Waiting in hope and joy

1       sing a new song

Psalm 33 appears to follow on from Psalm 32. David says at the end of Psalm 32: 11 Rejoice in the Lord and be glad, you righteous; sing, all you who are upright in heart!  And he begins Psalm 33 with: Sing joyfully to the Lord, you righteous; it is fitting for the upright to praise him.

As you will recall, David had messed things up big time, but he had been forgiven and this brought joy to his heart. In this 33rd Psalm, David is not just joyful, but he is expressing his joy in music and song. He encourages the use of instruments in this praise. Churches can be funny places – often populated by people who become more devoted to their church tradition than the truth of God’s word! It’s amusing to hear that in Scotland around the late 18th and early 19th century the playing of instruments such as the organ was not appreciated! Some called the organ a kist o’ whistles with the devil in every pipe! David, encourages the skillful playing of a ‘new song’ on the musical instruments of his day; the harp and the ten-stringed-lyre. Note that David doesn’t advocate singing for the sake of it, but it is a response to the status of the forgiven. For David, this was indeed a new song – a new experience of God’s grace, love, mercy and kindness. If our church music follows in David’s pattern, it will surely be fitting and upright in praise of God – and will no doubt do us good too!

2       the word of the lord

David’s song is no doubt motivated by God’s love of forgiveness, but David speaks also of God’s word. 4For the word of the Lord is right and true; he is faithful in all he does. 5The Lord loves righteousness and justice; the earth is full of his unfailing love. In a remarkably short period of time, we have gained access to an information system that is beyond the dreams of those who lived a generation ago. I recall when I was a student in my final year of studies having to do a literature search. It involved the slow and tedious search through printed indexes of scientific publications and then a search through the library for the physical journals. It took forever and one was always aware that the search was almost certainly incomplete. Compare and contrast now! We can search electronically and find all that was ever published on the most obscure of scientific enquiry. Despite this remarkable access to knowledge, the internet has become known as a medium for the spread of fake news, disinformation, and error. Not so God’s word, it is right and true! How much time have we spent this week reading stuff on the internet (some excellent, some not so excellent) and how much time have we spent reading what is faithful and true?

God’s word tells us about the character and substance of God, it tells us the big story of our world and the great story of God’s love, his faithfulness and justice.

As David thought (or perhaps sung) about these things, he was reminded of the greatness of God in creation, he said:

6By the word of the Lord the heavens were made,
    their starry host by the breath of his mouth.
He gathers the waters of the sea into jars;
    he puts the deep into storehouses.

Any examination of the physical universe leads to a big view of God. Our not so small planet orbits our average sized sun which is one of 100+ billion stars in our galaxy which is one of at least 100 billion galaxies. This is immense beyond our imagination and God spoke it into being! It’s difficult to imagine the creative power to bring this into being! Perhaps that’s why David spoke of something more accessible – the power of the sea. It’s been estimated that there is about 1.3 x1021 litres of water on the earth, stand by the sea on a stormy day and you will have some experience of the immensity and power of the sea – God spoke this into being! This demands a response! Verse 8:

Let all the earth fear the Lord;
    let all the people of the world revere him.
For he spoke, and it came to be;
    he commanded, and it stood firm.

3       A decisive plan

As David has drawn the only sensible conclusion from his thoughts on the creative power of God, he is sadly reminded that there is a rebellion and struggle against God in progress. There is the plans and purposes of God and the opposing plans and purposes of the nations and their peoples. There will only be one outcome!

BBC radio have been broadcasting Desert Island Discs since 29 January 1942. Guests on the show imagine being cast away on a desert island and are permitted 8 recordings, the works of Shakespeare, the bible and a book of their choice. Imagine for a moment that you were castaway with just the bible. If you read the bible through you would discover that a straightforward reading would lead you to understand God’s plan and purposes for his creation. In high level summary it looks like this:

  • The Universe, world and mankind created.
  • Mankind rebels, loses his position as ruler of the earth domain, the earth comes under sin’s curse and God begins a plan of restoration.
  • Unrestricted sinfulness results in the need for a global judgment in the flood – only 8 survive.
  • The people organize a collective effort to rebel against God and are judged by the creation of languages and the consequent formation of nations.
  • God chooses a people/nation through whom he will rescue mankind and restore the earth.
  • The chosen people rebel and are continually wayward. When the promised saviour of the world comes, they murder him.
  • The chosen people are offered another chance. They once again reject God’s love.
  • The chosen nation is set aside and God deals directly with people from all nations through the church. (we live in this era).
  • Mankind will grow more rebellious and after Christ comes to receive the church, the earth will fall into unrestrained rebellion, the chosen people will at last repent and accept the Messiah –  they become the focus of the hate of the world.
  • God will bring judgment on the earth and will set his king in Jerusalem to start an eternal reign.
  • After a period, there will be another rebellion by the nations, this will result in a final judgment and the creation of a new heaven and a new earth.

At the present time, there is without doubt times when we who remain faithful to God become downcast at the way things are going and we wonder if God will ever bring about his plan of restoration. David has something to say to us!

16 No king is saved by the size of his army;
    no warrior escapes by his great strength.
17 A horse is a vain hope for deliverance;
    despite all its great strength it cannot save.
18 But the eyes of the Lord are on those who fear him,
    on those whose hope is in his unfailing love,
19 to deliver them from death
    and keep them alive in famine.

Of course, these verses were written in David’s context and in his period of history and to God’s choice people Israel, but it seems entirely appropriate that their general truth applies in our times too. Don’t fear the power and strength of those who oppose God and all that is right, but rather be reminded of the creator God who is not ignorant of the ways of men and of the position of those who remain faithful to him! The plans and purposes of the creator cannot be thwarted!

How should we live in our day of rebellion and in this sin-cursed world with all of its disappointments, uncertainty and disturbing conditions? David simply says 20We wait in hope for the Lord; he is our help and shield.’ This is a great comfort and source of strength in difficult days. But it’s more than that, David says that as we wait in hope in God, we experience joy, why? Because we trust in his holy name, the one who spoke the worlds into being and whose plans and purposes stand firm forever.