And lightning are significant manifestations of the power of God, and emblems of his presence, Ex 19:16; 1Sa 2:10; 12:17; Ps 18:13. Thunder is poetically called "the voice of the Lord" in the sublime description of a thunder-storm in Ps 29:11;
The voice of the Lord is upon the waters;
The God of glory thundereth;
The Lord is upon many waters.
The voice of the Lord is powerful;
The voice of the Lord is full of majesty.
The voice of the Lord breaketh the cedars;
Yea, the Lord breaketh the cedars of Lebanon," etc.
See also Job 37:1-5; 40:9; Jer 10:13. In illustration of Ps 29:9, Moffat, while describing the thunder-storms of South Africa, say that the antelopes flee in consternation; and that he has observed the Bechuanas starting off early on the morning following such a storm in quest of young antelopes prematurely born. In Ps 78:48, "hot thunderbolts" means lightning.
often referred to in Scripture (Job 40:9; Ps 77:18; 104:7). James and John were called by our Lord "sons of thunder" (Mr 3:17). In Job 39:19, instead of "thunder," as in the Authorized Version, the Revised Version translates (ra'amah) by "quivering main" (marg., "shaking"). Thunder accompanied the giving of the law at Sinai (Ex 19:16). It was regarded as the voice of God (Job 37:2; Ps 18:13; 81:7; comp. Joh 12:29). In answer to Samuel's prayer (1Sa 12:17-18), God sent thunder, and "all the people greatly feared," for at such a season (the wheat-harvest) thunder and rain were almost unknown in Palestine.
Rare in the clear air of Palestine in harvest time or summer, which shows how its coming at Samuel's call unto Jehovah was by divine agency (1Sa 12:17-18). God so blessed the Holy Land that the ingathering of fruits and the threshing in the open air were unimpeded by rain. Its coming then would be as unseasonable and calamitous as "honour" conferred on a "fool" (Pr 26:1). Symbolizing divine wrath and judgment (Ex 19:16; Ps 29:3-9; 1Sa 2:10). Thunderings are figuratively spoken of as "voices of God" (Ex 9:28 margin, compare Joh 12:29-30). Job 26:14, translated "and how faint is the word whisper that we hear of Him! but the thunder (i.e. the majestic fullness) of His power (in antithesis to 'the whisper') who can understand?" (1Co 13:9-12.) Job 39:19, "hast thou clothed his (the horse's) neck with thunder?" i.e. majesty (Umbreit): or his arched neck inspiring fear as the thunder does; but Maurer, "with his trembling, quivering mane."
There is no finer description of a thunderstorm than that of Ps 29. In a land of high mountains and deep gorges, split throughout its length by the great cleft of the Jordan, the effect of thunder is peculiarly terrible. In Palestine it is confined almost entirely to winter (1Sa 12:17 f.), but the writer once witnessed a terrific storm late in April, among the Gilead uplands. It is invariably accompanied by rain. According to poetic and popular Ideas, thunder was the voice of God (Ps 104:7; Job 37:4 etc.), which a soul gifted with insight might understand and interpret (Joh 12:28 f.; cf. Mr 1:11; Mt 3:17 etc.). It is the expression of His resistless power (1Sa 2:10; Ps 18:13 etc.), and of His inexorable vengeance (Isa 30:30 etc.). Thunder plays a part in afflicting the Egyptians (Ex 9:23 ff.), at the delivery of the Law (Ex 19:16; 20:18), and in discomfiting the Philistines (1Sa 7:10). It is not guided by caprice, but by the will of God (Job 28:26; 38:25). It appears largely in the more terrible imagery of the Apocalypse. For 'Sons of Thunder,' see Boanerges.
This is of rare occurrence in Palestine, and is regarded in scripture as being the voice of God in power, both in the O.T. of the past and in the Revelation of the future. Ps. 29; Ps 77:18; 104:7; Re 4:5; 6:1; etc.: compare also Joh 12:29. In Ps 78:48, in recounting the plagues of Egypt, the flocks are represented as being consumed by HOT THUNDERBOLTS. The word is resheph, and is also translated 'coals,' 'burning coals,' 'burning heat.' Doubtless lightning is referred to, as when the 'fire of God' fell from heaven and burnt up Job's sheep. Job 1:16.
is hardly ever heard in Palestine form the middle of April to the middle of September; hence it was selected by Samuel as a striking expression of the divine displeasure toward the Israelites.
Rain in harvest was deemed as extraordinary as snow in summer,
and Jerome states that he had never witnessed it in the latter part of June or in July. Comm. on
In the imaginative philosophy of the Hebrews, thunder was regarded as the voice of Jehovah,
who dwelt behind the thunder-cloud.
Thunder was, to the mind of the Jew, the symbol of divine power
etc., and vengeance.