1 Ascribe to the Lord, O heavenly beings,
ascribe to the Lord glory and strength.
2 Ascribe to the Lord the glory due his name;
worship the Lord in the splendor of holiness.
3 The voice of the Lord is over the waters;
the God of glory thunders,
the Lord, 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;
the Lord breaks the cedars of Lebanon.
6 He makes Lebanon to skip like a calf,
and Sirion like a young wild ox.
7 The voice of the Lord flashes forth 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 all cry, “Glory!”
10 The Lord sits enthroned over the flood;
the Lord sits enthroned as king forever.
11 May the Lord give strength to his people!
May the Lord bless his people with peace!
There is a funny thing about rubber bands. They only work with tension. Leave it lying on the countertop, it is just a piece of rubbery material. Pull it around a box and it can hold the lid shut. Twist it up in a toy airplane and it can power the propeller. Stretch it over your finger and you can shoot it at your sister. So useful! It only works, however, with tension. You must pull and stretch and twist it or it is not useful.
Do you hear the psalmist raising the tension in this psalm? God is mighty and majestic. His voice breaks the cedars and makes the mountains skip like a calf. Did the author just witness an earthquake? That might be how we would have described it. Is the psalmist more accurate in his description? Then he sees the voice of the Lord flashing fire, shaking the wilderness of Kadesh. A volcano? In any event, something great and frightening.
But then, did you catch it? Look at verse 9 again. His voice makes the deer give birth. All that power and thundering volume is also responsible for this life-giving, secretive moment in a gentle creature. The psalmist pulls one way and then another. It is like the tension on a rubber band. But what is the purpose of this tension? Why does the psalmist want us to see all this? Look at the couplet that is formed with verses 10 and 11. The Lord is enthroned above the flood forever. He is great, mighty, and eternal. But that reign is purposeful and beneficial. He gives strength and peace to his people. It is as unexpected as the deer nuzzling her new-born fawn in verse 9. Contrary to our experience with great power, God’s power is not to crush, kill, and destroy. It is to empower and bless his people. You are those people!