There is a mystery nestled into the glorious hymn, the “Melody of David,” we call Psalm 29. The mystery is woven in and out in every layer of truth, because truth, in itself, is composed of mystery. What makes truth so mysterious is not that it cannot be learned, but that the depths of beauty found there are beyond human reasoning. Every glimpse of truth, therefore, is meant to be an invitation that causes us to stop and discover the depths of glory hidden there. It is tragic how quickly the rational mind can separate mystery from truth. For example, the scientific mind can explain in rationales what gravity is and what it does: the force that attracts a body toward the center of the earth, or toward any other physical body having mass. And every systematic thinker nods their head in agreement and moves on to the next truth, as if gravity were as ordinary as tiddlywinks. But when an enchanted student stops to ponder the glory in the truth of gravity, we are captivated by a mystery. Sure, we know what it is but can we really wrap our minds around the power, glory, and magnitude of it? Can we honestly move on to the next truth without pondering how glorious it actually is? Only the heart that slows down long enough to ponder what is commonplace will find the glorious mysteries hidden therein. And Psalm 29 is the invitation to stop and behold the mysterious truth of what happens when God’s people worship.
3 The voice of the Lord is over the waters; The God of glory thunders; The Lord is over many waters. 4 The voice of the Lord is powerful; The voice of the Lord is full of majesty.
5 The voice of the Lord breaks the cedars, Yes, the Lord splinters the cedars of Lebanon. 6 He makes them also skip like a calf, Lebanon and Sirion like a young wild ox. 7 The voice of the Lord [e]divides the flames of fire.
8 The voice of the Lord shakes the wilderness; The Lord shakes the Wilderness of Kadesh. 9 The voice of the Lord makes the deer give birth, And strips the forests bare; And in His temple everyone says, “Glory!”
10 The Lord sat enthroned at the Flood, And the Lord sits as King forever. 11 The Lord will give strength to His people; The Lord will bless His people with peace.
Over the next few posts, I will be pondering this chapter. Today, the mystery begins in Verse 1 with a call for God’s children to worship.
“Give unto the Lord, O you mighty ones, the glory due His name.”
In Hebrew, “mighty ones” is written as “bene elim”, which is actually translated as “sons of God.” The reason the word is translated as “mighty one” instead of “sons of God” so often is because “Elim” is the word used to describe GOD, Yahweh, El himself, and He is absolutely THE Mighty One! Still, in proper translation, verse 1 would read, “Give unto Yahweh, sons of God.” I don’t know why “sons” is missing from most translations. Some scholars believe David was thinking of the angelic hosts as “sons of God” ministering to Yah in heaven while some scholars believe that David was referring to all of the lesser “gods” among the pagans surrounding Israel. Either way, David is very possibly saying that every supernatural being is created by God for God and should ascribe to the One True God the glory. This is the common approach to be sure.
But another application is seen here for those who will stop and gaze: David is calling us, God’s people, to come and worship. WE are His mighty ones, the children of God. We are the children of THE Almighty created like Him as Mighty Ones. What a wonder this is to behold! Out of all creation, we are created like Him, and therefore, we are called “Mighty Ones.” What a mystery that He would share His likeness, his nature, and His might with something He created. But this is why we were created – to share in His likeness (Gen. 1:26). He longed to have someone who could understand Him, fellowship with Him, and represent Him in His glory.
The “beauty of holiness” that is referred to in verse 2 is, in part, a reference to the truth that we, His children, are wrapped in His likeness and that likeness is Holy. The beauty of His holiness resides within us and upon us. The angels don’t have His holiness. The four-living creatures don’t have His holiness. But because of the blood of Jesus, we are made the very righteousness of God (2 Cor. 5:21; Eph. 1:4)! Being made the highest order of creation, we are made to house and to display His holiness like no other created being. So, I believe David is not only calling out for angels to worship the Lord: he is calling His Mighty Ones – his sons and daughters, who alone are created in His likeness, who alone can worship the Lord in the beauty of this level and type of holiness, to give unto the Lord what only we can give: worship from a heart created like His.
“Give unto the Lord, glory and strength.”
What an invitation for abandoned worship! And yet, so many will miss it, because they move on to the next verse. To give unto the Lord glory and strength is no small thing.
There are a few ways to define “glory.” Glory can be translated as “wealth and riches” so this is a reference to giving all my silver and gold, tithes and offerings to the One who is worthy of it all. When I live my life for His glory, all my treasure is His. While the angels have the opportunity to lift their voice and bestow praises upon Him, they do not have the opportunity to take the very things they have worked for and cast it at His feet. They don’t get a paycheck. They have no 401K. It is the Elders in Revelation who sing the song of being redeemed (5:8-10) who cast their golden crowns before Him (4:9). Not the 4 Living Creatures. Not the 7 spirits of God before the throne. It is we, His Mighty Ones, who have this honor. When Believers bring their tithes and offerings to the Lord, it is an opportunity to worship in a way that only we can.
Giving Him “glory” is also commonly understood to mean giving him honor, praise, and reverence. This isn’t something we merely do in song on a Sunday, although that certainly is part of giving Him glory. But our very lives can be lived in such a way that every movement of our heart, every conversation, every amount of our time is intentionally given for God’s honor. This is what marks a true worshipper: not the song sang on Sunday but the life lived daily. Jesus himself told us that true worshippers worship not simply when they come to the “right location” (like a church on Sunday) but they worship from the inside out and define their lives by it (John 4:21-24). He said true worshippers worship in spirit (from the inside out) and in truth. That word truth in John is “alethia” and it means “reality” and “compelled.” So they are compelled to live their reality as a worshipper who gives God glory. Give unto the Lord, O Mighty Ones, the glory due His name!
Another layer to this verse is that we actually offer the Lord our glory. Any honor we receive for a promotion, victory, or area of growth in our life all goes back to Him. This is an attitude of humbly knowing that He is our source. He is our life. He is our good. Like David penned in Psalm 16, “I have no good apart from You.” It is very easy in Christian circles to give God the credit with our mouths, but to honestly assess all of our good as coming from Him takes a heart so low in humility, it challenges our self-reliance and our ego at a whole new level. But for those who truly awaken to the mysterious truth that “I have no good apart from you,” and “I am crucified with Christ and I no longer even live”, they find it is easy to boast in only what God has done in them. The mystery of awaking to both your sin-nature and the new god-nature in you is that it frees you to live as a child of God who takes no glory of their own. There is a mystery to it, indeed, but a freedom that is just as amazing.
Give the Lord glory, saints!
But David also says to “give unto the Lord strength.” Oh, how this thought moves me! What a bold, outrageous offering! To give unto the Lord strength can be seen in different ways. First off, it is using my natural strengths to glorify Him. Everyone of us will have natural strengths and weaknesses. One of my strengths is creativity. I love to decorate, write, bake, and generally think outside of the box. It is a strength God gave me, unlike a weakness I have for all things mathematical. So, a way that I can worship the Lord in the beauty of my unique holiness, is through using my strengths for His Kingdom. If the church would begin to consider that it is actually worship to use our strengths for Him, it could change the face of this planet! Using our strengths for Him does not simply mean using them in a church gathering. There are so many believers who have such talents, callings, and giftings – science, math, engineering, music, art, governing – if we would offer these to the Lord each and every day, can you imagine the impact on our society? Most of our worship does not take place inside the walls of our church. Worship is given when we go to our job during the week and say, “Father, here is my strength in work. I offer it to you.” Worship is given when we take our strengths and serve our neighbor or that stranger in need. As long as I live my life saying, “All my strengths are yours, Lord,” then everything I do is honoring Him. It all becomes worship.
But it’s the next application of this verse that gets me the most. Giving to the Lord strength means offering Him the strength of my life. This is dedicating to Him the best years of my life– offering Him my youth and my vitality as worship. What might this look like? Serving in my congregation, serving on missions trips, serving in the local soup kitchen, opening my home in hospitality, taking time to be mentored by leaders, reading ample books about theology and the word of God, attending bible studies and ministry classes, spending my time, money, and talent to disciple others. In other words, it looks like me “spending my strength” to honor him. I believe God is looking for a generation who will dedicate their single years as an offering to Him. There are plenty of young adults who are pouring themselves into their work, their future 401k, their social media influence…but this Psalm calls out to a generation to consecrate the best years of their life to the service of the Lord. Solomon in his wisdom said, “Rejoice, O young man, in your youth…remember your Creator in the days of your youth before the difficult days come (Ecc 11:9-12:1).” Before your body naturally slows down, before your energy diminishes, give unto the Lord your strength and see how great your reward will one day be!
But what about those of us who are growing older? What does the strength of your life look like when your knees are aching and your hair is growing thin? Does this verse still apply? The strength of older saints will look much different than the younger, but there is a great beauty to their strength because it looks like wisdom, counsel, and advice. The young people who are dedicating their strength will need older saints who are dedicating their strength to them. To offer the wisdom you have is to offer the strength of your life. It doesn’t matter if it’s in auto-mechanics or in theology, you can pour out your strength into a younger person all for the glory of God. Retirement doesn’t have to simply be about us kicking off our shoes and doing nothing: it can look like that AND us giving our strength, too. For some, this strength will look like undistracted time that can be poured out for others in their local community, prayer group, or volunteer work. Maybe it even looks like an Empty Nest you can offer to another in need. But whatever the strength of your life in the current season, it can be offered to the Lord in the beauty of holiness.
Once again, this is something that the angels cannot offer the Lord. They are eternal beings who excel in strength and vitality. One day, we, too, will step into our immortal bodies and will know that glorious life. But for now, to offer what is fading is such an honor. To offer what is momentary means so much more. So give the Lord, your strength, beloved ones - for on the other side of eternity you will not have this opportunity again.
And lastly, I see this verse as a call to extravagant worship in the congregation. To give to the Lord our strength in worship means that we hold nothing back when we gather around His name! When we enter into His gates, we do it with such boisterous thanksgiving and praise, we are left exhausted when the service is done. Why? Because we gave to HIM our strength. We have shed our tears at the altar, we have danced our dance of praise, we have gathered around each other in passionate intercession, we have bowed down low in worship. We have given the Lord our strength.
Do you see what a bold offering this is? To give the Lord our glory and our strength? When we actually take the time to ponder what it means, we find it is no small sacrifice. But it begins with us knowing that we know that we know that we are His mighty ones, created to give Him an offering so unique and so profound that we are compelled to pour it out. Knowing I am His Mighty One gives me a deeper purpose and a greater reward to look forward to. It anchors me to more than just this moment: it anchors me to eternity in such a way that I readily give him my all to pour out all my glory and all my strength upon Him. Oh, that I may spend my very life pouring my glory and strength out for the Lord!