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Wednesday, September 27th, 2023
the Week of Proper 20 / Ordinary 25
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Bible Commentaries
Psalms 33

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - UnabridgedCommentary Critical Unabridged

Verse 1

Rejoice in the LORD, O ye righteous: for praise is comely for the upright.

Psalms 33:1-22.-Call to the righteous to praise God with a new song (Psalms 33:1-3); ground of praise: the truth, righteousness, grace, and creative, all-sustaining power of God (Psalms 33:4-11); blessedness of the elect, whose God is the Lord, who delivers their soul, whereas physical strength cannot save (Psalms 33:12-19); believers, remembering His power and love, testify their joyful trust in Him and pray for His consequent mercy (Psalms 33:20-22). This psalm forms, with Psalms 32:1-11, a pair. Moved by God's pardon of his grievous sin, he proceeds to praise God's truth and power.

Rejoice ... ye righteous - all who 'fear the Lord, hope, in His mercy, and trust in His holy name' (Psalms 33:18; Psalms 33:21).

Praise is comely ... - "comely," i:e., becoming. "The upright" are represented especially by Israel, "the nation whose God is the Lord, and the people whom He hath chosen for His own inheritance" (Psalms 33:12; Exodus 19:5; Numbers 23:10). "Upright;" i:e. conformed to the law of God, the standard of right. Israel, in its normal idea, is called Jeshurun (Deuteronomy 33:5; Deuteronomy 33:26) - i:e., 'the upright one,' from Jasher, Hebrew, upright. To "rejoice in the Lord" is to make Him the element and the central object of our joy.

Verse 2

Praise the LORD with harp: sing unto him with the psaltery and an instrument of ten strings.

Praise ... harp. The voice is felt inadequate to do justice to the glory of God: the aid of instruments is enlisted.

The psaltery (and) an instrument of ten strings - rather, as the old version all translate, one instrument only is meant, 'with the lyre of ten strings' [ neebel (H5035) `aasowr (H6218)] Josephus says the strings were twelve. But some lyres may have had but ten. The Hebrew for lyre originally meant a leather bottle. From its shape, the lyre was so called [Greek, nabla]. It was played with the fingers, not with the quill (cf. Psalms 92:3; Psalms 144:9).

Verse 3

Sing unto him a new song; play skilfully with a loud noise.

Sing ... a new song - the song of redemption from all foes, and from the great adversary, especially at the crowning consummation (Psalms 40:3; Psalms 96:1; Psalms 98:1; Revelation 5:9, "They sung a new song ... Thou art worthy ... for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred," etc.; 14:1,3; 42:9-10). Whilst the song of redemption is of ancient date, it is ever new to the heart of the believer (1 John 2:7-8).

Play skilfully. The same Hebrew ( heeyTiybuw (H3190) nageen (H5059)) is used by Saul, 1 Samuel 16:17, "Provide me now a man that can play well" - literally, 'do good to play.' Saul's words impressed themselves on David's memory. An undesigned coincidence, and a proof of genuineness.

Verse 4

For the word of the LORD is right; and all his works are done in truth.

The first part (Psalms 33:4-16) of the main body; reasons why God is so to be praised (Psalms 33:1) - namely, for His truth, righteousness, creating, sustaining, and all-controlling power. Foremost stands His truth, or faithfulness to His promises. The Scripture promises existing in David's day were, even then, the comfort of the people of God.

The word ... right - rather, "upright," as the Hebrew is translated in Psalms 33:1. "The word of the Lord" is His promise to His people (Psalms 105:42).

And all his works are done in truth - or 'faithfulness.' "His works" answer in parallelism to His "word." His word and His works coincide. What He promises He performs (Numbers 23:19). His works are the result of His word (Psalms 33:9).

Verse 5

He loveth righteousness and judgment: the earth is full of the goodness of the LORD.

He ... righteousness - the Church's ground of assurance that the Lord will not let the unrighteousness of her enemies prevail (Habakkuk 1:13).

The earth is full ... If the goodness of God so richly manifests itself in the world of nature, how much more will it be exhibited toward His people, the special objects of His choice.

Verse 6

By the word of the LORD were the heavens made; and all the host of them by the breath of his mouth.

As heretofore David has dwelt on Yahweh's faithfulness, righteousness, and goodness, as proving that He is willing to help his people, so now David turns to the proofs that Yahweh is also able to save them. As "the earth" supplied the Psalmist with illustrations of Yahweh's goodness, so "the heavens" afford the proof of Yahweh's power, (Psalms 8:1-9 and Psalms 19:1-14.)

By the word of the Lord ... all the host of them ... "The host of them" is the heavenly bodies-the sun, moon, and stars (Genesis 2:1). The mere "breath of His mouth," as contrasted with man's laborious efforts before he can achieve his puny works, was enough to call myriads of beautiful and orderly worlds into being (cf. Isaiah 11:4; Job 33:4; Psalms 104:30). The DIVINE WORD and the DIVINE SPIRIT cooperated at creation (Genesis 1:2-3).

Verse 7

He gathereth the waters of the sea together as an heap: he layeth up the depth in storehouses.

He gathereth ... as an heap - a daily-recurring wonder. God gathereth the fluid mass as one would gather a solid heap, and prevents the waters spreading over the earth further than they did at the first. There is an allusion to Exodus 15:8, "With the blast of thy nostrils the waters were gathered together, the floods stood upright as an heap;" and at the beginning (Genesis 1:9-10). Compare Joshua 3:13. The ordinary checking of the waters is as real a proof of God's omnipotence as the miraculous restraining of them at the Red Sea. The Septuagint, Chaldaic, Arabic, Vulgate, Ethiopic, and Syriac versions read [not need (H5067), as the English version, but no'r] a bottle, for a "heap." Psalms 78:13 confirms the English version reading.

He layeth up ... - "the depth," or 'the billows.' These are deposited by God in the deep caverns of the sea as securely as treasures laid up in a safe store.

Verse 8

Let all the earth fear the LORD: let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of him.

Let ... fear the Lord. Since God is the omnipotent Creator (Psalms 33:6; Psalms 33:8), how madly self-destroying are they who oppose themselves to His people, and so virtually to God Himself!

Verse 9

For he spake, and it was done; he commanded, and it stood fast.

He spake ... done - (Genesis 1:6-7, Genesis 1:9, Genesis 1:11, Genesis 1:14-15, Genesis 1:24, Genesis 1:29,39 , "And God said ... and it was so.")

He commanded ... At His word the thing spoken became an existing fact, (Psalms 119:90, margin.)

Verse 10

The LORD bringeth the counsel of the heathen to nought: he maketh the devices of the people of none effect.

Counsel of the pagan - Hebrew, the nations; namely, their counsel against the Lord's people (Psalms 2:1-4).

The devices of the people - Hebrew, 'the peoples.'

Verse 11

The counsel of the LORD standeth for ever, the thoughts of his heart to all generations.

The counsel ... standeth for ever - even as the earth at His bidding "stood fast" (Psalms 33:9). Omnipotent as His work of creation proves Him to be, it is easy for Him to "bring to nought the counsel of the pagan" against Israel and Israel's king, and "the devices" of the anti-Christian 'peoples' against the spiritual Israel, the Church (Psalms 33:10). But His own plans for His glory and the good of His people are "forever," and can never be frustrated. What cause, then, hath Israel for fear?

The thoughts ( machshªbowt (H4284)). The same Hebrew stands for, God's "thoughts" here, as stood for the people's "devices," Psalms 33:10, marking, by the irony of contrast between Him and them, the futility of their devices.

Verse 12

Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD; and the people whom he hath chosen for his own inheritance.

Second half of the main body (Psalms 33:12-19); the blessedness of the elect people whose God is the Lord; in Him they have a strength which multitudes of men and horses could not give.

Blessed is the nation - the central thought of the psalm. Israel primarily is the nation; then all the elect.

The people ... his own inheritance (Exodus 19:5; Deuteronomy 7:6; Amos 3:2) - spiritually the Church (1 Peter 2:9).

Verse 13

The LORD looketh from heaven; he beholdeth all the sons of men.

The Lord looketh - not as an idle spectator, but as a sovereign Judge, taking cognizance of everything.

Verse 14

From the place of his habitation he looketh upon all the inhabitants of the earth. No JFB commentary on this verse.

Verse 15

He fashioneth their hearts alike; he considereth all their works.

He fashioneth their hearts ... The heart is 'the workshop of thought' (Hengstenberg). As God is the Fashioner of the hearts of all alike, He both accurately seeth into, and hath under His control, the "devices" of the people (Psalms 94:9; Psalms 5:10). Their "works," which result from their thoughts, will not be allowed to proceed so far as really to hurt His people. We have therefore nothing to fear if we have God for our friend. He is "the God of the spirits of all flesh" (Numbers 16:22; Numbers 27:16; Proverbs 21:1).

Verse 16

There is no king saved by the multitude of an host: a mighty man is not delivered by much strength.

No king ... multitude of an host - or, 'by the greatness of (his warlike) might.'

A mighty man - a warrior.

Verse 17

An horse is a vain thing for safety: neither shall he deliver any by his great strength.

An horse ... War-horses and chariots were forbidden to Israel (Deuteronomy 17:16); hence, in respect to this arm of strength, Israel might seem at a disadvantage in her conflict with the world-power. Moreover, in other resources she wee not a match for her powerful enemies; but as everything depends on the power of God, and nothing is effected by mere earthly strength, Israel, so long as she has the Lord for her God, has everything to hope and nothing to fear (cf. Proverbs 21:31).

Verse 18

Behold, the eye of the LORD is upon them that fear him, upon them that hope in his mercy;

The eye ... fear him (Psalms 34:15) - "upon the righteous."

Verse 19

To deliver their soul from death, and to keep them alive in famine.

To deliver ... death. What wordly 'strength' cannot do-namely, "deliver" its possessor (Psalms 33:16-17) "from death," is done for Israel, who is destitute of worldly strength, by the love and omnipotence of Yahweh.

Verse 20

Our soul waiteth for the LORD: he is our help and our shield.

Conclusion. Believers testify their joy and trust in the Lord as their 'help and shield,' and pray that Yahweh's "mercy" may be upon them, according as their "hope" is in Him.

Our soul waiteth - with intent expectation, as the Hebrew implies. So Israel's forefather, Jacob, on his death-bed (Genesis 49:18).

Verse 21

For our heart shall rejoice in him, because we have trusted in his holy name.

His holy name. His holiness is the center and source of His attributes-and His grace, truth, and faithfulness.

Verse 22

Let thy mercy, O LORD, be upon us, according as we hope in thee.

Let ... according ... Cf Matthew 9:29, Jesus' words to the two blind men at Jericho, "According to your faith be it unto you."

Bibliographical Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Psalms 33". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/jfu/psalms-33.html. 1871-8.
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