God’s Great Power
(9) You rule the raging of the sea. When its waves rise, you calm them. (10) You crushed Rahab like a carcass. You scattered your enemies with your mighty arm. (11) The heavens (are) yours. The earth also (is) yours. The world and its fullness you established. (12) The north and the south you created. Tabor and Hermon joyfully praise your name. (13) You (have) a mighty arm. Strong is your hand. Exalted is your right hand.
The most distinctive feature of this segment is the repeated use of the second person pronouns, “you/yours,” in the psalmist’s ascribing power to God (twice in vs. 9, twice in vs. 10, three times in vs. 11, twice in vs. 12 and twice in vs. 13). Twice the psalmist speaks of God’s “mighty arm” (vss. 10 & 13) and twice of his “strong hand, his exalted right hand” (vs. 13), all figurative references to God’s overwhelming might. Note also the realms in which God’s power is expressed: in the sea (vss. 9 & 10), in the heavens and the earth (vs. 11), and in both the north and the south (vs. 12).
Most commentators identify the name, “Rahab” (vs. 10), as a reference to the nation of Egypt. The crushing of Rahab likely refers to the moment when, after miraculously parting the waters of Red Sea so that the Israelites could cross to the other side, God caused the waters to rush back again, swamping and completely destroying the Egyptian chariots and horsemen that had been pursuing them (Ex. 14:21-31). “Tabor” and “Hermon” identify two mountains in Israel. Mt. Hermon in the north is, by far, the taller of the two. At Mt. Tabor, in the middle of the country, south of Lake Galilee, Barak defeated Sisera and his army (Judges 4).
Let Yahweh be praised for his great power!
I. Where manifested: (9-12)
- over the sea
- in the heavens and the earth
- in the north and south
II. How manifested: (13)
- by his mighty arm
- by his exalted right hand
Yahweh’s great power, manifested throughout creation, should evoke universal praise.
The truth regarding Yahweh’s ruling the raging of the sea (vs. 9) calls to mind the account of Jesus and his disciples crossing the Sea of Galilee (Mk. 4:35-41). After a long and arduous day of ministry, Jesus had fallen asleep in the back of the boat, leaving to his men the task of transporting them to the other side. A sudden, violent squall arose with such fury that his disciples, veteran fishermen, feared that their boat might be swamped. In a panic, they roused Jesus with a rebuke: “Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?” What happened next caused the disciples more terror than the raging storm. Jesus got to his feet and simply spoke the words, “Peace, be still,” as if giving a command to a well trained dog. Immediately, the storm subsided and the waves became calm.
Mark closes his account with the question the disciples were asking each other in their terror: “Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey him!” This psalm (vs. 9) provides the only credible answer, given centuries before Jesus performed his mighty miracle. Yahweh, God of Hosts, alone has the power to rule the raging of the sea and calm its powerful waves. What the disciples were slowly coming to realize was that the passenger in their boat, the one who called them to follow him, was more than just a prophet or a captivating teacher. He was in fact “Immanuel, God with us.” Charles Wesley expressed this truth memorably in his well-known hymn, Hark, the Herald Angels Sing: “Veiled in flesh the Godhead see. Hail the incarnate deity!”