New European Commentary


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Psa 33:1 Rejoice in Yahweh, you righteous! Praise is fitting for the upright- This may continue from the previous Psalm, which has conclude that those like David who have seriously sinned and yet been forgiven... are the joyfully "upright in heart" who can legitimately "rejoice" (Ps. 32:11 s.w.).

Psa 33:2 Give thanks to Yahweh with the lyre, sing praises to Him with the harp of ten strings-
This continues the theme of Ps. 32 (see on :1); David is inviting praise to be offered for his forgiveness, and for that which is now demonstrated as possible for all repentant sinners. He was renowned for his harp playing; and he now invites us all to follow him and also take up the harp in worship of the grace shown him.

Psa 33:3 Sing to Him a new song, play skilfully with a shout of joy!-
Is. 42:9,10 says that we sing the “new song” now, because we sing / meditate of the “new things” which will be in the Kingdom. In that day, we will “sing a new song” (Rev. 5:9; 14:3). And yet this is undoubtedly picking up on the way in which we can now sing the ‘new song’, every morning (Ps. 33:3; 40:3; 96:1; 98:1; 144:9; 149:1). This was how David felt after receiving God's grace over the Bathsheba incidents. Likewise, all things will be made new at the Lord’s coming (Rev. 21:5), and yet those in whom the new creation is worked out already have all things made new in their spiritual experience (2 Cor. 5:17,18). The life that the Lord Jesus had and now lives is the essence of the Kingdom life. Who He was and is, this is the definition of the Kingdom life. It’s why one of His titles is “the kingdom of God” (Lk. 17:21). And it’s why it can be said that we ‘have’ eternal life now, in that we can live the essence of the life we will eternally live, right now.

Psa 33:4 For the word of Yahweh is right, all His work is done in faithfulness-
The specific word of Yahweh David may have in view is the message from Nathan the prophet which condemned him for his sin with Bathsheba. Part of repentance is acceptance that God is right.

Psa 33:5 He loves righteousness and justice; the earth is full of the grace of Yahweh-
David so often parallels righteousness and justice / truth (Ps. 9:8; 33:5; 37:6; 72:2; 94:15; 99:7; 103:6; 106:3). Indeed, this parallel is so common in God's word. What it means is that the righteousness of God is a just righteousness. It's not fake, 'I'll turn a blind eye'. It is true, real, valid, and has integrity underpinned in the very essential justice of God Himself. Justice and righteousness may appear abstract ideas, mere theology. But the result is that the person who believes God's righteousness is imputed to him or her... will feel this, they will know it to be true, they can by grace, in faith, quietly hold their head up before God. And David after Bathsheba is our example. He believed and felt this imputed righteousness. It's not so much a case of 'forgiving ourselves' after God has forgiven us, but rather of being swamped by this very real and legitimate sense that truly, we have been counted righteous. And Paul in Romans holds up David after Bathsheba as the personal example to "every one who is Godly" in their time of spiritual need. See on Ps. 41:12.

Psa 33:6 By Yahweh’s word the heavens were made-
I suggested on :4 that the word of Yahweh which David initially had in view was the message from Nathan the prophet which condemned him for his sin with Bathsheba. But just as that one prophetic word had produced a new creation within David, so that same word called into existence all of creation.

All their army by the breath of His mouth- Many passages clearly identify God’s spirit with His power. In order to create the earth, “the spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters. And God said, Let there be light: and there was light” (Gen. 1:2,3). God’s spirit was the power by which all things, e.g. light, were made. “By His spirit He has created the heavens; His hand has formed the crooked serpent” (Job 26:13). A comparison of Mt. 12:28 and Lk. 11:20 shows that “the finger of God” and “the spirit of God” are parallel - God in action is His spirit. “By the word of the Lord were the heavens made; and all the host of them by the breath of His mouth” (Ps. 33:6).

God’s spirit was seen at work in the creation: “By his spirit he has created the heavens” (Job 26:13) - the spirit of God moving upon the face of the waters to bring about the present creation (Gen. 1:2). Yet we also read that “by the word of the Lord” the world was made (Ps. 33:6), as shown by the Genesis narrative recording that “God said” things were to be created, and it happened. God’s spirit, therefore, is very much reflected in His word. Likewise our words express our inner thoughts and desires - the real ‘us’ - very accurately. Jesus wisely pointed out: “Out of the abundance of the heart (the mind) the mouth speaks” (Mt. 12:34).


Psa 33:7 He gathers the waters of the sea together as a heap; He lays up the deeps in storehouses-
David's response to his experience of grace was to commit himself to teaching others God's ways (see on Ps. 32:1). And perhaps his idea of building a temple was an outflow from that. As God gathered the waters together, so David responded by gathering together the Gentiles within Israel ("the waters of the sea") to construct a temple (s.w. 1 Chron. 22:2). And in the restoration context, God was likewise willing to gather together the exiles from the seas of the Gentiles (s.w. Ps. 147:2), repeating the miracle of the Red Sea deliverance, where God's word also made the waters stand as a heap (s.w. Ps. 78:13). As God "lays up... in storehouses", so David laid up all the required materials with which Solomon was to build the temple.

Psa 33:8 Let all the earth fear Yahweh, let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of Him-
David's vision was of all the people within the eretz promised to Abraham coming to fear the God of Israel- all because he had sinned grievously and had been forgiven.  

Psa 33:9 For He spoke, and it was done; He commanded, and it stood firm-
As noted on :4,6, the word of Yahweh which David initially had in view was the message from Nathan the prophet which condemned him for his sin with Bathsheba. But just as that one prophetic word had produced a new creation within David, so that same word called into existence all of creation. David likewise was made to 'stand firm' despite his sin (s.w. 2 Sam. 22:34; Ps. 30:7; 31:8).

Psa 33:10 Yahweh brings the counsel of the nations to nothing; He makes the thoughts of the peoples to be of no power-
Perhaps a reference to how by grace God gave David victory over the Ammonites straight after his receipt of forgiveness over the matter of Bathsheba. He saw in that victory an assurance of God's acceptance of him.


Psa 33:11 The counsel of Yahweh stands fast forever, the thoughts of His heart to all generations-
David likewise was made to 'stand firm' despite his sin (s.w. 2 Sam. 22:34; Ps. 30:7; 31:8). See on :9. God's word reflects His thoughts and intentions. David felt he was to become part of that eternal purpose, and his kingdom or "mountain" would stand fast as part of that (Ps. 30:7). He perceived that his kingdom was to be God's Kingdom.


Psa 33:12 Blessed is the nation whose God is Yahweh, the people whom He has chosen for His own inheritance-
As noted on Ps. 31:6,14, idolatry was prevalent in the Israel of David's time. But their God was to be Yahweh exclusively, for He had exclusively chosen Israel as His people.

Psa 33:13 Yahweh views from heaven; He sees all the sons of men-
As will be noted on :14, God was seen as looking down here, yet His dwelling place was also seen as being in Zion. 

Psa 33:14 From the place of His habitation He looks out on all the inhabitants of the earth-
That place of habitation may refer to Zion rather than Heaven Himself. For the idea is of God looking out from there upon the peoples of the eretz, rather than looking down upon them.

Psa 33:15 He who fashions all of their hearts; and He considers all of their works-
We have here two apparently contradictory ideas; works reflect thoughts / hearts. Yet God fashions or directs human hearts, and yet He judges their works. Yet from this dialectic comes the conclusion that God indeed works directly upon human hearts, but only in confirming their freewill decisions. And therefore He can legitimately judge their works. In the restoration context, this refers to how God was prepared to fashion or create out of the exiles a new people with new hearts (s.w. Is. 43:1,21; 44:2; 64:8). The word is also used in the Hezekiah context (Is. 37:26). David realized that as God fashioned the earth (Ps. 95:5), so He can fashion human hearts (Ps. 33:15). His word and Spirit work in doing both things, with the same boundless possibility and power.

Psa 33:16 There is no king saved by the multitude of an army; a mighty man is not delivered by great strength-
The numbering of Israel was a weak moment for David (note 2 Sam. 24:3,4,10), leading to suffering for others. Yet this same David had written that “there is no king saved by the multitude of an host” (Ps. 33:16). David apparently wrote this before that realization. He knew the theory, but failed to apply it in reality.


Psa 33:17 A horse is a vain thing for safety, neither does he deliver any by his great power-
David was carefully obedient to the Mosaic legislation about not using horses, but instead trusting in the cherubim horses of God's salvation (Dt. 17:16; 20:1). Solomon his son totally ignored all this, having so many horses he had to build cities to house them all. And yet Solomon was quite obsessed with "David my father"; but when it came to real issues, he ignored David.

Psa 33:18 Behold, Yahweh’s eye is on those who fear Him, on those who hope in His grace-
There is a repeated Biblical theme that the believer's relationship with the Father too is essentially mutual. Our eye is upon Him (Ps. 25:5; 69:3; 123:2), as His eye is upon us (Ps. 32:8; 33:18). The Lord stresses, with apparently needless repetition, that to the man who responds to His word, "I will sup with him and he with me" (Rev. 3:20). And David took this mutuality even further; for in Ps. 32:8 David says that in response to his experience of forgiveness regarding Bathsheba, "I will counsel you with my eye on you". 

Psa 33:19 to deliver their soul from death, to keep them alive in famine-
Under the old covenant, famine was not supposed to come if the people were obedient. Remember that the context is about his experience of forgiveness regarding the Bathsheba incident. So the idea is that even when suffering the punishment for sin, God will still show grace and keep His repentant people "alive in famine".

Psa 33:20 Our soul has waited for Yahweh; He is our help and our shield-
As explained on Ps. 32:1, David was resolved to make his experience of salvation by grace the pattern for all men. And so the Psalm concludes by emphasizing that David's path is "ours". 

Psa 33:21 For our heart rejoices in Him, because we have trusted in His holy name-
These words could have been part of David's original Psalm, as suggested on :20; or they could have been added under inspiration by those who later perceived that indeed David's forgiveness and restoration was to be programmatic for all God's people.

Psa 33:22 Let Your grace be on us, Yahweh, according as we have hope in You
- There was no sacrifice prescribed for David's sins with Bathsheba and Uriah; the death penalty was required. But David's vision of God's grace was large enough for him to ask for forgiveness, and his hope for it was not disappointed. But it all depends upon the breadth of our vision. Perhaps the most telling example is in Abraham’s request that God would spare Sodom for the sake of fifty righteous men there. He then lowers the number to 40, and then finally to ten, assuming that surely Lot’s family were righteous and would comprise ten righteous. If Abraham had left off praying at, say, forty... then this would have been the limit God set. If there were ten righteous there, the city wouldn’t have been saved. But Abraham went on to set the limit at ten. But we wonder, what would have happened if he had gone further and asked God to save Sodom for the sake of one righteous man, i.e. Lot? My sense is that the Father would have agreed. But the city wasn’t saved for the sake of the one man Lot, because Abraham limited God’s desire to save by the smallness of his vision. This principle can possibly be extended even wider.

In describing his feelings after the Bathsheba experience, David comments that he was "as a man that hears not [the taunts of others against him], and in whose mouth are no rebukes" (Ps. 38:14). The pre-Bathsheba Psalms present David as a man who was so easily hurt by the taunts of others, and whose mouth was indeed full of rebuke of others.  David's view of God's mercy was that it would be only according to, proportionate to, our hope in God (Ps. 33:22)- it was only through his Bathsheba experience that David came to know that grace is simply not proportionate to any human virtue.