Psalm 29:8
The voice of the LORD shakes the wilderness; the LORD shakes the wilderness of Kadesh.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(8) The voice of the Lord shaketh.—Literally, maketh to tremble. The allusion is, doubtless, to the effect of the storm on the sands of the desert. The tempest has moved southward over Palestine, and spends its last fury on the southern wilderness, and the poet seizes on what is one of the most striking phenomena of a storm in such a district—the whirlwind of sand. “But soon Red Sea and all were lost in a sandstorm, which lasted the whole day. Imagine all distant objects entirely lost to view, the sheets of sand fleeting along the surface of the desert like streams of water, the whole air filled, though invisibly, with a tempest of sand, driving in your face like sleet” (Stanley, Sinai and Palestine, p. 67). For Kadesh, see Numbers 13:26. Here the term appears to be used in a large and general sense for the whole southern desert.

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.Shaketh the wilderness - Causes it to shake or to tremble. The word used here means properly to dance; to be whirled or twisted upon anything; to twist - as with pain - or, to writhe; and then, to tremble, to quake. The forests are made to tremble or quake in the fierceness of the storm - referring still to what the thunder seems to do.

The wilderness of Kadesh - As in referring Psalm 29:5-6 to the effect of the storm on lofty trees, the psalmist had given poetic beauty to the description by "specifying" Lebanon and Sirion, so he here refers, for the same purpose, to a particular forest as illustrating the power of the tempest - to wit, the forest or wilderness of "Kadesh." This wilderness or forest was on the southeastern border of the promised land, toward Edom; and it is memorable as having been the place where the Israelites twice encamped with a view of entering Palestine from that point, but from where they were twice driven back again - the first time in pursuance of the sentence that they should wander forty years in the wilderness - and the second time, from the refusal of the king of Edom to allow them to pass through his territories. It was from Kadesh that the spies entered Palestine. See Numbers 13:17, Numbers 13:26; Numbers 14:40-45; Numbers 21:1-3; Deuteronomy 1:41-46; Judges 1:7. Kadesh was on the northern border of Edom, and not far from Mount Hor. See Robinson's Biblical Researches in Palestine, vol. ii. pp. 582, 610, 662; Kitto, Cyclo-Bib. in the article, "Kadesh;" and the Pictorial Bible on Numbers 20:1. There seems to have been nothing special in regard to this wilderness which led the author of the psalm to select it for his illustration, except that it was well known and commonly spoken of, and that it would thus suggest an image that would be familiar to the Israelites.

8. the wilderness—especially Kadesh, south of Judea, is selected as another scene of this display of divine power, as a vast and desolate region impresses the mind, like mountains, with images of grandeur. The wilderness, i.e. either the trees, or rather the beasts of the wilderness, by a metonymy, as before, Psalm 29:6. Compare this with the next verse.

Kadesh; which he mentions as an eminent wilderness, vast and terrible, and well known to the Israelites, Numbers 20:1,16, and wherein possibly they had seen and observed some such effects of thunder as are here mentioned. The voice of the Lord shaketh the wilderness,.... The ground of it, the trees in it, and the beasts that harbour there; and causes them to be in pain, and to bring forth their young, as the (g) word signifies, and as it is rendered in Psalm 29:9; all which effects thunder produces, and may mystically signify the preaching of the Gospel among the Gentiles, and the consequence of it. The Gentile world may be compared to a wilderness, and is called the wilderness of the people, Ezekiel 20:35; the inhabitants of it being ignorant, barren, and unfruitful; and the conversion of them is expressed by turning a wilderness into a fruitful land, Isaiah 35:1; and the Gospel being sent thither has been the means of shaking the minds of many with strong and saving convictions; which made them tremble and cry out, what shall we do to be saved?

the Lord shaketh the wilderness of Kadesh; which was the terrible wilderness that the children of Israel passed through to Canaan's land; the same with the wilderness of Zin, Numbers 33:36; and was called Kadesh from the city of that name, on the borders of Edom, Numbers 20:1; the Targum paraphrases it,

"The word of the Lord shaketh the wilderness of Rekam;''

in the Targum in the King's Bible it is,

"makes the serpents in the wilderness of Rekam to tremble;''

but that thunder frightens them, I have not met with in any writer.

(g) "parturire faciet", Pagninus, Montanus, Vatablus, Michaelis; "dolore parturientis afflicit", Piscator.

The voice of the LORD shaketh the wilderness; the LORD shaketh the wilderness of {f} Kadesh.

(f) In places most desolate, where it seems there is no presence of God.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
8. shaketh the wilderness] Or, maketh the wilderness tremble. Cp. Psalm 96:9; Psalm 97:4; Psalm 114:7.

the Lord … the wilderness of Kadesh] Again with poetical effect emphasising and specialising the idea of the previous line. The storm sweeps down to the desert in the far south. Kadesh, famous in the history of Israel’s wanderings, was the eastern part of the desert toward the border of Edom (Numbers 20:16), though its exact position is disputed.Verse 8. - The voice of the Lord shaketh the wilderness; yea, the Lord shaketh the wilderness of Kadesh. Kadesh seems to be mentioned as lying at the opposite extremity of Palestine from Lebanon and Hermon, so that the storm is made, by a magnificent hyperbole, to extend over the entire Holy Land, from the far north to the extreme south, and to embrace at once the lofty mountain-chains which are rather Syrian than Palestinian, the hills and valleys of Palestine proper, and the arid region of the south where Judaea merges into Arabia. The opening strophe calls upon the celestial spirits to praise Jahve; for a revelation of divine glory is in preparation, which, in its first movements, they are accounted worthy to behold, for the roots of everything that takes place in this world are in the invisible world. It is not the mighty of the earth, who are called in Psalm 82:6 בּני עליון, but the angels, who are elsewhere called בּני אלהים (e.g., Job 2:1), that are here, as in Psalm 89:7, called בּני אלים. Since אלים never means God, like אלהים (so that it could be rendered sons of the deity), but gods, Exodus 15:11, Daniel 9:36, the expression בּני אלים must be translated as a double plural from בּן־אל, after the analogy of בּתּי כלאים, Isaiah 42:22, from בּית כּלא (Ges. 108, 3), "sons of God," not "sons of gods." They, the God-begotten, i.e., created in the image of God, who form with God their Father as it were one family (vid., Genesis S. 1212), are here called upon to give unto God glory and might (the primary passage is Deuteronomy 32:3), i.e., to render back to Him cheerfully and joyously in a laudatory recognition, as it were by an echo, His glory and might, which are revealed and to be revealed in the created world, and to give unto Him the glory of His name, i.e., to praise His glorious name (Psalm 72:19) according its deserts. הבוּ in all three instances has the accent on the ultima according to rule (cf. on the other hand, Job 6:22). הדרת קדשׁ is holy vestments, splendid festal attire, 2 Chronicles 20:21, cf. Psalm 110:3.

(Note: The reading proposed in B. Berachoth 30b בּחרדּת (with holy trembling) has never been a various reading; nor has בּחצרת, after which the lxx renders it ἐν αὐλῇ ἁγίᾳ αὐτοῦ.)

A revelation of the power of God is near at hand. The heavenly spirits are to prepare themselves for it with all the outward display of which they are capable. If Psalm 28:2 were a summons to the church on earth, or, as in Psalm 96:9, to the dwellers upon the earth, then there ought to be some expression to indicate the change in the parties addressed; it is, therefore, in Psalm 28:2 as in Psalm 28:1, directed to the priests of the heavenly היכל. In the Apocalypse, also, the songs of praise and trumpeting of the angels precede the judgments of God.

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