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Jail Ministry In Bolivia - Psalm 33

Psalm 33:1-3 begins with these words, “Shout for joy in the LORD, O you righteous! Praise befits the upright. Give thanks to the LORD...make melody to Him...Sing to Him a new song...with loud shouts.”

One of the things that impresses me about the psalmist is that he says these things at the beginning of this psalm and not at the end. In other words, the psalmist is saying these things even while God’s people have troubles and even while their enemies are threatening them.

As you read the opening words of this psalm you get the impression that the psalmists heart is already inclined to do all of these things (shout for joy, praise, give thanks, sing to Him with loud shouts). The disposition of his heart is to believe God and to trust in Him even in the midst of the troubling times that God’s people are experiencing.

The psalmist does not want to worship the LORD alone. He does not want to be the only one who expresses his faith and trust in the LORD by shouting for joy, by praising the LORD, by giving thanks to the LORD, and by singing a new song to Him with loud shouts. Therefore, the psalmist is commanding God’s people to acknowledge the LORD, to praise Him, to worship Him, to exult in Him.

A few years ago I went to a pastors conference. During the worship time it was hard to enter in. Most of this was because the songs were so high I could not sing the notes. Then this church had laser lights and smoke machines that served as a distraction. I kind of expected these things when the usher at the door was handing everyone ear plugs. On the last day of the conference the worship leader was upset that so many pastor were not worshiping that he stopped the music and lectured us. To be honest, this did not inspire me in the least bit to try any harder to enter in to worship.

This is not what the Psalmist is doing. He is not lecturing God's people for not entering in to worship; rather, he is going to give God's people sound biblical teaching to help them consider God's goodness, remember His faithfulness, and then invite them to respond to God's grace as he does.

There were probably some of God’s people who were finding it hard to shout for joy, to praise the LORD, to give thanks to the LORD, and to sing to Him with loud shouts. There were some who were having a hard time seeing past their enemies and troubles. There were some whose faith and confidence in God was weak at this time so the psalmist becomes a preacher and a teacher to help them.

Because there were some whose faith in God was weak they were less likely to see God’s invisible hand providing the grace that His people needed. Because their faith in God was weak they probably failed to remember the Word of God and they were more aware of the counsels of men. And because their faith was weak they looked to the strength of men for salvation and they were not seeking the face of God through prayer and through hearing and obeying God’s word. Therefore the psalmist reminds them, “The king is not saved by his great army; a warrior is not delivered by his great strength. The war horse is a false hope for salvation, and by its great might it cannot rescue.” (16-17)

The psalmist knows that God's people need to be encouraged to look to God and to trust in Him and His Word. I say this because at the end of this psalm the psalmist always speaks of the congregation. He says to God’s people in Psalm 33:20-22, “Our soul waits for the LORD; He is our help and our shield. For our heart is glad in Him, because we trust in His holy name. Let your steadfast love, O LORD, be upon us, even as we hope in you.

The psalmist believes and trusts in the LORD and this is what makes him desire to do these things. There are two broad reasons given in this psalm that has inclined the heart of the psalmist to praise the LORD like this.

  • First, he believes in God’s word and what God has said.

  • Secondly, the psalmist trusts that God will do all that He has said.

  • We see this in Psalm 33:4, “For the word of the LORD is upright, and all His work is done in faithfulness.

Psalm 33 gives us two occasions when our hearts are to express praise to God when we open up our mouths. First, we are to obey these commands when we know God has spoken. Secondly, we are to obey these commands after God has fulfilled His promises. In other words, in every moment, in every circumstance, in every situation our hearts can express to God shouts of joy, and praise the LORD, and give thanks to God, and to sing a new song with loud shouts. We can do this as we wait upon the LORD and we can do this after He has acted.

Some might argue with the psalmist and say that God has not spoken to them so they do not need to obey these commands. The psalmist refutes this argument in two ways. First, the psalmist goes all the way back to what God said at the beginning of creation, “By the word of the LORD the heavens were made, and by the breath of His mouth all the host. He gathers the waters of the sea as a heap; He puts the deeps in storehouses.” (6-7) No one in all of creation is exempt from obeying these commands because as part of His creation they are continually upheld by His powerful word (Hebrews 1:3; Romans 1:18-32). It is by the counsel of the LORD that all things exist and through which all things are sustained (33:11).

Secondly, the psalmist offers an argument that is even more comprehensive. He argues that God has spoken before creation concerning His people and that at some point in time He has made His promise a reality in the lives of every saved person. Therefore, every believer, and all of God’s people are to praise the LORD. Look at what Psalm 33:12 says, “Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD (in time), the people whom He has chosen as His heritage (before creation).

We need God to choose us because we cannot choose Him apart from His saving power. In Romans 1 we discover that as sinners we suppress the truth (18), we do not honor God or give thanks to Him (21), we exchange the glory of God for other idols (23), and we do not acknowledge God (28). As a result, ‘all have sinned and fall short of the gory of God’ (3:23). In this sinful state we cannot save ourselves so God must powerfully and decisively act to save us. Therefore, God justifies sinners by His grace as a gift (3:24).

Consider what Ephesians 1:3-10 says, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption to himself as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.”

Notice a few things in these verses:

  • Paul gives praise to the Lord just as the psalmist is calling for in Psalm 33.

  • Notice that God chooses His people before the foundation of the world.

  • Notice that this salvation happens at a particular time in the life of God’s children.

When the psalmist speaks of the ‘righteous’ in verse one He is speaking of those who have been saved by faith and trust in the LORD. And notice that when the psalmist says, ‘all the earth fear the LORD’, (8) we are to see that even though the psalmist is speaking to a particular people in that moment he also enlarges the scope of salvation to include all peoples in every generation to whom His effectual call is given. In those people the gospel comes and faith and repentance is displayed.

We are also encouraged in Psalm 33:11 that nothing can stop the counsel of the LORD from being fulfilled, “The counsel of the LORD stands forever, the plans of His heart to all generations.” God’s counsel cannot be thwarted by our indwelling sin, by the sin in this world, or by Satan himself. Jesus said these comforting words, “All that the Father gives to me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out.” (John 6:47) Because of all of this the Psalmist praises the LORD and encourages God’s people to join him.

In Psalm 33 we have seen that the psalmist trusts in the LORD so much that when He looks at the things in this world they do not distract Him from seeing God. He looks past the troubles that he has in this world and trusts and waits for the LORD. And the psalmist is so focused upon the Word of God that all the counsels of men becomes background noise and they cannot distract Him from the truth of what God has said. Therefore, in the midst of His troubles he says in Psalm 33:18-19, “Behold, the eye of the LORD is on those who fear Him, on those who hope in His steadfast love, that He may deliver their soul from death and keep them alive in famine.

My friends, let me make a few observations and applications for us today.

First, thanks for being here and being part of this congregation. Some of you were able to enter right into worship. Your faith is strong and you are looking and listening to the LORD. Like the psalmist you have determined to praise Him while you are waiting for the LORD.

Second, perhaps there were some here today who are discouraged and you are struggling to look to the LORD and trust Him with your life and circumstances. You know what I like about the Scriptures? Even if all of us were in this place we have this psalmist to encourage us. He not only encourages us with his example, more importantly he has helped us with God’s Word and the truths of Scripture. We can worship God because of His Word and His Works. We can praise Him because God has chosen us, saved us and He is sanctifying us.

Third, perhaps there are some here who have not ever trusted in the LORD. You are trusting in something other than God. If you will turn to the LORD in repentance and faith you can be saved and rejoice in the midst of your circumstances. Psalm 33: 18-19 reminds us that now is the time to look to Him, “Behold, the eye of the LORD is on those who fear Him, on those who hope in His steadfast love, that he may deliver their soul from death…”.


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