John T. Willis

Thursday, July 07, 2011

Water in Psalms--Part III

Additional metaphorical and spiritual truths about Yahweh and human beings appear in the Book of Psalms, continuing this study from two previous blogs.

6. Rain is a very important part of human life. Here in West Texas, right now we are experiencing the worst drought in 111 years in our history. According to the Bible, sometimes Yahweh intentionally withholds rain to punish sinful people or to discipline people in various situations.

Psalm 29 describes a typical rain in Israel. Rainstorms follow a fourfold pattern.
a. Yahweh begins by bringing clouds over the Mediterranean and the clouds mount until a rainstorm ensues. Here one may think of the story about the rainstorm after the three and half year drought in the days of Elijah--see 1 Kings 17:1-7; 18:1,
41-46. The psalmist declares:
"The voice of the Lord is OVER THE WATERS;
the God of glory thunders,
the Lord OVER MIGHTY WATERS [the Mediterranean Sea].
The voice of the Lord is powerful;
the voice of the Lord is full of majesty." (Psalm 29:3-4).
Of course, "the voice of the Lord" in this psalms is thunder.
b. Yahweh moves into the Lebanon and anti-Lebanon mountains in Northern Israel as the thunderstorm threatens. The psalmist states:
"The voice of the Lord breaks the cedars;
the Lord breaks the cedars of Lebanon.;
He makes Lebanon skip like a calf,
and Sirion [Mount Hermona--see Deuteronomy 3:9] like a young wild ox." Psalm 29:5-6).
c. The Lebanon and anti-Lebanon mountains divert the rainstorm southward along the Jordan River and the Jordan Valley down to the wilderness of Kadesh south of the Dead Sea. The psalmist observes:
"The voice of the Lord flashes forth flames of fire.
The voice of the Lord shakes the wilderness;
the Lord shakes the wilderness of Kadesh.
The voice of the Lord causest he oaks to whirl,
and strips the forest bare;
and in the temple all say: 'Glory!'" (Psalm 29:7-9).
d. After the rainstorm, there is a calm. Water surrounds the entire country, but Yahweh is in control. The psalmist declares:
"The Lord sits enthroned OVER THE FLOOD [the flood after the rainstorm];
the Lord sits enthroned as king forever.
May the Lord give strength to his people!
May the Lord bless his people with peace!" (Psalm 29:10-11).
People in West Texas resonate about this picture. Often, after a terrifying storm, we experience a calm, a peace, a silence. This reminds us that although the storm was fearful, God is still in control.

Similar to Psalm 29, the composer of Psalm 65 paints a beautiful, powerful picture of rain. Note Psalm 65:9-13:
"You [Yahweh] visit the earth and WATER it,
you greatly enrich it;
you provide the people with grain,
for so you have prepared it.
You WATER its furrows abundantly,
settling its ridges,
and blessing its growth.
You crown the year with your bounty;
your wagon tracks overflow with richness.
The pastures of the wilderness overflow,
the hills gird themselves with joy,
the meadows clothe themselves with flocks,
the valleys deck themselves with grain,
they shout and sing together for joy."
Here in West Texas, we are praying fervently that our God will send rain upon our land abundantly and our crops will flourish.

7. Several psalms allude to Yahweh's victory over the Egyptians at the Red Sea described in Exodus 14:15-31.
Psalm 77:16-20 describes this event in this way:
"When THE WATERS saw you, O God,
when THE WATERS saw you, they were afraid;
THE VERY DEEP trembled.
the skies thundered;
your arrows [lightning] flashed on every side.
The crash of your thunder was in the whirlwind;
your lightnings lit up the world;
the earth trembled and shook.
Your way was through THE SEA,
your path through THE MIGHTY WATERS;
yet your footprints were unseen.
You led your people like a flock
by the hand of Moses and Aaron."

Psalm 106:9-11:
"He [Yahweh] rebuked the Red Sea, and it became dry;
he led them through THE DEEP as through a desert.
So he saved them from the hand of the foe,
and delivered them from the hand of the enemy.
THE WATERS covered their adversaries;
not one of them was left."

Psalm 114:1-6:
"When Israel went out of Egypt,
the house of Jacob from a people of strange language,
Judah became God's sanctuary,
Israel his dominion.
THE SEA looked and fled;
JORDAN turned back.
The mountains skipped like rams,
the hills like lambs.
Why is it, O SEA, that you flee?
O JORDAN, that you turn back?
O mountains, that you skip like rams?
O hills, like lambs?"

8. Some psalms refer to Yahweh's miracle that brought water out of a rock. The accounts are in Exodus 17:1-7 and Numbers 20:1-13.

Psalm 114:7-8:
"Tremble, O earth, at the presence of the Lord,
at the presence ofthe God of Jacob,
who turns the rock into A POOL OF WATER,
a spring into A SPRING OF WATER."

Psalm 81:7:
"In distress you called, and I [Yahweh] rescued you;
I answered you in the secret place of thunder;
I tested you at THE WATERS OF MERIBAH."

See also Psalm 95:7b-11; Hebrews 3:7-11.

As YOU study the Psalms, watch for all the references to water, rain, thunder, lightning, and connected terms. This is an enriching, enlightening, uplifting experience.

Share YOUR experiences and perceptions with others. Let me hear from YOU.

John Willis


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