The Beauty of Holiness

The psalms draw us closer to God through their powerful descriptions of God’s majesty, the personal feelings of the inspired writers, and the beauty of poetry—even in translation. The richness of the metaphors combine with the depth of the spiritual themes to offer insight into God’s relationship with His creation in a personal way. Moreover, the use of ancient repetition creates a rhythm that builds to a crescendo when read aloud, adding item after item in such a way as to maintain interest while also broadening the scope of the instruction. The psalms reflect on God in a variety of ways, but no matter what emotion the writer emphasizes, the LORD Himself remains at the center of it all. In Psalm 29 David employs all these principles to create an amazing sense of wonder at the grandeur of God.

Rather than citing a list of divine attributes, David assumes his readers know of their existence. This allows him to concentrate instead on the proper response to such majesty. However, to communicate this message, he begins in heaven itself, calling on the mighty ones—the angels—to acknowledge what they know of the glory of God (Psa. 29:1). What a wonderful figure! In this way David essentially implies that man does not have sufficient access to appreciate the true greatness of God. It requires extensive reflection in heaven itself simply to imagine how much worship God deserves, and at the heart of this is the consideration of God’s essence of holiness (Psa. 29:2). It is His holiness that we thus should consider any time we bow before Him. However, the LORD’s holiness does not exist without purpose but rather is reflected in the will He speaks. Thus, in a series of strophes, David connects the expressed will of God to various manifestations of His power in nature (Psa. 29:3-9). Nature is therefore not some series of laws formed by accident but is the expression of the mind of God upon His creation for the benefit of mankind. Beyond this, though, lies another implication: if God’s expressed will has the power to form and sustain the world, how should we respond to it when it addresses us? This underlying question leads naturally to the final apex of David’s poem. The LORD has expressed His will for mankind as much as He has for nature. During the time of Noah, all but eight people ignored God’s will and were destroyed by the flood as a result. In this way, the LORD showed that His will is not some impersonal factor in nature but something interested in the souls of mankind. He reigns in heaven, but we must accept His will and let Him reign over us (Psa. 29:10). The LORD offers strength to those who obey Him and blessings of peace to those who follow, but all these benefits depend upon our seeing God’s will, seeing God’s power, and seeing God’s holiness in such a way that they live in us so that others can see them too (Psa. 29:11).

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