SONGS IN THE STORM
God and the Imagery of the Storm in the Psalms
1. While the big ice storm had hold of us three years ago, I decided to read the Psalms and to watch especially for references to the storms.
2. What I discovered is that when the singers reflected on the storms they saw powerful images of the majesty of God and of our relationship to him.
a. It’s not that they thought he is the storm, nor that he necessarily causes it, but he is so far greater than any of it.
b. In these awesome occasions when people are humbled by the limits of their own power, they found reason to consider his place in their lives.
1. The God who rules over it all – Psalm 29.
a. A thunderstorm rumbles as it builds out over the sea, then it comes roaring down the slopes from the northwest, breaking the limbs from the trees and shaking every animal in the wilderness.
b. The singer says that’s the glory of God thundering, and he is to be worshiped because of the power of his voice, because he sits enthroned over it all.
i. V. 3-4, 9b-10
ii. Ps. 135:5-7 – “For I know that the LORD is great, and our Lord is above all gods. Whatever the LORD pleases, he does, in heaven and on earth, in the seas and all deeps. He it is who makes the clouds rise at the end of the earth, who makes lightnings for the rain and brings forth the wind from his storehouses.”
c. Psalm 29:11
2. The God to whom all of us are accountable – Psalm 50.
a. In this song, fire a tempest around the LORD are representative of his holiness. He has seemed to be silent and he has been ignored. Now, however, he comes to call for an account.
i. V. 3-4, 6
ii. V. 17-21
b. Then it asks us to do what songs most help us do: to dwell on the point (v. 22). It is a terrible mistake to forget God!
3. The God who is the refuge from any storm – Psalm 57.
a. Sometimes a singer finds himself, not dwelling philosophically on the sovereignty of God, but feeling like he is caught in destructive storms.
i. That’s the case here: the song is a personal cry for mercy in the midst of a lonely crisis.
ii. You can see from the heading, and from verse 4.
b. Psalm 57:1-3, 5, 7, 10
4. The God who leads his flock through the storms – Psalm 77.
a. But what if refuge is sought in the Lord and the storm goes on but he does not seem to do anything?
i. That’s what this song is about.
ii. The singer prays all night and his soul refuses to be comforted, but when his eyelids open he is so troubled he cannot speak (v. 2, 4).
iii. He wonders whether the steadfast love of God has forever ceased, whether God has forgotten to be gracious (v. 8, 9).
b. The turning-point comes while he ponders the work of God and remembers the wonders God worked when he redeemed his people from their bondage.
i. V. 16-18
ii. His way out was through...His fingerprints were unseen...He led his people like a flock...Each of these thoughts is still a treasure to those who, even though they are trying to follow the Good Shepherd, sometimes find themselves in stormy circumstances.
5. The God who is able to uphold the honor of his name – Psalm 83.
a. This song arises in a situation where the people of God are threatened by an uproar made by his enemies (v. 2).
i. They lay crafty plans against God’s people, and they make a covenant against him (v. 3, 5).
ii. The singer’s appeal is that God will not hold his peace or be still (v. 1).
b. Psalm 83:13-16
i. Notice that he is not appealing for a personal score to be settled, but that God might be recognized as God and that his people might be secure (v. 18).
ii. It is also important to observe that he leaves vengeance in God’s hands.
6. The God who will deal rightly with evil – Psalm 97.
a. God is praised in this song because of his moral rule over all creation.
i. He is exalted as most high over all the earth (v. 9).
ii. That assures his victory over all idolatry and evil.
b. Psalm 97:2-5, 10
7. The God who takes pleasure in those who fear him – Psalm 147.
a. A song of praise is fitting for the God described here (v.1, 4-5, 8-9, 15-18).
b. But here is the wonderful thing: that God delights in the most insignificant one of us who hopes in him.
i. V. 3
ii. V. 6
iii. V. 11
1. You can tell a lot in general by what a man sings about, but you can tell so much in particular from whether he has anything to sing about in the storms.
2. No reader of the New Testament can follow this line of thought without remembering Paul and Silas in the jail at Philippi, and what started with their songs (cf. Acts 16:25-34).