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Bible Commentaries

John Trapp Complete Commentary
Psalms 33

 

 

Verse 1

Psalms 33:1 Rejoice in the LORD, O ye righteous: [for] praise is comely for the upright.

Ver. 1. Rejoice in the Lord, O ye rightness] That is, O ye upright in heart, as it followeth here, and as Psalms 32:11. For as there he ended, so here he beginneth, calling upon the saints to be cheerful; and indeed there is hardly any duty more pressed in the Old and New Testament, or less practised. To quicken them, therefore, to so necessary but much neglected a duty, this psalm seemeth to be added to the former, purposely to excite us, by many arguments, to consecrate our whole lives to the singing and setting forth of God’s worthy praises. In which regard nihil potest esse hoc carmine augustius, saith Beza, this is surely a most excellent psalm; and if it were well practised we might have a very heaven here; as because it is not, we lose very much of the comtbrt of our lives. Only that cautionating counsel of Bernard would not be forgotten, Laeti simus, non securi; gaudentes in Spiritu Sancto, sed tamen caventes a recidivo; Let us be cheerful, but not secure; and rejoice in the Holy Ghost, but take heed we let not fall the watch of the Lord. Crede mihi res severa est gaudium verum, Believe me, true joy is a severe matter, said Seneca. We may better say so of spiritual joy, which he never tasted of, neither doth any stranger meddle with. And if Plato could tell the musicians, philosophers could tell how to be merry without music; much more may God’s people. Quid nobis cum fabulis, cure risu? saith Bernard, What have we to do with carnal mirth and jollity? &c.; we have meat to eat, and music to our meat, that the world knoweth not of; let us make us merry with it.

For praise is comely for the upright] For them, and for none but them; high words are not fit for a fool, saith Solomon. Laudari ab illaudato, to be praised by a praiseless person is no praise at all (Seneca). That State in story would not approve of good words from an evil mouth; no more doth God, Psalms 50:15-16. Christ would not suffer the devil to confess him. Hypocrisy slurreth all it toucheth. If a man should sing a good song with his voice, and play a bad one on his instrument, it would make but a black sanctus. Such is the praise of the unupright; who had better therefore be silent, unless themselves were better, since they do not only lose their labour, but commit sin. Displeasing service is double dishonour; and dissembled sanctity double iniquity.


Verse 2

Psalms 33:2 Praise the LORD with harp: sing unto him with the psaltery [and] an instrument of ten strings.

Ver. 2. Praise the Lord with harp] Or cittern, Jubal’s invention, Genesis 4:21, much used by David and others of old under the Jewish pedagogy, as a help to devotion, as were also other musical instruments, here and elsewhere mentioned. Now it is otherwise; the best melody is to sing psalms with grace in our hearts; and for other music, when Aristotle was asked what he thought of it, he answered, Iovem nec canere, neque citharam pulsare, that Jupiter regarded it not.


Verse 3

Psalms 33:3 Sing unto him a new song; play skilfully with a loud noise.

Ver. 3. Sing unto him a new song] sc. Upon every new emergent occasion. God reneweth his mercies not only every morning, but every moment: so should we our praises; every breath we draw should praise the Lord, Psalms 150:6. Doth God give comforts? praise him, and they shall be continued. Doth he send crosses? praise him, and they shall be removed, saith a Father; but "in everything give thanks"; and that not coldly and cursorily, but ardently, and with utmost affection; for which cause this duty is so reiterated here, and pressed with such forcible arguments in the following verses, as might work upon the very stones almost; much more men, for whose sakes all this fair fabric of the world was erected.

Play skilfully (or lustily) with a loud noise] Make good music, set all your skill and might at work to magnify the Lord. It is not an easy matter to praise God aright; it must be done Corde, ore, opere, with the very best of the best. Benefacite canendo, cum iubilatione.


Verse 4

Psalms 33:4 For the word of the LORD [is] right; and all his works [are done] in truth.

Ver. 4. For the word of the Lord is right] Every word of God is pure and precious, Proverbs 30:5; his commandment holy, and just, and good, Romans 7:12; but by word here we are to understand God’s counsel and decree concerning the creation and government of the world, which is unquestionably right, and agreeable to sound reason, and therefore they are to blame that dislike his doings. If any evil befall them, the saints confess God’s righteousness, and praise him, as Isaiah 12:1, Psalms 10:1, saith Kimchi here.

And all his works are done in truth] Or, in faith; that is, in faithfulness, without deceit or fickleness. This is to be understood as the execution of God’s decree, all is done well, and equitably.


Verse 5

Psalms 33:5 He loveth righteousness and judgment: the earth is full of the goodness of the LORD.

Ver. 5. He loveth righteousness and judgment] q.d. How can he do otherwise than right, whose nature is such that he loveth righteousness and judgment? that is, probat probanda, et damnat damnanda.

The earth is full of the goodness of the Lord] So that we cannot look any way, but matter of praise presents itself to our view. The whole nature of things is set forth, as an ample theatre of God’s wisdom, justice, and goodness.


Verse 6

Psalms 33:6 By the word of the LORD were the heavens made; and all the host of them by the breath of his mouth.

Ver. 6. By the word of the Lord were the heavens made] His fiat, or, Let them be, gave them a being. Or, by his essential Word, which is his Son, the second person in Trinity, Proverbs 8:27, John 1:3, Colossians 1:16, Hebrews 1:2. Solo ipsius iussuet nutu.

And all the host of them] These are first mentioned, because the most glorious of all the works of God, so Psalms 19:1.

By the breath of his mouth] By his word and command. Or rather, by his Holy Spirit, the third person in Trinity, inseparable from the other two, as well in essence as in operation. See Genesis 1:1-2. {See Trapp on "Genesis 1:1"} {See Trapp on "Genesis 1:1"} It hath been elsewhere noted, that in Thebe, a town of Egypt, they worshipped a God whom they acknowledged to be immortal. But how painted they him? In the likeness of a man blowing an egg out of his mouth; to signify, that he made the round world by his word, and by the breath of his mouth, as here. Varro addeth, that in way of thankfulness, they dedicated a sheep to him, to be offered in sacrifice (Plut. de Iside et Osiride; Varro de Re Rust. l. ii. cap. 1). This text was commonly urged by the ancients for the Trinity of persons in the Godhead; which Olympus, an Arian bishop, denying, was struck with three thunderbolts and killed in a bath.


Verse 7

Psalms 33:7 He gathereth the waters of the sea together as an heap: he layeth up the depth in storehouses.

Ver. 7. He gathereth the waters of the sea together] Confining them to their concave, to the pit he digged for them. Ecce altera misericordia, saith Kimchi here, Behold another mercy; without the which the earth would be unhabitable, unless by fishes only; because the waters would cover the earth.

As an heap] This showeth that the sea is higher than the earth. Sailors observe, that their ships move faster to the shore than from it, whereof what other reason can be given but the height of the waters above the land?

He layeth up the depth in storehouses] In his treasuries; that is, he secretly hideth them, and limiteth them to a certain place (that they overwhelm not the earth) by his almighty power, Jeremiah 5:22, Job 38:16. See there.


Verse 8

Psalms 33:8 Let all the earth fear the LORD: let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of him.

Ver. 8. Let all the earth fear the Lord] viz. For these stupendous works of his, sufficient to strike an awe into all creatures of the Divine majesty, Jeremiah 5:22. "Tremble, thou earth, at the presence of the Lord, at the presence of the God of Jacob," Psalms 114:7.


Verse 9

Psalms 33:9 For he spake, and it was [done]; he commanded, and it stood fast.

Ver. 9. For he spake, and it was done] So true is that saying, Dei dicere est facere. For God to say is to do. And a great shame it is to men to disobey the great Creator; and not rather to follow the example of the unreasonable and insensible creatures.

And it stood fast] The whole order of nature remaineth as he set it; firm, fast, and unmoveable.


Verse 10

Psalms 33:10 The LORD bringeth the counsel of the heathen to nought: he maketh the devices of the people of none effect.

Ver. 10. The Lord bringeth the counsel of the heathen to nought] i.e. He counterworketh the devil and his imps, who would overturn and destroy the fair order of nature, mingle heaven and earth together, as it were, and soon mar all. God frustrateth the counsels and attempts of such tumultuating firebrands and trouble states; and maugre their malice preserveth politics, laws, judgments, and natural equity; without which mankind could not long subsist. "Who, then, would not fear thee, O King of nations? for to thee doth it appertain," Jeremiah 10:7, Revelation 15:4.


Verse 11

Psalms 33:11 The counsel of the LORD standeth for ever, the thoughts of his heart to all generations.

Ver. 11. The counsel of the Lord standeth for ever] That counsel of his, whereby he hath decreed to maintain government among men, to relieve the oppressed, to punish the wicked, to uphold the Church, is firm and inviolable. Divinum consilium dum devitatur, impletur; humana sapientia dum reluctatur, comprehenditur, saith Gregory. There is a council in heaven that will dash the mould of all contrary counsels upon earth.


Verse 12

Psalms 33:12 Blessed [is] the nation whose God [is] the LORD [and] the people [whom] he hath chosen for his own inheritance.

Ver. 12. Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord] viz. By special favour and covenant. The preservation of the Church (which hath so few friends on earth, and so many enemies in earth and hell) is justly brought as an evident argument of the Divine providence. Christ standeth upon Mount Zion; and that mountain shall be exalted above all mountains. The Church, as it is highest in the favour of God, so it shall be set above all the world; and her enemies shall be in that place that is fittest for them, the lowest, the footstool of Christ.

The people whom he hath chosen] Some read it, people which hath chosen him for their inheritance. It cometh all to one. See Deuteronomy 26:17-19.


Verse 13

Psalms 33:13 The LORD looketh from heaven; he beholdeth all the sons of men.

Ver. 13. The Lord looketh from heaven] Ita respicit universos quasi singulos, ita singulos quasi solos. And this doctrine of God’s particular providence is, fides nationum quarum Deus est Dominus, saith Kimchi, taught in the Church only.


Verse 14

Psalms 33:14 From the place of his habitation he looketh upon all the inhabitants of the earth.

Ver. 14. From the place of his habitation he beholdeth] And this is a very great condescension, since he humbleth himself to behold things in heaven, Psalms 113:6, to look out of himself upon the saints and angels; how much more upon the inhabitants of the earth!


Verse 15

Psalms 33:15 He fashioneth their hearts alike; he considereth all their works.

Ver. 15. He fashioneth their hearts alike] i.e. One’s as well as another’s. Unum pariter ac aliud (Kimchi). The Arabic hath it, Format sigillatim, he fashioneth them severally one after another; and not all souls together, as the Origenists and some Jewish doctors held.

He considereth all their works] Their hearts are not hid from him (since he made them, as is said before), much less their works. These God considereth, and therefore men had need consider them, and turn their feet to his testimonies, Psalms 119:59.


Verse 16

Psalms 33:16 There is no king saved by the multitude of an host: a mighty man is not delivered by much strength.

Ver. 16. There is no king saved by the multitude of an host] Witness Sennacherib, Xerxes, Bajazet. Away, then, with creature confidence; it will be the ruin of all that rest in it, whether it be in men or means that they trust. See Psalms 62:9-10. {See Trapp on "Psalms 69:9"} {See Trapp on "Psalms 69:10"}

A mighty man] Or, a giant, Goliath for instance. As the most skilful swimmers are often drowned; so here.


Verse 17

Psalms 33:17 An horse [is] a vain thing for safety: neither shall he deliver [any] by his great strength.

Ver. 17. An horse is a vain thing] And yet a warlike creature, full of terror {See Trapp on "Psalms 32:9"} and so swift in service, that the Persians dedicated him to the sun (Pausan.). See Job 41:20, Proverbs 21:31, {See Trapp on "Job 41:20"} {See Trapp on "Proverbs 21:31"}


Verse 18

Psalms 33:18 Behold, the eye of the LORD [is] upon them that fear him, upon them that hope in his mercy;

Ver. 18. Behold, the eye of the Lord is on them that fear him] He looketh upon such with singular delight; not without sweet intimations of his singular kindness and care of their good.

Upon them that hope in his mercy] Here we have a description of that true Church which God will never forsake; sc. It is a company of such as truly serve God, and boast not of their merits; but, possessing their souls in hope and silence, wait for his mercy.


Verse 19

Psalms 33:19 To deliver their soul from death, and to keep them alive in famine.

Ver. 19. To deliver their soul] Freedom from troubles he promiseth not; but deliverance in due time he assureth them; and support in the mean while, to keep them alive in famine.


Verse 20

Psalms 33:20 Our soul waiteth for the LORD: he [is] our help and our shield.

Ver. 20. Our soul waiteth for the Lord] i.e. Patiently tarrieth the Lord’s leisure. We can both wait and want for a need.


Verse 21

Psalms 33:21 For our heart shall rejoice in him, because we have trusted in his holy name.

Ver. 21. Our heart shall rejoice in him] We shall be sure of a happy issue and event; but yet so as that we pray for it, as in the next words.


Verse 22

Psalms 33:22 Let thy mercy, O LORD, be upon us, according as we hope in thee.

Ver. 22. Let thy mercy, O Lord, be upon us, according as we hope in thee] Not that we would have no more mercy than we have trust; but we would show that our trust is bottomed upon thy promises, and that we humbly expect the full accomplishment of the same, in due time.

 


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Bibliography Information
Trapp, John. "Commentary on Psalms 33:4". John Trapp Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/psalms-33.html. 1865-1868.

Lectionary Calendar
Tuesday, December 10th, 2019
the Second Week of Advent
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