“The voice of the LORD is upon the waters; The God of glory thunders, The LORD is over many waters. The voice of the LORD is powerful, The voice of the LORD is majestic.” Psalm 29:3-4 [NASB]
“The voice of the LORD is upon the waters; The God of glory thunders.” Profoundly meaningful words as I have just returned from walking alongside the ocean in the midst of the tropical storm conditions preceding Hurricane Michael. Both the sounds and sights of the wind and powerful stirring of the waves were breathtakingly awe inspiring.
“Those who go down to the sea in ships, Who do business on great waters; They have seen the works of the LORD, And His wonders in the deep. For He spoke and raised up a stormy wind, Which lifted up the waves of the sea. They rose up to the heavens, they went down to the depths; Their soul melted away in [their] misery.” Psalm 107:23-26 [NASB]
As Scott and I walked next to the ocean beneath billowing dark clouds echoing back the thunderous sounds of the crashing surf I found it strangely comforting. It was as if my eyes were suddenly beholding the storm that has encompassed us for the past sixteen months. I could see the raging ocean with the massive waves that have repeatedly threatened to drown us, and still continue to batter us. No longer just feeling the darkness of the storm, I was seeing it as the ominous dark clouds above completely obscured the light and warmth of the sun.
As I have continued to walk in the darkness of our storm, and more recently in silence yet again, I have found myself increasingly desperate to hear God’s voice. In prayer I have echoed the words of the Psalmists, the prophets and Job, longing to hear from Him, for Him to turn His face to me and speak to me. I am longing for Him, not something from Him, not a specific Word or action, just simply for Him and His voice. I am willing to hear whatever He has to speak, I just need Him to speak.
I recognize saying that makes some people uncomfortable, though, myself included. We are so very blessed to have God’s inspired and revealed Word in scripture, but just reading it is not the same as hearing Him speak that very same Word to my heart. I hear Him as I bask in His Word and He turns and exposes the truths of His Word and speaks them to my very soul. In those holy moments He speaks truth through the power of the indwelling Holy Spirit, teaching me through the unfolding of His Word in such a way that it transforms my heart for His glory and my good. When He speaks His living Word to my heart, it washes over me in a profoundly impactful way, a way that changes me, that encourages me, convicts me, strengthens me, and equips me. I hear His voice in those moments and I am changed.
“As the deer pants for the water brooks, So my soul pants for You, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God; When shall I come and appear before God? My tears have been my food day and night, While [they] say to me all day long, “Where is your God?” Psalm 42:1-3 [NASB]
But sometimes I don’t hear His voice. Sometimes I am left in silence. I am desperately devouring His Word, longing for Him to speak and yet hearing nothing. Certainly I can extract wisdom from His Word and glean applicable truth, but that is not the same as the comfort of His voice speaking His truth directly into this weary and tattered heart. Such has been my plight in recent weeks. Yet another period of Him teaching me to wait patiently and longingly and to persevere in hungering and thirsting for Him.
As we continued our walk on the beach Eastward toward the storm, something beautiful happened. For a few seconds the dark clouds were pierced by blinding rays of light, it was a spectacular sight to behold. I snapped the picture below on my phone, completely unedited. My heart and mind were instantly flooded with scripture reminding me of God’s faithfulness in the midst of the storm (Isa. 43:1-2), His promise to never leave us nor forsake us (Heb. 13:5-6), His promise that He sees us and we can not escape His sight (Psa. 139), and His promise to redeem all things and make all things new (Rev. 21:5).
When I got back to the condo I pulled out one of Sarah’s journals and flipped to the entry closest to the current date to use it as a guide for my time in scripture that morning. I hadn’t read her journals in quite a while, but brought them to the beach in hopes they might be of some comfort. Following her reading plan for October 10, 2016, I read 2 Thessalonians 1, Joel 1-2, and Psalms 29 and 30.
I was encouraged by 2 Thessalonians 1 as I was reminded in verses 6 and 7 that God promises relief for the afflicted “when the Lord Jesus will be revealed from heaven with His mighty angels in flaming fire.” As I read Joel 1-2, I was greatly encouraged by the reminders of God’s compassion and abounding lovingkindness, the promise now fulfilled to pour out His Holy Spirit, and His promise of deliverance for His people who cry out to Him.
But when I flipped to Psalm 29 and saw the editor’s title for the Psalm, “The Voice of the Lord in the Storm,” I was captivated. As I slowly read each verse meditating on the meaning of each, my heart began to race in anticipation. He was speaking and I could hear Him.
“The voice of the LORD is upon the waters; The God of glory thunders.” The entire Psalm is about the voice of the Lord, the voice I have been desperately longing to hear. I read verse after verse expectantly and with increasing awe as I was reminded of who He is. With the visions and sounds of the storm still fresh in my mind, I worshipped Him in those moments. Then He spoke verse 11 to my heart, pouring it over me as a comforting balm.
“The LORD will give strength to His people; The LORD will bless His people with peace.” Psalm 29:11 [NASB]
From the very day Sarah left until today, Scott and I have consistently prayed asking the Lord for two specific things, strength to persevere and peace to endure. Recently in my weariness I felt both were waning. Using a piercing light in the midst of a dark storm and the journal of my sweet Sarah He answered my cry to hear His voice. He spoke His perfect Word to my weary heart, the exact Word I needed to hear at the exact moment.
If you find yourself in a storm today, I pray Psalm 29 encourages you as well. I pray you, too, will hear His voice testify through His Word and His indwelling Holy Spirit that He will strengthen you to persevere and grant you peace to endure. He may not divert the storm, He never promised He would. But the omnipotent God of the Universe who powerfully stirs the seas with His voice is He who has promised to strengthen, sustain and preserve us. He is infinitely faithful and He can be trusted. All praise, glory and honor to Him alone, because He alone is worthy.
I close with the beautiful exposition of Psalm 29:11 by Charles Spurgeon. Read and be blessed and encouraged.
“Power was displayed in the hurricane whose course this Psalm so grandly pictures; and now, in the cool calm after the storm, that power is promised to be the strength of the chosen. He who wings the unerring bolt, will give to his redeemed the wings of eagles; he who shakes the earth with his voice, will terrify the enemies of his saints, and give his children peace. Why are we weak when we have divine strength to flee to? Why are we troubled when the Lord’s own peace is ours? Jesus the mighty God is our peace–what a blessing is this today! What a blessing it will be to us in that day of the Lord which will be in darkness and not light to the ungodly! Dear reader, is not this a noble Psalm to be sung in stormy weather? Can you sing amid the thunder? Will you be able to sing when the last thunders are let loose, and Jesus judges quick and dead? If you are a believer, the last verse is your heritage, and surely that will set you singing.” Charles H Spurgeon’s Treasury of David, Psalm 29