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Psalm 33 - Rejoice in the Lord

INTRODUCTION: The subject of the chronologically previous MPN, Psalms 20 - May the LORD Hear and Answer, led me in part, to Psalm 33, and after comparison among ten Bible versions contained in the Online Bible software, I decided to use the Jewish Publication Society 1917 version rather than a composite paraphrase for Psalm 33 in this study. The other verses used herein are from the KJV. Research on the internet disclosed that the JPS 1917 version of the Old Testament was compiled by contemporary Jewish scholars using the Masoretic text, which itself was an earlier Jewish work from around the 10th century A.D.

Psalms 33:1 [JPS 1917 version]

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

COMMENTS: Praise of rejoicing to the LORD is indeed comely for the upright, since our right standing is a gift from our LORD, who is worthy to be praised. And the New Testament declaration of the first and Second Coming of Jesus only enhances our need to praise him. Philippians 4:4 "Rejoice in the Lord alway: and again I say, Rejoice." Ephesians 1:12-14 "That we should be to the praise of his glory, who first trusted in Christ. In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise, Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory." Hebrews 13:15 "By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name."

Psalms 33:2 [JPS 1917 version]

2 Give thanks unto the LORD with harp, sing praises unto Him with the psaltery of ten strings.

COMMENTS: Although there is no mention of musical instruments, the record of all three synoptic gospels (represented by Matthew herein) indicates that Jesus sang with his disciples before he went to the cross to purchase our redemption. Matthew 26:30 "And when they had sung an hymn, they went out into the mount of Olives." Paul and Silas demonstrate that their sure hope was not shaken by their temporal circumstance, nor were their mouths stopped. Acts 16:25 "And at midnight Paul and Silas prayed, and sang praises unto God: and the prisoners heard them." So then Paul writes to the body of Christ with encouragement, Ephesians 5:19-20 "Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord; giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ;" Colossians 3:16 "Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord." And even those among us lacking the gift of musical talent wherewith to bless others, can sing in our hearts. James also encourages the body of Christ with these words, James 5:13 "Is any among you afflicted? let him pray. Is any merry? let him sing psalms." The next verse provides a good summary statement as to why we say, or sing, our praise to the eternal one, Revelation 11:17 "Saying, We give thee thanks, O Lord God Almighty, which art, and wast, and art to come; because thou hast taken to thee thy great power, and hast reigned."

Psalms 33:3 [JPS 1917 version]

3 Sing unto Him a new song; play skillfully amid shouts of joy.

COMMENTS: Rejoice in the LORD always, and again I say rejoice: and that can be with new songs as well as old, because His mercy is new every morning. Psalms 149:1 "Praise ye the LORD. Sing unto the LORD a new song, and his praise in the congregation of saints." Lamentations 3:21-24 "This I recall to my mind, therefore have I hope. It is of the LORD'S mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness. The LORD is my portion, saith my soul; therefore will I hope in him." Revelation 5:9 "And they sung a new song, saying, Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation;" So, the greatly varied languages and music from all around the world throughout many ages, may result in poetry or melody foreign to the ears of any individual or to a single people group, but it can still praise the LORD for those who hear that which comes from the heart.

Psalms 33:4 [JPS 1917 version]

4 For the word of the LORD is upright; and all His work is done in faithfulness.

COMMENTS: The written word, and the Living Word, are the firm foundation for our hope, and the reason for our praise. Numbers 11:23 "And the LORD said unto Moses, Is the LORD'S hand waxed short? Thou shalt see now whether my word shall come to pass unto thee or not." 2Samuel 22:31 "As for God, his way is perfect; the word of the LORD is tried: he is a buckler to all them that trust in him." [replicated in Psalms 18:30] 1Peter 1:25 "But the word of the Lord endureth for ever. And this is the word which by the gospel is preached unto you."

Psalms 33:5 [JPS 1917 version]

5 He loveth righteousness and justice; the earth is full of the lovingkindness of the LORD.

COMMENTS: Our LORD is the one who justifies, and his justice or judgment is righteous. Psalms 89:14 "Justice and judgment are the habitation of thy throne: mercy and truth shall go before thy face." Acts 13:39 "And by him all that believe are justified from all things, from which ye could not be justified by the law of Moses." Romans 1:17 "For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith." Romans 3:24 "Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus:" Galatians 3:8 "And the scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the heathen through faith, preached before the gospel unto Abraham, saying, In thee shall all nations be blessed." Revelation 15:3 "And they sing the song of Moses the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb, saying, Great and marvellous are thy works, Lord God Almighty; just and true are thy ways, thou King of saints."

Psalms 33:6 [JPS 1917 version]

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

COMMENTS: The New Testament again confirms the truth of the Old Testament. Acts 14:15 "And saying, Sirs, why do ye these things? We also are men of like passions with you, and preach unto you that ye should turn from these vanities unto the living God, which made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and all things that are therein:" Colossians 1:16 "For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him:" Revelation 14:7 "Saying with a loud voice, Fear God, and give glory to him; for the hour of his judgment is come: and worship him that made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and the fountains of waters."

Psalms 33:7 [JPS 1917 version]

7 He gathereth the waters of the sea together as a heap; He layeth up the deeps in storehouses.

COMMENTS: Genesis 1:9-10 "And God said, Let the waters under the heaven be gathered together unto one place, and let the dry land appear: and it was so. And God called the dry land Earth; and the gathering together of the waters called he Seas: and God saw that it was good." Jeremiah 5:22 "Fear ye not me? saith the LORD: will ye not tremble at my presence, which have placed the sand for the bound of the sea by a perpetual decree, that it cannot pass it: and though the waves thereof toss themselves, yet can they not prevail; though they roar, yet can they not pass over it?"

Psalms 33:8-9 [JPS 1917 version]

8 Let all the earth fear the LORD; let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of Him.

9 For He spoke, and it was; He commanded, and it stood.

COMMENTS: It would not be unreasonable to reserve the word awesome for the only one who truly fulfills the meaning, but that reservation is rare. Both testaments of the scriptures instruct us regarding the matter of fearing the LORD. Where is there greater awe-instilling power, than in the One who spoke the world into existence, and sustains it by His command; and yet He has a personal interest in us. Deuteronomy 6:13 "Thou shalt fear the LORD thy God, and serve him, and shalt swear by his name." Joshua 24:14 "Now therefore fear the LORD, and serve him in sincerity and in truth: and put away the gods which your fathers served on the other side of the flood, and in Egypt; and serve ye the LORD." Psalms 115:13 "He will bless them that fear the LORD, both small and great." Proverbs 3:7 "Be not wise in thine own eyes: fear the LORD, and depart from evil." Matthew 10:28 "And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell." Luke 7:16 "And there came a fear on all: and they glorified God, saying, That a great prophet is risen up among us; and, That God hath visited his people." Acts 9:31 "Then had the churches rest throughout all Judaea and Galilee and Samaria, and were edified; and walking in the fear of the Lord, and in the comfort of the Holy Ghost, were multiplied." Hebrews 11:7 "By faith Noah, being warned of God of things not seen as yet, moved with fear, prepared an ark to the saving of his house; by the which he condemned the world, and became heir of the righteousness which is by faith." Hebrews 12:28 "Wherefore we receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved, let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear:" Revelation 15:4 "Who shall not fear thee, O Lord, and glorify thy name? For thou only art holy: for all nations shall come and worship before thee; for thy judgments are made manifest."

Psalms 33:10 [JPS 1917 version]

10 The LORD bringeth the counsel of the nations to nought; He maketh the thoughts of the peoples to be of no effect.

COMMENTS: Even that which could be rightly judged as correct counsel for man's intended purpose, can be frustrated by the LORD, to fulfill his perfect purpose. 2Samuel 15:31 "And one told David, saying, Ahithophel is among the conspirators with Absalom. And David said, O LORD, I pray thee, turn the counsel of Ahithophel into foolishness." 2Samuel 16:23 "And the counsel of Ahithophel, which he counselled in those days, was as if a man had enquired at the oracle of God: so was all the counsel of Ahithophel both with David and with Absalom." 2Samuel 17:14 "And Absalom and all the men of Israel said, The counsel of Hushai the Archite is better than the counsel of Ahithophel. For the LORD had appointed to defeat the good counsel of Ahithophel, to the intent that the LORD might bring evil upon Absalom." Proverbs 21:30 "There is no wisdom nor understanding nor counsel against the LORD." Nehemiah 4:15 "And it came to pass, when our enemies heard that it was known unto us, and God had brought their counsel to nought, that we returned all of us to the wall, every one unto his work." Isaiah 8:10 "Take counsel together, and it shall come to nought; speak the word, and it shall not stand: for God is with us." Isaiah 29:15 "Woe unto them that seek deep to hide their counsel from the LORD, and their works are in the dark, and they say, Who seeth us? and who knoweth us?" Isaiah 30:1 "Woe to the rebellious children, saith the LORD, that take counsel, but not of me; and that cover with a covering, but not of my spirit, that they may add sin to sin:" Isaiah 45:21 "Tell ye, and bring them near; yea, let them take counsel together: who hath declared this from ancient time? who hath told it from that time? have not I the LORD? and there is no God else beside me; a just God and a Saviour; there is none beside me." Micah 4:12 "But they know not the thoughts of the LORD, neither understand they his counsel: for he shall gather them as the sheaves into the floor." Luke 7:29-30 "And all the people that heard him, and the publicans, justified God, being baptized with the baptism of John. But the Pharisees and lawyers rejected the counsel of God against themselves, being not baptized of him."

Psalms 33:11 [JPS 1917 version]

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

COMMENTS: Proverbs 19:21 "There are many devices in a man's heart; nevertheless the counsel of the LORD, that shall stand." Psalms 119:89 "LAMED. For ever, O LORD, thy word is settled in heaven." Isaiah 9:7 "Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will perform this." Isaiah 11:2 "And the spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the LORD;" Lamentations 5:19 "Thou, O LORD, remainest for ever; thy throne from generation to generation." Acts 2:23 "Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain:" Acts 20:27 "For I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God." Hebrews 6:17-20 "Wherein God, willing more abundantly to shew unto the heirs of promise the immutability of his counsel, confirmed it by an oath: that by two immutable things, in which it was impossible for God to lie, we might have a strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold upon the hope set before us: which hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and stedfast, and which entereth into that within the veil; whither the forerunner is for us entered, even Jesus, made an high priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec." Revelation 11:15 "And the seventh angel sounded; and there were great voices in heaven, saying, The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign for ever and ever." The LORD's counsel emanates from judgment and justice which is pure, to all generations. Christ Jesus shall rule and reign as priest and king eternally.

Psalms 33:12 [JPS 1917 version]

12 Happy is the nation whose God is the LORD; the people whom He hath chosen for His own inheritance.

COMMENTS: This is a unique inheritance which is reciprocal between heir and ancestor, and so much more could be said about the enabling of an eternal inheritance by an eternal God, but only a few verses will be listed herein. Deuteronomy 10:9 "Wherefore Levi hath no part nor inheritance with his brethren; the LORD is his inheritance, according as the LORD thy God promised him." The priesthood of Israel had a special inheritance, and at the same time, the LORD made Israel to be an inheritance. Deuteronomy 32:9 "For the LORD'S portion is his people; Jacob is the lot of his inheritance." But not only to the Jew, also to the gentile. Matthew 21:38,42-43 "But when the husbandmen saw the son, they said among themselves, This is the heir; come, let us kill him, and let us seize on his inheritance." "Jesus saith unto them, Did ye never read in the scriptures, The stone which the builders rejected, the same is become the head of the corner: this is the Lord's doing, and it is marvellous in our eyes? Therefore say I unto you, The kingdom of God shall be taken from you, and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof." Acts 20:32 "And now, brethren, I commend you to God, and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up, and to give you an inheritance among all them which are sanctified." Romans 8:14-19 "For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God. For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father. The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: and if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together. For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us." Galatians 3:29 "And if ye be Christ's, then are ye Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise." Ephesians 1:11,14,18 "In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will:", "Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory.", "The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints,"

Psalms 33:13-14 [JPS 1917 version]

13 The LORD looketh from heaven; He beholdeth all the sons of men;

14 From the place of His habitation He looketh intently upon all the inhabitants of the earth;

COMMENTS: There is nothing done in secret from the LORD, the one who sees even into the depths of the heart of man, and who needs not ask any information from anyone. Psalms 14:2-3 "The LORD looked down from heaven upon the children of men, to see if there were any that did understand, and seek God. They are all gone aside, they are all together become filthy: there is none that doeth good, no, not one." [repeated in Ps 53:2-3 and Ro 3:10-12] and then skip down to Romans 3:16-18 "Destruction and misery are in their ways: and the way of peace have they not known: there is no fear of God before their eyes."

Psalms 33:15 [JPS 1917 version]

15 He that fashioneth the hearts of them all, that considereth all their doings.

COMMENTS: The creator fashions the hearts of men, and therefore knows intimately the content thereof. Exodus 31:6 "And I, behold, I have given with him Aholiab, the son of Ahisamach, of the tribe of Dan: and in the hearts of all that are wise hearted I have put wisdom, that they may make all that I have commanded thee;" And the LORD implements the eternal change of heart within man. Jeremiah 31:33 "But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the LORD, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people." Hebrews 8:10 "For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith the Lord; I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people:", and again, Hebrews 10:16 "This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, saith the Lord, I will put my laws into their hearts, and in their minds will I write them;" Romans 5:5 "And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us."

Psalms 33:16-17 [JPS 1917 version]

16 A king is not saved by the multitude of a host; a mighty man is not delivered by great strength.

17 A horse is a vain thing for safety; neither doth it afford escape by its great strength.

COMMENTS: Belief in the statement of the above two verses requires real faith in order for one to stand firm for the demonstration of their truth when physical evidence seems to the contrary; and the following verse from Zechariah embodies additional meaning, but it expresses the former scope in good summary. Zechariah 4:6 "Then he answered and spake unto me, saying, This is the word of the LORD unto Zerubbabel, saying, Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, saith the LORD of hosts."

Psalms 33:18-19 [JPS 1917 version]

18 Behold, the eye of the LORD is toward them that fear Him, toward them that wait for His mercy;

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

COMMENTS: God watches over in the present, those who wait for his eternal salvation. So, all of our days are determined, just as securely as is our eternity. Psalms 56:13 "For thou hast delivered my soul from death: wilt not thou deliver my feet from falling, that I may walk before God in the light of the living?" 2Corinthians 1:9-12 "But we had the sentence of death in ourselves, that we should not trust in ourselves, but in God which raiseth the dead: who delivered us from so great a death, and doth deliver: in whom we trust that he will yet deliver us; ye also helping together by prayer for us, that for the gift bestowed upon us by the means of many persons thanks may be given by many on our behalf. For our rejoicing is this, the testimony of our conscience, that in simplicity and godly sincerity, not with fleshly wisdom, but by the grace of God, we have had our conversation in the world, and more abundantly to you-ward." 1John 3:14 "We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren. He that loveth not his brother abideth in death." Revelation 21:4 "And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away."

Psalms 33:20-22 [JPS 1917 version]

20 Our soul hath waited for the LORD; He is our help and our shield.

21 For in Him doth our heart rejoice, because we have trusted in His holy name.

22 Let Thy mercy, O LORD, be upon us, according as we have waited for Thee.

COMMENTS: Because we have waited, and trusted in the name of the LORD, we know with confidence, that we will receive his mercy. Deuteronomy 7:9 "Know therefore that the LORD thy God, he is God, the faithful God, which keepeth covenant and mercy with them that love him and keep his commandments to a thousand generations;" 2Chronicles 6:14 "And said, O LORD God of Israel, there is no God like thee in the heaven, nor in the earth; which keepest covenant, and shewest mercy unto thy servants, that walk before thee with all their hearts:" Psalms 25:7 "Remember not the sins of my youth, nor my transgressions: according to thy mercy remember thou me for thy goodness' sake, O LORD." Psalms 69:13 "But as for me, my prayer is unto thee, O LORD, in an acceptable time: O God, in the multitude of thy mercy hear me, in the truth of thy salvation." Psalms 85:7 "Shew us thy mercy, O LORD, and grant us thy salvation." Psalms 94:18 "When I said, My foot slippeth; thy mercy, O LORD, held me up." Psalms 109:21 "But do thou for me, O GOD the Lord, for thy name's sake: because thy mercy is good, deliver thou me." Psalms 115:1 "Not unto us, O LORD, not unto us, but unto thy name give glory, for thy mercy, and for thy truth's sake." Psalms 138:8 "The LORD will perfect that which concerneth me: thy mercy, O LORD, endureth for ever: forsake not the works of thine own hands." Ephesians 2:4-5 "But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;)"

--- Reflections in prayer ---

I will rejoice in you LORD with praise because of the righteousness you bestow, whether worshipping with word or song, with others, in solitude with recorded music, with personal music aloud, or with the music in my mind's ear. In any of these times, may the melody in my heart be pleasing to you, my God and my redeemer. Your Word is filled with your righteousness and just judgment. By your Word you created all the vastness of the heavens, the steadfast dry land, and the great power of the moving seas, which are under your constant control. When I even begin to comprehend your unsurpassed power and majesty, I am astonished at the overwhelming concept of awe: for you simply spoke and it was; you commanded and it stood fast, to be unshakable until you remove it.

You LORD, bring the counsel of what appears as that of great nations, to nothing at all; and the individual thoughts of those who are contrary to you, to be utterly useless. However, your counsel is unchanging from generation to generation for the benefit of all who will receive it, as nations or individuals. You look down from your unequalled vantage point in heaven to see all that live and breathe on the place of habitation you created for them, and you look even inside the motivation of their thoughts. This is no challenge for you, who fashioned the hearts of them all.

Men who have power amassed in large numbers of those they control, or one who seems mighty on his own, or those who have any other form of apparent power, are all helpless to save themselves. The eye of the LORD is toward those who have understood that fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and wisdom reveals the abundance of the mercy of the LORD. That mercy delivers my soul from death, and sustains me in famine. My soul does wait for you LORD; you are my help and my shield. My heart does rejoice in you, because I have trusted in your holy name. Let your mercy, O LORD; be upon me, according as I have waited for you. Amen.

Published 3 June 2004, first issued 11 April 2003