Give thanks to the LORD on the harp;
with the ten-stringed lyre chant his praises.
Sing to him a new song;
pluck the strings skillfully, with shouts of gladness.
The LORD brings to nought the plans of nations;
he foils the designs of peoples.
But the plan of the LORD stands forever;
the design of his heart, through all generations.
But see, the eyes of the LORD are upon those who fear him,
upon those who hope for his kindness,
To deliver them from death
and preserve them in spite of famine.
(Psalm 33:2-3, 10-11, 18-19)
33:1–3. Praise of God calls for uprightness of heart and also external solemnity: the “lyre” and the “harp” were instruments used by the Levites (cf. 1 Chron 15:16). “A new song” (v. 3) is a reference either to the text or its music, or else to a response to a new act of deliverance by God (cf. Ps 96:1–2; 98:1–2). There is always something new about praise due to the circumstances in which it is sung. Commenting on v. 3, St Augustine says: “Everybody wonders how he should sing to the Lord. Sing to him, but sing well. He will not listen to a song that offends his ears. Sing well, my brothers. […] Who, then, thinks himself so great a master as to sing for God? Who can claim to sit in judgment on the cantor? Who can listen with a truly critical ear? This verse tells of the way you ought to sing to Him: do not be concerned with words, as if words were able to convey what brings delight to God. Sing with joy. The song sung with joy is the song that pleases God. And to sing with joy is to recognize that we cannot put into words what our heart feels” (Enarrationes in Psalmos, 32, 7–8).
33:10–12. The continuity of God’s actions, his faithful adherence to his purposes, is also to be seen in his enduring choice of Israel, the nation he took for his own (v. 12).
33:13–19. The psalmist is in awe of God’s providence over mankind: he made every human being and he reads the hearts of all (vv. 13–15). Among them, not even the powerful (the “king”, the “warrior”: vv. 16–17) can be saved by their own strength: they all owe their lives to God’s help (vv. 18–19).
Psalm 33 is a hymn of praise with a specific purpose. It proclaims the LORD as the one in whom the righteous may place their trust and hope. The psalm as a whole expresses in language the theological vision of reality that belongs to the worshiping community. Our normal way of thinking is to divide the world into distinct spheres, each with its own separate features and laws. We think in terms of nature, history, individual psychology, and religion. The psalm sees behind the various dimensions of reality the comprehending actuality of the sovereign LORD whose being as God comprehends and controls them all. It is the LORD and not the world that we place all our trust in.
– James Mays
May the virtues of faith, hope, and love go with you today – DV.