Revealing the Glory of the Lord

One of the themes of Epiphany is the glory of the Lord being revealed: when the Magi found the newborn king they worshipped him – they could see God’s glory in that humble estate; when Jesus was baptized, the glorious Triune God was revealed.  This past weekend we had opportunities to think on those events in Jesus’ life, so as something of a follow-up I’d like to offer a chance to reflect on the Psalm that we heard on Sunday.

Psalm 29 is a hymn Psalm; hymn psalms celebrate some aspect about God, in this case it’s God’s glory over creation.  I don’t have any fancy literary structure observations to make, other than this whole Psalm is like one big crescendo, getting more and more epic in scope as it progresses.  It starts out with a serious proclamation:

1 Ascribe to the LORD, O heavenly beings,
ascribe to the LORD glory and strength.
2 Ascribe to the LORD the glory due his name;
worship the LORD in the splendor of holiness.

The angels, powerful beings beyond our human comprehension, are called upon to acknowledge God’s glory and strength, honor His Name, and worship Him.  If that’s what the call is to the angels, how much more so to us?  So it’s got a lot to live up to, if it’s going to maintain this pace.  So off it goes:

3 The voice of the LORD is over the waters;
the God of glory thunders,
the LORD, over many waters.
4 The voice of the LORD is powerful;
the voice of the LORD is full of majesty.
5 The voice of the LORD breaks the cedars;
the LORD breaks the cedars of Lebanon.

Are these the waters of creation?  Is this the so-called ‘firmament’ of the heavens?  Is it just the Mediterranean Sea that Israel was next to?  Whatever the waters are, God’s powerful and majestic voice thunders over many of them like a storm, breaking the noble cedar trees, North of Israel.

6 He makes Lebanon to skip like a calf,
and Sirion like a young wild ox.
7 The voice of the LORD flashes forth flames of fire.
8 The voice of the LORD shakes the wilderness;
the LORD shakes the wilderness of Kadesh.

God’s voice extends over land as well as sea!  The very earth is frightened and shaken by the storm of God’s voice, moving whole nations like Lebanon, and surrounded the whole country of Israel from Sirion in the North to Kadesh in the South.

 9 The voice of the LORD makes the deer give birth
and strips the forests bare,
and in his temple all cry, “Glory!”

God’s voice is not just destructive power.  This is no overgrown child throwing a divine tantrum across the face of the earth; God’s voice brings life as well as destruction.  And boy, is He worshiped!  Is the Temple the one in Jerusalem or the heavenly Temple where angels worship?  Probably both, since this Psalm has brought both the “heavenly beings” and creation into its scope so far.

And finally, the Psalm reaches its climax.  After God’s voice has thundered, demonstrated its power, and received worship…

10 The LORD sits enthroned over the flood;
the LORD sits enthroned as king forever.

The order to “ascribe to the Lord” glory and strength is now fulfilled.  And what is the one thing asked of God after all this meditation upon His glory?

11 May the LORD give strength to his people!
May the LORD bless his people with peace!

With the power of life and death, certainly it’s no challenge for the voice of the Lord to strengthen us and grant us peace.  And now in this New Covenant age we can start to see the answer to this prayer even now: the Holy Spirit gives us gifts and makes peace between us and God and each other.

One final observation remains to be asked.  What is the secret of God’s power?  How does He do all this?  This Psalm gives us a really neat hint: it talks about “the voice of the Lord.”  What issues forth from one’s voice?  The Word.  That’s a mystery that we know!  The Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory.  His name was Jesus, and he is our eternal king.

In closing, let me re-read the Psalm with this revelation added.

1 Ascribe to the LORD, O heavenly beings,
ascribe to the LORD glory and strength.
2 Ascribe to the LORD the glory due his name;
worship the LORD in the splendor of holiness.
3 Christ Jesus is over the waters;
the God of glory thunders,
the LORD, over many waters.
4 Christ Jesus is powerful;
Christ Jesus is full of majesty.
5 Christ Jesus breaks the cedars;
the LORD breaks the cedars of Lebanon.
6 He makes Lebanon to skip like a calf,
and Sirion like a young wild ox.
7 Christ Jesus flashes forth flames of fire.
8 Christ Jesus shakes the wilderness;
the LORD shakes the wilderness of Kadesh.
9 Christ Jesus makes the deer give birth
and strips the forests bare,
and in his temple all cry, “Glory!”
10 The LORD sits enthroned over the flood;
the LORD sits enthroned as king forever.
11 May the LORD give strength to his people!
May the LORD bless his people with peace!

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About Fr. Brench

I'm a Priest in the Anglican Diocese in New England interested in spiritual formation, theology, and the growth of God's Kingdom.
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