Psalm 33 is connected to and very closely related to Psalm 32. Notice that there is no title or postscript between these two psalms, and that Psalm 33 starts with rejoicing, which is where Psalm 32 left off. Psalm 33 is an example of the “songs of deliverance” mentioned in verse 7 of the previous psalm.

1.  Rejoice in the LORD, O you righteous!

Those who are righteous are again called upon to rejoice in the LORD. Indeed, in Him our rejoicing is great indeed, for He gives us reason and purpose for living.

For praise from the upright is beautiful.

This is how Yahweh looks at the praise of His people. We know, too, what a beautiful thing it is to get with other believers and to praise the LORD together.

2.  Praise the LORD with the harp;

Now music is called for to aid in the praising of the LORD. We know from experience that music can do much to lift our hearts, our thoughts, and our emotions towards our Lord and Savior as we sing our praises to Him.

Make melody to Him with an instrument of ten strings.

Again the call is made to make music unto the LORD upon an instrument of ten strings. This perhaps describes the harp that David was using as he composed this song of praise.

3.  Sing to Him a new song;

This speaks of a new song to be sung on a new occasion, and is the first of seven times in the Old Testament (six in Psalms) when a new song is called for. I believe that this points ahead to God’s coming Kingdom. When His government is upon earth at last, and the glories of His rule become a reality, it will be necessary for men to compose new songs unto Him. A whole new kind of music, and whole new kind of song, will arise out of this glorious occasion, and men will sing new songs of joy and praise unto the God Who has made everything else new, and Who has brought about the wonders of His world upon earth. No song composed in the past, no music written in our day, will be sufficient for this wondrous event. At that time, new songs will be written for men to sing, and sing them they shall, as they marvel at the glories of the God Who delivers the world.

Play skillfully with a shout of joy.

Great skill and great joy are called for upon the occasion of this new song being sung.

4.  For the word of the LORD is right,

This is something that we are assured of: that the word of the LORD is right. That must always be our attitude and our standard in Bible study. If we do not believe the word of the LORD to be right, then we will never come to a full understanding of His truth. The word must not be made to conform to our ideas. We must conform ourselves to the word, for It is truly always right.

And all His work is done in truth.

There is nothing ever false about the work of Yahweh. When He works, He works in truth, and no error is possible for Him. If there is any error in His Word as we receive it today, it is there because of the mistakes men made in transcribing it through the years, or in translating it into our language. Man’s work is often in error, but the LORD’s work is always in truth. And when the LORD brings about His great work of governing the earth, all that He does then will be done in the truth as well.

5.  He loves righteousness and justice;

All that God does is done in righteousness. Yet He does not always act in justice, for sometimes He acts to show forth His grace. When God brings His future Kingdom to earth, then all He does will be just. God’s government will be righteous and just indeed!

The earth is full of the goodness of the LORD.

When God’s government comes to earth, then this planet will be full of the goodness of the Lord. Yet that word “goodness” is the word that is many times translated “lovingkindness,” and means the same thing as “grace.” We live in a day when the earth is full of the grace of the LORD. This is the time of God’s policy of grace, and when He cannot act in grace, He does not act at all. How many gracious acts does God do every day, yet we so often cannot see them! There is good in this world, and we know that it has graciously been placed there by God. He is indeed the God of every grace.

6.  By the word of the LORD the heavens were made,

“Heavens” means that which is over and above. The word “heaven” comes from the English word “heave,” and when something is “heaved up” it is then “heave-en.” The sun, moon, stars, and planets are all above us, and can be spoken of as if they were heaved up into the sky. That is what is in view here: the heavens that are above us.

We do not need to look for some kind of naturalistic explanation for the existence of the universe. These things did not all make themselves. Rather, the LORD spoke and these things came into existence. It was His word that created all these things.

And all the host of them by the breath of His mouth.

Here “breath” is put for the words spoken by it. It is the words of the LORD’s mouth that made the heavens, and all the host of them. He breathed the words, and these things came to be. What a powerful God we have!

7.  He gathers the waters of the sea together as a heap;

We know that this happened at creation, for at first all the earth was covered by water, and then the LORD gathered the waters of the sea together and let the dry land appear.

He lays up the deep in storehouses.

This also happened at creation. These storehouses were where much of the water of the flood came from, for we read in Genesis 7:11 that “all the fountains of the great deep were broken up.” So it was not just rain from the sky that caused this great flood that covered all the earth. Yet these great storehouses of water were not emptied entirely, for even today men can find water just about anywhere they look if they dig deep enough below the surface of the earth.

8.  Let all the earth fear the LORD;

Now the Psalmist calls upon all the earth to fear the LORD. We can see what this means in the next phrase.

Let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of Him.

As Otis Q. Sellers points out in his exposition of the Psalms, this is an excellent example of a principle we find throughout Hebrew poetry (and even in other places in the Bible) where what is said in one line is repeated in a different, clearer way in the next line to define for us what is meant. Here we learn that the “earth” in the first line meant the “inhabitants of the world.” To “fear the LORD” meant to “stand in awe of Him.” This is what all the people living upon the earth are called upon to do: to stand in awe of the LORD. Why they are called upon to do this is recorded in the next verse.

9.  For He spoke, and it was done;

This points back to the creation of the earth, when the LORD spoke, and all things came into being. Yet we know it also can point forward to that time when God will move to create a new world upon earth, that world that may be described as the Kingdom of God, the time of God’s government upon earth. Once again, all God will have to do is to speak, and that world will come into being. And then great will be the reason for all inhabitants of the world to stand in awe of the God Who has done such a thing!

He commanded, and it stood fast.

The creation stood fast when the LORD spoke. And when He speaks again, the new world He creates will also stand fast, and will never come to an end.

10.  The LORD brings the counsel of the nations to nothing;

Many are the schemes, the plans, the counsels of the nations. Even today we see how many ideas there are in the political sphere about how to run a great country such as ours. Some of these plans work out, at least for a time, and some seem to be brought to nothing. Whether or not it is the LORD doing this is hard to say. Many of these schemes are badly conceived, and would come to nothing even without God’s help. Yet when the LORD brings about His government upon earth, all the schemes of the nations of the world for promoting their own governments in rebellion against Him will all come to nothing.

He makes the plans of the peoples of no effect.

Some of their plans are effectual, and some are not. God does not always have to act in order for plans to be ineffectual. Yet when God’s government comes, all the plans of the peoples will be made ineffectual, for only Yahweh’s plans will be effective at that time.

11.  The counsel of the LORD stands forever,

Unlike the counsels of the nations, the LORD’s counsels stand perpetually. And when His government is upon earth and His plans are put into full effect, all of them will stand. Not one will be shown to be a bad idea. Not one will come to nothing.

The plans of His heart to all generations.

All generations will yet see the plans of God’s heart. What a wonder that will be!

12.  Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD,

This word “blessed” again is “how happy,” and now tells us about a “how happy” nation. There are those today who would like to think that any nation that is a “Christian” nation is therefore a nation whose God is the LORD. They would then think that this would qualify them under this statement. Many use verses like this to say that God has blessed our nation in the past for making Him our God. Yet they usually follow this with warnings that we have gotten away from this, and that we must return to God if we want to continue to receive His blessings. Yet this is not talking about any nation that decides to call itself “Christian.” There is only one nation that has ever been able to claim God as uniquely their own, and that is the nation of Israel. And how happy indeed was that nation because of this, compared to the other nations at that time!

Today, we live in a day when no nation has exclusive privileges in God’s sight. Rather, in the words of Ephesians 3:6, the nations are joint heirs, joint bodies, and joint partakers of His promise in Christ through the gospel. This is the truth for today. Yet when David wrote, Israel was the nation that had Yahweh as their God, and happy they were because of it.

The people He has chosen as His own inheritance.

The LORD had elected or chosen Israel as His Own portion. They were His among all the nations of the earth. That was true then, but it is not true today, when all nations are equal in God’s sight.

13.  The LORD looks from heaven;

We do not know how exactly He does this. It is certain that He does not just look with eyes as we do. Nevertheless, this verse assures us that the LORD can look upon the earth from heaven.

He sees all the sons of men.

I believe that this has special reference to what the LORD will do when He brings about His government upon earth. Remember, this is a new song that men will sing because of the new condition of things upon the earth. Certainly the work that God did to bring about this great change will be the subject of many of these songs.

Yahweh will look out from heaven at that time, and will look individually upon every one of the sons of Adam living upon the earth. No place will be too remote. No one will be beyond His sight. None will be forgotten. He will see every one, and He will act toward every one.

14.  From the place of His dwelling He looks

Notice that He does this from heaven, the place of His dwelling. The LORD does not need to be nearby to see us. He does not even need to be upon earth to do it. He can see us every one from heaven, the place where He dwells. This reminds us of Isaiah 66:1 (quoted in Acts 7:49,) “Heaven is my throne, And earth is my footstool.” The LORD here is looking from the throne upon the footstool.

On all the inhabitants of the earth;

He does not miss a single one in doing this.

15.  He fashions their hearts individually;

Now, having looked upon them, He does a work toward all of them. That is, He fashions a heart for them individually. This does not refer to something he does for every one of us at birth or at conception or sometime in between. This is something that He does when He looks upon all men on the earth at once. Having done this, He then does a work in their hearts, changing them all at once. This verse is one reason that I believe that, when the government of God begins upon the earth, one of the first things that occurs is that God removes the principle of sin and death from every descendant of Adam living upon the earth. This results in a different heart being given to each of them. This does not mean that those who had hated God in the past cannot still do so, or that they cannot still sin. What it does mean is that men will no longer be sinners because of Adam’s sin. Their hearts have been changed, and it is possible for them not to sin if they so choose. Now, each one who sins will do so because he chose to of his own free will.

He considers all their works.

Having refashioned the hearts of all men individually upon the earth, the LORD now does not let them all off without judgment. Now, without the natural sin we all have through Adam to get in the way, He can truly look upon each person on earth and judge him for his own works. This is the next thing He does at this monumental time in history when He takes control of the earth’s governments and makes them His Own.

16.  No king is saved by the multitude of an army;

When the LORD judges all men upon the earth, no man, not even the highest ruler, can be saved from that judgment by any earthly means. Even the most powerful man with the mightiest army will find that this power will do him no good when he is inspected by the judgment light of the all-knowing LORD Who looks upon him from heaven.

A mighty man is not delivered by great strength.

Personal power and strength is no more help to men than power over others. A strong body is useless in standing up to this great test.

17.  A horse is a vain hope for safety;

The horse was the great weapon of war at that time, and those who had a large cavalry were generally those considered most powerful. Yet even that which was considered the most powerful weapon for war could not benefit those who possess it when it comes to facing up to God’s judgment. What would our guns or tanks or nuclear bombs avail us when our works are made bear before the LORD Who made us?

Neither shall it deliver any by its great strength.

The horse’s strength cannot help its owner in this battle, either to stand up to it or to flee from it. There is nothing any man can do at that time but face the piercing judgment light of the LORD upon his life. Praise God that, through Jesus Christ and our faith in Him, we know that we can stand before the LORD’s judgment!

18.  Behold, the eye of the LORD is on those who fear Him,

When the LORD looks upon all the sons of Adam to judge them, He will look especially upon those who revere and respect Him. He will look upon them to bless them, and to bring them into His government.
On those who hope in His mercy,

Notice that it is not those who are trusting in their own works that He looks upon. Rather, it is those who hope (or who wait expectantly) upon His mercy who are looked upon favorably. Mercy is the same thing as grace. It is those who hope in grace who will receive the blessings of the LORD. It is only through grace that any man will ever receive a positive judgment regarding his works.

19.  To deliver their soul from death,

Those who hope in His grace are those who will be rescued from death. Those upon whom judgment falls, however, cannot hope to escape from the death they deserve.

And to keep them alive in famine.

What exactly this might have to do with the government of God is difficult to say. It reminds me of II Thessalonians 3:10, which reads, “For even when we were with you, we commanded you this: If anyone will not work, neither shall he eat.” In our world, we find it very difficult to give one food and keep it from another. Often the parents of children do not deserve our charity, for they refuse to work. But we do not want to let their children starve because of their laziness. Yet if one gives food to the children, it would be nearly impossible to withhold it from their parents. When God has control of the earth, however, He can do things like this. He can see to it that His people are fed, and the rebels are not. This may or may not be what is referred to here. But it could be that those upon whom the LORD’s judgment falls will die as in a famine, while those upon whom He looks with favor will be fed.

20.  Our soul waits for the LORD;

This means that their very beings waited for the LORD. We wait for the LORD to come and make this world the way He wants it to be. He has not done so yet, but we know that He will do this someday. And when He does, then all who live upon earth will wait upon Him for life, health, and every good. And He will supply these to them in abundance!

He is our help and our shield.

The singer praises the LORD for these things. Yahweh gives both help and protection to those who wait upon Him.

21.  For our heart shall rejoice in Him,

When the LORD works, those who love Him rejoice to see it. Even in our day, when the LORD works not openly but in secret, it is in the LORD that His people rejoice. What do we have to rejoice in in this present, evil world? The things of this life are nothing compared to Him, and what He has planned for those who love Him. So we are wise indeed when it is in Him only that we rejoice.

Because we have trusted in His holy name.

It is our trust in the set-apart reputation of the LORD that causes us to rejoice, because we know that our trust will not be in vain. We believe that He is even as we have been taught: a great God and a good God Who will fulfill His plans in the earth. We know that He will make all things right in the end. We have so much cause for rejoicing, even in a world that is marred by sin and death. How much more cause will we have to rejoice when He brings about His great plans at last!

22.  Let Your mercy, O LORD, be upon us,

Now, the singers call upon the LORD for His mercy, that is, His grace to be upon them. Indeed, where would any of us be without His grace?

Just as we hope in You.

Remember that in the Scriptures hope is what one waits for and expects to happen, not just what one wishes might happen. The singers are waiting expectantly for the LORD, hoping in the glorious future He will bring about, even as they see it being realized before them. We wait before this comes to pass, yet we too can hope just as surely, knowing that God will bring these things about in His time.