“Sing joyfully to the Lord, you righteous; it is fitting for the upright to praise Him. Praise the Lord with the harp; make music to Him on the ten stringed lyre. Sing to Him a new song; play skilfully and shout for joy.”
There is one thing of which we can be certain in our personal or national life and that is that there will come times of trial that will challenge us to the very core of our being. In those times of testing we will discover the reality of who we are by the way we respond. At such times it is important to take a step back and look at the big picture of what we are facing, in the light of the Word of God. In looking at just one part of that word, Psalm 33, with the intention of gleaning from it a couple of insights to help us through the difficult days in which we find ourselves living, surprising, and extremely helpful insights are gained if we will just step back and look at the big picture of the Psalm in its context in the book of Psalms.
Psalm 33 concludes a set of Psalms (25-33) in which God’s people cry out to Him for mercy as they are facing a great trial. Psalm 25 and Psalm 33 enclose this cry for mercy. Psalm 33 closes out the prayer with a call for joyful praise as God’s people have been brought to revere Him as His power to deliver them has been displayed among them. Psalm 25 is a prayer for deliverance built around the writer’s hope in the Lord. In the main body of the enclosed Psalms the Word of God centres our attention on the God who speaks with a thunderous voice imposing His will and calling His people to reverence as they worship Him. The centre of this call to hope is found in Psalm 29 in which the Psalmist unveils for us the Word of the Lord speaking and accomplishing God’s whole purpose in creation, and for that matter in our lives. In the structure of this Psalm we find a two verse introduction and conclusion both of which have the word Lord, or Yahweh, four times. In the main body of the Psalm, verses 3-9, we have seven verses in which Yahweh appears ten times. In addition in these seven verses seven of those appearances tell us that the voice of the Lord is heard, or thunders. Could this be what the apostle John is alluding to in Revelation 10:3-4? Needless to say the Psalmist calls to discover the awesomeness of the voice of the Lord as He speaks to us in our distress. What God speaks happens. What God says to us in His Word must become the reality under which we respond in obedience.
There is much more that we could explore in these verses, more than we have room for in this short reflection. Sufficient for us today is this one thought. The Lord calls us in our trials to respond to Him with reverent obedience. Whether as a nation or an individual we are only truly blessed when we come to the Lord in true worship recognising that He and He alone is our God. Perhaps this is the purpose of the trials we face. How often have you found yourself thinking when you face a very difficult time that at least it has forced you to come to terms which what is truly essential? So often in life we find ourselves distracted by all of the things that we want in life. It is as if we are worshipping many things, and cannot make up our minds as to what is most important. Then a crisis comes and all of the nonessential things fall away. We are able to see clearly that one thing that is central. The book of Psalms, in guiding us to look carefully at the big picture, strips away everything except that one essential point. Those who fear the Lord find themselves trusting Him. That is the foundation for real and lasting praise.