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Bible Commentaries
Psalms 33

Benson's Commentary of the Old and New TestamentsBenson's Commentary


A.M. 2962. B.C. 1042.

On what particular occasion this Psalm was composed, or whether on any, is not known. It seems probable, however, that it was written by David in commemoration of the great deliverance of their forefathers, when God overthrew the chariots and horses of Pharaoh in the sea, and afterward led his people in the wilderness. Be this, however, as it will, it is an excellent Psalm in celebration of the praises of God, for his great and glorious works, both of creation and providence. The psalmist exhorts the righteous to praise God, for his truth, justice, and goodness, Psalms 33:1-5 . For creating the world, Psalms 33:6-9 . For his providence in governing it, Psalms 33:10-17 . For his peculiar favour to his people, encouraging them to trust in him, Psalms 33:18-22 .

Verse 1

Psalms 33:1. Rejoice in the Lord Let his excellence, discovered in his works, be the matter of your praise. Praise is comely for the upright It well becomes them to be employed in this work of praising God, partly, because they are under great and singular obligations to him, and have abundant occasions to do so; and partly, they will praise him sincerely, affectionately, and with due reverence and thankfulness, as he requires and deserves to be praised; whereas ungodly men do indeed disparage and pollute the holy name of God while they pretend to praise it; and therefore God rejects their praises and prayers.

Verses 2-3

Psalms 33:2-3. Praise the Lord with the harp, &c. He mentions these instruments, because they were used in the public worship of God in the tabernacle. Sing unto him a new song Either, 1st, A song newly composed: as if he had said, As God gives you fresh occasions to praise him, so do not content yourselves with the old songs or psalms made by former holy men of God, but make new ones suited to these occasions. Or, 2d, Songs renewed, or repeated and continued from day to day.

Verses 4-5

Psalms 33:4-5. The word of the Lord is right All God’s counsels and commands, whether contained in the Scriptures, or given forth in his providence, for the government of the world, are wise, and just, and good, without deceit or defect. All his works are done in truth All his dispensations of providence agree with his word, and are no other than the accomplishment of his promises, or threatenings, or other declarations of his mind and will in his word; although sometimes, for a season, they may seem contrary to it. He loveth righteousness and judgment That is, just judgment: or righteousness may relate to the sentence, and judgment to the execution of it. He not only doth justice to all men, but, which is more, he loves and delights in it. The earth is full of the goodness of the Lord He not only doth no man wrong, but he is very kind and merciful to all men in the world, on whom he bestows many favours, and to whom he gives many invitations to his love and service.

Verse 6

Psalms 33:6. By the word of the Lord were the heavens made Either 1st, By Christ who is often called God’s word, even by the Chaldee paraphrast; as also John 1:1-3, where he is said to be that Word by whom all things were made, declaring more clearly (as is also done in other parts of the New Testament) what is here only obscurely intimated. Or, 2d, By his will or command, as this phrase seems to be explained, Psalms 33:9. And so understood the expression hath a great emphasis in it; namely, that God made this admirable structure of the heavens, with the sun and moon, and all its glorious stars, not with great pains and time, and the help of many artists and instruments, as men do for meaner works; but with one single word, or, with as much ease as men speak a word, merely by commanding them to be: a consideration this, which wonderfully illustrates the power and glory of the Creator. For what cannot that power do which with a word made a world? And all the host of them The angels or the stars, by the breath, ברוח beruach, by the spirit of his mouth By the Holy Ghost, so called Job 33:4. Thus all the persons of the Trinity are referred to here, the Father, the Word, and the Spirit, to each of which this work of creation is elsewhere ascribed: see note on Genesis 1:26. Or this phrase, the breath of his mouth, may be merely a repetition of the former clause, as, the rod of his mouth, Isaiah 11:4; or his word, and the breath of his lips, mean the same thing: see also 2 Thessalonians 2:8.

Verse 7

Psalms 33:7. He gathereth the waters Or, gathered, for he seems to speak of the first creation when this was done, Genesis 1:0. Or, he alludes to the passage of the Israelites through the Red sea, when the waters were as a wall unto them on the right hand and on the left. As a heap By which expression he leads our thoughts to that great work of God by which the sea, which is specifically lighter than the earth, and by the common laws of gravitation, should rise above and overflow it, is yet kept within proper bounds; which is often mentioned in Scripture as an immediate effect of God’s overruling power and providence. To this may be added that the adjusting the proportion of the tides, so that they rise no higher to the prejudice of the lower grounds, is another remarkable instance of God’s especial providence. He layeth up the depth in store-houses That is, either in the clouds, or in the bowels of the earth, whence he can draw them forth when he sees fit. Dr. Waterland renders this clause, He layeth them up in the store-houses of the deep.

Verses 8-9

Psalms 33:8-9. Let the earth fear the Lord All the people of the earth, as the next clause expounds this; not only Jews, but also Gentiles, who equally enjoy the benefit of this great and glorious work of God. For he spake, and it was done The work mentioned Psalms 33:6-7. He commanded, and it stood fast Hebrew יעמד , jagnamad, it stood forth, as a servant at his master’s command, prepared to do his will, and to execute his pleasure.

Verses 10-11

Psalms 33:10-11. The Lord bringeth the counsel of the heathen, or, of the nations to naught Though nations combine themselves and their counsels together, yet he defeats them when he pleases. Thus he passes from the work of creation to the works of providence, and from the instances of his power, in senseless and irrational creatures, to his power in overruling the thoughts, and wills, and actions of men, whether single or united. The counsel of the Lord standeth for ever All his purposes and designs, and especially those which concern his chosen people, of whom he speaks in the next verse, are always successful and irresistible.

Verse 12

Psalms 33:12. Blessed is the nation, &c. Seeing the Lord is so great and glorious in wisdom, and power, and goodness, as has been just observed; inasmuch as they must needs be very miserable who are either strangers or enemies to him; so thrice happy are the people of Israel, who, though they be despised by the Gentiles, are chosen by this almighty God to be his peculiar portion, friends and servants.

Verses 13-15

Psalms 33:13-15. He beholdeth all the sons of men Although he had a special relation to Israel, yet he hath a general care over all mankind, all whose hearts and ways he observes. He fashioneth their hearts alike

היצר יחד לבם , hajotzer jachad lib-bam, It is he that formed their hearts, one and all, and consequently must know what are their thoughts and intentions: or, in the present tense, as our version renders it, He formeth, and so it refers to the works of God’s providence; and the psalmist having said that God sees and observes all men, now adds, that he rules and governs them; yea, even their hearts, which are most unmanageable, he disposes and inclines according to the counsel of his will. Alike, or, equally, one as well as another; whether they be Jews or Gentiles, bond or free, princes or peasants; all are alike subject to his jurisdiction. He considereth all their works Both outward and inward, all the workings of their minds and actions, and all their endeavours and actions. How great then “must be the advantage of living in the favour, and under the protection, of this great Being, who, from the watch-tower of his eternal throne, beholdeth, directeth, and controlleth, at pleasure, not only the actions and the words, but the very thoughts and imaginations of all the inhabitants of the earth!” Horne.

Verses 16-17

Psalms 33:16-17. No king is saved by the multitude of a host But only by God’s providence, who disposeth of victory and success as he pleaseth, and that frequently to the weakest side. He instances in kings and mighty men, as the most uncontrollable persons in the world, and most confident of themselves. By which he strongly proves his general proposition of God’s powerful providence over all men. A horse is a vain thing for safety Though he be strong, Job 39:19, &c.; and fit for battle, Proverbs 21:31; or, for flight, if need requires. This is put for all warlike provisions, of which horses were, and are, a very considerable part. The word שׁקר , sheker, here translated a vain thing, properly means a lie, signifying that it promises the help and safety which it cannot give. Neither shall he deliver any by his great strength The expressions being the same, the meaning is also the same in this and the preceding verse. After having particularized the stout man, and the horse, that is to say, the infantry and the cavalry, the strength and the swiftness of an army; and said, that neither of them could save a king; he repeats again, what he had said before in general, implying that no number of forces could do it. He then points out, in the next verses, where is the true defence and the only sure dependance of man.

Verses 18-19

Psalms 33:18-19. Behold the eye of the Lord, &c. Whosoever therefore would have safety must expect it only from the watchful eye and almighty hand of God. Is upon them that fear him These are the chief objects of his care and favour. Upon them that hope in his mercy That place their hope, and trust, and happiness, not in any creature, but only in God and in his mercy and blessings. To deliver their soul from death That is, their life, when he sees it to be expedient for them: for sometimes it is better for them to die than to live, as both good and bad men have declared; and when it is so, it is known to God, but not to us. And therefore the constant accomplishment of this and the like promises, in a literal sense, is not to be expected nor simply desired, except with submission to God’s wise and gracious will.

Verses 20-22

Psalms 33:20-22. He is our help The help of his true Israel, to whom he hath made many promises and glorious discoveries of his goodness. For our heart shall rejoice in him Or, therefore it shall rejoice, for this seems to have been an inference, either from the foregoing or following sentence.

Bibliographical Information
Benson, Joseph. "Commentary on Psalms 33". Benson's Commentary. https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/rbc/psalms-33.html. 1857.
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