Thoughtful And Heartfelt Praise
Rejoice in the Lord, you righteous ones;Praise is becoming and appropriate for those who are upright [in heart—those with moral integrity and godly character]. Give thanks to the Lord with the lyre;Sing praises to Him with the harp of ten strings. Sing to Him a new song;Play skillfully [on the strings] with a loud and joyful sound. For the word of the Lord is right;And all His work is done in faithfulness. He loves righteousness and justice;The earth is full of the lovingkindness of the Lord. By the word of the Lord were the heavens made,And all their host by the breath of His mouth. He gathers the waters of the sea together as in a wineskin;He puts the deeps in storehouses. Let all the earth fear and worship the Lord;Let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of Him. For He spoke, and it was done;He commanded, and it stood fast. The Lord nullifies the counsel of the nations;He makes the thoughts and plans of the people ineffective. The counsel of the Lord stands forever,The thoughts and plans of His heart through all generations. Blessed [fortunate, prosperous, and favored by God] is the nation whose God is the Lord,The people whom He has chosen as His own inheritance. The Lord looks [down] from heaven;He sees all the sons of man; From His dwelling place He looks closelyUpon all the inhabitants of the earth— He who fashions the hearts of them all,Who considers and understands all that they do. The king is not saved by the great size of his army;A warrior is not rescued by his great strength. A horse is a false hope for victory;Nor does it deliver anyone by its great strength. Behold, the eye of the Lord is upon those who fear Him [and worship Him with awe-inspired reverence and obedience],On those who hope [confidently] in His compassion and lovingkindness, To rescue their lives from deathAnd keep them alive in famine. We wait [expectantly] for the Lord;He is our help and our shield. For in Him our heart rejoices,Because we trust [lean on, rely on, and are confident] in His holy name. Let Your [steadfast] lovingkindness, O Lord, be upon us,In proportion as we have hoped in You.
This psalm appears or to have been written amid a crisis. It carries the calm of one who has given careful and joyful reflection of God’s work on his behalf,and who finds himself now in a place of blessed assurance.
When you are exhausted and spent in the lifelong climb upward to Zion, it’s easy to forget there are resting moments- plateaus from which you can view the landscape, catch your breath awhile, and marvel that God has indeed led you out of the deep canyons below. Psalm 33 gives you that opportunity.
Psalm 33 calls for the upright to sing with joy and liveliness. We put words to music and sing because as George Wood says, “sounds of praise dance rather than walk slowly out of our heart.” So that we don’t become stale and routine and sing by rote, we are encouraged to “sing a new song.” Every passage of life brings a fresh revelation of God’s presence and ought to be included in our repertoire of worship. Our offering of both praise and worship should be given as excellently as possible. Whether vocal or instrumental, we are told to “play skillfully.” That means we work, study, and practice until we have mastered the song and can give it our best. Psalm 31 negates the idea that any old thing we throw together haphazardly is worthy of God.
There may be times when we walk through dark times and have no song and cannot “shout for joy.” When I have experienced times when I had no song, my spirit has been lifted by others. On one occasion, in a very dark time in my life, a song literally saved me. At that moment, feeling like at total failure as a minister, watching my grandson suffer multiple medical procedures, viewing the pain and bewilderment on the faces of my son and daughter-in-law, I wound up at my house that was under construction, alone. The overwhelming pressure had left me numb and at the bottom of the well. That day, I turned my radio on just to drown out the silence when Mercy Me began to sing “Flawless.” That day God lifted my heart out of despair and covered me with His love and mercy. I will be forever grateful.
While we have the privilege to praise God in the Spirit(1 Corinthians 14:15), we are also instructed to give praise rising from thoughtful contemplation of who God is and how He acts. Psalm 33 instructs us how to worship with our minds.
Psalm 33 gives us four things about God that evokes worship:
First, the Lord’s Word. The word God speaks to bring our lives into conformity with His will is meant to be as productive and effective as the very words He spoke to bring into existence all of creation. George Wood says, “His power is such that the great bodies of water are handled with the ease in which a traveler stored water in a flask.”
It’s never enough just to focus on what God has done for me personally. He is much greater than our relationship to Him and the mighty effect of His word ought to be one of reverence.
Second, the Lords plan. The Bible insists that God is both Lord over human history and the only Creator. His design for the human race are as invariable as the very laws of nature. He is not like some dictator who derives pleasure from ordering and controlling his subjects. Instead God finds pleasure in blessing and benefiting His people while at the same time, shielding them from the encroaching evil. Those who choose a life of submission to His lordship find themselves blessed.
Third, the Lord’s eye. There is nothing that can be hidden from God and nothing escapes His eye, including our thought life. He has access to everything and reads my heart. He watches over us diligently. George Wood says, “There are really two kinds of observation: the teacher who watches over the student to insure he does not cheat, and the father who watches his child on the beach to make sure she doesn’t go too deep. It is the second manner of watching that attracts the psalmist praise.”
Fourth, the Lord’s protection. God watches in order to rescue us when we need help. Those who are “self-sufficient” are not “watched.” The psalmist says that the king with his mighty army, the warrior who relies on his great strength, and the rider on the best horse are not among those “watched” for their confidence rests in their abilities. But God comes to save those who worship in reverence and whose hope is in His unfailing love. These are they that the Lord delivers from famine and death. We might conclude, albeit wrongfully that true believers never suffer, hunger, or die. But cessation of breath and deprivation are never the final word for those who trust God.
Psalm 33 ask us to pause and give personal application to it. Do we really believe what we sing? And it closes with this answer: “We wait in hope for the Lord.” We do not wait hopelessly for one who never shows up but for the God who will come at His time and at the right time. He comes in His way and the right way, therefore, while we’re waiting for His deliverance, we release our song of joy and trust.
Psalm 33 begins with powerful praise: “Sing joyfully to the Lord.” It ends in gentle confidence: “May your unfailing live rest upon us, O Lord, even as we put our hope in you.”
Lift up your heart in song and praise to the Lord today! Paul and Silas did in a dungeon and God heard and came down. Their bonds were released, the prison doors were opened, and salvation came to a hardened jailer. As we sing our praises unto the Lord, as has been said, “When our praises go up, the blessings come down!”
Dr. John Thompson