God's power revealed in a storm at the time of the winter rains

In the time of Jesus (Yeshua), this psalm was sung in the Temple at the afternoon sacrifice of the Feast of Trumpets (Yom Teruah, today's Rosh HaShanah). It is a symbol of the approaching presence of God in the High Holy Days of the sacred seventh month of Tishri, as well as of the approaching winter rains.  It was also sung on the second day of the Feast of Tabernacles (Sukkoth), and in the weekly welcoming of the Sabbath (Kabbalat Shabbat).*
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[1]  Credit to YAHUEH, sons of the gods,
    Credit to YAHUEH glory and strength.
      Credit to YAHUEH the glory of his name.
    Prostrate yourselves before YAHUEH
in the splendor of holiness.

[2]  The voice of YAHUEH is over the waters.
    The God of glory thunders,
    YAHUEH, over many waters:
      The voice of YAHUEH in power,
    The voice of YAHUEH in splendor,

[3]  The voice of YAHUEH, breaker of cedars.
    And YAHUEH breaks the cedars of
    And he causes them to leap as a calf,
    And Sirion, as the offspring of oryxes.
      The voice of YAHUEH, hewer of blades of

[4]  The voice of YAHUEH causes the desert to
    YAHUEH causes the desert of Kadesh
to whirl.
      The voice of YAHUEH causes the deer to
    And he strips bare the forests.
    And in his sanctuary, everything speaks

[5]  YAHUEH sat as king for the Flood
    And YAHUEH sits, king forever.
      YAHUEH will give strength to his people.
    YAHUEH will bless his people with

Like many songs today, the Psalms were poetry put to music. But unlike Western poetry, Hebrew poetry is based not on rhyme and meter, but on parallel thoughts set beside one another. These parallels can be a restatement of the same idea (synonymous parallelism), present opposing ideas (antithetic parallelism), or be in some other relationship, such as chiasm (A-B; B-A). These parallels are then grouped in sections (strophes) that are arranged to give structure and meaning to the poem.

This psalm breaks logically into 5 strophes. The first and the last concern the glory and majesty of Yahueh as the divine king. They mirror one another in that each uses the name of Yahueh four times and shares the same poetic pattern of synonymous repetition (A-A; A-A). The lengthened end of the first strophe, by breaking the rhythm, introduces a pause.

The 2nd and 4th strophes also mirror one another. Both are made up of a three line element and a two line element, each of which begins with the words ďthe voice of Yahueh.Ē The 2nd strophe (which has the pattern A-A-A; A-A) is made up of a three line segment followed by a two line segment. The 4th strophe is its mirror opposite, with a two line segment followed by a three line segment. The irregular construction of the 4th strophe (A-A; B-B-C), by breaking the pattern, introduces a pause. The mention of Godís sanctuary in the last element (C) serves as a transition back to the theme of Godís personal glory in the following strophe.

Both stropes 2 and 4 use the imagery of a storm to speak of Godís dominion, in the 2nd strophe over the waters of the earth, while in the 4th strophe over the deserts in the south and the forests in the north.

The 3rd strophe is the climax of the poem, in which the thunder of God is now matched with his crashing lightning, breaking the mighty cedars of Lebanon in the mountains to the north, which causes the inhabitants of Lebanon and Mt. Hermon to jump with fright, like animals frightened by a crash of lightning.

The overall pattern of the poem, therefore, counting strophe by strophe, is a classic chiastic pattern: A-B-C-B-A.

The speaker, using Godís majesty in the storm and the crashing of lightning, calls those who worship other gods to submit to the awesome power and authority of Yahueh, who provides strength and blessing to his people.

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Upated 5/14/04.  Translation, notes, and pop-up photos by Jeffrey J. Harrison.  Copyright © 2002 by Jeffrey J. Harrison. All rights reserved.
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