A Psalm of David.

Here again is a psalm written by Israel’s greatest king, David.

1.  Give unto the LORD, O you mighty ones,

The word “give” here means to ascribe or bring as due. This verse calls upon the mighty ones. These are the mighty rulers in the earth.

Give unto the LORD glory and strength.

This is what these mighty rulers are called upon to bring unto the LORD. This is His due. We know that in our day, the mighty rulers of the earth do not bring unto the LORD what is His due! This prayer reveals to us the LORD’s will, that someday all such rulers will ascribe to Him the glory and strength that He deserves. Remember that glory is the honor or esteem that one is held in. Rulers today do not esteem the LORD as they should. But someday they will!

2.  Give unto the LORD the glory due to His name;

A third time these rulers are called upon to bring unto the LORD His due. This time, the call is to bring the glory that is due to His name. Remember, one’s name is his reputation, closely attached with his character. Few there are in this world, and fewer still among the rulers of this world, who ascribe to the LORD the rightful esteem that His character deserves. His name is not upheld in this world as it should be. Yet someday it will be, when God’s government comes at last to the earth. Then all the rulers will do even as these verses call upon them to do.

Worship the LORD in the beauty of holiness.

Now that they have given the LORD His due, these mighty rulers are called upon to worship the LORD in the beauty of holiness. “Holiness” means that which is set apart. This reference is to His holy sanctuary, the temple, the beautiful building where the LORD calls upon men to worship Him. Someday, all nations through their rulers will worship the LORD in the restored temple in Jerusalem.

3.  The voice of the LORD is over the waters;

What will cause the mighty rulers of the world to give the LORD the glory that is His due, and to worship Him as they should? We learn here that what brings this about is simply the voice of the LORD. The waters here symbolize the great sea of men upon the earth. Over them the voice of the LORD speaks, and it causes them to respond to Him as they should. It is the LORD’s voice that brings about His rule upon the earth! He does not have to send out an army, or take over with angelic force. He does not need men to band together in “the church” and bring about His rule upon the earth. All He needs to do is speak, and His voice will bring about victory upon the earth.

The God of glory thunders;

Now David pictures His voice as thunder, echoing above the open waters. As the sound of thunder can be heard great distances over the waves, so the voice of the glorious God carries throughout the world to bring all the mighty leaders to submission to His rule and authority.

The LORD is over many waters.

The result of His voice speaking over the waters is that they become subject to Him. Just by speaking, He is now the ruler over many of the peoples upon the earth.

4.  The voice of the LORD is powerful;

How could the LORD, simply by speaking, bring about His rule over the earth? How could He reach all men with His voice? The answer is that His voice is powerful. It can reach the simple as well as the wise. It can reach the ruler as well as the prisoner. It can reach the sane or the insane. It can reach the young or the old. Yes, the LORD’s voice is powerful, and when He sends it out with power to extend His rule over the earth, there is nothing that can stop it from accomplishing what He intends it to do.

The voice of the LORD is full of majesty.

The LORD’s voice is sent forth to proclaim Him ruler over all the governments of this world, and it carries the majesty to bring this about. Just hearing the voice of the LORD speak in this way will be enough to bring many nations and peoples under His rule.

5.  The voice of the LORD breaks the cedars,

The cedar was considered the greatest or most valuable of trees, and thus it often symbolized royalty. Here the cedars are same as the mighty ones of the first verse. They are broken. Their pride and their power is brought low by the voice of the LORD.

Yes, the LORD splinters the cedars of Lebanon.

These proud rulers, symbolized by these proud trees, are brought low by the voice of the LORD. They are splintered, just as lightning can splinter a real tree of the forest, and their rule is brought under subjection to Him.

6.  He makes them also skip like a calf,

Trees do not skip, as we know, unless they are experiencing the severest of earthquakes. That is what is pictured here. The voice of the LORD like thunder shakes the earth, and all the trees, all the mighty rulers, are moved out of their places because of it.

Lebanon and Sirion like a young wild ox.

These are the places where the cedar trees grow. Now, they are pictured as being made to move around like a young wild ox. In this way, the rulers of the nations are moved from their places by His voice.

7.  The voice of the LORD divides the flames of fire.

The voice of the LORD again is pictured as a great storm. This probably refers to lightning dividing the trees apart. So the LORD’s voice splits apart great nations at His command.

8.  The voice of the LORD shakes the wilderness;

His voice even shakes the barren places. The LORD’s power does not just extend to great kingdoms and cities, but even to the wilderness, to the sparsely inhabited places of the earth.

The LORD shakes the Wilderness of Kadesh.

This probably refers to Kadesh-Naphtali, near Lebanon, according to the Companion Bible. It is hard to say what this means. Perhaps storms were known to be particularly fierce at this location. Or perhaps in the future, when the LORD’s voice speaks as this describes, some particularly great event will happen at this place. It is difficult to say for certain what is meant by this. Yet we do know that again we have the illustration of the LORD’s voice like thunder causing the earth to shake in the wilderness, even as His voice will cause the world to be subject to Him when His Kingdom comes.

9.  The voice of the LORD makes the deer give birth,

The voice of the LORD is again pictured like great thunder, frightening the pregnant deer so much that they go into labor. What this symbolizes is hard to say, but it is certain that the LORD’s voice will bring about the birth of many things upon the earth when His government comes at last.

And strips the forests bare;

The forests are stripped bear, even as all who might stand against Him are stripped of power when He speaks.

And in His temple everyone says, “Glory!”

Some suggest that this could be a reference to heaven, where all will give Him glory when they see His victory over the earth. Yet more likely this could refer to the future temple where all the mighty rulers of the earth will be called upon to worship the Lord in the time to come, when His government rules over the earth, as we saw back in verse 2. This might not take place immediately when that government begins, for we know that a significant time must pass with His government upon the earth before that temple will be ready for service, but certainly the result of that government coming to earth will be that the rulers of the world will come to worship the LORD there. These rulers might be Israelite rulers, of course, for theirs will be the most privileged place in the temple. But even the rulers of other nations on the redeemed and restored earth will have a place where they can worship the LORD in His temple, even as Gentiles had their court in His temple in the past. So, one of the ultimate results of the LORD speaking and bringing His kingdom to the earth will be men giving Him glory in His temple.

10.  The LORD sat enthroned at the Flood,

It would make no sense to refer back to Noah’s flood at this point. What is going on here is not a flood of waters, but a flood caused by the storm that is symbolically being spoken of here. This is picturing the results of the LORD’s voice shaking the world like a storm. The waters of the LORD’s work upon the earth now pour down like a flood, a flood upon which He sits enthroned as the ultimate Ruler and Authority. This flood is the flood of His power, which will overwhelm the world when He speaks to bring this about.

And the LORD sits as King forever.

The result of the flood is to place the LORD as King over the earth. His rule is described as “for the olam.” The Hebrew olam is the same as the Greek word aion, and indicates that which flows. The LORD sits as an outflowing King as His power floods the earth and brings about His absolute rulership over it.

11.  The LORD will give strength to His people;

Now David brings this all back to the effect it will have on the LORD’s people of Israel. When He takes control of the world like this, the result will be that His people will receive strength from Him. Now, Israel is strengthened by their allies. But in that day, they will receive the strength that will never fail them, that which comes from the LORD Himself!

The LORD will bless His people with peace.

Israel has faced war and bloodshed all throughout their history. But when the voice of the LORD speaks to bring about His triumph over the earth, His people will be blessed with peace. Like the calm after the storm, they are brought into a peaceful place, and now can rest in Him. What a great day it will be when the mighty voice of the LORD speaks to bring about this wonderful result! How not just Israel, but all the world needs the peace that only He can bring about! May the LORD speed the day when the event this Psalm speaks of comes to pass, and the LORD speaks from heaven to bring about His government upon the earth.