The Righteous One’s Adoration of the Lord

a brief study of Psalm 33, adapted from PCC Prayer Meeting Exhortation on 19 Jan 2007

Psalm 33 is not very well-known to many of us unlike Psalm 32. Many of us will not be able to tell what this psalm is about. One reason is perhaps because we are easily overwhelmed by the many things that are said in it so that we quickly lose track of its central theme. But Psalm 33 is really a very beautiful psalm once you understand the structure of it as we shall see.

Is this psalm Messianic? Well, there is no reason for us to doubt that it was given by our Messiah that we might join Him to sing in praise of His Father.

Andrew Bonar puts it beautifully when he says:

“It is a very simple Psalm, yet full of the feelings which a forgiven soul teems with. Never did any heart so abound in those feelings as the heart of the Lord Jesus; and His saints learn from Him. It is He who lead the praise in the great congregation (cf. Ps 22:22)”.

This psalm is indeed a Psalm of praise as the opening words, “Rejoice in the Lord” indicates.

It has three parts:

· Verses 1-3, we have a call to praise the LORD.

· Verses 4-19, we are given 4 reasons to praise the LORD, namely His Character, His Creation-work, His Counsels and His Care of the Church.

· Verses 20-22, our response to the call to praise the LORD (vv. 1-3).

Let’s look at these sections briefly:

1. Call to Praise the LORD

1 Rejoice in the LORD, O ye righteous: for praise is comely for the upright. 2 Praise the LORD with harp: sing unto him with the psaltery and an instrument of ten strings. 3 Sing unto him a new song; play skilfully with a loud noise.

Man is created to glorify and enjoy God. One of the highest ways in which we can glorify God is to praise Him with grateful hearts.

For this reason, we are called to rejoice in the LORD and to praise Him. Praise is comely - that is, praise is fitting and beautiful. It is the most suitable use of our tongue and emotions.

In the Old Covenant, the Levites in the temple would worship God using instruments of various kinds especially when the animal sacrifices were being offered. There is no indication that in the temple, they would sing with instruments when the animals were not being offered (cf. 2 Chr 29:26-29). However, it is not difficult to see how the people of God would often sing praises accompanied by various musical instruments in informal situations.

Under the New Covenant, musical instruments were done with for formal worship just as the sacrifices were done with. For this reason, the apostle Paul teaches us to speak to each other “in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in [our] heart to the Lord” (Eph 5:19).

The words, “making melody” translates a Greek word that literally means “plucking the strings of an instrument.” Paul is telling us that our heart should be our musical instrument. We should pluck our heart-strings as we sing.

This is how we must understand the word of Christ as He calls us to “Praise the LORD with harp: sing unto him with the psaltery and an instrument of ten strings. [And to] play skilfully with a loud noise.”

Let us therefore not sing to the Lord mechanically as a matter of routine. Let us rather sing unto Him with understanding. And let us sing unto Him with joy and gladness in our heart.

But how best may we praise the Lord with meaning and feelings?

Our Lord gives us 4 reasons to praise the LORD, which cannot but move our hearts to praise Him with sincerity and gratitude.

2. Reasons to Praise the Lord

Firstly, we should praise Him for…

a. His Character

4 For the word of the LORD is right; and all his works are done in truth. 5 He loveth righteousness and judgment: the earth is full of the goodness of the LORD.

The LORD Jehovah is good, true, faithful, righteous and just. Whatever He says is right and true. He is the standard of truth. He is faithful to keep all His promises.

And if we would only open our eyes to see, and to think objectively, we will see that the earth is full of the goodness of the LORD.… for every good and perfect gift comes from above.

Sinful man has a way of being blind to the goodness of God and being critical of the things that happen in providence—attributing the worst things to God, and taking the best things for granted. But let God be true and every man a liar. If God were to withhold His goodness and man be allowed to run wild, this world will not last a day.

The sun will refuse to shine. The winds will swirl uncontrolled. There will be drought or floods. The seas will burst their banks. The insects and animals in the world will be loosed from their restraints. Imagine being burned by the sun, swept by the seas, choked by noxious gases, blinded by dust, and stung and bitten by insects constantly.

If only we would have our eyes opened, we will see that the goodness of the Lord is everywhere.… in the rain and the sunshine, in the air that we breath, and indeed, in all the things that we enjoy in this present life. And not only so, but we will see that God is faithful and just. When He does send something that afflicts man, it is always because man deserves it due to sin. God is just. The only reason why this sinful world can still enjoy much of the creation of God is that God has withheld His hand of judgment.

God is good, faithful, righteous and just. Let us praise Him for His character.

Secondly, let us praise Him…

b. His Creation Work

6 By the word of the LORD were the heavens made; and all the host of them by the breath of his mouth. 7 He gathereth the waters of the sea together as an heap: he layeth up the depth in storehouses. 8 Let all the earth fear the LORD: let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of him. 9 For he spake, and it was done; he commanded, and it stood fast.

The LORD Jehovah made all things. The entire universe is made by Him. The ocean is made by Him. He made all things by the word of His power. Is that not reason sufficient to praise Him?

When we look at the beauty and greatness of creation, we cannot but lift up our hearts to praise the Lord.

Only an atheist can look at the beauty of creation and be unmoved by it.

God’s children therefore must especially learn to praise the Lord for His wonderful creation. Let us praise Him for being the wise and mighty Creator that He is.

And thirdly, let us praise Him for…

c. His Counsels

10 The LORD bringeth the counsel of the heathen to nought: he maketh the devices of the people of none effect. 11 The counsel of the LORD standeth for ever, the thoughts of his heart to all generations.

The counsels of the Lord are His decrees. He is a sovereign God that accomplishes all that He ordains to do.

The heathen are opposed to Him. They want to do things according to their own fancies. Like the people in Babel of old, man has always sought to usurp the authority of God. But man can never succeed because God is sovereign.

As He disrupted the plan of man to build the tower of Babel, so He has continued to bring to naught the wicked plans of man. For example, man has sought to create life, but he has never succeeded. Man has tried to eradicate the Church and the Bible. But the more they try, the more the church had grown and today the Bible remains the all time bestseller.

So man has tried to do away with the Sabbath. But over and over again, God demonstrates that those who do so suffer many consequences including health related problems and economic losses.

8 For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD. 9 For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts” (Isa 55:8-9)

Shall we not praise the LORD for His wise and sovereign counsels?

Most of all, shall we not praise Him for …

d. His Care of the Church

12 Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD; and the people whom he hath chosen for his own inheritance.

The nation whose God is the LORD is the Church. She is the royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, a people chosen for God’s own inheritance.

As a church, we must praise the LORD… for His eyes are upon us (v. 18). We are special in His eyes.

Yes, all men are alike—sinners (v. 13-15). Yes, all men are capable of accomplishing many things through the natural means. But no! Man cannot guarantee success in all that he does no matter how power and rich he may be, and no matter how effective his means may be. Promotion cometh from the Lord:

16 There is no king saved by the multitude of an host: a mighty man is not delivered by much strength. 17 An horse is a vain thing for safety: neither shall he deliver any by his great strength.

Unless God grants salvation, the great power of a king can achieve nothing. Unless God delivers to safety, the great strength of a horse will be useless. Unless God heals, all the most powerful medicine in the world cannot keep a person alive. Unless God by His providence warns of impending earthquake, a nation can be completely swallowed up in a matter of seconds. Unless God delivers from hell, we shall be heading gleefully into it.

Thank God that while He does not promise deliverance to the heathen, He has promised it to His people:

18 Behold, the eye of the LORD is upon them that fear him, upon them that hope in his mercy; 19 To deliver their soul from death, and to keep them alive in famine.

Our Lord is watching over us, we must not doubt it. Yes, sometimes in this present life, we may not be cognizant of His deliverance, and our final deliverance is yet future, but faith and hope will one day give way to reality. One day we shall be raised from the dead. We will be freed from all our troubles whereas our enemies will face the justice of God.

God cares for us individually and corporately. We are the apple of His eyes. And His eyes are upon all them that fear Him and hope in His mercy.

Shall we not praise Him?

So we have 4 reasons to praise Him. We should praise Him for His character, His creation-work, His counsel and His care. Shall we not stir our hearts by meditating on these things that we may cheerfully and gratefully praise the Lord!

3. Our Response to the Call 
to Praise the LORD

This psalm opens with a call to praise the Lord. This call is enlarged with 4 reasons. But now as the psalm closes, we must respond to the call.

How shall we respond but to praise the Lord?

20 Our soul waiteth for the LORD: he is our help and our shield. 21 For our heart shall rejoice in him, because we have trusted in his holy name. 22 Let thy mercy, O LORD, be upon us, according as we hope in thee.

Our LORD is our help and protector. He shields us from the evil that is due to sin. He even shields us from His own wrath through the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God who took God’s wrath due to us upon Himself. God is our shield in Christ.


Dearly beloved brothers and sisters and children in the Lord Jesus Christ, we have many reasons to praise the Lord. Shall we not praise Him? Shall we not trust Him? Shall we not meditate on His character, His creation, His counsel and His care and praise Him.

I believe we have not praised Him enough. For that reason we have become great in our own eyes whereas God has become small.

I believe that a failure to recognise the greatness of God and how worthy He is of our praise has resulted in self-centred lives together with all the problems associated with it such as anxiety over the future, covetousness, quarrels over minor issues, etc, etc.

If only we will take heed to the words of our Lord and start to meditate on how great God is and praise Him from the bottom of our heart, the things of this world will grow strangely dim, our problems will be strangely trivial as faith, hope and love fills our heart. Shall we not think often of the character, creation, counsel and care of the LORD that we may often lift up our hearts to praise our great and mighty God!

May the Lord help us! Amen.

— JJ Lim