Psalm 29:5
The voice of the LORD breaks the cedars; yes, the LORD breaks the cedars of Lebanon.
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(5) The voice of the Lord breaketh.—Better more literally, The voice of Jehovah breaking the cedars, and Jehovah hath shivered the cedars of Lebanon. (The verb in the second clause is an intensive of that used in the first.) The range of Lebanon receives the first fury of the storm. Its cedars, mightiest and longest-lived of Eastern trees, crash down, broken by the violence of the wind. (For cedar, see 2Samuel 7:2.) It has been objected that the thunder should not be made the agent in the destruction; but comp. Shakespeare—

“And thou, all-shaking thunder,

Smite flat the thick rotundity o’ the world!

Crack Nature’s moulds, all germens spill at once.

That make ingrateful man!”—King Lear, Acts 3, sc. 2.

29:1-11 Exhortation to give glory to God. - The mighty and honourable of the earth are especially bound to honour and worship him; but, alas, few attempt to worship him in the beauty of holiness. When we come before him as the Redeemer of sinners, in repentance faith, and love, he will accept our defective services, pardon the sin that cleaves to them, and approve of that measure of holiness which the Holy Spirit enables us to exercise. We have here the nature of religious worship; it is giving to the Lord the glory due to his name. We must be holy in all our religious services, devoted to God, and to his will and glory. There is a beauty in holiness, and that puts beauty upon all acts of worship. The psalmist here sets forth God's dominion in the kingdom of nature. In the thunder, and lightning, and storm, we may see and hear his glory. Let our hearts be thereby filled with great, and high, and honourable thoughts of God, in the holy adoring of whom, the power of godliness so much consists. O Lord our God, thou art very great! The power of the lightning equals the terror of the thunder. The fear caused by these effects of the Divine power, should remind us of the mighty power of God, of man's weakness, and of the defenceless and desperate condition of the wicked in the day of judgment. But the effects of the Divine word upon the souls of men, under the power of the Holy Spirit, are far greater than those of thunder storms in the nature world. Thereby the stoutest are made to tremble, the proudest are cast down, the secrets of the heart are brought to light, sinners are converted, the savage, sensual, and unclean, become harmless, gentle, and pure. If we have heard God's voice, and have fled for refuge to the hope set before us, let us remember that children need not fear their Father's voice, when he speaks in anger to his enemies. While those tremble who are without shelter, let those who abide in his appointed refuge bless him for their security, looking forward to the day of judgment without dismay, safe as Noah in the ark.Breaketh the cedars - The thunder prostrates the lofty trees of the forest. The psalmist speaks as things appeared, attributing, as was natural, and as was commonly done, that to the thunder which was really produced by the lightning. It, is now fully known that the effect here referred to is not produced by thunder, but by the rapid passage of the electric fluid as it passes from the cloud to the earth. that power is so great as to rive the oak or the cedar; to twist off their limbs; to prostrate their lofty trunks to the ground. The psalmist speaks of thunder as accomplishing this, in the same way that the sacred writers and all men, even scientific men, commonly speak, as when we say, the sun rises and sets - the stars rise and set, etc. People who would undertake in all cases to speak with scientific accuracy, or in the strict language of science, would be unintelligible to the mass of mankind; perhaps on most subjects they would soon cease to speak at all - since they themselves would be in utter doubt as to what is scientific accuracy. People who require that a revelation from God should always use language of strict scientific precision, really require that a revelation should anticipate by hundreds or thousands of years the discoveries of science, and use language which, when the revelation was given, would be unintelligible to the mass of mankind; nay, which would be always unintelligible to a large portion of the race - since people ordinarily, however much the exact truths of science may be diffused, do not learn to use such exactness of speech. As long as men have occasion to speak on the subject at all they will probably continue to say that the sun rises and sets; that the grass grows; and that water runs.

Breaketh the cedars of Lebanon - "Cedars are mentioned as the loftiest forest trees, and those of Lebanon as the loftiest of their species." - "Prof. Alexander." The cedars of Lebanon are often referred to in the Scriptures as remarkable for their size and grandeur: 1 Kings 4:33; 1 Kings 5:6; Psalm 92:12; Ezra 3:7.

5, 6. The tall and large cedars, especially of Lebanon, are shivered, utterly broken. The waving of the mountain forests before the wind is expressed by the figure of skipping or leaping. By thunder-bolts; which have oft thrown down trees and towers.

Lebanon; a place famous for strong and lofty cedars. See 2 Chronicles 2:8 Song of Solomon 3:9 5:15. The voice of the Lord breaketh the cedars,.... Such an effect thunder has upon the tallest, strongest, and largest trees, as to break them into shivers;

yea, the Lord breaketh the cedars of Lebanon; a mountain in the north part of the land of Judea, so called from its whiteness, both by reason of the snow with which some part of it is covered in summer, as Tacitus observes (b); and partly from the colour of the earth that has no snow on it, which looks as white as if it was covered with white tiles, as Maundrell (c) says; and where the goodliest cedars grow; and to which may be compared proud, haughty, lofty, and stouthearted sinners, who are broken, brought down, and laid low, by the voice of Christ in his Gospel, his power attending it. The Targum renders it, "the Word of the Lord".

(b) Hist. l. 5. c. 6. (c) Travels, p. 176.

The {c} voice of the LORD breaketh the cedars; yea, the LORD breaketh the cedars of Lebanon.

(c) That is, the thunderbolt breaks the most strong trees, and will men think their power able to resist God?

5. cedars] The noblest and strongest of the trees of the forest; emblematical of worldly magnificence (Isaiah 2:13).

yea, the Lord breaketh] R.V. yea, the Lord breaketh in pieces. The idea of the first line is emphasised and particularised in the second. Cp. Psalm 29:8.Verse 5. - The voice of the Lord breaketh the cedars. At length down swoops the hurricane - wind and rain and forked flashes of lightning all blended together, and violently tearing through the forest. The tall cedars - the pride and glory of Syria and Palestine - are snapped like reeds, and fall in a tangled mass. The Lord, who erstwhile "planted them" (Psalm cir. 16), now breaketh the cedars of Lebanon - breaketh and destroyeth them in his fury. Such storms, though rare in Palestine and Syria, are sometimes witnessed; and descriptions have been given by travellers which bear out this one of David (comp. Wilson, 'Travels,' p. 146; Cunningham Geikie, vol. 2. pp. 57, 335; Tristram, 'Land. of Israel,' pp. 40, 194, 227, etc.). The first half of the Psalm prayed for deliverance and for judgment; this second half gives thanks for both. If the poet wrote the Psalm at one sitting then at this point the certainty of being answered dawns upon him. But it is even possible that he added this second part later on, as a memorial of the answer he experienced to his prayer (Hitzig, Ewald). It sounds, at all events, like the record of something that has actually taken place. Jahve is his defence and shield. The conjoined perfects in Psalm 28:7 denote that which is closely united in actual realisation; and in the fut. consec., as is frequently the case, e.g., in Job 14:2, the historical signification retreats into the background before the more essential idea of that which has been produced. In משּׁירי, the song is conceived as the spring whence the הודות bubble forth; and instead of אודנּוּ we have the more impressive form אהודנּוּ, as in Psalm 45:18; Psalm 116:6; 1 Samuel 17:47, the syncope being omitted. From suffering (Leid) springs song (Lied), and from song springs the praise (Lob) of Him, who has "turned" the suffering, just as it is attuned in Psalm 28:6 and Psalm 28:8.

(Note: There is a play of words and an alliteration in this sentence which we cannot fully reproduce in the English. - Tr.)

The αὐτοί, who are intended by למו in Psalm 28:8, are those of Israel, as in Psalm 12:8; Isaiah 33:2 (Hitzig). The lxx (κραταίωμα τοῦ λαοῦ αὐτοῦ) reads לעמּו, as in Psalm 29:11, which is approved by Bצttcher, Olshausen and Hupfeld; but למו yields a similar sense. First of all David thinks of the people, then of himself; for his private character retreats behind his official, by virtue of which he is the head of Israel. For this very reason his deliverance is the deliverance of Israel, to whom, so far as they have become unfaithful to His anointed, Jahve has not requited this faithlessness, and to whom, so far as they have remained true to him, He has rewarded this fidelity. Jahve is a עז a si evhaJ to them, inasmuch as He preserves them by His might from the destruction into which they would have precipitated themselves, or into which others would have precipitated them; and He is the מעוז ישׁוּעות of His anointed inasmuch as He surrounds him as an inaccessible place of refuge which secures to him salvation in all its fulness instead of the destruction anticipated. Israel's salvation and blessing were at stake; but Israel is in fact God's people and God's inheritance - may He, then, work salvation for them in every future need and bless them. Apostatised from David, it was a flock in the hands of the hireling - may He ever take the place of shepherd to them and carry them in His arms through the destruction. The נשּׂאם coupled with וּרעם (thus it is to be pointed according to Ben-Asher) calls to mind Deuteronomy 1:31, "Jahve carried Israel as a man doth carry his son," and Exodus 19:4; Deuteronomy 32:11, "as on eagles' wings." The Piel, as in Isaiah 63:9, is used of carrying the weak, whom one lifts up and thus removes out of its helplessness and danger. Psalm 3:1-8 closes just in the same way with an intercession; and the close of Psalm 29:1-11 is similar, but promissory, and consequently it is placed next to Psalm 28:1-9.

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