A Call to Worship
In the 32nd Psalm, David celebrates the blessedness of the man whose transgression is forgiven and whose sin is atoningly covered. We have now in the 33rd Psalm that which should always follow the knowledge of redemption, the heart going out to God in worship and adoration. You remember what the Lord Jesus Christ said to the woman at the well, “God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth. For the Father seeketh such to worship him” (John 4:24-25). Have you ever thought much of that? The Father is seeking worshippers. We know whom the Son is seeking. We read, “The Son of man is come to seek and to save that which is lost.” The Lord Jesus is seeking lost sinners, seeking them in order that He might save them but among those who are already saved the Father is seeking worshippers. It is amazing how few believers know very much about worship, how few of them take the time to worship. Many people have such confused ideas of what worship is. You go to prayer meeting, spend the time in prayer and testimony and go away and say, “We were worshipping God tonight.” But prayer is not worship; testifying is not worship. You go to listen to the Word preached and expounded and go away and say, “I have been down to worship God.” But exposition of the Scripture is not worship; listening to preaching is not worship. It is perfectly true that all of these exercises ought to produce worship for when we pray and we have such a wonderful sense of the nearness of God, that should lead our hearts out in adoration. That is what worship is, it is the soul’s adoration of God Himself. It is occupation not with His gifts, not coming to Him to receive something but occupation with the Giver, the heart going out in gratitude not only for what He has done for us but for what He is in Himself. I never like to start the day but that I take a little time to sit quietly over the Word of God and I seek to lift my heart to God, not to ask Him for things, but to tell Him a little of how I appreciate His wonderful love and His grace, the goodness that he has lavished upon me as a sinner and then to adore Him for what He is in Himself, and I find that the day seems brighter for a little time spent like that.
In Psalm 32 we have man delivered from his sins. In Psalm 33 we have the heart going out to the Deliverer in worship. We know that David wrote Psalm 32. We do not know who wrote Psalm 33. The Jews called these psalms that do not have any names at the head of them, Orphan Psalms. You say, “But are they not all by David; they are called the Psalms of David.” They are the Psalms of David in this sense that David was undoubtedly the first to put the collection together but he did not write all the psalms. The Jews used this book of Psalms as the expression of their worship, praise, thanksgiving, and their prayers in the synagogues and in the temple but David did not write all of them. He included a great many psalms written by writers whose names are not given. It is very remarkable the way the psalms are arranged. They are arranged in divine order. In many instances we find the last verses of the one introducing the theme of the next, this psalm is a case like that. The closing verse of Psalm 32 is this, “Be glad in the Lord, and rejoice, ye righteous: and shout for joy, all ye that are upright in heart.” Now notice how the 33rd Psalm starts, “Rejoice in the Lord, O ye righteous: for praise is comely for the upright.”
The first three verses of this 33rd Psalm are occupied with a call to praise the Lord, to worship Him. “Praise the Lord with harp: sing unto him with the psaltery and an instrument of ten strings. Sing unto him a new song.” That is the song of redemption. “Play skillfully with a loud noise.” In the temple of old they depended a great deal upon musical instruments. We may use them In our services today but the instrument that God values above every other is that which the eye does not see nor the ears hear. The apostle says, “Singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord” (Ephesians 5:19). And when your heart is attuned to God, when from the heart you are worshipping and praising, that is the sweetest music that ever reaches the ear of God. Sometimes people can sing very beautifully, they have trained voices and they never make a mistake in a note, everything is accurate and yet there is not a particle in it for God. It is so easy to use talent and ability like that simply to attract attention to ourselves, just as it is easy to preach to glorify one’s self and not God but where the preacher’s ability or the singer’s ability is consecrated to God it is precious to Him. But even in a case where one cannot sing or play upon an instrument, if the heart is in tune and going out to Him in worship how precious it is to Jesus. he loves to find the hearts of His people occupied with Himself.
Then in verses 4 to 9 the soul contemplates God’s Word and God’s work. These are two witnesses to God. Creation, and the Bible are both from the same source. Some people talk about the disagreement between the Bible and science. There is no disagreement between the Bible and science, that is, real science. Science consists of an orderly arrangement of proven facts explaining the universe but where you simply get a lot of hypotheses that have never been proven that is not real science. Some of these may often be in conflict with the Bible but never true science because true science is simply the explanation of the physical universe, and the God who inspired the Bible made the universe. In this section of the psalm you find the work and the Word of God testifying to His perfection.
“For the word of the Lord is right; and all his works are done in truth. He loveth righteousness and judgment: the earth is full of the goodness of the Lord.” You need open eyes to see that. If your eyes are not open to see the goodness of the Lord, you can see so much to fill you with sorrow. There are trials wherever we look, there is suffering, there is disaster, but when you can look back of them all and realize that there is a God of love behind this universe, how it changes everything. “By the word of the Lord were the heavens made.” That means, of course, the sun, the moon, and the stars. “And all the host of them by the breath of his mouth. He gathereth the waters of the sea together as an heap: he layeth up the depth in storehouses. Let all the earth fear the Lord: let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of him.” “Stand in awe,” that is a call to reverence. I think if there is one sin more than another that the people of God are guilty of in this country it is the sin of irreverence. You do not find it so much in some other lands. Cross the sea and go to Great Britain for instance and when people come together for the services of the Lord you do not find them rushing into churches and spending a lot of time in the foyer chatting and laughing but they find their way quietly to their seats and bow in prayer as they wait for the service to begin. To me the shocking irreverence of American audiences is one of the hardest things to overcome. Sometimes it takes a half hour or so before one’s spirit can get in time for the meeting because of the noise and laughter and greeting one another that goes on before the service. “Stand in awe, and sin not” (Psalm 4:4). “Let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of him.”
In verses 10 to 12 He is celebrated as the one true and living God in contrast to the idols of the heathen. “The Lord bringeth the counsel of the heathen to nought: he maketh the devices of the people of none effect. The counsel of the Lord standeth for ever, the thoughts of his heart to all generations.” And now the writer of this psalm speaks as a godly Israelite grateful for the fact that God has revealed Himself to them. “Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord; and the people whom he hath chosen for his own inheritance.” It is this holy nation of which the apostle Peter speaks, that is made up of born again men and women everywhere all over the world. They constitute a nation of people that the Lord has set apart for Himself.
In verses 13 to 17 you have God weighing the hearts of men, looking down upon mankind and testing their thoughts. “The Lord looketh from heaven; he beholdeth all the sons of men. From the place of his habitation he looketh upon all the inhabitants of the earth. He fashioneth their hearts alike; he considereth all their works. There is no king saved by the multitude of an host: a mighty man is not delivered by much strength. A horse is a vain thing for safety: neither shall he deliver any by his great strength.” God looks down upon mankind and what does He see? Just a world of weaklings, just poor, weak, sinful men unable to deliver themselves. But thank God He has a deliverance for them and so in the last part of the psalm, verses 18 to 22, you get God’s care for His own. Out of this world He has chosen those who put their trust in Him and He undertakes for them. “Behold, the eye of the Lord is upon them that fear him, upon them that hope in his mercy; to deliver their soul from death, and to keep them alive in famine. Our soul waiteth for the Lord: he is our help and our shield. For our heart shall rejoice in Him, because we have trusted in His holy name. Let thy mercy, O Lord, be upon us, according as we hope in thee.” It is a great thing for the soul to learn the meaning of that 20th verse, “Our soul waiteth for the Lord.” It is one thing to wait on the Lord; it is another thing to wait for Him. David says, “My soul, wait thou only upon God; for my expectation is from him” (Psalm 62:5). But here he says, “Our soul waiteth for the Lord.” To wait on God means to come into His presence to worship Him, to adore Him, and to tell out your needs to Him, to bring your trials, difficulties, perplexities, tell them all to Him, wait on Him. But He does not always answer immediately, He does not always give instant deliverance. Perhaps you come to Him in sickness and He does not always grant immediate healing. You come to Him in financial trouble and He does not always give the means that you need to meet your responsibilities. You come to Him concerned about your family, maybe an unsaved one, a son or daughter, wife or husband, and you bring that one to God and talk to Him about him, you wait on the Lord. That is the right thing to do but He may not always act immediately and therefore we need to wait for Him as well as to wait on Him. Remember, if He does not answer immediately, it does not mean that He is indifferent. God’s delays are not denials. We need to learn that and to wait for the Lord for in His own time and in His own way He undertakes and answers prayer. We cannot dictate to Him how or when He is to act.