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Psalm 29

This psalm was also set for the celebration of the Baptism of Jesus at the beginning of the season of Epiphany this year (as it is in each year). The comments there cover the whole psalm and should be consulted. There are also some suggestions for the use of the psalm in worship.

The connection of the psalm to both the Baptism of Jesus and to Trinity Sunday is itself instructive. The psalm ties the two celebrations together. By chance or by design of the lectionary makers the psalm is also tied to one of the psalms set for Christmas Eve or Christmas Day, namely Psalm 96. Ps 29:1-2 is quoted in Ps 96:7-9. Thus, strong links are drawn between this day, on which we celebrate the ‘fullness’ of God so to speak, in Father, Son and Holy Spirit, and the birth and beginning of the life of Jesus. We said in relation to Jesus’ Baptism, that the images of power in Psalm 29 might not seem consistent with those of the babe in the manger in Bethlehem. But we stressed that the story of the babe heralded events unfolding which seemed far greater than the homely story of a poor family and the birth of their child. Something cosmic, or universal was entering into human space and time, and it was coming to those least expected to bear it. The images of power in Psalm 29, which on Trinity Sunday remind us of the one who is creator of all that was, is or is yet to be, draw us back to seeing that what was celebrated as commencing in our Christmas festivities, is now fully revealed in the ‘whole’ glory of God, Father, Son and Spirit, the one who creates, redeems and gives life.

Of course that story is not over yet. Our celebration of the coming of the Spirit on the church last week at Pentecost made that clear. But so does this week’s psalm. It draws to a conclusion in v. 10 with a statement that ‘the Lord sits enthroned over the flood’ as ‘king forever’. That image of kingship, drawing as it does on ancient institutions and mythic symbolism, has now been shaped in a particular way for us – the way of the cross and resurrection of Jesus, and his ascension to God’s right hand. But the psalm follows v. 10 with the prayer: ‘May the Lord give strength to his people! May the Lord bless his people with peace!’ (v. 11) This prayer is answered in the gift of the Spirit. As we noted in regard to the psalm at the Baptism of Jesus, nothing less than the kingdom of God is unfolding among us. It is that which we celebrate and to which we respond ‘Glory!’ (v. 9)

Suggestions for the use of the psalm in worship:

As noted above some suggestions were made in relation to the Baptism of Jesus which are still useful here. In addition the last two verses of the psalm could be used as a fitting refrain during the prayers for the people. After each petition the response could be:

L: The Lord sits enthroned over the flood;
    The Lord sits enthroned as king forever.
R: May the Lord give strength to his people!
    May the Lord bless his people with peace!
Old Testament reading: Isaiah 6:1-8

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