Psalm 33
Matthew Poole's Commentary
Rejoice in the LORD, O ye righteous: for praise is comely for the upright.

This Psalm contains a celebration of God for his great and glorious works, both of creation and providence.

God is to be praised by reason of his goodness, Psalm 33:1-5; of his power, Psalm 33:6-11; and of his providence, Psalm 33:12-15. And they that fear him shall find mercy and rejoice in him, Psalm 33:16-22.

Rejoice in the Lord; let his excellency discovered in his works be the matter of your joy and praise.

Praise is comely for the upright; it well becomes them to exercise themselves in this work of praising and blessing of God; partly because they have such singular and abundant obligations and occasions to do so; and partly because they will praise God worthily and heartily, and with due reverence and thankfulness, as God requires, and deserves to be praised; whereas ungodly men do indeed disparage and pollute the holy name of God, while they pretend to praise it, and therefore God rejects their praises and prayers. See Psalm 50:16 119:7 Proverbs 28:9.

Praise the LORD with harp: sing unto him with the psaltery and an instrument of ten strings.
He mentions these instruments, because they were used in the public worship and praises of God in the tabernacle.

Sing unto him a new song; play skilfully with a loud noise.
A new song; either,

1. Newly composed. As God gives you fresh occasions, so do not you content yourselves with the old songs or psalms, made by the holy men of God, but make new ones suited to the occasions. But neither had all the righteous, to whom he speaks, Psalm 33:1, the gift of composing songs, nor was it of any necessity or importance that they should make new songs to praise God, at least for the works here mentioned, when there were so many made by David, and other holy prophets, for the use of God’s church and people, when they had any such occasion. Or,

2. Renewed, or repeated, or sung again; in which sense Job saith his glory was new, or fresh in him, Job 29:20, i.e. renewed or continued from day to day; and the command of love is called new, John 13:34, because it was renewed and reinforced by Christ. So this song is here called new, not so much from the matter, as from the singing of it; because it was sung afresh, or again.

For the word of the LORD is right; and all his works are done in truth.
All God’s counsels and commands, either contained in the Scriptures, or given forth in his providence, for the government of the world, are wise, and just, and good, without deceit or defect: and all his works of providence agree with his word, and are no other than the accomplishment of his promises or threatenings, or other declarations of his mind and will in his word, although sometimes for a season they may seem contrary to it.

He loveth righteousness and judgment: the earth is full of the goodness of the LORD.
Judgment, i.e. just judgment, by a figure called hendiadis, as Jeremiah 22:3. Or justice relates to the sentence, and judgment to the execution of it. He not only doth justice to all men, as was implied, Psalm 33:4, but, which is more, he loves it, and delights in it. The goodness of the Lord; he not only doth no man wrong, but he is very kind and merciful to all men in the world, to whom he gives many favours and invitations to his love and service. See Matthew 5:45 Acts 14:17 Romans 1:20,21.

By the word of the LORD were the heavens made; and all the host of them by the breath of his mouth.
By the word of the Lord; either,

1. By the hypostatical Word, Christ, who is oft called God’s Word, even by the Chaldee paraphrast; as also John 1:1-3, where he is said to be that Word by whom all things were made. So that which is here spoken more darkly and doubtedly, according to that state of the church, is more clearly declared in the New Testament. Or,

2. By his will or command, as this very phrase is here used, Psalm 33:4, and as it seems to be explained, Psalm 33:9. And so it hath a great emphasis in it, that God made this admirable structure of the heavens, and all its glorious stars, not with great pains and time, and help of many artists and instruments, as men do far meaner works, but with one single word; which is much to the glory of the Creator.

All the host of them; the angels; or the stars: See Poole "Genesis 2:1".

By the breath of his mouth; either,

1. By the Holy Ghost, so called Job 33:4. And so here are all the persons of the Trinity, Jehovah the Father, and the Word, and the Spirit; to each of which this work of creation is elsewhere ascribed, as was noted on Genesis 1:26. Or,

2. By his word, as it was expressed in the last clause, which is so called Isaiah 11:4 2 Thessalonians 2:8.

He gathereth the waters of the sea together as an heap: he layeth up the depth in storehouses.
He gathereth; or, gathered; for he speaks of the first creation, when this was done, Ge 1.

As an heap; by which expression he brings to our minds this great work of God, that the sea, which is lighter and higher than earth, is yet confined within its bounds, that it might not overflow the earth.

In storehouses; either in the clouds, or in the bowels of the earth; whence he can draw them forth when he sees fit.

Let all the earth fear the LORD: let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of him.
All the earth; all the people of the earth, as the next clause expounds this; not only Jews, but Gentiles, who equally enjoy the benefit of this great and glorious work of God.

For he spake, and it was done; he commanded, and it stood fast.
It was done; the work here mentioned, Psalm 33:6,7.

Stood fast; or, stood forth, as a servant at his master’s command; or, was or did exist.

The LORD bringeth the counsel of the heathen to nought: he maketh the devices of the people of none effect.
Of the heathen; or, of the nations; though nations combine themselves and their counsels together, yet he defeats them when he pleaseth. Thus he passeth from the work of creation to the works of providence, and from the instances of his power in senseless and unreasonable creatures, to manifest his power in overruling the thoughts, and wills: and actions of all men, whether single or united.

The counsel of the LORD standeth for ever, the thoughts of his heart to all generations.
All his purposes and designs, and especially those which concern his chosen people, of whom he speaks in the next verse, are always successful and irresistible.

Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD; and the people whom he hath chosen for his own inheritance.
Seeing the Lord is so great and glorious in wisdom, and power, and goodness, as hath been hitherto said, as they must needs be very miserable who are strangers or enemies to him; so thrice happy is that people of Israel, who, though they be despised by the Gentiles, are chosen by this Almighty God, to be his peculiar portion, and friends, and servants.

The LORD looketh from heaven; he beholdeth all the sons of men.
No text from Poole on this verse.

From the place of his habitation he looketh upon all the inhabitants of the earth.
Although he hath a special relation to Israel, yet he hath a general care and inspection over all mankind, all whose hearts and ways he discerns and observes.

He fashioneth their hearts alike; he considereth all their works.
Fashioneth, or fashioned, or made, or formeth. For this may relate either,

1. To the work of creation. So he proves what he said Psalm 33:13,14, that God beheld all men, because he made them; yea, even their hearts, the most secret piece of them. Or,

2. To the works of his providence. Having said that God sees and observes all men, he now adds that he rules and governs them; yea, even their hearts, which are most masterless and unmanageable, and yet he frameth and disposeth and inclineth them, this way or that, according to the counsel of his will: see Exodus 34:24 Psalm 105:25.

Alike; or, equally, one as well as another; whether they be Jews or Gentiles, bond or free, princes or peasants; all are alike subject to his jurisdiction.

All their works, both outward and inward; all the workings of their minds and affections, and all their endeavours and actions.

There is no king saved by the multitude of an host: a mighty man is not delivered by much strength.
King; he instanceth in these, as the most potent and uncontrollable persons in the world, and most confident of themselves and least sensible of their dependence upon God; by which he strongly proves his general proposition, of God’s powerful providence over all men.

By the multitude of an host; but only by God’s providence, who disposeth of victory and success as he pleaseth, and that frequently to the weakest and most foolish side, Ecclesiastes 9:11.

An horse is a vain thing for safety: neither shall he deliver any by his great strength.
An horse; though he be strong, Job 39:19, &c., and fit for battle, Proverbs 21:31; or for flight, if need requires. And so this is put for all warlike provisions; of which horses were and are a very considerable part.

A vain thing, Heb. a lie, because it promiseth that help and safety which it cannot give.

Behold, the eye of the LORD is upon them that fear him, upon them that hope in his mercy;
Whosoever therefore would have safety and deliverance, must seek and expect it only from the watchful eye and almighty hand and mercy of God.

Them that fear him; these are the chief objects of his care and favour.

Them that hope in his mercies; that place their hope, and trust, and happiness not in any creature, but only in God, and in his mercy and blessings. The conjunction and order of these two qualifications of the person whom God careth for is observable here, they must be such as fear God, and so make conscience of keeping his commands, Ecclesiastes 12:13, and then they may and must hope in or rely upon his mercy for their safety and happiness.

To deliver their soul from death, and to keep them alive in famine.
Their soul, i.e. their life, when he sees it to be expedient for them: sometimes it is better for them to die than to live, as both good and bad men have declared; and when it is so, it is known to God, but not to us. And therefore the constant accomplishment of this and the like promises in a literal sense is not to be expected, nor simply desired, but with submission to God’s wise and gracious will.

Our soul waiteth for the LORD: he is our help and our shield.
The help of us Israelites, to whom he hath made many promises and glorious discoveries of his goodness.

For our heart shall rejoice in him, because we have trusted in his holy name.
For; or, therefore; for this seems to be an inference either from the foregoing or from the following sentence.

Let thy mercy, O LORD, be upon us, according as we hope in thee.
No text from Poole on this verse.

Matthew Poole's Commentary

Text Courtesy of Used by Permission.

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