Recently, I’ve been noticing a lack of joy in life, specifically in finding purpose in the classes I am taking and the homework I’m laboring over. I know we as Christians are called to worship God in all that we do, whether we are working in a secular area, in a church or as a student. However, it can be difficult to adjust to this kingdom-mindset on a daily basis. While reading Psalm 33, I was struck by how the psalmist used aspects of God’s character to reassure believers of their purpose and call them to worship. Reading this Psalm was terrific for my heart and mind. If you’re so inclined, open up to this Psalm and let’s go through it together.
A Call to Worship: “Praise befits the upright”
The first three verses summon God’s people to sing praise to him. Here, the people of God are described as righteous and upright. These honorable descriptions aren’t earned from a life perfectly lived or bursting with good works. Rather, God’s people can be called these things because they have received God’s covenant and his steadfast love. Their lives are being transformed, which is reason enough for joy. Like these believers, praise should be our natural response to this transformation, as we look back on our lives and as we anticipate the growth God will grant us in the future. We are to sing to him a new song because God’s grace and mercies are new every day. Are we attentive to God’s work in our hearts? Do we boldly approach God and ask for transformation in all the areas of our lives that need it? He promises that he will work everything for our good and our transformation in this life– do we believe that?
Reason 1: God’s word is upright (v. 4-9)
In order to praise God, we worshippers have to know His character. The first reason this psalm gives for praise is that our God’s word is upright. What does this mean? God’s word is not just a statement, it is an action. His word has almighty power behind it and should inspire us to stand in awe of him. It was by the word of the Lord that the universe came into being (v. 6, 9, John 1:3). Let’s think on that. The Lord God simply spoke and everything we know began to exist. For he spoke and it came to be; he commanded, and it stood firm. If we understand that by God’s mere breath everything we have ever known and will ever know was created and made solid, we have reason to be in awe.
Being in awe and being in fear is the proper response for creatures so entirely at the mercy of their Creator. But we are also assured that God’s word is upright. The psalmist says that all his work is done in faithfulness, with the best motives. The Lord knows how we function best and we can trust him in that because he is the one who created us. His actions are not unjust, rather, he loves righteousness and justice; the earth is full of the steadfast love of the Lord. We should praise him because in everything he is good, he is faithful, he is steadfast, he is unchanging, he is unswerving, he is constant.
Reason 2: God is sovereign (v. 10-12)
The second aspect of God’s character that renders him worthy of all of our praise is his sovereignty. In the creation story, it is easy to see how God’s will prevails. He speaks, and things come into being just as he wants them. But we are told that God’s will continues to prevail today. The Lord brings the counsel of the nations to nothing; he frustrates the plans of the peoples. No one, not even Satan, can oppose God successfully. They all will fail and God’s will will prevail, because he has created us all. This is especially heartening when one reads, at the end of the stanza, that God’s people, his heritage, is blessed through this great plan. Praise the Lord!
Reason 3: God is powerful, but personal (v. 13-19)
This stanza stands in stark contrast to the view that God made the world and then stepped back to let it run according to the principles he instituted. Rather, God is sovereign and also personal. The imagery in this stanza is amazing to me. Consider v. 14-15: from where he sits enthroned he looks out on all the inhabitants of the earth, he who fashions the hearts of them all. He can observe us all in one glance, yet is perfectly aware and intervening in the smallest of our actions. He fashions our hearts. God is intimately involved in our lives. For those who fear him and hope in him, he is at work delivering and restoring us. Because he is faithful in his work and he is almighty, we can be confident that what he starts in us he will finish. He is our deliverer! Praise the Lord!
<strong.Take heart! Have hope! (v. 20-22)
This psalm is also realistic about the state of the world. Believers must wait and trust and hope, because the work which God has started in the world and in our hearts is not yet complete. Yet we are reassured that our hearts can be glad. Being redeemed in Christ, we can have hope, confidence, and contentment even in the difficulties and uncertainties of our lives. We can be satisfied because we know God’s promises to deliver us and restore us. And we know his character. We see that he is steadfast, he is mighty, he is good and he will do it.
Lord, open our eyes to see the ways you work in our lives. Reveal to us, through Scripture, how you have always been faithful to your promises. Let us take heart in the messiness of our lives and know that you are at work. You know how we work best and you have a good plan for us. Let us recognize that worshipping you in the only fuel that fills us up. Draw us nearer to you.