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“This psalm is a fit companion, but by no means the second half, of the preceding one, being distinct from it both in matter and form. It indicates a more tranquil frame of mind, such as flows from the calm assurance of pence with God. There is nothing against its being of the time and from the pen of David. It consists of twenty-two verses, like the alphabetic psalms. It celebrates the praise of the God of providence and grace. It falls into two halves of eleven verses each. Between three verses of adoration at the beginning, and three of devotion at the end, stand eight verses on the creative, and eight on the saving Word of God,”—Murphy.
THE CHARACTER OF TRUE WORSHIP
I. The worship of God is the chief joy of the good. “Ye righteous,” ye who have the new heart, and so have accepted the mercy of God, and are accepted by Him.”—Murphy. “Rejoice,” i.e., exult, shout for joy. “The Hebrew verb, according to etymologists, originally means to dance for joy, and is therefore a very strong expression for the liveliest exultation.”—Alexander. Joy is the soul of worship.
II. The worship of God is the highest duty of the good.
1. It is agreeable to their character. “The upright.” “Praise in the mouth of a sinner is like an oracle in the lips of a fool: how uncomely is it for him to praise God whose whole life is a dishonour to God! The godly are only fit to be choristers in God’s praise.”—Thomas Watson.
2. It is agreeable to their obligations. “Those who have received from God a right spirit and the forgiveness of sins, have a twofold obligation to praise Him.”—Murphy.
3. It is agreeable to their circumstances. Placed in the midst of God’s works, and daily receiving fresh proofs of His loving-kindness in providence and grace, the upright are always in fitting circumstances for praise.
III. The worship of God is the noblest employment of the good. “Praise the Lord with harp.” This is the first time musical instruments are referred to in the psalms. It is impossible now to ascertain the precise form of the “harp,” and the “psaltery,” and the “lute of ten strings.” The chief thing to notice is, that they were used as accompaniments and supports to the voice, as if the voice were too weak by itself to utter the Divine praises. Instruments of varied power and sweetness were employed, so as to secure the grandest effects. Psalms 33:3 : “ ‘Sing ur to Him a new song,’ not here one which has new marvels of God’s power and grace for its theme, as in Psalms 40:3, Psalms 98:1 (cf. Revelation 14:3), but rather one which springs freshly from a thankful and rejoicing heart,—one which seeks to put an old theme to a new light.”—Perowne. “Play skilfully.” Do your best in playing. “With a loud noise.” Music should not only be correct in execution, but joyous in spirit. The whole heart should be thrown into it.
The worship of God in song combines—
1. Unity and variety. While there may be both vocal and instrumental music, there should be but one spirit.
2. Sameness and freshness. The same old psalms and hymns and spiritual songs may be sung, and yet there may be the freshness of ever-new wonder, love, and praise, while “new songs” may evermore spring from the heart of the revived Church.
3. Devotion and art. There is scope for the highest efforts of genius in the service of song. Music should be cultivated. Religion and science should go together. We should give our very best to God.
4. Fellowship and individuality. While the service is that of the congregation, every separate heart should take part.
THE REASONABLENESS OF WORSHIP
“For” introduces the reasons for praising God. The order of the thought is sufficiently marked to admit of the subject being treated under the heads of creation, providence, and redemption. God is to be worshipped, because—
I. He is the God of creation.
We are called to notice—
1. The moral character of God (Psalms 33:4-19.33.5). Words and works are the exponents of character. The “word” is the idea, and the “work” is the fact. The “word” is the promise, and the “work” is the performance. It is by His words and works that God reveals Himself. They are the expression and embodiment of His eternal purpose. And the great attributes which are seen in beautiful harmony in all God’s words and works are Righteousness and Goodness. “He loveth righteousness,” i.e., it is His habit and delight. “The earth is full of the goodness of the Lord,” as conspicuously as the heaven with stars, as completely as the sea with waters. “Righteousness and goodness” are, as it were, incarnated in God’s words and works, to be the study and delight of His people forever.
2. The glory of creation. “From the present proofs of God’s love in the earth, the thoughts of the sacred poet naturally goes back to the creation of all things, and as He had before declared what the ‘word’ and the ‘work’ of Jehovah are in their essential characters (Psalms 33:4), so now He describes further the operation of that word, and the work which results therefrom.”—Perowne. Psalms 33:6. There is allusion here to the history of Creation in Genesis. First the mode, and then the extent, of the Divine working are described. “By the word of the Lord were the heavens made.” “The word,” “the creative mandate” (Genesis 1:1). “All the host,” the universe of things in their perfect order. This verse has special reference to the work of the second day. “Gathereth the waters.” The primary allusion here is to the work of the third day. The verse, however, expresses not a finished act, but a continued process, displaying its variations in the dividing of the Red Sea and the Jordan. Psalms 33:8-19.33.9. The consequent obligation to worship God, “Let all the earth fear the Lord.” This carries on the thought to the second act of the third day, by which the dry land was clothed with vegetation, and the way prepared for the creation of animals and of man. The parallel of all the earth is all the inhabitants of the habitable globe.—Murphy. “The heavens and the sea are mentioned as the theatre of God’s almighty power, as the earth before, of His loving-kindness; and thus the universe is summed up.”—Perowne. The argument is that Jehovah is the omnipotent Creator, and that we who are all His creatures, should worship Him with Holy reverence.
II. He is the God of providence.
“After speaking of God’s power in creation, the psalmist goes on to speak of His providence as ordering the world.”—Perowne. The providence of God is characterised as—
1. All Wise (Psalms 33:10). He who created and sustains the universe, can overrule or frustrate the designs of man, whether as individuals or nations, according as He deems right. We have a signal example of this in the history of Babel.
There is a contrast here between “the counsels” of men and the “counsel” of the Lord. Men come and go, and their thoughts are like the changing clouds, but God moves on in His ordained path, like the sun in the heavens, with unswerving fidelity. The counsels of men are like the edicts of arbitrary kings, which come to nought; but Jehovah’s counsels are His eternal and benign purpose, which He works out by His almighty power, from generation to generation. This holds true, not only with regard to God’s providence in general, but also with regard to His providence in its special bearing on His people. Hence the glad burst of praise (Psalms 33:12), “Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord, and the people whom He hath chosen for His own inheritance.”
2. All Seeing (Psalms 33:13-19.33.15). “He not only observes men’s doings, but knows their hearts, as having created them.”—Perowne. “From the place of His dwelling” (Psalms 33:14). This is a coincidence with the Song of Moses (Exodus 15:17). This is His dwelling-place above, of which earth is an adumbration. “Fashioneth their hearts alike” (Psalms 33:15). “The principle of reason in one heart is the identical with that in every other. Hence the capacity of mutual understanding and the certainty of human knowledge, as far as the moral reason retains its balance. ‘He considereth,’ not only understands, but observes with attention the conduct of His responsible creatures. There is a philosophy of human nature here.”—Murphy.
3. All Mighty (Psalms 33:16-19.33.17). “The weakness and insufficiency of ail human power, however great, as before of all human intellect. ‘King and mighty man and horse’ (i.e., war-horse, as elsewhere, ‘chariot and horse’) are selected as types of earthly power in all its greatness.”——Perowne.
“People of God, he means to say, let not the world persuade you that the throne, on which your king is seated, is an idle easy chair; no, He is seated on a throne, on a judgment-seat, from the lofty eminence of which proceed the destinies of the world. People of God, he means to say, firmly believe that all things are either openly or in a hidden manner subject to the influence of His might; not only the works of men, which are evidently so, since the issue never rests with them, but also the secret movings of their hearts, which God can strike with blindness, and can make foolish the understanding of the prudent, and wise the heart of babes. People of God, believe not in appearances according to which kings conquer by their might and warriors triumph in battle by the strength of their horses; it is appearance only, for, as all earthly power is borrowed from the Governor of the world, He may withdraw it at any time, and give it to whomsoever He pleases; so that all the victories on earth are won by His strength.”—Tholuck.
III. The God of redemption (Psalms 33:18-19.33.22). While mortal strength is vain for defence and security, they who fear the Lord and hope in His mercy shall be safe under Jehovah’s eye, and kept by His almighty “power, through faith unto salvation.” God is the only true deliverer. His deliverance reaches to the soul, and transcends all the perils of time and all the powers of evil. “While such omnipotence terrifies those who love not the Lord, it is rich in consolation to those who hope in His mercy. The whole people commit themselves to the Lord, rejoicing in Him and trusting in His name.”—Tholuck “Antigonus, king of Syria, being ready to give battle near the Isle of Andreos, sent out a squadron to watch the motions of his enemies, and to descry their strength; return was made that they had more ships, and better manned, than he had. ‘How,’ says Antigonus, ‘that cannot be, for how many dost thou reckon me,’ intimating that the dignity of a general weighed down many others, especially when poised with valour and experience. And where is valour, where is experience to be found, if not in God! He is the Lord of Hosts; with Him alone is strength and power to deliver Israel out of all her troubles. He may do it, He can do it, He will do it. He is wise in heart and mighty in strength, besides Him there is no Saviour, no Deliverer. He is a shield to the righteous, strength to the weak, a refuge to the oppressed.”—John Spencer.
“Dear dying Lamb! Thy precious blood
Shall never lose its power,
Till all the ransomed Church of God
Be saved, to sin no more.
E’er since, by faith, I saw the stream
Thy flowing wounds supply;
Redeeming love has been my theme,
And shall be till I die.
Then in a nobler, sweeter song,
I’ll sing Thy power to save;
When this poor lisping stammering tongue
Lies silent in the grave.”—Cowper.
THREE ASPECTS OF PIETY
I. Piety waiting on the Lord. “Our soul waiteth for the Lord.” Waiting is an attitude of soul. It is holding one’s self still till the accomplishment of some expected event. It is, therefore, patience and expectation united. “We wait” for the day, that we may work. We wait for the spring to sow and the harvest to reap. But waiting is consistent with action. It is not only testing and disciplinary, but it implies right use of means and opportunities, working while it is day, and sowing and reaping as the seasons of God come round. True waiting implies faith in God’s love. Heedfulness of His will (Psalms 123:3). Intense desire for His blessing (Psalms 130:6). Diligent use of all the means of grace. And what encouragement we have here to wait upon Him. “For He is our help and shield.”
II. Piety rejoicing in God. “Our heart shall rejoice in Him.” This is not merely rejoicing in God’s Word and works, but rejoicing in Himself. This is the highest attainment of piety. But this joy is one of the fruits of faith. “Because we have trusted in His holy name.” The more we know of God’s grace in Christ, the more shall our hearts exult in Him.
III. Piety praying to God. “Let Thy mercy, O Lord, be upon us, according as we hope in Thee.” This prayer is marked by humility. “Mercy” is sought, mercy for the sinner, the mercy of the Lord which bringeth salvation. This prayer is also marked by faith. It implies confidence in God’s grace and in His promises, and in the reality of His Spirit’s work in the heart The hope He begets He will not put to shame (Matthew 9:29).
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Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on Psalms 33". Preacher's Complete Homiletical Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/
the Second Week of Advent