Psalm 33

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Psalm 33 – Read at start then end saying it all together

Sing joyfully to the LORD, you righteous; 
it is fitting for the upright to praise him. 
Praise the LORD with the harp; 
make music to him on the ten-stringed lyre. 
Sing to him a new song; 
play skillfully, and shout for joy.
For the word of the LORD is right and true; 
he is faithful in all he does. 
The LORD loves righteousness and justice; 
the earth is full of his unfailing love.

By the word of the LORD the heavens were made, 
their starry host by the breath of his mouth. 
He gathers the waters of the sea into jars; 
he puts the deep into storehouses. 
Let all the earth fear the LORD; 
let all the people of the world revere him. 
For he spoke, and it came to be; 
he commanded, and it stood firm.

The LORD foils the plans of the nations; 
he thwarts the purposes of the peoples. 
But the plans of the LORD stand firm forever, 
the purposes of his heart through all generations.

Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD, 
the people he chose for his inheritance. 
From heaven the LORD looks down 
and sees all mankind; 
from his dwelling place he watches 
all who live on earth— 
he who forms the hearts of all, 
who considers everything they do.

No king is saved by the size of his army; 
no warrior escapes by his great strength. 
A horse is a vain hope for deliverance; 
despite all its great strength it cannot save. 
But the eyes of the LORD are on those who fear him, 
on those whose hope is in his unfailing love, 
to deliver them from death 
and keep them alive in famine.

We wait in hope for the LORD; 
he is our help and our shield. 
In him our hearts rejoice, 
for we trust in his holy name. 
May your unfailing love be with us, LORD, 
even as we put our hope in you. 

Check out our Psalm 33 remix as a poem / lyrics by going to Resources > Hip-Hop > Church Lyrics

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Psalms Breakdown – with help from David Pawson, ‘Unlocking The Bible’

The word Psalms literally means ‘to pluck’ or ‘twang’ as in the strings used to accompany the Psalms. They are incredibly poetic. One of my often-used replies to those who oppose the use of rap in the Bible are the Psalms. Both are poetry set to music. Martin Luther said, ‘In the Psalms we look into the heart of every saint.’ It’s the one part of the OT that everyone can identify with in the varied seasons of life. Luther also described the Psalms as ‘The Bible within the Bible.’ The Psalms took 1000 years to write and are Israel’s hymn and prayer book – but ones we too can use today. In Hebrew the word used for ‘Psalms’ means Songs of Praise. 

Psalm 33 – focusing especially on verse 1-3 and worship

Sing joyfully to the LORD (or ‘rejoice in the Lord’), you righteous; 
   it is fitting for the upright to praise him. 
Praise the LORD with the harp; 
   make music to him on the ten-stringed lyre. 
Sing to him a new song; 
   play skillfully (‘on the strings’), and shout for joy.

We start with an expression of why and how we are to praise God. The Psalm then continues into more detail as to why God is worthy of praise as well as some of the results of praise. 

Spurgeon (, link checked May 2019) breaks it down into:

The praise of Jehovah is the subject of this sacred song. The righteous (people who believe in and love God) are encouraged to praise him…

Psalm 33:1-3; because of the excellency of his character, Ps 33:4-5; and his majesty in creation, Ps 33:6-7. Men are bidden to fear before Jehovah because his purposes are accomplished in providence, Ps 33:8-11. His people are proclaimed blessed, Ps 33:12. The omniscience and omnipotence of God, and his care for his people are celebrated, in opposition to the weakness of an arm of flesh, Ps 33:13-19; and the Psalm concludes with a fervent expression of confidence, Ps 33:20-21, and an earnest prayer, Ps 33:22.

Rejoicing in the Lord is the first thing we’re commanded to do:

The Hebrew speaks of a ringing loud sound and of praise coming from a deep place. The Psalms 4 chapters on speak of delighting yourself in the Lord. The Lord is looking for worshippers in spirit and in truth (John 4.23-24). The truth being that we can only really worship God in spirit. It’s something that only the righteous can do, those who’ve been made righteous through Christ. In the OT, there’s a sense of it being fitting to praise God, but with the Holy Spirit in us, it is an act that we almost cannot help because the love of Christ compels us. 1 Corinthians 6.17 says, “But he who is joined to the Lord is one spirit with him.”

Derek Prince says, “Worship is the act by which we are joined to the Lord in one spirit. That is why worship is the highest activity of human beings. Again, when we are joined to the Lord in worship, we begin to bring forth (or birth) the things that God wants brought forth. Worship is not an appendix to the Christian life; it is not a little addition to services. It is the culmination. It is the confirmation.” (of the union to God)

Praise the Lord with the harp:

Spurgeon said, “Men need all the help they can get to stir them up to praise… “ After speaking of the human voice as the sweetest instrument of all, he continued that, “The Lord must have a full octave, for all notes are his, and all music belongs to him. Where several pieces of music are mentioned, we are taught to praise God with all the powers which we possess.” 

We get a sense of the different ways in which we are to praise God and the many instruments and ways we can do this. It always amuses me to read bonkers people say we should only use the organ in church when we don’t even find the organ in the Bible, the very argument they use against other instruments like drums being used in church…! The word hypocrisy springs to mind.

In verse 3, we are encouraged to sing a new song. 

The word ‘new’ means fresh, a new thing. I like new songs; they inspire me. I respect the need to sing and worship through well-known songs and fully support this to aid our corporate worship. However, new songs can bring new life. 

Who is this worship directed to? The Lord. The focus of our worship is God. The world blindly worships things to the extent it doesn’t even realize it. I watched a great programme about the impact of Kate Middleton when in Canada. It was great to see the Royal couple enjoying their visit and each other, but the focus was on Kate and what she wore etc. Unwittingly people were worshiping the Royals. But our worship is of God. The question is whether we do worship God, or do we just sing?

Tim Hughes wrote, “Jesus you alone shall be my first love, my first love. The secret place and highest praise shall be yours, shall be yours.”

But there is a second part to this that Spurgeon picks up, “Let us not present old worn out praise, but put life, and soul, and heart, into every song, since we have new mercies every day, and see new beauties in the work and word of our Lord.”

There are 3 physical aspects to our worship. Derek Prince points out that every mention of worship in the Bible involves a posture of the body. Our worship has been designed to be very physical. In Psalm 33, we read that we: sing, play and shout! 


The Hebrew is, “be accepted, amend, use aright, benefit, be make better, seem best” according to Strongs Concordance.

Spurgeon wrote, “Play skillfully. It is wretched to hear God praised in a slovenly manner. He deserves the best that we have. Every Christian should endeavour to sing according to the rules of the art, so that he may keep time and tune with the congregation. The sweetest tunes and the sweetest voices, with the sweetest words, are all too little for the Lord our God; let us not offer him limping rhymes, set to harsh tunes, and growled out by discordant voices. With a loud noise. Heartiness should be conspicuous in divine worship. Well bred whispers are disreputable here. It is not that the Lord cannot hear us, but that it is natural for great exultation to express itself in the loudest manner. Men shout at the sight of their kings: shall we offer no loud hosannas to the Son of David?”

1 Chronicles 25.7-8 – Along with their relatives—all of them trained and skilled in music for the LORD – they numbered 288. Young and old alike, teacher as well as student, cast lots for their duties.

1 Chronicles 15.22 – Kenaniah the head Levite was in charge of the singing; that was his responsibility because he was skillful at it.

So we learn about training and skill, musicians and vocalists coming together and iron sharpening iron. One thing that I’ve felt recently is maybe things have gone a bit too far in the kind of direction of ‘everything is worship’ and perhaps sometimes putting involvement above gifting.

Of course, it’s a balance. I’m not the world’s greatest vocalist or guitarist, but as people rightly say it’s about wanting to grow and do their best – Jesus ‘grew in favour with men and with God.’ (Luke 2.52).

We’re commanded to shout for joy. 

Why? Because of what God has done and our response back to him. God is very visual, very sonic in his actions – he laughs at the nations according to Psalm 2; Jesus is the lion of the tribe of Judah and lions roar and can be very gentle. Let’s not forget that Jesus will roar. The same disciple that Jesus loved was the same disciple that fell on his face in awe in Revelation. 

G Campbell Morgan (Living Messages of the Books of the Bible, Ch 19) writes, “The permanent values of the Psalter, then, are its revelations of truth about worship. First it reveals the conception of God that produces worship; – Secondly, it reveals the attitude of man in worship; and – Finally, it reveals the activities of worship, initially on the part of God, responsively on the part of man, and finally on the part of God.”

Why should we praise God?

Psalm 33 provides many reasons why God deserves and is worthy of praise…

He made the heavens and the earth; he spoke and the world came to be; he foils the plans of nations and people.

The Lord’s plans stand forever, the purposes of his heart throughout all generations. David Pawson once said that God is not in a hurry. To him, a 1000 years is like a day. In which case, he only sent his son 2 days ago…

There is also blessing in a nation (or person) whose God is the Lord. Just as an eagle swoops up and looks down on everything below, so God looks down and sees all mankind. Often we can’t see what’s going on, but God has a plan – for us, for our nation and a plan that is so much wider and bigger than we can comprehend. 

God will deliver and keep those whose eyes are on him, who fear him and hope in his unfailing love. Just like an orchestra keeps an eye on the conductor, just as troops on the battlefield have their eyes on the commander, just like a baby keeps its eyes fixed on its father. 

David Pawson tells a true story about how some Nazi war criminals were saved after the end of WW2. There were 16 men who needed a chaplain. An American chaplain was sent for but he didn’t want to go initially as some of his family had been killed in Germany. But God sent him. That day, 14 of the 16 war criminals gave their lives to Jesus amazingly. David Pawson retold this story once at his church. A man came up to him at the end who’d been in Nuremberg at the end of the war. The man told him that him and other Christians had prayed for the Nazi war criminals regularly. This was the first time he’d found that God had answered their prayers. At a further meeting a young couple whose uncle had been one of those Nazi war criminals was freed from her years of shame. She was so encouraged she decided to use the testimony to point people to Jesus.

So what are we to do in response?

We wait for the Lord as he is our help and shield. In every season, every circumstance and situation, God is faithful. He helps us and he shields us. In American football, there are defensive ends, tackles and a nose guard whose job is to stop offensive players getting down the middle or to the quarterback. The difference with God is that his shield never fails even when it seems it has!

We also rejoice in our hearts and trust in his holy name. The greatest act of worship is to praise God in every season but more than that, to trust him in every season. 

We end the Psalm with quite a strange line in verse 22 that should encourage and challenge us:

(Amplified) – Let Your mercy and loving-kindness, O Lord, be upon us, in proportion to our waiting and hoping for You.

So we are encouraged to wait on and hope in Jesus. Luke 12.37 (in the story of watching for the Lord’s return) lets us know there is a special blessing for those who actively wait for the Lord’s return –

“Blessed (happy, fortunate, and to be envied) are those servants whom the master finds awake and alert and watching when he comes. Truly I say to you, he will gird himself and have them recline at table and will come and serve them!”

So we need to respond by being ready, keeping ourselves right with God and letting him know we need him, love him and trust him completely.