Praise be to God

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Today’s sermon is focused on Psalm 33.

‘Sing joyfully to the LORD, you righteous.’ (Psalm 33:1)

This admonition reminds us that we enter into worship and give an invocation of praise to God, whether it’s through prayer or song.

Four things, I think, are not good to begin within any kind of worship, whether it’s personal or corporate.

The psalm does not begin by saying ―’Sing listlessly to the Lord.’

‘Do not have any life or sparkle in what you’re doing.’

It does not say, ―’Sing mumbling to the Lord.’

It does not say,
― Sing expressionlessly to the Lord.

Nor does it say,
― ‘Don’t sing at all.’

Some people have the view that real worship doesn’t begin until the preacher preaches, and everything else is preliminary to that time.

I don’t believe that’s a fitting understanding of worship—certainly not from this psalm.

Someone has said that what songs are is really words that are dancing.

Therefore, the reason why we sing words is to give a lift to what we’re expressing.

The invitation to sing at the beginning of this psalm is extended to the righteous, which of course defines those who are in the community of faith, who belong to the Lord.

God has justified us or made us righteous through faith.

We’re in that community.

God has given the righteous a song to sing, a song that is independent of our own particular experience at any given moment.

We’re invited to sing because of who the Lord is.

We, therefore, have been given a song.

The New Testament admonishes us to speak to one other with psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs and sing and make music in our heart to the Lord (Ephesians 5:19).

 

I. These first three verses of invocation to praise to the Lord.

These verses actually tell us four rules for singing.

 

A. Sing exuberantly or joyfully.

To put expression to our singing.

To concentrate.

 

B. Sing with instruments.

Instruments were encouraged to accompany the vocal music.

If under the old covenant they could sing that way, how much more when we have a new song under Christ should we use the instruments to blend in with the voices?

In those days, they didn’t have the instruments we have today, but the principle remains.

 

C. Sing to Him a new song.

By inference, it is a reminder to us that it’s never sufficient just to sing to God the old songs.

Don’t became starchy, dead religion!

Part of the Christian life is continuing to take that which gives new expression to our faith and new vitality.

Our life would be so impoverished if I weren’t continuing to learn those new songs to the Lord.

 

D. Worship with excellence.

We’re told ―’Sing to him a new song. Play skilfully and shout for joy.’

There is room for good music in the church, for people who are well-trained vocally, who are well-trained instrumentally, and who can offer that in praise to God.

We must not get into the mistaken notion that good music is only that which sounds the tune or melodic sequences we particularly like.

The Lord, I think, is delighted with many different forms of music, and it’s important that we do the music which we do with the best excellence we can bring to it.

God’s request:
Sing joyfully, sing with instruments, sing with a new song, worship with excellence.

 

II. What is the substance of our praise?

The substance of our praise is found broken up in several different categories, from verse 4 through verse 19.

We’ll look at several different categories which constitute the basis of our praise.

 

A. We celebrate the Lord’s Word.

Psalm 33:4–9
‘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 were the heavens 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 psalm is meaning to say to us that God’s Word was the agent by which creation came into being.

It was through speaking the Word of God that the chaos of creation was brought out and it is that same Word which was used in the creation that brings order and productivity and effectiveness to our own lives.

Whenever God speaks, it is not a erratic or a careless word, but He has intentionality to what He says.

The Bible is saying that the God who ordained the heavens and the earth is a moral God.

He is right and true.

He is filled with holiness and unfailing love.

Before the psalmist really celebrates the power of God’s Word which made the creation, he celebrates the character of God, who brought the creation into being.

He brings the two greatest attributes of God together in a collection of verses (4–5).

God is righteous and God is loving.

God’s law and His love are equally strong.

In the ark of the covenant, He says, ―I choose to elevate My love, even over My law.

So instead of having His law and His love, side by side, in the ark of the covenant, He chooses to show us—in instances where we cannot decide what is the proper administration between love and Law—that we do well to elevate love above the Law.

God himself does this when there is a repentant heart.

The Lord’s power is such in the making of creation that He even handles the waters in the heavens and the waters in the oceans like a traveler storing his water in a leather flask.

That’s the idea of jars here.

Our response to the powerful effect of God’s Word—which brought water into being and brought the worlds into being—is reverence. ―

v8
‘Let all the people of the earth revere Him’

A society that does not teach reverence for God is headed for big, big trouble.

Romans 1:20-28
‘For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse. For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened… [therefore God] gave them over to a depraved mind.’

The psalmist is looking to the moral system within the nation of Israel and saying that the creation ought to do something for us.

It ought to make us reverence God and respect Him, because the foundation of all moral ordering of life flows out of that.

The Psalmist celebrates God’s Word, God’s Word that is effective in creation and God’s Word that produces reverence in us.

 

B. We celebrate the Lord’s plan.

Psalm 33:10–12
‘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.’

We switch from talking about creation, in the earlier verses, now to talking about human history.

What the psalmist is saying is that God’s purposes for the human race are as invariable as His natural laws.

He has plans for the ordering of society and the ordering of human life.

They’re just as unbreakable as the laws of gravity.

The nation, the family, the individual whose God is the Lord, who keeps these laws, will be a blessed nation.

Verse 12 initially referred to Israel, the nation whose God is the Lord.

But the principle can be appropriated by any group of people who will make God the Lord.

Why would a nation whose God is the Lord be blessed?

A lot of things would be different.

‘Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD.’

We’re so used to the kind of culture in which we live, but how different it would be if everybody made the Lord their God.

 

C. Celebrate the Lord’s eye.

Psalm 33:13–15
‘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.’

God is watching.

That’s a comfort.

But I’m not sure that’s always a comfort to us.

God is seeing everything we do and there’s nothing hidden from Him.

The psalmist is not intimidated, because to him, it’s a comfort to know that God is watching.

Someone has said there is such a thing as watching and then watching.

Remember the comment of the small boy who said:
‘Teacher watches me at school so that he can catch me doing wrong. Father watches me on the beach, to see that I don’t get in too deep. I like father’s kind of watching.’

That’s the kind of watching reflected in verses 12–15.

Father is not watching over us to catch us doing something wrong; but watching over us to help us if we get into water over our head.

 

D. We celebrate the Lord’s might.

Psalm 33:16–19
‘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.’

No president is saved by his military forces.

No missile is a hope for deliverance. Despite all of its great strength, it cannot save.

By the way, the psalmist does not say, ―Do away with horses and do away with prepared warriors.

There would be some who would say, ―Throw away the warriors and throw away the arms and just trust in Him completely.

But never in this psalm is the nation told to dismantle its defenses.

It’s just told that that’s not its ultimate source of salvation.

That’s not its ultimate defense.

A nation can have all the greatest defenses in the world and be penetrated.

If its hope is not in God, it’s all worthless. ―

‘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 to keep them alive in famine.’

 

III. Conclusion

Psalms 33:20–22.
‘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 rest upon us, O LORD, even as we put our hope in you.’

That keeps us from being negative.

The psalmist didn’t have to be negative, because at the time this psalm was written, I think, the nation was clinging pretty closely to God.

I think that’s why the mood is so upbeat.

Psalm 33 is obviously written in a time, in the psalmist’s experience, when the nation is doing great.

He says, ―‘We wait in hope for the LORD’ v20

That’s something we can always do on an individual basis.

‘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 rest upon us, O LORD, even as we put our hope in you.’

The psalmist is sure that God is not going to change.

God is not ready to walk off the job of being God.

He’s still waiting to be our help and He is always our hope.

And our hearts rejoice in Him.

His love rests upon us, as we put our hope in Him.

A beautiful combination.

We do not experience the love of God unless we ourselves reach up to Him.

But when we reach up to Him, His love is always displayed upon us as well.

Praise be to God, who speaks His Word, His plan—whose eye watches over us and whose heart is directed towards us and in whom there is great strength.

The Lord’s might is upon us as we put our hope in Him.

We do not experience the love of God unless we ourselves reach up to Him.

But when we reach up to Him, His love is always displayed upon us as well.

‘May your unfailing love rest upon us, O Lord, even as we put our hope in you.!’ v22

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