What does Psalm 29:9 mean?
ESV: The voice of the LORD makes the deer give birth and strips the forests bare, and in his temple all cry, “Glory!”
NIV: The voice of the LORD twists the oaks and strips the forests bare. And in his temple all cry, 'Glory!'
NASB: The voice of the Lord makes the deer give birth And strips the forests bare; And in His temple everything says, 'Glory!'
CSB: The voice of the Lord makes the deer give birth and strips the woodlands bare. In his temple all cry, "Glory! "
NLT: The voice of the Lord twists mighty oaks and strips the forests bare. In his Temple everyone shouts, 'Glory!'
KJV: The voice of the LORD maketh the hinds to calve, and discovereth the forests: and in his temple doth every one speak of his glory.
NKJV: The voice of the Lord makes the deer give birth, And strips the forests bare; And in His temple everyone says, “Glory!”
Verse Commentary:
God's power and glory are being described using terms referring to thunderstorms and earthquakes (Psalm 29:3–8). God's will is represented by His voice (Genesis 1:1–3; Psalm 33:6). His voice has the power to shatter great trees, uproot mountains, and shake deserts.

Here, David implies the fear that God's unlimited power can cause: a terror that would cause premature labor in deer. Pet owners know how terrified of thunder and lightning their pets may be. Young children—even some adults—dread a storm's thunder and lightning. Under a tornado warning, many adults seek shelter in closets or basements.

Some scholars note that the Hebrew phrase used here, often interpreted as deer going into premature labor, can also be pronounced in a way that implies "making the oaks to shake." That would dovetail with the next phrase, where David continues the storm imagery, speaking of forests being stripped bare. A strong wind may take some leaves from trees, but only a tremendous blast would rip every leaf from a forest. The terminology used here, in fact, echoes Joel 1:7, which suggests trees having their bark blasted from the trunk.

As the storm David describes caused fear and defoliation, those who watch give praise. The reference to the temple may mean the heavenly "temple" of God (Psalm 11:4; Revelation 11:19), where the angels are. The cry of "Glory!'" follows David's earlier plea for heaven to praise God (Psalm 29:1–2). Angels rejoiced in God's creative power and artistry. Job 38:7 states: "The morning stars [angels] sang together and all the sons of God [angels] shouted for joy." First Timothy 3:16 points out that angels observed Jesus' life and ministry. Believers today can follow the example of the angels mentioned in this psalm by giving glory to God for His wonderful works.
Verse Context:
Psalm 29:3–9 uses the phrase "the voice of the LORD" seven times. Each time, the designation precedes an example of God's power over nature. God's speech represents His will: that which He commands to happen will always happen. These examples offer a strong reason to associate God with glory and to give Him worship. Psalm 8 also expresses wonder at God's creative power.
Chapter Summary:
David depicts the power of God's will—referred to as His "voice"—using imagery from thunderstorms and earthquakes. He calls on heaven to praise God. The Lord's voice has the power to shatter great trees, uproot mountains, shake deserts, strip forests, and strike terror into all living things. None of these events are mere change, but God is control of them all. David asks God to provide confidence and strength to Israel as they remember His omnipotent power.
Chapter Context:
This psalm of David magnifies the Lord's attribute of omnipotence. David draws pictures from nature to illustrate God's power. The psalm parallels Psalm 8 in its revelation of God through nature. Based on the imagery, David may have witnessed a potent thunderstorm moving from the Mediterranean Sea across the region. The theme of trust in God, thanks to His demonstrated power, is common in Scripture (Hebrews 11).
Book Summary:
The book of Psalms is composed of individual songs, hymns, or poems, each of which is a ''Psalm'' in and of itself. These works contain a wide variety of themes. Some Psalms focus on praising and worshipping God. Others cry out in anguish over the pain of life. Still other Psalms look forward to the coming of the Messiah. While some Psalms are related, each has its own historical and biblical context.
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