The Significance and Application of Psalm 33

November 2, 2015 — Leave a comment

This post continues my working looking at the significance and application of books of the Bible. 

The Significance and Application of Psalm 33

Photo Credit: Sweet Publishing

I. THE PURPOSE AND ARGUMENT OF PSALM 33

A. Purpose

Psalm 33 tells believers that they should praise the LORD for his creation of the earth, for the LORD’s stableness and steadiness, for him being the ultimate ruler, and because our hope is in him alone.

B. Argument

Praise of the LORD (vv. 1-5). The writer of Psalm 33 says that godly people should praise the LORD for it is fitting for the pure to praise him (v. 1). Praise the Lord with melodies on the lyre (v. 2), singing (v. 3), and playing on the harp (v. 3). The word of the LORD is true and we can trust everything he does (v. 4) for the LORD loves everything that is just and good (v. 5).

Creation of the Earth (vv. 6-9). God spoke and the heavens were created (v. 6). He breathed the word and the stars were born (v. 6). He placed the sea in its place (v. 7) for when God spoke, the world began at his command (v. 9).

The Lord is stable and steady (vv. 10-12). The LORD frustrates the plans of the nations by messing with their schemes (v. 10). For the LORD’s plans stand firm forever, the intentions he has can never be shaken (v. 11). If a nation has the LORD as their god, what joy they have (v. 12)!

The LORD is the ultimate ruler (vv. 13-19). From heaven God sees all the human race (v. 13) and everything in it (v. 14). Because God made peoples’ hearts, he understands what they do (v. 15). All the strength of an earthly army is not enough to compare to the LORD (vv. 16-17). For the LORD watches over those who fear him (v. 18), rescuing them from death and keeping them alive (v. 19).

Our hope is in the LORD (vv. 20-22). Those who believe in the LORD have their hope in him and he is the help and shield they need (v. 20). Hearts rejoice in him and trust in his holy name (v. 21). Let the LORD surround his people, for their hope is in him alone (v. 22).

II. HOW PSALM 33 FITS INTO THE MESSAGE OF THE BIBLE

The LORD looking down from heaven (Pss 33:13-22) as the mighty and powerful God is common in the Bible. God existed in the beginning and looked down to create the heavens and the earth (Gen 1:1). He watches over those who fear him (Pss 33:18) which is also seen in how Elihu says that God never takes his eyes off of the innocent (Job 36:7). Additionally, the idea of God being known simply by his creation is also testified throughout the rest of the Bible. In the book of Romans Paul wrote that since God has created the earth and sky people have been able to see God’s “invisible qualities,” his “eternal power,” and his “divine nature” (Rom 1:20).

The method of God’s creation described in Pss 33 is also seen throughout the rest of the Bible.

The first method is that God created the world divine fiat which simply means by “mere command.” God simply spoke (literally “said”) in Gen 1:3, 6, 9, 14, 20, 24; 2:2 and the world came into its form. At the LORD’s command water fled (Pss 104:7), mountains rose and valleys sank by his decree (Pss 104:8). Every created thing in the earth should give praise because God issued his command and everything came into being (Pss 148:5). Peter summarizes this saying that “God made the heavens by the word of his command” (2 Peter 3:5). Furthermore, the writer of Hebrews states that it is by faith we should understand that God made the world by command (Heb 11:3).

The second method by which God created the world is ex nihilo which means “from nothing,” because God created the world we now have from nothing. God was the only thing in the beginning (John 1:1-3) and he alone existed (Isa 44:24). Romans 4:17 says that God “creates new things out of nothing.” What God created can be seen (2 Peter 3:5), but it did not come from anything that can be seen (Heb 11:3).

III. HOW TO APPLY PSALM 33 TO YOUR LIFE

A. 4 Principles from Psalm 33

1. Praise should be of the LORD

The focus of Psalm 33 is on the LORD. This Psalm starts out with how believers should sing praises for the LORD (vv. 1, 3), with melodies on the lyre (v. 2), and music from a harp (v. 2). These praises happen because the LORD’s word is true (v. 4), he is trustworthy (v. 4), he loves what is just (v. 5), and his unfailing love fills the earth (v. 5). Furthermore, the LORD created the heavens and the earth which are worthy of his praise (vv. 6-9). When looking at other nations the LORD thwarts their plans (vv. 10-11). He looks down over the earth and reigns over it because no army is more powerful than him (vv. 13-17).

2. God created divine fiat

Pss 33:6 says that the LORD merely spoke and the heavens were created. God breathed the word and all the stars were born (Pss 33:6). The LORD spoke and the world began for it appeared at his command!

3. God created ex nihilo

Nowhere in Psalm 33 does it mention items that God used to make the earth. God created the world from nothing (ex nihilo). Part of the reason that we should praise our God (Pss 33:1-5) is because the LORD created the heavens (v. 6), stars (v. 6), sea (v. 7), and the entire world from nothing (v. 9). God did not need conflict with other gods (as was the case in the Egyptian and Babylonian creation accounts) to create the world. Instead, he is powerful enough that he created the world from nothing.

4. Our hope should be in the LORD

The end of this praise Psalm emphasizes that after all we know about God we should put our hope in him (Pss 33:20). Our hope should be in him because he is our help and our shield (v. 20). In the LORD our hearts rejoice because we trust his holy name (v. 21), and our hope should only be in the LORD (v. 22).

B. 2 Sunday School Activities

1. What is in creation that you can praise God for?

By this I am not telling Sunday School students to “praise creation,” but instead I am attempting to have them “praise the Creator.” Psalm 33 is a praise Psalm, therefore it is good to look for things in creation and try to praise God for those things. Encourage the students to report back next week what they saw in creation and how they praised God for them.

2. How does it make you feel to know that God watches over you?

Pss 33:18-19 states that God in heaven looks down and watches over us. No matter where we are or what we are doing God sees us. Ask Sunday School students how this makes them feel. After encouraging them to think about how God watches them throughout the week, have them report back next week to share what they thought or felt as a result of God watching over them.

C. My Personal Application of Psalm 33

Something that touched my heart while reading Psalm 33 is how I lack verbal praise of the LORD. I often do not sing at church but instead simply move my lips. Reading Psalm 33 reminds me that I need to consciously use my voice to praise the LORD (vv. 1-2). Whether it is for God’s creation (vv. 6-9), his sovereignty over the nations (vv. 10-12), or how he looks over the world (vv. 13-19) I need to praise him more with my lips. Going forward in church I will actively sing louder so that I can at least hear my own voice when I worship the LORD.

Christopher L. Scott

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Christopher Scott is Small Groups Pastor at Rocky Hilly Community Church in Exeter, CA. He has more than ten years of experience leading volunteers, running nonprofit programs, and teaching the Bible in small group settings. He holds a bachelor's degree from Fresno Pacific University and master's degree from Dallas Theological Seminary.

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