Theme: Hope in the Lord
In this week’s lessons the psalmist teaches us how and why we are to praise the Lord.
Scripture: Psalm 33:1-22
Yesterday we said that the first category of God’s blessings is God’s watchfulness over us. Today we look at the other two categories.
2. God’s protection. The second blessing in these verses is that God protects his people, foiling the plans of their enemies and turning back their enemies’ attempts to harm them.
It occurs to me, as I think about these words, that many of our deliverances are probably unknown to us because they are turned back before they even come within our vision. I think this is important. On Thanksgiving Day we usually remember the many tangible blessings God has given to us: families, homes, health, work, friends, special things that are important just to us, and the privileges we have as citizens of a democratic nation. We also think of less personal but nevertheless tangible blessings worldwide: that the world is more or less at peace, that other peoples are currently achieving or rediscovering their freedoms, that the gospel is widely proclaimed in our days. But while we remember these things, let us not forget to thank God for the things we do not have, the things we are spared because of his faithful and effective care. We do not know what these are specifically, but we can think of the categories.
Have we been spared severe sickness during the past year? We should be thankful for that. Not everyone has been. If we have been spared, we should thank God for it. Have we been kept from serious accidents? That should be a cause of our most grateful thanksgiving.
Have we been delivered from people who would harm us at work? In our homes? On the streets? If you have been preserved from harm by such enemies, it is the Lord’s doing and you should acknowledge it.
And what about temptations? The Bible tells us that “God … will not let [us] be tempted beyond what [we] can bear” (1 Cor. 10:13), which implies that there are temptations that God turns aside before they can reach us. If he did not, we would certainly have fallen into them. That we continue on the path of discipleship and righteousness is a result of God’s persevering care of those who are his people.
3. God’s preserving care. This leads to the third area of blessing highlighted by Psalm 33: God’s preserving us in this uncertain and tenuous life. The author covers a lot of ground when he speaks of God “deliver[ing his people] from death and keep[ing] them alive in famine” (v. 19). Among other things, he covers the positive elements I mentioned earlier, including food, health, good homes and other necessities for our physical survival.
The conclusion of the psalm (vv. 20-22) strikes an entirely different note than was heard at the start. The opening verses called for joyful and loud praise to God. At the end the tone is quiet, as God’s people, who have now reflected on his power and goodness to them, declare their intention to “wait in hope for the LORD” and “trust in his holy name.” That is the natural thing to do. For if God is powerful and good, as he is declared to be, it is foolish not to trust him.
In Charles Haddon Spurgeon’s Treasury of David there is a story credited to Edward Calamy about a young boy who was at sea during a dangerous storm. The passengers were frightened and at their wits’ end, but he was not disturbed at all. In fact, he was even cheerful. The others asked how he could be cheerful when they seemed in danger of losing their lives. He replied that the pilot of the ship was his father and he knew his father would take care of him.5
In this life a confidence such as that might be misplaced. For, however loving and skillful a human father might be, there are always dangers in life that are beyond us, and no one is able to guarantee the physical, much less the spiritual, safety of another. Yet with God there can be no misplacing of confidence, no error of trust. How could there be? God has made the entire universe by his mere word and by the breath of his mouth. He foils the evil plans, not merely of individuals but of nations. God’s purposes prevail. His plans prosper. Besides, he constantly looks upon the affairs of this world to care for his people, to bless, defend, preserve and prosper them. No one who trusts in this God is ever disappointed. No one who waits in trusting hope will ever be let down. Alexander Maclaren said rightly, “Hands, lifted empty to heaven in longing trust, will never drop empty back and hang listless, without a blessing in their grasp.”6
Let God’s people say, “May your unfailing love rest upon us, O LORD, even as we put our hope in you.
What are the other two categories of God’s blessings?
How does the tone change at the closing of this psalm?
Application: Praise the Lord for things from which he has spared you. Pray for those who have experienced such things.
For Further Study: To see how the Lord provided for Abraham in a mighty way, download for free and listen to James Boice’s message, “The God Who Provides.” (Discount will be applied at checkout.)
5C. H. Spurgeon, The Treasury of David, vol. 1b, Psalms 27-57 (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1968), p. 120.6Alexander Maclaren, The Psalms, vol. 1, Psalms 1-38 (New York: A. C. Armstrong and Son, 1893), p. 319.