Hearing the voice of the living God had left an indelible mark on the memory of the ancient Israelites.  So awe-inspiring was the manifestation of God to them on Mount Sinai that centuries later the author of the Letter to the Hebrews would note that the words of the divine voice were so overwhelming that the hearers entreated that no further messages be spoken to them.  (Heb. 12:19)

 

Psalm 29 keeps alive the memory of God’s voice and what it required of His people – adoration and obedience.  Full of power and splendor, the divine voice could shatter the cedars, shake the wilderness, rend the mighty oak tree and strip the forest bare. When the God of glory thundered, His people were expected to respond: Glory!   But the might of God made manifest was not to end in the destruction of His chosen ones, but in the bestowal of strength and peace upon them.  He willed that they hear His voice, He told Moses, so that they may learn to fear me all the days they live upon the earth. (Deut. 4:10)

 

God spoke to His people on another mountain, when His Incarnate Word proclaimed His Kingdom on the Mount of the Beatitudes.  Outwardly, the scenes were quite different: thunder, smoke and fire on Sinai; tranquil discourse, quiet assurance and serene authority on the Mount of the Beatitudes.  Yet Jesus’ voice resonated with the power of God. To fishermen and tax collectors, He said: Follow me! and they followed. To the crippled, He said: Walk! and they got up and walked.  To the dead, He said: Rise! and they rose from their biers.  Of Him it could truly be said: The voice of the Lord, full of power.

 

  Those who heard St Francis of Assisi preach sensed something more at work than ardent Italian eloquence.  Were they hearing an echo of the Lord’s voice flashing flames of fire?  The Little Poor Man’s first biographer leads us to think so when he states: [Francis’] word was like a blazing fire, reaching the deepest parts of the heart, and filling the souls of all with wonder. The voice of the Lord summoned the merchant’s son to Repair my Church.  Francis, in turn, with a voice that was at once powerful, pleasing, clear and musical, invited his hearers to repentance, renewal, adoration and obedience.  He showed them that the God whom Psalm 29 celebrates was more than willing to bestow on them also the gifts of strength and peace.

 

Psalm 29 invites us to intensify our awareness of the power and splendor of God’s voice, speaking to us through His revealed Word.  Do we allow that voice to resound in our thoughts, to shake the little and large wildernesses of our faults and sins?  When the God of glory thunders in our lives, do we cry: Glory?  Do we let the Lord, as St. Francis did, sit as king in our hearts, blessing us with His strength and peace so that through us, too, His voice, full of power and splendor, may resound in the world today?




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Psalm 29

 

 

 

O give the Lord,

you sons of God,

give the Lord

glory and power;

give the Lord

the glory of His Name.

Adore the Lord in His holy court.

The Lord’s voice

resounding on the waters,

the Lord on the immensity of waters;

the voice of the Lord,

full of power,

the voice of the Lord,

full of splendor.

The Lord’s voice

shattering the cedars,

the Lord shatters

the cedars of Lebanon;

He makes Lebanon leap like a calf

and Sirion like a young wild ox.

The Lord’s voice

flashes flames of fire.

The Lord’s voice

shaking the wilderness,

the Lord shakes

the wilderness of Kadesh;

the Lord’s voice rending the oak tree

and stripping the forest bare.

The God of glory thunders.

In His temple they all cry: “Glory!”

The Lord sat enthroned

over the flood.

The Lord sits as king forever.

The Lord will give strength

to His people,

the Lord will bless His people

with peace.

 

The Big Question

PART 35