Weds 10 August - Psalm 33
(Please note this will be the final Psalm devotion for August and they will resume the 2nd week of September)
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[a];
he puts the deep into storehouses.
8 Let all the earth fear the Lord;
let all the people of the world revere 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.
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Meditation on Psalm 33
Here is one of the few psalms that has no title and no hint of timing as to when it was written. It doesn’t have a particular event in mind.
Therefore, let’s take some licence and call it ‘My psalm’. Let’s put ourselves into this psalm and rejoice in the nature, the word and the works of God.
- SING TO THE LORD Verses 1-3
We sing many songs when we come together to worship the Lord.
Do you have a favourite?
One of the songs that is still high up in the charts of Christian worship songs is ‘How great Thou art’.
Notice that the psalmist challenges us to ‘sing joyfully’. We are not told to sing in tune – although that might help!
But the focus of our songs must be the Lord and not us. We are to sing ‘to the Lord’.
The people of God – ‘the righteous’ - are called on to sing to the Lord.
When we come into the New Testament, we know from Paul’s letter to the Romans that we are the people of God by faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. (Romans 3:21-26)
It is we, the redeemed people of God, who are called to sing to the Lord.
‘It is fitting for the upright to praise Him.’
When we share in the breaking of bread, we say, ‘It is right to give thanks and praise.’
Pause a moment – what reasons do I have / you have ‘to sing to the Lord, to praise Him’?
Perhaps the rest of this psalm will help.
I was brought up in the Brethren, for which I thank God for the grounding in the Scriptures, but we never had a musical instrument to ‘lead’ the singing. Someone would start at verse 1, hoping and assuming that the rest of us would catch on and catch up! That was fine when the tune was pitched at a reasonable level so that it was praise and not a dirge.
Here the psalmist is encouraging the use of musical instruments – ‘the harp and the ten-stringed lyre’. (This instrument is made from solid beech wood with a solid spruce soundboard and has metal strings. It is a type of harp.)
Maybe we sing all kinds of songs – we have seen a film that has memorable music, or we have seen a show that has wonderful music, or we listen to the radio – but we are encouraged to sing a ‘new song’.
Larry Norman made a record entitled ‘Only visiting this planet’ and one of the tracks had the following words:
‘I feel good every day, I don't wanna lose it
All I wanna, all I wanna know
Is why should the devil have all the good music
I've been filled, I feel okay
Jesus is the rock and he rolled my blues away’
When we come to faith in Christ, we may still sing the ‘old’ songs but we also have this wonderful new song to sing, as the psalmist reminds us in Psalm 40:2-3a: ‘He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; He set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand. He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God.’
As we progress through the psalm, we are given a number of reasons as to why we should praise the Lord.
- HIS TRUTH, FAITHFULNESS AND LOVE Verses 4-5
We hear so many words from so many people and we are increasingly asking, ‘Can they be trusted?’
Can God be trusted?
Yes He can because everything He does is governed by his being right and true.
And this ‘being right and true’ is underpinned by His faithfulness. Note that His faithfulness is not determined by our attitudes or behaviour. ‘He is faithful in all He does’.
‘Faithful One, so unchanging’ is a favourite chorus, whose words are so assuring and comforting.
And these characteristics are backed up by His unfailing love – notice the ‘earth is full of His unfailing love.’
This theme of His unfailing love runs through the psalms. And, we have this assurance, that God hasn’t removed His unfailing love from the earth.
- HIS CREATION Verses 6-9
‘O Lord, my God, when I in awesome wonder,
Consider all the works Thy hands have made;
I see the stars, I hear the mighty thunder,
the power throughout the universe displayed…
When through the woods and forest glades I wander
and hear the birds sing sweetly in the trees;
when I look down from lofty mountain grandeur,
and hear the brook and feel the gentle breeze…
Come back to Genesis 1. God said “Let there be”… and there was…
When God spoke, the heavens were made. When God spoke, the stars appeared. When God spoke, the waters of the seas were separated from the land.
No wonder the psalmist is in awe and reverence as he considers God’s creation – ‘God spoke and it came to be.’
- HIS REIGN Verses 10-11
Noel Richards and Faye Simpson wrote a song which seems so relevant today.
Here’s the first verse:
‘Great is the darkness that covers the earth,
oppression, injustice and pain.
Nations are slipping in hopeless despair,
though many have come in your name.
watching while sanity dies,
touched by the madness and lies…’
In the midst of this chaos and confusion, the psalmist reminds us that God is in ultimate control. We need to be praying for those in authority, as Paul reminds Timothy in 1 Timothy 2:1-2.
But we also need to encourage one another that the LORD is in charge – ‘The plans of the LORD stand firm for ever, the purposes of His heart through all generations.’
- HIS SOVEREIGNTY Verses 12-19
Notice the contrasts in these verses between the people of God and the people who have no thought of God. The psalm was written with the nation of Israel in mind but the principles are true today. We hear talk about our nation being a ‘Christian country’.
The psalmist is talking about a nation ‘whose God is the LORD’. Let’s pray for that to become a reality and not just a definition.
The reason this is so important is how the psalmist describes the activity of the LORD in relation to His people and to the nations.
- the LORD chose, and still chooses, His people
- the LORD looks down and sees ALL mankind
- the LORD watches ALL who live on earth
- the LORD knows EVERYTHING that mankind does
In contrast to that, we read of those who put their trust in anything but the LORD.
- the size of the army
- great strength
- vain hopes for deliverance
Back we come to the people of God.
- the LORD is watching over us
- our hope is in the unfailing love of the LORD
‘What a faithful God have I faithful in every way.’
- OUR TRUST IS IN HIM Verses 20-22
What confidence we can have in Him, in spite of our weaknesses and failures, He will never let us down.
- our hope is in Him
- our help is in Him
- our shield is in Him
- our trust is in Him
- our joy is in Him
And the psalmist ends with a prayer that we can make our own at the end of ‘our psalm’ – ‘may your unfailing love be with us, Lord.’