I can’t get away from a tee-shirt my daughter wore on our family vacation last week. It wonderfully, concisely said, “It’s Simple.”
Following the somber and life-giving Psalm 32 about sin and forgiveness, Psalm 33 is an exuberant song, filled with irreducible thoughts about our sovereign God and his works, and reasons for praise. The forgiven sinner is now the joy-filled worshipper. I note the Psalm is a congregational experience but certainly we can apply it personally. Is this your pattern of personal and gathered worship?
A.P. Gibbs said, “Worship is the occupation of the soul with God Himself.” Praise, we learn, moves us to “shout for joy in the LORD” since “Praise befits the upright” (v. 1). At the heart of praise is “thanksgiving” for all kinds of things with all kinds of instruments (v. 2), including “new” songs of His immeasurable expressions of, in the words of the Psalmist, uprightness, faithfulness, love of righteousness and justice, and His steadfast-loyal-royal-love (vss.3-5). Some of us need to shout about these things a lot more.
Psalm 33 is all about God. Beyond a satisfying sensory experience, creation points us to God. The verse that accompained Robin’s shirt was from Psalm 33:9: “For he spoke, and it came to be; he commanded, and it stood firm.” Creation is stunning, and it is a central guide to praise in Psalm 33. What creation moments and sights have you given praise to God for recently? For me, last week on vacation I saw exhilarating, God-inviting sunrises and sunsets, waters and beaches, mangroves, manatees rolling, innumerable birds everywhere, and the irrepressible laughter of grandkids. This week, our bright moon and cool mornings call out to praise the One who made them. Always, our first response in appreciation for God’s creation wherever we are is to praise God in worship (vss. 6-9).
God’s counsel—His plans—come next in Psalm 33, and they, too, are a worthy component of our praise (vss. 10-12). Do we think of this? Strikingly, in context we learn God is not an arbitrary ruler nor are we His robots. His plan includes blessing—favor—for, “Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD, the people whom he has chosen as his heritage!” Aren’t you glad He gives blessing to we who are His people and His heritage?
Next, in His sovereignty He is compassionate upon His own (vss. 13-19). Our strength to live out His plan in the midst of resistance from within and without comes from Him as we “hope in his steadfast love.” Hope in Scripture is the certainty of God’s promises, not the wishful fantasies of our fickle minds and culture.
Therefore, the Psalmist concludes, we actively hope in God (v. 22): “Our soul waits for the LORD; he [only] is our help and our shield” (v. 20). Gladness and trust, are, after all, misplaced anywhere else in light of the evidence (v. 21).
It’s that simple.