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Bible Commentaries

Kingcomments on the Whole Bible

Psalms 33

Verses 1-3

Introduction

After the forgiveness in the previous psalm, we hear in this psalm once again the call for a song of praise for that forgiveness. Psalm 33 has no title. This underscores the fact that this psalm belongs to the previous psalm. The first verse follows the last verse of the previous psalm (Psalms 33:1; Psalms 32:11).

In Psalm 33, God is represented in a way that encourages praise. This is especially true of the people whom God has chosen as His own (Psalms 33:12). Therefore, this psalm does not use the I-form, but only the ‘we’ form. The knowledge of being chosen is a special reason to praise God. This is certainly true of us New Testament believers, whom He has chosen to the sonship for Himself (Ephesians 1:3-Judges :).

There is no mention of enemies or persecution or oppression in this psalm. God is sung of as the supreme Ruler. It is reminiscent of the time after the great tribulation, when the heathen oppressors have been driven out and Israel dwells in peace in the land. It is therefore a psalm in which we hear the feelings of thanks of the remnant.

Sing to the LORD

After Psalms 1, 2, and 10, this is the fourth psalm that does not mention a poet. It immediately follows the last verse of the previous psalm (Psalms 32:11). This continuation renders a heading unnecessary. Just as there, the poet here speaks to the “righteous ones” and the “upright” (Psalms 33:1). In slightly different words he repeats the call to the “righteous ones” to sing “for joy in the LORD” (Psalms 32:11). Three times at the beginning of this psalm the call to praise the LORD is heard: in Psalms 33:1, Psalms 33:2, and Psalms 33:3. To this end, the righteous ones are called in various terms to do so with musical instruments.

He says to sing for joy “in the LORD”, not “to” the LORD, although that is part of it, of course, as he says in Psalms 33:2 and Psalms 33:3. ‘In the LORD’ includes more than ‘to’ the LORD. It indicates the atmosphere and also the power in which joyful singing is done. The joyful song is the representation of a life marked by all that the LORD is and has done. Because of this, believers can be addressed as righteous. That they are righteous means that they have been made perfectly fit to be in God’s presence with joy and thanksgiving.

It is appropriate, therefore, that the righteous ones, who are also called “upright”, sing and praise. The Hebrew word for praise, tehilla, gave the book of Psalms its Hebrew name, tehillim. The “upright”, someone who is inwardly right before God, will express his admiration for God and all His benefits through a song of praise. When you admire someone, you don’t keep it to yourself. You let the object of your admiration hear it and do so loudly, so that others may also hear how much you admire the other person.

This admiration is not expressed in general, vague words either, but in a description of everything that is to be admired. We see this, for example, in the description that the bride in Song of Songs gives of the bridegroom (Song of Solomon 5:9-Nehemiah :). Beginning in Psalms 33:4, the psalmist gives words to his admiration of God. He describes His omnipotence and exaltation and His special relationship to the people He has chosen to be His own.

The praise and singing is accompanied “with a harp of ten strings” (Psalms 33:2). In Israelite, Old Testament worship, musical instruments play an important role. David devised and made them for this purpose (2 Chronicles 7:6; 2 Chronicles 29:27; Nehemiah 12:36; Amos 6:5). In Christian, New Testament worship, it is different. We sing to God in our hearts (Colossians 3:16). The Christian worships God in a spiritual way (John 4:24). Worship is spiritual, it takes place with our spirit under the working of God’s Spirit.

We may praise the Lord with ever new songs (Psalms 33:3). The new song is the song of redemption (Psalms 40:3; Psalms 98:1) as a result of the forgiveness in Psalm 32. It can be sung by ‘renewed people’, that is, all who have been redeemed by the precious blood of Christ. It will be sung especially by the Israelites at the beginning of the realm of peace (Revelation 14:3).

Every new experience of Who God is gives rise to a new song. Even songs we have sung many times before are sung in a new, a more deeply experienced way after a new experience of God’s goodness. Each new discovery of God’s goodness is an opportunity for a new song and to do so with “skillfully” playing and “with a shout of joy”. It means that it is done by trumpets or horns as a delightful expression of the highest joy that is a blessing to listen to.

Verses 4-9

The Power of God’s Word

The first reason for the new song of Psalms 33:3 are the words of God and directly related to them the works of God (Psalms 33:4). This is indicated by the word “for” with which the verse begins. God is “upright” in His words. In everything He says, He is ‘true’, ‘faithful’. The word “upright” in Hebrew is the same as ‘sincere’. A sincere person is trustworthy, without deceit (Psalms 32:2). God is always justified in His words (Romans 3:4). His words are trustworthy, He keeps His promises, which is reason for the righteous to praise Him.

Also in “all His work”, in all that He does, He is “faithful”. His work is established by His Word. His Word and His work are therefore in perfect harmony with each other. Just as there is no unreliability or mendacity in His words, there is nothing in His works that shows or will ever show any defect or wear and tear. Everything is stable, perfectly reliable.

Why is God reliable? Because He “loves righteousness and justice” (Psalms 33:5). This determines all His actions. His “righteousness” and His “justice” or verdict are never in conflict with His love, and conversely, His love is never in conflict with His righteousness and justice. His righteousness and justice are expressions of His love for the truth, they are expressions of His trustworthiness. He does what He says, even in enforcing justice and executing judgment. In His love, He thus makes Himself known to man so that he may bow before Him.

Everywhere we look on earth, we see a testimony of God’s “lovingkindness”. Lovingkindness is a word that implies both love and truth or faithfulness. It is due to His lovingkindness that man can live on earth and be provided with many good gifts and everything he needs to live. Everywhere we see the same love and faithfulness in God’s care of His creation (cf. Matthew 6:26). This is an encouragement to His own, especially when they are in need and think that He might have forgotten them.

His Word is reliable and powerful. We see this in the creation He has created, focusing here especially on the heavens (Psalms 33:6; cf. John 1:1; John 1:3; Hebrews 1:1-Exodus :). He made the heavens. The “host” of the firmament, the entire galaxy, evokes awe (Isaiah 40:26). Its creation is attributed to the breath of His mouth. We may think here also of the Holy Spirit, Who is also involved in creation (Genesis 1:2; cf. Psalms 104:30), because the Hebrew word ruach can also be translate by “spirit”.

Also “the waters of the sea” are completely under His authority (Psalms 33:7). He can gather the water and make a dam of it, thus heaping the waters (Exodus 15:8; Joshua 3:13; Joshua 3:16; cf. Job 38:8-1 Kings :). “The deeps”, the deep waters, He can lay up in storehouses as if it were an object (cf. Job 38:22; Jeremiah 10:13). He deals with it as a farmer does with his grain when he stores it in a storehouse. Man has no grip on either the heavens or the waters of the sea. They are completely beyond his control, while God, through His Word, has complete control over them (cf. Psalms 29:3; Psalms 107:25).

This should bring “all the earth”, all the nations, to a “fear”, that is, a deep awe, of the LORD (Psalms 33:8). “All the inhabitants of the world” are called to be “stand in awe of Him”. This goes beyond just deep awe. There is also in this the aspect of fear and trembling at God’s power in creation (Exodus 15:16; Jeremiah 5:22). Because He created all, and rules sovereignly over the universe, the nations must acknowledge that He alone is the Creator-Ruler.

The nations, all of whom have their own idols, must know that the world did not come into being through an activity of cooperating gods. Nor was anything originated by chance. Everything in creation reflects God’s wisdom. It is the effect of His Word, which shows that He alone is trustworthy. Because He speaks a word, it happens, and what happens is what He has said, no more and no less. The theory of evolution, therefore, besides being a denial of God as Creator, is also a denial of the reliability of His Word and thereby of Himself.

Everything He speaks comes about because He speaks (Psalms 33:9). In the long enumeration of the way faith works in Hebrews 11, the first and thus most fundamental activity of faith is the actual belief that God created everything by His Word (Hebrews 11:3). There is no unruly element in the matter that He has created. He commands and it is there, exactly sized and in the place He wants it to be. The order in creation reflects God’s sovereign dominion. His supremacy does not frighten the God-fearing, but fills him with comfort and courage.

God’s control of the universe tells us that He also controls our lives. It also tells us that we can entrust Him with the control of our lives. That is what God taught Job and that is what we must also learn, especially when we do not understand things that happen in our lives. Job does not understand God and this causes him to wrestle with his faith. Until he comes face to face with God. Then he understands that he is too small to judge God’s government of all things. The point is that we learn to trust that He really is in control of all things.

Verses 10-15

The LORD Sees All People

God’s supremacy concerns not only matter, but also “the counsel” and “the plans” of the nations and the peoples (Psalms 33:10). These are the immaterial things, the deliberations of the hearts of men. Those things, too, are in His power. He nullifies and frustrates those councils and thoughts. He will do this because the counsel and plans of the nations are directed against Him and against His people. That He nullifies and frustrates them shows His exaltation and their futility.

God not only created the universe (Psalms 33:6-1 Samuel :), but He also directs the course of history and is able to overthrow the counsels of mighty kingdoms. In addition to the contrast between material and immaterial things, there is also a contrast between the past, creation, and the present, the history of mankind (Psalms 33:10-Ezra :).

Opposite to the counsel and plans of the nations against Him and against His people are His counsel and the plans of His heart (Psalms 33:11). No one is able to change these, let alone nullify and frustrate them. His counsel “stands forever” (cf. Proverbs 19:21; Isaiah 40:8). The plans of His heart relate to His promises to the patriarchs. His plans of blessing to His people stand “from generation to generation”. Nothing is able to undo those plans. He keeps His promises throughout the generations and will fulfill them (Psalms 105:8-1 Samuel :).

In Psalms 33:12, a “blessed” directs attention to a special people in the midst of all the nations. It is “nation whose God is the LORD, the people whom He has chosen for His own inheritance”. It can rightfully be said that a people is “blessed” when the God of that people is the God Who has been displayed in His exaltation in the previous verses. He has chosen Israel “for His own inheritance” (Exodus 19:5; Deuteronomy 4:20; Deuteronomy 9:26Deuteronomy 9:29; Deuteronomy 32:9; cf. 1 Peter 2:9).

The God of this people “looks from heaven; He sees all the sons of men. From His dwelling place He looks out on all the inhabitants of the earth” (Psalms 33:13-2 Chronicles :). His position in heaven, His exalted dwelling place, emphasizes His exaltation above all that is and is happening on earth and His untouchability to those who dwell on earth. He is not only the Almighty Who created everything and directs the course of history, He is also the Omniscient, Whose eyes are like a flame of fire (Revelation 1:14). He sees right through you. From Him nothing is hidden. “All things are open and laid bare to the eyes of Him with whom we have to d” (Hebrews 4:13).

This does not mean that He is not intimately involved with the earth and its inhabitants. There is nothing that escapes Him. He not only sees everything that happens, but also “fashions the hearts of them all” (Psalms 33:15). Thus, as Creator, He also formed their bodies (Genesis 2:7). This means that He knows people’s hearts through and through. He knows all the deliberations that take place there, which are hidden from everyone.

In this process, He “understands all their works”. Both the inner considerations, the motives of men, and their outer deeds He knows. And not only that. Not only can man never thwart God’s plans, but God controls man and uses him against his will in order to work out His plans and achieve His goal. We see the same thing with the devil. This does not change the responsibility of man and the devil. They are held fully responsible for “all their works”. It only makes it clear that God is above everything and can use even man’s rebellion for His purpose.

Verses 16-22

Our Help and Our Shield

Compared to the power of God, the most powerful people like “the king” and “a warrior” are dwarfed (Psalms 33:16). They are powerless, even though they have a “mighty army” and “great strength”, to deliver themselves from an enemy or to save themselves from a threatening situation.

If a man counts solely on the great strength of a horse for a victory or to escape defeat, he will be deceived (Psalms 33:17). His hope in it is false. Man is foolish and suffers from hopeless overconfidence if he boasts and relies on human strength for victory. Only the LORD can give victory, for He controls everything.

In contrast to people who rely on the power of human resources, on the strength of a powerful ally, stand those who fear the LORD and hope for His lovingkindness (Psalms 33:18). They know that His eye is fixed on them in loving care and that He always sees them, which means that He is watching them in goodness (Job 36:7). This is very much better than relying on human resources.

He delivers from death (Psalms 33:19). He also keeps alive in times of famine caused by the encirclement of an enemy (cf. Isaiah 36:12). In a famine, any appeal to a king, a warrior, or a horse is futile (cf. 2 Kings 6:25-Daniel :; Isaiah 36:9).

Psalms 33:20-Ecclesiastes : are, as it were, the response of the remnant to the call to praise of Psalms 33:1-Leviticus :. Those who fear the LORD expect Him, that is, they look forward to what He is going to do (Psalms 33:20). They don’t take initiatives themselves, but leave it up to Him. What He determines is good. They boldly confess that He is their help and their shield (cf. Psalms 28:7). He is their Helper and Protector.

They declare that their hearts rejoice in Him (Psalms 33:21). The cause of this is their “trust in His holy name”. This means that they submit to Him, that is, they want God to be Who He is: God. His holy Name guarantees that He will work out all His plans to fulfill all His promises. When things go badly with Israel, the Name of the LORD is dishonored, and when things go well with Israel, the Name of the LORD is hallowed. When the Lord Jesus taught His disciples to pray, the first thing He taught them to say was: “Our Father who is in heaven, hallowed be Your name” (Matthew 6:9; cf. Isaiah 29:23; Isaiah 48:9-1 Kings :).

The prayer for blessing in Psalms 33:22 is the expression of dependence on the lovingkindness of God. It is the desire that the promise of the covenant blessings be fulfilled by the LORD. By their expressed trust and expectation of the LORD, the remnant may expect that the LORD will be faithful to His word and promise. The God-fearing ask for God’s lovingkindness upon them, meaning that it will guard over them, protect them, and guide them through life. They hope in Him and therefore all that He is, for He Himself is all they need to continue living their lives to His glory.

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Kingcomments on the Whole Bible © 2021 Author: G. de Koning. All rights reserved. Used with the permission of the author
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Bibliographical Information
de Koning, Ger. Commentaar op Psalms 33". "Kingcomments on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/kng/psalms-33.html. 'Stichting Titus' / 'Stichting Uitgeverij Daniƫl', Zwolle, Nederland. 2021.