Throughout September 2022, I managed to read and reflect – briefly – on a Psalm each day. For December 2022, I’m going to pick up the discipline. I’ll read the Psalm, pray, and then ponder a few questions:
- What is this Psalm about?
- What does this Psalm teach about God?
- How does this Psalm connect to God’s people today?
I’ll close the post with a simple prayer, trying to draw the themes together.
For the third of December, here’s Psalm 33:
1 Sing joyfully to the Lord, you righteous;
it is fitting for the upright to praise him.
2 Praise the Lord with the harp;
make music to him on the ten-stringed lyre.
3 Sing to him a new song;
play skilfully, and shout for joy.
4 For the word of the Lord is right and true;
he is faithful in all he does.
5 The Lord loves righteousness and justice;
the earth is full of his unfailing love.
6 By the word of the Lord the heavens were made,
their starry host by the breath of his mouth.
7 He gathers the waters of the sea into jars[a];
he puts the deep into storehouses.
8 Let all the earth fear the Lord;
let all the people of the world revere him.
9 For he spoke, and it came to be;
he commanded, and it stood firm.
10 The Lord foils the plans of the nations;
he thwarts the purposes of the peoples.
11 But the plans of the Lord stand firm forever,
the purposes of his heart through all generations.
12 Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord,
the people he chose for his inheritance.
13 From heaven the Lord looks down
and sees all mankind;
14 from his dwelling place he watches
all who live on earth—
15 he who forms the hearts of all,
who considers everything they do.
16 No king is saved by the size of his army;
no warrior escapes by his great strength.
17 A horse is a vain hope for deliverance;
despite all its great strength it cannot save.
18 But the eyes of the Lord are on those who fear him,
on those whose hope is in his unfailing love,
19 to deliver them from death
and keep them alive in famine.
20 We wait in hope for the Lord;
he is our help and our shield.
21 In him our hearts rejoice,
for we trust in his holy name.
22 May your unfailing love be with us, Lord,
even as we put our hope in you.
What is this Psalm about?
This is one of the most theological Psalms I’ve encountered on this semi-daily read-through. This is a Psalm about God, first and foremost – quite literally, as even when it moves to talk about God’s people, it is in the light of who God is, does and loves.
What does this Psalm teach us about God?
The God of Psalm 33 is clearly a person – God hears our singing and music [v. 1-3], communicates [v. 4], loves unfailingly, particularly righteousness and justice [v. 5, 18, 22], and has eternal plans that cannot be thwarted [v.11]. This is not some mindless force or impotent spirit – the God we read about in Psalm 33 is complex and powerful, thoughtful and communicative, and has clear desires. In this, the God we read about hear seems a little like us – even if the scale of Gods’ complexity and power, God’s thought and communication, and God’s plans and desires, is far beyond us. This God looks down from heaven [v.13] – his dwelling place implies perhaps movement beyond, and seeing everywhere else – and God’s power is contrasted with any and every human king [v.16], who look a little pathetic.
How does this Psalm connect to God’s people today?
For those of us who feel lost, knowing that God sees us and knows us and loves us, and has plans for us, is a stunning truth. As has so often been the case in the Psalms, there is a call to hope, rejoice, trust and hope [v. 20-22] – yet this is rooted in and only makes sense of the way that God acts and what God is like. We can hope because God hears, we can rejoice because God is righteous and just, we can trust because his plans cannot be thwarted, and our hope is certain. A wonderful reminder of who is really in charge.
A prayer drawn from Psalm 33:
Lord, your word is righteous and true – and your plans cannot be thwarted, unlike ours or the plans of evil men. In the light of who you are, I choose to put my hope and trust in you. In you my heart rejoices – help my heart rejoice – for I trust your holy name. Amen.