Psalm 33:20
Our soul waits for the LORD: he is our help and our shield.
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(20-22) Hopewaittrust.—The Hebrew language was naturally rich in words expressive of that attitude of expectancy which was characteristic of a nation whose golden age was not in the past, but in the future—a nation for which its great ancestor left in his dying words so suitable a motto—

“I have waited for thy salvation, O Lord,”

and which, while itself held back outside the promised land of the hope of immortality, was to be the birth-race of the great and consoling doctrine that alone could satisfy the natural craving expressed by the moralist in the well-known line—

“Man never is, but always to be, blest;”

and by the Christian apostle—

“For here we have no continuing city, but we seek one to come.”

Psalm 33:20-22. He is our help — The help of his true Israel, to whom he hath made many promises and glorious discoveries of his goodness. For our heart shall rejoice in him — Or, therefore it shall rejoice, for this seems to have been an inference, either from the foregoing or following sentence. 33:12-22 All the motions and operations of the souls of men, which no mortals know but themselves, God knows better than they do. Their hearts, as well as their times, are all in his hand; he formed the spirit of each man within him. All the powers of the creature depend upon him, and are of no account, of no avail at all, without him. If we make God's favour sure towards us, then we need not fear whatever is against us. We are to give to him the glory of his special grace. All human devices for the salvation of our souls are vain; but the Lord's watchful eye is over those whose conscientious fear of his name proceeds from a believing hope in his mercy. In difficulties they shall be helped; in dangers they shall not receive any real damage. Those that fear God and his wrath, must hope in God and his mercy; for there is no flying from him, but by flying to him. Let thy mercy, O Lord, be upon us; let us always have the comfort and benefit, not according to our merits, but according to the promise which thou hast in thy word given to us, and according to the faith thou hast by thy Spirit and grace wrought in us.Our soul waiteth for the Lord - This and the subsequent verses to the end of the psalm refer to the people of God, expressing their faith in him in view of the considerations suggested in the former part of the psalm. The language is expressive of the general character of piety. True piety leads people to wait on the Lord; to depend on Him; to look to His interposition in danger, sickness, poverty, want; to rely upon Him for all that is hoped for in this life, and for salvation in the life to come. Compare Psalm 62:1; Psalm 25:3.

He is our help - Our aid; our helper. Compare Psalm 10:14; Psalm 22:11; Psalm 30:10.

And our shield - See the notes at Psalm 5:12. That is, He will defend us from our enemies, as if He threw His shield between us and them.

20-22. waiteth—in earnest expectation.20 Our soul waiteth for the Lord: he is our help and our shield.

21 For our heart shall rejoice in him, because we have trusted in his holy name.

Psalm 33:20

"Our soul waiteth for the Lord." Here the godly avow their reliance upon him whom the Psalm extols. To wait is a great lesson. To be quiet in expectation, patient in hope, single in confidence, is one of the bright attainments of a Christian. Our soul, our life, must hang upon God; we are not to trust him with a few gewgaws, but with all we have and are. "He is our help and our shield." Our help in labour, our shield in danger. The Lord answereth all things to his people. He is their all in all. Note the three "ours" in the text. These holdfast words are precious. Personal possession makes the Christian man; all else is mere talk.

Psalm 33:21

"For our hearts shall rejoice in him." The duty commended and commanded in the first verse is here presented to the Lord. We, who trust, cannot but be of a glad heart, our inmost nature must triumph in our faithful God. "Because we have trusted in his holy name." The root of faith in due time bears the flower of rejoicing. Doubts breed sorrow, confidence creates joy.

The help of us Israelites, to whom he hath made many promises and glorious discoveries of his goodness. Our soul waiteth for the Lord,.... This, and what follows, are the words of the church, expressing her expectation, faith, and joy, by reason of what is suggested in the preceding verses. She signifies her expectation of good by waiting for the Lord; either for his coming in the flesh, and salvation by him; for which the patriarchs, prophets, and all the Old Testament saints, waited, Genesis 49:18; and so the Targum paraphrases it, "our soul waiteth for the redemption of the Lord"; or for his spiritual coming, his appearance to them, and gracious presence with them, he having been for some time absent; and it is right and good so to do, and in the issue proves advantageous, Isaiah 8:17; and this being soul waiting, it denotes the heartiness, sincerity, and earnestness of it;

he is our help and our shield; the Lord is the help of his people in time of trouble, when none else is or can be; and he is a present one, and helps right early, and at the best season: and he is their shield, who encompasses them about with his love and favour, and keeps them by his power in the greatest safety; all which encourages their waiting upon him, and expectation of good things from him.

{n} Our soul waiteth for the LORD: he is our help and our shield.

(n) Thus he speaks in the name of the whole Church which only depends on God's providence.

20. waiteth] R.V. hath waited; a different word from that in Psalm 33:18; Psalm 33:22; found in the Psalter again only in Psalm 106:13; but used in Isaiah 8:17; Isaiah 30:18; Isaiah 64:4; &c.

our help and our shield] Cp. again Deuteronomy 33:29, “the shield of thy help”; Psalm 3:3; Psalm 28:7; and Psalm 115:9-11.

20–22. The people’s concluding profession of patient trust and hope, corresponding to the introductory invitation of Psalm 33:1-3, and springing naturally out of the consideration of Jehovah’s character in Psalm 33:12-19.Verses 20-22. - A brief address of the people to God, arising out of what has been declared concerning his goodness (vers. 4, 5, 12-19) and his power (vers. 6-11), which constitute a call upon them for praise and adoration. Verse 20. - Our soul waiteth for the Lord (comp. Psalm 25:21; Psalm 62:1, 5; Psalm 130:5, 6, etc.). Confident in God's good will, and in his power to help us, we wait patiently and cheerfully for him to manifest himself in his own good time. He is our Help and our Shield. We trust in no one and nothing but him - not in armies (ver. 16), not in horses (ver. 17), not in our own strength (ver. 16). He alone is our dependence. (For the use of the metaphor "shield" for defence, see Psalm 5:12; Psalm 18:2; Psalm 28:7; Psalm 91:4; Psalm 119:114, etc.) Hence the call to praise God is supported (2) by a setting forth of that which His people possess in Him. This portion of the song is like a paraphrase of the אשׁרי in Deuteronomy 33:29. The theme in Psalm 33:12 is proved in Psalm 33:13 by the fact, that Jahve is the omniscient Ruler, because He is the Creator of men, without whose knowledge nothing is undertaken either secretly or openly, and especially if against His people. Then in Psalm 33:16 it is supported by the fact, that His people have in Jahve a stronger defence than the greatest worldly power would be. Jahve is called the fashioner of all the hearts of men, as in Zechariah 12:1, cf. Proverbs 24:12, as being their Maker. As such He is also the observer of all the works of men; for His is acquainted with their origin in the laboratory of the heart, which He as Creator has formed. Hupfeld takes יחד as an equalisation (pariter ac) of the two appositions; but then it ought to be וּמבין (cf. Psalm 49:3, Psalm 49:11). The lxx correctly renders it καταμόνας, singillatim. It is also needless to translate it, as Hupfeld does: He who formed, qui finxit; for the hearts of men were not from the very first created all at one time, but the primeval impartation of spirit-life is continued at every birth in some mysterious way. God is the Father of spirits, Hebrews 12:9. For this very reason everything that exists, even to the most hidden thing, is encompassed by His omniscience and omnipotence. He exercises an omniscient control over all things, and makes all things subservient to the designs of His plan of the universe, which, so far as His people are concerned, is the plan of salvation. Without Him nothing comes to pass; but through Him everything takes place. The victory of the king, and the safety of the warrior, are not their own works. Their great military power and bodily strength can accomplish nothing without God, who can also be mighty in the feeble. Even for purposes of victory (תּשׁוּעה, cf. ישׁוּעה, Psalm 21:2) the war-horse is שׁקר, i.e., a thing that promises much, but can in reality do nothing; it is not its great strength, by which it enables the trooper to escape (ימלּט). "The horse," says Solomon in Proverbs 21:31, "is equipped for the day of battle, but התּשׁוּעה לה, Jahve's is the victory," He giveth it to whomsoever He will. The ultimate ends of all things that come to pass are in His hands, and - as Psalm 33:18. say, directing special attention to this important truth by הנּה - the eye of this God, that is to say the final aim of His government of the world, is directed towards them that fear Him, is pointed at them that hope in His mercy (למיחלים). In Psalm 33:19, the object, לחסדּו, is expanded by way of example. From His mercy or loving-kindness, not from any acts of their own, conscious of their limited condition and feebleness, they look for protection in the midst of the greatest peril, and for the preservation of their life in famine. Psalm 20:8 is very similar; but the one passage sounds as independent as the other.
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