Psalm 135:7 includes the statement that God "maketh lightnings for the rain" (KJV). What does that mean? In what sense is lightning "for" the rain? Does lightning facilitate the rain, somehow?
reading various interpreters, I saw that some actually argued that
lightning serves the rain by naturally facilitating it. John Gill says
that lightning breaks up the clouds, allowing rain to pour. Charles
Haddon Spurgeon, in his Treasury of David, quotes Edwin Sidney, who stated in 1866:
the electrical clouds are much agitated, the rain generally falls
heavily...As the electricity is dissipated by the frequent discharges
the cloud condenses and there comes a sudden and heavy rain..."
or not that is scientifically-accurate, I have no idea. I know little
about weather. I did, however, read an interesting New York Times article by C. Claiborne Ray, entitled "The Angry Skies". This article explains how thunderstorms occur, as well as their benefit. The article states:
water vapor condenses into a cloud and rises into colder upper regions
of the sky, some of it turns into ice crystals, usually with a positive
charge, and some becomes water droplets, usually with a negative
charge. When the charges are strong enough, the electricity is
discharged as a bolt of lightning. While some lightning often precedes
rain, the main event occurs as a downdraft starts and rain or other
precipitation falls. Eventually, the downdraft overcomes the updraft and
the storm dissipates, along with the lightning. Lightning benefits the
earth, keeping its electrical charge in balance and generating
I don't see anything here about lightning facilitating rain. There are many cases in which lightning comes after
rain, rather than before. Plus, what becomes the lightning and what
becomes the rain seem to develop simultaneously, as opposed to the
lightning somehow facilitating the rain.
Augustine had another
interpretation: that God makes lightning into rain. Augustine draws
from this the lesson that God frightens us, then influences us to
rejoice. Did Augustine believe that God somehow physically transformed
lightning into rain?
Keil-Delitzsch refer to a view, which they
apparently attribute to Apollinaris, that the lightning serves the rain
by announcing it. The lightning indicates that there is rain, or that
rain is coming. If one wants to see Psalm 135:7 as the product of an
ancient mindset, as opposed to interpreting it in light of later
science, then perhaps Apollinaris' view is the way to go.
Some say that Psalm 135:7 simply means that lightning accompanies rain. How would this view interpret the conjunction l-
in Psalm 135:7, which often means "to" or "for"? Well, according to
Holladay, the conjunction can also mean "at" or "in", so perhaps that is
the way that this view can account for the l-.