The voice of the Lord is over the waters; the God of glory thunders, the Lord, over many waters.
The voice of the Lord is powerful; the voice of the Lord is full of majesty.
The voice of the Lord breaks the cedars; the Lord breaks the cedars of Lebanon.
Psalm 29: 3-5
Seafarers in the days of wooden ships with sails not only face dangers such as storms, diseases and pirates. One of their greatest fears was being in the doldrums. The doldrums is an area in the ocean near the equator, where the wind is very light and shifting, and where the ocean becomes calm. In the seemingly innocent calm, the crew is in danger, even of death. In that seemingly harmless calm, the ship drifts for days, even weeks—while the crew’s food and water supply is slowly but surely depleting and dwindling. The crew’s only hope is for there to be wind—to blow into the sails and in the direction that will put the ship back on course for the voyage. The crew who knows the real danger of the doldrums, and who knows that their hope lies in the wind—will be urgent and diligent in discerning the wind and putting up the ship’s sails to catch the wind that will put them back on course for their voyage.
In life, there are actually many types of doldrums, which are just as seemingly harmless, but actually dangerous. Many precious people find themselves and some significant aspects of their lives in such doldrums; and their purpose in life, vocation, relationship with others, even with God—are depleting and dwindling. Is there a wind that can blow into their lives, to move them out of the doldrums and put them on course for their voyage in fullness of life? For this, Psalm 29 points to the “voice of the Lord”!
In the Bible, this phrase “the voice of the Lord”—is a construct that refers to the combination of “the word of the Lord” and “the breath of God”. In Hebrew, “the breath (ruach) of God” also refers to “the Spirit (ruach) of the Lord”. The phrase, “the voice of the Lord” is the biblical shorthand for the “Word of the Lord” and “the Spirit of the Lord” in action together (c.f. Genesis’ account of creation).
Friends, when you find yourself in the doldrums, know that the Word of the Lord and the Spirit of the Lord acting together is what will move you out of the doldrums and put you on course for your great voyage in life; God’s gift to you from the very beginning. Therefore, like those seafarers, you must put up your sails and let the Word of the Lord and the Spirit of the Lord together move you out of the doldrums and lead you forward.
You can put up your sails by reading the Bible daily and thereby receive the Word of the Lord continually. As you read the Bible, be attentive to what the Spirit of Lord is quickening your attention to in the Word. Mark, reflect and internalize the Word, and pray to the Lord with it. As you pray His Word, you will be engaging His Truth and His Spirit together. (In John 4:24, Jesus says that the Father is seeking those who will worship Him in spirit and in truth). As you do this, the Lord will give you insights into your situation and show you the way out of the doldrums. (c.f. Psalm 119:105—His Word is the lamp unto your feet, and the light unto your path.) As you keep on doing what the Lord is teaching you, His Spirit will empower you, move out of the doldrums, and lead you forward on course for the great voyage in the fullness of life!
Rev. Joseph Goh