaf ear to its sound in storms, rains, thunder, and lightnings. As men, therefore, profit not so much in this common school as to submit themselves to God, David wisely says especially that the faithful sing the praises of God in his temple, because, being familiarly instructed there by his fatherly voice, they devote and consecrate themselves wholly to his service. No man proclaims the glory of God aright but he who worships him willingly. This may be understood likewise as a complaint, in which David reproves the whole world of being silent in so far as the glory of God is concerned, 616616     “Etant que touche la gloire de Dieu.” — Fr. and laments that although his voice resounds through all regions, yet his praises are no where sung but in his temple alone. He appears, however, after the example of all the godly, to exhort the whole of mankind to praise God’s name, and designedly to erect a temple as a receptacle for his glory, for the purpose of teaching us, that in order truly to know God, and praise him as is his due, we need another voice than that which is heard in thunders, showers, and storms in the air, in the mountains, and in the forests; for if he teach us not in plain words, and also kindly allure us to himself, by giving us a taste of his fatherly love, we will continue dumb. It is the doctrine of salvation alone, therefore, which cheers our hearts and opens our mouths in his praises, by clearly revealing to us his grace, and the whole of his will. It is from thence that we must learn how we ought to praise him. We may also unquestionably see that at that time there was nothing of the light of godliness in the whole world, except in Judea. Even philosophers, who appeared to approach nearest to the knowledge of God, contributed nothing whatever that might truly glorify him. All that they say concerning religion is not only frigid, but for the most part insipid. It is therefore in his word alone that there shines forth the truth which may lead us to true piety, and to fear and serve God aright. 617617     “Pour le craindre et servir comme il appartient.” — Fr.




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