Psalm 33

Praising God For Who He Is

When have you felt overwhelmed by God's presence and power?

There are many reasons to praise God, but his powerful presence must rank number one. We praise God because he is the creator and we are his creatures. He is all-knowing, all-powerful, and all-loving. We praise God for what he is, first of all. His activity among us comes second.

1 Rejoice in YHWH, you righteous!
Praise is fitting for the upright.
2 Give thanks to YHWH with the lyre.
Sing praises to him with the harp of ten strings.
3 Sing to him a new song.
Play skillfully with a shout of joy!

Psalm 33 praised God for what he was, not what he did for his people. It began with praise for the power of his word. As a liturgical psalm, 33:1-3 extolled the Temple musicians to "sing a new song" (a command to recognize a new activity of God among his people; see Psalm 40:4, 98:1, 98:1, 144:9, 149:1, Isaiah 42:1). The musicians were to praise God with a joyful chant.

4 For the word of YHWH is right.
All his work is done in faithfulness.
5 He loves righteousness and justice.
The earth is full of the loving kindness of YHWH.

In 33:4-5, the reason for praise lie in God's word. Like God himself, his word was faithful and true (terms that described the covenant God had with his people). The Lord loved those who returned fidelity in his covenant (justice and right) and he filled the earth with his presence (goodness).

6 By YHWH's word, the heavens were made;
all their army by the breath of his mouth.
7 He gathers the waters of the sea together as a heap.
He lays up the deeps in storehouses.
8 Let all the earth fear YHWH.
Let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of him.
9 For he spoke, and it was done.
He commanded, and it stood firm.
10 YHWH brings the counsel of the nations to nothing.
He makes the thoughts of the peoples to be of no effect.
11 The counsel of YHWH stands fast forever,
the thoughts of his heart to all generations.
12 Blessed is the nation whose God is YHWH,
the people whom he has chosen for his own inheritance.

33:6-7 encapsulated the creation story in Genesis 1:1-2. He made the heavens with his word and divided the waters with his breathe (his Spirit). The Lord was in total control because of his creative powers. The only response was universal awe and reverence (33:8); divine providence continued God's plan of creation and even if it thwarted the plans of nations (33:9-11). The people God chose, the Israelites, were blessed with their election (33:12).

13 YHWH looks from heaven.
He sees all the sons of men.
14 From the place of his habitation he looks out on all the inhabitants of the earth,
15 he who fashions all of their hearts;
and he considers all of their works.
16 There is no king saved by the multitude of an army.
A mighty man is not delivered by great strength.
17 A horse is a vain thing for safety,
neither does he deliver any by his great power.
18 Behold, YHWH's eye is on those who fear him,
on those who hope in his loving kindness;
19 to deliver their soul from death,
to keep them alive in famine.

33:13-15 described God as the universal judge from heaven, even over kings who claimed some sort of absolute rule (33:16-17). He blessed those who follow the covenant with sincere hearts, saving them even from death (33:18-19).

20 Our soul has waited for YHWH.
He is our help and our shield.
21 For our heart rejoices in him,
because we have trusted in his holy name.
22 Let your loving kindness be on us, YHWH,
since we have hoped in you.

In 33:20-22, the psalm ended with a petition for blessing on those who waits for the Lord to act and trust in his power (i.e., his name).

Notice the divine attributes were inferred. God was all-knowing (33:13-15), all-powerful (33:6-7, 9), and all-loving (33:5). The name of YHWH was mentioned 13 times in the psalm; this re-enforced the notion of God's position and power.

Many times, our prayer life shrinks to our own parochial concerns. My prayer is focused on myself, my needs, my wants. But is that really prayer? Isn't prayer at its roots treating God as God? Should prayer be praise for God out of a sense of awe and reverence?

Praise God. Praise God for he is our God.

Dedicate your day to the glory of God. Take time during your day to give him the praise he is due.