1 Samuel 17; Romans 15; Lamentations 2; Psalm 33
THIS DELIGHTFUL HYMN OF PRAISE (Ps. 33) focuses on what God is and what he does. It is so wonderfully fecund that here I can do no more than draw attention to some of its evocative themes.
(1) The Lord is righteous, and “it is fitting for the upright to praise him” (Ps. 33:1). Faithful and thoughtful worship turns in part on adoration of God for his character. Those who reflect the same character, however feebly, will most hungrily worship him for his perfections. Thus godly praise is tied to the moral transformation of the worshiper.
(2) The psalmist envisages creativity in music, consummate skill on the instruments, and fervor (Ps. 33:3)—a combination fairly rare in evangelical corporate worship.
(3) God’s character and God’s work cannot be separated from his word (Ps. 33:4-9). This is not only because God’s word is as righteous, true, reliable (“faithful”), and loving as he is, but because God’s word is effective—something nowhere more clearly seen than in creation: “By the word of the LORD were the heavens made, their starry host by the breath of his mouth” (Ps. 33:6).
(4) God is utterly sovereign. He foils the plans of the nations; no one ever foils his plans (Ps. 33:10-11): “the plans of the LORD stand firm forever, the purposes of his heart through all generations.”
(5) Although God is sovereign over the entire human race, and is the judge of all, yet he is peculiarly the God of his own covenant people (Ps. 33:12-15).
(6) Nations are never saved by mere might, apart from the blessing and sanction of God. Of course, God might well use the big guns, and his sovereign providence operates even in the preparation of the mighty empires that chastened his own people. But to trust the big guns is to forget who gives strength and wealth and blessing. Moreover, the Lord is perfectly capable of overturning any nation of any size, of spiking the big guns. “A horse [or a tank] is a vain hope for deliverance; despite all its great strength it cannot save” (Ps. 33:17). The ultimate hope is in the Lord: “But the eyes of the LORD are on those who fear him, on those whose hope is in his unfailing love” (Ps. 33:18).
(7) Granted that this is the sort of God who is really there, that this is the God we worship, the three closing verses are as inevitable as they are jubilant. Here is the proper grounding for godly hope: “We wait in hope for the LORD; he is our help and our shield. In him our hearts rejoice, for we trust in his holy name. May your unfailing love rest upon us, O LORD, even as we put our hope in you” (Ps. 33:20-22).