God Watches the Motives, the Words, and the Actions of all Human Beings--Psalm 33
Psalm 33 is a beautiful psalm. The poet reminds every hearer that Yahweh is always watching from heaven above to observe the motives and desires, the words, and the actions of every human being (verses 10-11). In this context, he addresses "the righteous," "the upright," those who desire to serve Yahweh faithfully (verse 1). This psalm falls into four parts.
I. The composer exhorts his hearers to praise Yahweh. Psalm 33:1-3.
He specifically enumerates FOUR ways God's people are to praise God.
a. Worshippers must praise Yahweh WITH THE LYRE. God has created each human being with certain innate gifts. Many have the skill of using musical instruments. In such cases, Yahweh expects these people to praise Yahweh with their musical instruments. Here the psalmist particularly mentions the LYRE. 33:1a.
b. Worshippers must MAKE MELODY TO YAHWEH WITH THE HARP OF TEN STRINGS.
The verb "make melody" in the entire Bible means to use musical instruments. The Hebrew verb for "make melody" is zamar; the Greek equivalent is psallo. Many texts throughout the Bible naturally connect "sing" with the voice with "make melody" with musical instruments, as in Psalm 33:2b and Ephesians 5:19.
c. Worshippers must SING TO YAHWEH A NEW SONG. The Hebrew verb for "sing" is shir; the Greek equivalent in the Newer Testament is ado, again as in Ephesians 5:19. Singing with the voice and making melody with musical instruments are two ways in which worshippers express the feelings and desires of the heart. If singing or using musical instruments is not genuine from the heart, it is not acceptable to Yahweh, as Amos 5:23 emphasizes. 33:3a.
d. Worshippers must PLAY SKILLFULLY ON THE STRINGS, WITH LOUD SHOUTS. When God gives us a gift, it is essential to use that gift, whether it be singing or using musical instrumentsor praying or preaching or helping the poor or whatever that gift may be. Of course, Paul emphasizes this important point in 1 Corinthians 12:4-11. 33:3b
II. The Psalmist emphasizes Yahweh's Power in Creation. Psalm 33:4-9.
a. "The word of the Lord" in verses 4 and 6 is not the written word of God recorded in the Bible, but God's oracle proclamations orally in creation, in history, and in all life. Yahweh's dynamic, spoken word in creation show that it is upright, faithful, righteous, just and full of steadfast love. 33:4-5.
b. In creation, Yahweh made the heavens and their host: the sun, moon, and stars, "by the word of the Lord," that is, "by the break of his mouth." Yahweh brought everything into existence not by some great deed which he performed but simply by speaking his will. 33:6.
c. Planet earth is surrounded by powerful oceans over which no one has control. The psalmist emphasizes that Yahweh gathered the waters of the sea in a bottle and put the deeps in storehouses or silos. Yahweh alone is in control of the mighty waters on earth. 33:7.
d. As a result of this undeniable truth, the psalmist summons "all the earth," that is, "all the inhabitants of the world," to fear the Lord, which means to stand in awe of him, to respect him completely, to honor him. The reason for this is that Yahweh spoke, and it came to be. For example, God said, "Let there be light," and there was light (Genesis 1:3). God commanded, and it stood firm. 33:8-9.
III. The Psalmist emphasizes Yahweh's Power in History. Psalm 33:10-19.
a. Nations, presidents, emperors, powerful human beings have made great plans and schemes to carry out their purposes and desires. This NEVER WORKS, BECAUSE YAHWEH ALONE is in control of all history. The psalmist declares: "The Lord brings the COUNSEL OF THE NATIONS TO NOTHING, HE FRUSTRATES THE PLANS OFTHE PEOPLES." ONLY the counsel and plans of the Lord will prevail. History has proved again and again that this is the case. 33:10-11.
b. Only the nations who trust in the Lord will prevail. 33:12.
c. As KING OF THE UNIVERSE, Yahweh constantly looks down from his heavenly throne in heaven to see ALL HUMANKIND, ALL THE INHABITANTS OF THE EARTH to evaluate and judge their thoughts, their words, and their deeds. NO HUMAN BEING can avoid this reality, no matter how smart or how powerful a person may think he or she may be. 33:13-15.
d. Through history, kings have amassed great armies, great warriors have fought strong battles, and very sophisticated weapons have been made, but none of them has prevailed. ONLY GOD has prevailed, and this will always be true. 33:16-17.
e. "The eye of the Lord" wants to deliver all people, and those who fear him, hope in his steadfast love, will be the recipients of Yahweh's deliverance. 33:18-19.
IV. The Psalmist concludes by encouraging all people to trust in Yahweh alone. Psalm 33:20-22.
a. The psalmist and his comrades declare that they "wait for" the Lord and "hope in" his steadfast love and "are glad" in Yahweh, and "trust in" his holy name, and in no one and in nothing else. These worshippers set an example for all others. 33:20-21.
b. Finally, the psalmist addresses Yahweh himself. He implores Yahweh to let his steadfast love be on all true worshippers as they "hope in" him and in no one else. 33:22.
What a POWERFUL, BEAUTIFUL psalm. These thoughts should change our hearts and our lives.
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