In this psalm, David is reflecting on God’s power revealed in a thunderstorm that came from the Mediterranean towards Lebanon and then south towards Judah (the desert of Kadesh). The psalmist’s response is very different from that of the pagan world around him. Such would have read the storm as a sign of their god’s anger and would have perceived it as a sign that he was against them. In contrast, David observes many aspects of the storm, regards them as a revelation of the sovereignty of God, and uses them as reasons for worshipping the true God.
It is not clear whether David is addressing angelic beings or prominent human leaders in verse 1. Both options are possible translations. Calvin interpreted it as a reference to human leaders whom David is exhorting to observe God’s power in the storm. Thinking of God in this way would lead them to worship him in a holy manner. Or perhaps David is taunting foreign leaders who would be terrified because they would assume their false gods were wreaking indiscriminate damage for no reason. He is reminding them of the true God who deserves to be worshipped.
Throughout the psalm, David describes the storm as the voice of the Lord. His is a voice that all of creation obeys. No other being possesses such authority. Although such a storm can be frightening, it is also appropriate for us to ask when in one, ’What does this experience tell me about God’s power?’ At least, such an experience should cause us to confess that he alone is in charge.
In verse 11, David applies the effects of the storm in a spiritual manner. First, the Lord’s actions in the storm reveal the amount of divine power that is available for his people, whether in defending them or enabling them to overcome obstacles to their progress. Second, as the psalmist observes the calm after the storm, he is reminded of the peace that the Lord can give suddenly and effectively to his children.