Psalm 29:9

 

EXPOSITION

Verse 9. The voice of the Lord maketh the hinds to calve, those timid creatures, in deadly fear of the tempest, drop their burdens in an untimely manner. Perhaps a better reading is, "the oaks to tremble," especially as this agrees with the next sentence, and discovereth the forests. The dense shades of the forest are lit up with the lurid glare of the lightning, and even the darkest recesses are for a moment laid bare.

"The gloomy woods
Start at the flash, and from their deep recesses
Wide flaming out, their trembling inmates shake."

Our first parents sought a refuge among the trees, but the voice of the Lord soon found them out, and made their hearts to tremble. There is no concealment from the fire glance of the Almighty -- one flash of his angry eye turns midnight into noon. The gospel has a like revealing power in dark hearts, in a moment it lights up every dark recess of the heart's ungodliness, and bids the soul tremble before the Lord.

In his temple doth everyone speak of his glory. Those who were worshipping in the temple, were led to speak of the greatness of Jehovah as they heard the repeated thunder claps. The whole world is also a temple for God, and when he rides abroad upon the wings of the wind, all things are vocal in his praise. We too, the redeemed of the Lord, who are living temples for his Spirit, as we see the wonders of his power in creation, and feel them in grace, unite to magnify his name. No tongue may be dumb in God's temple when his glory is the theme. The original appears to have the force of "every one crieth Glory," as though all things were moved by a sense of God's majesty to shout in ecstasy, "Glory, glory." Here is a good precedent for our Methodist friends and for the Gogoniants of the zealous Welsh.

 

EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS

Verse 3-10. The Lord, etc. See Psalms on "Psalms 29:3" for further information.

Verse 3-10. See Psalms on "Psalms 29:3" for further information.

Verse 3-11: -- See Psalms on "Psalms 29:3" for further information.

Verse 9. The voice of the Lord maketh the hinds to calve. With respect to the sense conveyed by the common reading, it may be observed, that hinds bring forth their young with great difficulty and pain, "bowing themselves, bruising their young ones, and casting out their sorrows" Job 39:4 Job 39:6 ; and it therefore heightens the description given of the terrific character of the thunderstorm, 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. John Calvin.

Verse 9. The voice of the Lord maketh the hinds to calve. The care and tenderness of God toward beasts turns to his praise, as well as the care which he hath of, and the tenderness which he shows to believers. As it doth exceedingly advance the glory of God, that he takes care of wild beasts, so it may exceedingly strengthen the faith of man that he will take care of him. Doth the Lord take care of hinds? then certainly he takes care of those who particularly belong to him. There is a special providence of God towards these and such like creatures for the production of their young. He -- if I may so speak with reverence -- shows his midwifery in helping these savage beasts when their pains come upon them. As the Lord takes man, in an eminent manner, "out of the womb" Ps 22:9, so in a manner he takes beasts out of the womb too. "The voice of the Lord shaketh the wilderness; the Lord shaketh the wilderness of Kadesh;" so we translate it; but the word which we render "shaketh" is the same with that in Job 39:2 , which signifieth to bring forth; and hence, some very learned in the Hebrew tongue do not render as we, "The voice of the Lord shaketh the wilderness," but "The voice of the Lord maketh the wilderness to bring forth; the Lord maketh the wilderness of Kadesh to bring forth;" which is not to be understood of the vegetative creatures (that's a truth, the Lord makes the trees of the forest to bring forth both leaves and fruit), but it is meant of animals or living creatures there. And then when he saith, "The voice of the Lord maketh the wilderness to bring forth," the meaning is, the Lord makes the wild beast of the wilderness to bring forth; which seems to be the clear sense of the place by that which followeth: for the psalmist having said this in general at the eighth verse, "The voice of the Lord maketh the wilderness to bring forth," he in the ninth verse gives the special instance of the hind: "The voice of the Lord maketh the hinds to calve." Joseph Caryl.

Verse 9. The voice of the Lord maketh the hinds to calve. It is with great propriety, says one of the ancients that Jehovah demands, "The birth of the hinds dost thou guard"? Job 39:1, for since this animal is always in flight, and with fear and terror always leaping and skipping about, she could never bring her young to maturity without such a special protection. The providence of God, therefore, is equally conspicuous in the preservation of the mother and the fawn; both are the objects of his compassion and tender care; and, consequently, that afflicted man has no reason to charge his Maker with unkindness, who condescended to watch over the goats and the hinds. It seems to be generally admitted, that the hind brings forth her young with great difficulty; and so much appears to be suggested in the verse, "They bow themselves, they bring forth their young ones, they cast out their sorrows." But if Pliny and other naturalists are worthy of credit, divine providence has been graciously pleased to provide certain herbs, which greatly facilitate the birth; and by instinct, he directs the hind to feed upon them, when the time of gestation draws towards a close. Whatever truth there may be in this assertion, we know from higher authority, that providence promotes the parturition of the hind, by awakening her fears, and agitating her frame by the rolling thunder: -- "The voice of Jehovah (a common Hebrew phrase, denoting thunder) maketh the hinds to calve." Nor ought we to wonder, that so timorous a creature as the hind, should be so much affected by that awful atmospheric convulsion, when some of the proudest men that ever existed, have been known to tremble. Augustus, the Roman emperor, according to Suetonius, was so terrified when it thundered, that he wrapped a seal skin round his body, with the view of defending it from the lightning, and concealed himself in some secret corner till the tempest ceased. The tyrant Caligula, who sometimes affected to threaten Jupiter himself, covered his head, or hid himself under a bed; and Horace confesses he was reclaimed from atheism by the terror of thunder and lightning, the effects of which he describes with his usual felicity. (Odes, b. 1 34.) George Paxton's "Illustrations of Scripture."

Verse 9. The voice of the Lord maketh the hinds to calve. "Cervi sunt predicatores," says S. Jerome, who bring forth souls to Christ by the gospel which is God's voice; and the stripping of the leaves of the forest by the voice of the Lord, represents their work in humbling the strong oaks and lofty cedars of the world by the power of the gospel, and in stripping the souls of the worldly minded of their manifold disguises (S. Basil). Others apply it to act of the preachers of God's word, disclosing the dark thickets of divine mysteries in the holy Scriptures by evangelical light set forth by the Holy Ghost (S. Jerome). Christopher Wordsworth.

Verse 9 (first clause). "The voice of Jehovah makes havoc of the oaks, and strips bare the forests." Samuel Horsley.

Verse 9. In his temple. Some conceive that this Psalm was appointed by David to be sung in the temple in time of thunder, which is not unlikely. There are writers who make God to be the nominative case to the verb speaketh; and render it thus, in his temple doth he utter all his glory. As much as to say, much of his glory God uttereth in his thunder, but all in his temple, for whatsoever there he speaketh with his mouth he fulfils it with his hand. John Trapp.

Verse 9. (last clause). David speaking in the former part of the Psalm of the effects of natural thunder only, towards the close of the Psalm applies it to the Word of God, while he saith, And in his temple doth every one speak of his glory; that is, the word and ordinances of God, ministered in his church or temple, will put every one to acknowledge and speak of the glorious power of God, even much more than the mighty thunder which sounds in our ears, or the subtle lightning which flashes in our eyes. There is far more royal power in the thunder of the Word, than in the word of thunder. This terrifies only to conviction, but that terrifies to salvation; for after God speaks terror there in his threatenings, he speaks comfort in the promises; and when he hath affrighted us with a sense of our sins and of his wrath due to us for our sins, as with an horrible tempest, he presently refresheth us with the gentle gales of revealed grace, and with the pleasant amiable sunshine of his favour by Jesus Christ. Joseph Caryl.

 

HINTS FOR PASTORS AND LAYPERSONS

Verse 9. The revealing power of the word of God in the secrets of man's heart, and its regenerating force.

Verse 9. (last clause).

  1. Matchless temple.
  2. Unanimous worship.
  3. Forcible motive.
  4. General enthusiasm, "glory", See Comment.