Psalm 33

Psalm 33[a]

Praise of God’s Providence

1 Rejoice in the Lord, you righteous;
it is fitting for the upright to praise him.
2 Give thanks to the Lord on the harp;
offer praise to him on the ten-stringed lyre.
3 Sing to him a new song;[b]
play skillfully on the strings with joyful shouts.
4 [c]For the word of the Lord is true,
and he is faithful in everything he does.
5 The Lord loves righteousness and justice;
the earth is filled with his kindness.
6 The heavens were made by the word[d] of the Lord,
and all their host by the breath of his mouth.
7 He gathers the waters of the sea as in a bowl;[e]
he places the deep in storehouses.
8 Let all the earth fear the Lord;
let all the inhabitants of the world revere him.[f]
9 [g]For he spoke, and it came to be;
he commanded, and it stood firm.
10 The Lord thwarts the plans of nations
and frustrates the designs of peoples.
11 But the plan of the Lord remains forever,
the designs of his heart for all generations.
12 [h]Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord,
the people whom he has chosen as his heritage.[i]
13 [j]The Lord gazes down from heaven
and beholds the entire human race.
14 From his royal throne
he watches all who dwell on the earth.
15 He who has fashioned the hearts of them all
observes everything they do.
16 A king is not saved by a large army,
nor is a warrior delivered by great strength.
17 A horse offers false hope for victory;
despite its power it cannot save.
18 [k]But the eyes of the Lord are on those who fear him,
on those who trust in his kindness,
19 to deliver them from death
and to preserve their lives in time of famine.
20 [l]Our soul waits in hope for the Lord;
he is our help and our shield.
21 Our hearts rejoice in him
because we trust in his holy name.
22 O Lord, let your kindness rest upon us,
for we have placed our hope in you.


  1. Psalm 33:1 This psalm follows a classical pattern. First, the psalmist calls for praise to God. Then he proclaims praise for his great deeds: his word that created the three-tiered universe (vv. 4-9), his intervention in history when he chose his people from among the nations (vv. 10-12), and finally his powerful help for those who fear him (vv. 13-19). Thus, he contemplates God’s work in creation, in the history of Israel, and in the lives of the righteous. The people acclaim Providence, whose wise plan is universal in its scope.
    In Ephesians (Eph 1:9; 3:4f), Paul will explain this hidden plan of God that is carried to fulfillment in Christ’s Passover in order that humankind may have life and the world may attain its goal.
  2. Psalm 33:3 Sing to him a new song: celebrate God’s saving deed with a new song to make known his greatness to others and to give him praise (see Pss 7:18, and note; 40:4; 96:1; 98:1; 144:9; 149:1; Isa 42:10; Rev 5:9; 14:3).
  3. Psalm 33:4 The psalmist celebrates especially the perfections of the Lord. His nature and his self-revelation are in complete harmony; he is faithful (true) in everything that he does. He also loves righteousness and justice, i.e., he carries out his plans by his verdicts, rule, and covenant relationship with his people. Furthermore, his kindness is evident in his works on earth; he shows the same loyalty, constancy, and love toward the rest of creation that he shows to his people (v. 22). Kindness: see note on Ps 6:5.
  4. Psalm 33:6 The Fathers of the Church applied this verse to the Blessed Trinity: Lord = Father; word = Son; breath = Spirit. All their host: the stars of the sky were viewed as an army (see Neh 9:6; Isa 40:26; 45:12; Jer 33:22). See also note on Ps 24:10.
  5. Psalm 33:7 He gathers the waters . . . as in a bowl: God rules the dangerous waters so easily that it is like a person putting water into a bowl (see Ps 104:9; Gen 1:9f; Job 38:8-11; Prov 8:29; Jer 5:22).
  6. Psalm 33:8 The nations of the world feared many gods, each of whom reigned over the various heavenly bodies and over the land, sea, and sky. But the psalmist stresses that the Lord is the Creator-Ruler of the world and everything in it. Hence, he calls upon all nations and all peoples to fear the Lord because of his greatness and his goodness.
  7. Psalm 33:9 Whatever God spoke came into existence (see Heb 11:3). Everything reflects his wise rule. The nations are completely under his control (see Prov 19:21; 21:30; Isa 8:10; 19:17; 46:10f; Jer 29:11; Mic 4:12). God’s providence works out his purposes. Heart: see note on Ps 4:8.
  8. Psalm 33:12 The psalmist now meditates on the election of God’s people, after he has stressed the Lord’s power and steadfast carrying out of his plans.
  9. Psalm 33:12 The Lord freely chose his people as his heritage (see Pss 28:9; 74:2; 78:62, 71; 94:5, 14; 106:5, 40; Ex 19:5; Deut 4:20; 9:26, 29).
  10. Psalm 33:13 The Lord sees everything that happens on earth (vv. 13-15) and controls human destinies. Hearts: see note on Ps 4:8.
  11. Psalm 33:18 Success in any venture does not depend on earthly means but on God alone, who watches over his faithful and delivers them from death and every danger. Eyes of the Lord: a metaphor for the Lord’s loving care. Kindness: see note on Ps 6:5.
  12. Psalm 33:20 The people respond by expressing a renewal of their covenant commitment. The Lord is their help and shield (see Pss 3:4; 28:7), and they trust in his holy name, with which they associate past acts of deliverance (see Ps 30:5). They promise to be submissive and abandon themselves to him as he works out his plans for the establishment of his kingdom and the renewal of the earth. Soul: see note on Ps 6:4. Hearts: see note on Ps 4:8. Name: see note on Ps 5:12. Kindness: see note on Ps 6:5.

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