Psalm 33: only to praise the LORD!
Psalm 33 (1) Sing joyfully to the LORD, you righteous; it is fitting for the upright to praise him. (2) Praise the LORD with the harp; make music to him on the ten-stringed lyre. (3) Sing to him a new song; play skillfully, and shout for joy. (4) For the word of the LORD is right and true; he is faithful in all he does. (5) The LORD loves righteousness and justice; the earth is full of his unfailing love. (6) By the word of the LORD the heavens were made, their starry host by the breath of his mouth. (7) He gathers the waters of the sea into jars; he puts the deep into storehouses. (8) Let all the earth fear the LORD; let all the people of the world revered him. (9) For he spoke, and it came to be; he commanded, and it stood firm. (10) The LORD foils the plans of the nations; he thwarts the purposes of the peoples. (11) But the plans of the LORD stand firm forever, the purposes of his heart through all generations. (12) Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD, the people he chose for his inheritance. (13) From heaven the LORD looks down and sees all mankind; (14) from his dwelling place he watches all who live on earth- (15) he who forms the hearts of all, who considers everything they do. (16) No king is saved by the size of his army; no warrior escapes by his great strength. (17) A horse is a vain hope for deliverance; despite all its great strength it cannot save. (18) But the eyes of the LORD are on those who fear him, on those whose hope is in his unfailing love, (19) to deliver them from death and keep them alive in famine. (20) We wait in hope for the LORD; he is our help and our shield. (21) In him our hearts rejoice, for we trust in his holy name. (22) May your unfailing love be with us, LORD, even as we put our hope in you.
No author is ascribed to this psalm, and some translations (like the NIV) do not even title it.
But check out how smoothly the end of Psalm 32 flows into the beginning of Psalm 33:
Rejoice in the LORD and be glad, you righteous; sing, all you who are upright in heart! Psalm 32:11 Sing joyfully to the LORD, you righteous; it is fitting for the upright to praise him. Psalm 33:1
The two definitely go together. Psalm 32 is ascribed to David, so this one is thought to be as well. And maybe they were once one longer poem. However, God wanted them separated and this one unsigned. So, we will leave it at that.
This is a psalm of praise; it is probably that David was the penman of it, but we are not told so, because God would have us look above the penman of sacred writ, to that blessed Spirit that moved and guided them.Matthew Henry, English minister, 1662-1714
So, let’s take a look at this lovely little praise psalm,
Sing joyfully to the Lord, you righteous (NIV) Rejoice in the Lord, O ye righteous (KJV) Shout for joy in the Lord, O you righteous (ESV) Let the godly sing for joy to the Lord (NLT) Psalm 33:1a
If you had any doubts about what God expects His children to do, read those translations of verse 1 again.
Sing, rejoice, and shout!
Calling upon the saints to be cheerful; and indeed there is hardly any duty more pressed in the Old and New Testament, or less practiced.John Trapp, English Bible commentator, 1601-1669
When we are healthy and feeling joyful, God calls us to sing and rejoice. When we are sick and sad, He clearly calls us to rejoice still. When our world struggles under a pandemic and economic strain, God calls us to rejoice. When we worry for the state of our government, He calls us to rejoice.
Could it be any clearer?
God is teaching us to rejoice- not in our circumstances- but in Him. This psalm is the epitome of what God expects from His children: to rejoice in Him, for Him, and because of Him.
My friends, hear the joy in this song. Not because all is well for David and his people, but because God is good and faithful.
For the word of the Lord is right; and all his works are done in truth. He loveth righteousness and judgment: the earth is full of the goodness of the Lord. Psalm 33:4-5 KJV
Do you believe this? Or do you find yourself lost and hopeless at the evil in the world and how much of God’s creation and His children are lost and broken? But this little gem of a psalm reminds us that.
. . . the earth is full of the goodness of the Lord. (NKJV)
. . . the earth is full of the steadfast love of the Lord. (ESV)
. . . the unfailing love of the Lord fills the earth. (NLT)
. . . the earth is full of his unfailing love. (NIV)
Wow, if we needed a reminder that God is in control and He has created beauty that expresses His love all around us, we need it right now in the midst of a pandemic and unrest in our world. May these words be a blessing to you from your heavenly Father.
This word used to describe God’s love is the Hebrew word hesed.
But I trust in your unfailing love; my heart rejoices in your salvation. Psalm 13:6 But I have trusted in thy mercy; my heart shall rejoice in thy salvation. KJV But I have trusted in thy lovingkindness; my heart shall rejoice in thy salvation. ASV But I have trusted in your steadfast love; my heart shall rejoice in your salvation. ESV
The Hebrew word hesed is translated as- unfailing love, mercy, lovingkindness, steadfast love, etc. Some say that this word is the key to understanding the heart of God, yet we have a heck of a time trying to translate it. There is no one English word that directly translates. The word is only in the Old Testament but is mentioned some 250 times.
Hesed or the lovingkindness of God is what makes Him different than all other gods in history. And Jesus was the human form of that love.
But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope: the steadfast love of the LORD never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. "The LORD is my portion," says my soul, "therefore I will hope in him." Lamentations 3:21-24 ESV
With God’s hesed (steadfast love) on the one hand, and on the other: comes a God who created the heavens by the breath of His mouth. He said it, and it was so. And it was good.
The Lord merely spoke, and the heavens were created. He breathed the word, and all the stars were born. He assigned the sea its boundaries and locked the oceans in vast reservoirs. Let the whole world fear the Lord and let everyone stand in awe of him. For when he spoke, the world began! It appeared at his command. Psalm 33:6-9 NLT
My friends, He “locked the oceans in vast reservoirs.” The breathed the word and stars were born.
And yet, He loves His children with such tenderness that we can’t even put it into a word; we cannot even describe it. Hesed. God’s covenant of love throughout time.
The Lord brings the counsel of the nations to nothing; he frustrates the plans of the peoples. The counsel of the Lord stands forever, the plans of his heart to all generations. Psalm 33:10-11 ESV
He is the all-powerful Creator, the loving Father, and the plans of His heart stand forever to all generations. Do you need to hear that right now?
Our God is in control.
Say to those with fearful hearts, "Be strong, do not fear; your God will come, he will come with vengeance; with divine retribution he will come to save you." Isaiah 35:4
Did you need this encouragement today?
The Lord looks down from heaven and sees the whole human race. From his throne he observes all who live on the earth. He made their hearts, so he understands everything they do. Psalm 33:13-15 NLT
He sees us. Always. From His throne He sees all. And He doesn’t just see us, He “observes” us. He watches us. Your loving heavenly Father watches over you.
And He knows what we do and why we do it. How? Because He created our hearts.
God doesn’t just watch over us; He knows our hearts. Because He created them.
Long ago the LORD said to Israel: "I have loved you, my people, with an everlasting love. With unfailing love, I have drawn you to myself. Jeremiah 31:3 NLT Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew him not. 1 John 3:1 KJV
The psalmist goes on to say,
The king is not saved by his great army; a warrior is not delivered by his great strength. The war horse is a false hope for salvation, and by its great might it cannot rescue. Psalm 33:16-17 ESV
Let’s not forget that David KNEW about great armies and strong warriors. He could have put his trust in those things, but he knew the fealty of trusting in anything but the Lord.
But the LORD watches over those who fear him, those who rely on his unfailing love. He rescues them from death and keeps them alive in times of famine. Psalm 33:18-19 NLT
The people of Israel remembered times when the Lord rescued them from death and famine. When armies failed, strong men became weak, and war horses gave false hope, those were the times when the Lord carried them through.
They who fear God need not fear anything else; let them fix their eye of faith on him, and his eye of love will always rest upon them.Charles Spurgeon, English preacher, 1834-1892
So, today, let ‘s put our trust in the Lord once again.
We wait in hope for the LORD; he is our help and our shield. In him our hearts rejoice, for we trust in his holy name. May your unfailing love be with us, LORD, even as we put our hope in you. Psalm 33:20-22 Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the LORD our God. Psalm 20:7
God does not fail. He will come through. He is faithful.
What an absolutely beautiful little song of praise. In worry or fear, praise the Lord for He is good.
In good times, sing of His everlasting love. In times of hopelessness, sing of His faithfulness.
In times of confession, worship Him for His mercy.
Rejoice and wait for the Lord.
For they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint. Isaiah 40:31 ESV
Father in heaven, may we praise you today no matter the circumstances. We wait in expectation for you. Thank you for this unsigned and unnamed psalm. Thank you for the beauty of its words. May we be able to praise you like this song. May we lift our voices and our hearts to you in thanks and love for your faithfulness and forgiveness. Give us strength during these difficult days. In your will, heal our land, protect our loved ones, and strengthen your church. Amen.