Psalm Twenty nine – Translation of the Song

29,1 A Song by David.
Offer to ADONAI, children of the strong, offer to ADONAI glory and might.

29,2 Offer to ADONAI the glory of His name; bow down to ADONAI in holy splendour.

29,3 The voice of ADONAI on the water, God of glory thunders, ADONAI on great waters.

29,4 The voice of ADONAI in force; the voice of ADONAI in splendour.

29,5 The voice of ADONAI breaking cedars; ADONAI will break the cedars of Lebanon.

29,6 And He makes them dance like a calf; Lebanon and Sirion like a young antelope.

29,7 The voice of ADONAI hews them with flames of fire.

29,8 The voice of ADONAI makes the wilderness shake ecstatically; ADONAI makes the wilderness of Kadesh shake ecstatically.

29,9 The voice of ADONAI makes the deer give birth, and strips the forests bare. And in His sanctuary all speak glory.

29,10 Adonai sat in judgement, sending the Flood;
and sits enthroned as king for all the world’s time.

29,11 ADONAI will give might to His nation. ADONAI will bless His nation with wholeness.

Notes on Translation, Psalm 29

  1. 1: the Hebrew word for “song” used in this verse, [מִזְמוֹר], is unique to The Book of Psalms. It indicates a song to be sung by the Levites in the Temple envisioned by David, but built by his son, Solomon.


  1. 1: the “strong” are not named in the song. Rabbinic commentary identifies them as the descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.


  1. 1: the Hebrew, and, accordingly, the English, of the last phrase is ambiguous; it is unclear, that is, who the possessor is of “glory and might”. The singer may be suggesting that the strong offer up their qualities of strength, their “glory and might”, to Adonai, or that these are the attributes of God that the strong should acknowledge. In either interpretation, a contrast is implied between the might of God and that of the strong.


  1. 2: “in” here can mean “in a place” or “with”; thus the complete phrase might be “in a place of holiness” or “with” holiness of thought and act. In the latter, the “holy splendour” is an attribute of the worshipper; in the former, of the place of worship.


  1. 2: the Hebrew word for “splendour”, [בְּהַדְרַת], also means “exalted”.


  1. 6: the Hebrew for “antelope”, [רְאֵמִים], is used for horned animals.


  1. 7: the Hebrew translates literally as “the voice of Adonai hews flames of fire”. The “them” and “with” are understood in the verb “hews”: since only wood, not fire, can be hewn, it must be the cedars of verse 5 that God’s voice is acting upon.


  1. 8: the verb “shake” has, in Hebrew, [יָחִיל], the same root as the verbs “dance” (in a circle) and “begin”. The wilderness can be seen as trembling with ecstasy or with fear.


  1. 9: the Hebrew for the verbs “to birth”, [יְחוֹלֵל], and to “shake” (v. 8) share a common root.


  1. 9: “all speak glory” has, in both Hebrew and English, a dual meaning: all those living in God’s sanctuary, be it in heaven or earth, declare God’s praises; all reveal God’s glory simply by their own presence in the sanctuary.


  1. 10: the Hebrew uses the verb “to sit” in the past tense in the first phrase, יָשָׁב; the present tense in the second, וַיֵּשֶׁב. However, in the first use, it connotes judgement; in the second, enthronement, kingship.

1.10   v. 10: The Hebrew phrase, [לְעוֹלָם], translated here as “for all the world’s time”,
connotes both time and space. There is no equivalent in English, though it is commonly translated
“forever”. We have chosen the translation corresponding most literally to the Hebrew.

  1. 11: the Hebrew “shalom”, [שָּׁלוֹם], usually translated as “peace”, has other meanings: it can signify completeness, “wholeness”, as used here; and it is also one of the names given to God in the Jewish tradition.

These translations are by Rabbi Maccabi and Dr. Rosenberg. The translations are as close to the literal Hebrew as possible.

Click here to study “Literary analysis of Psalm 29”

King James Psalms 29 Translation:

[1] Give unto the LORD, O ye mighty, give unto the LORD glory and strength.
[2] Give unto the LORD the glory due unto his name; worship the LORD in the beauty of holiness.
[3] The voice of the LORD is upon the waters: the God of glory thundereth: the LORD is upon many waters.
[4] The voice of the LORD is powerful; the voice of the LORD is full of majesty.
[5] The voice of the LORD breaketh the cedars; yea, the LORD breaketh the cedars of Lebanon.
[6] He maketh them also to skip like a calf; Lebanon and Sirion like a young unicorn.
[7] The voice of the LORD divideth the flames of fire.
[8] The voice of the LORD shaketh the wilderness; the LORD shaketh the wilderness of Kadesh.
[9] 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.
[10] The LORD sitteth upon the flood; yea, the LORD sitteth King for ever.
[11] The LORD will give strength unto his people; the LORD will bless his people with peace.