by Tim Herwaldt
13 The Lord looks down from heaven;
he sees all the children of man;
14 from where he sits enthroned he looks out
on all the inhabitants of the earth,
15 he who fashions the hearts of them all
and observes all their deeds.
16 The king is not saved by his great army;
a warrior is not delivered by his great strength.
17 The war horse is a false hope for salvation,
and by its great might it cannot rescue.
18 Behold, the eye of the Lord is on those who fear him,
on those who hope in his steadfast love,
19 that he may deliver their soul from death
and keep them alive in famine.
20 Our soul waits for the Lord;
he is our help and our shield.
21 For our heart is glad in him,
because we trust in his holy name.
22 Let your steadfast love, O Lord, be upon us,
even as we hope in you.
Psalm 33 is a great psalm of praise as it directs us to see many of the facets of God’s greatness. Verses 1-3 urge the reader to praise the Lord. Verses 4-5 guide us to praise his nature, his character. Verses 6-9 speak of the magnificence of his creation and what it shows us of his might and power. Verses 10-11 are pointing us to see that the Lord is sovereign over the affairs of nations.
The last half of the Psalm, included above, reminds us that the Lord has his eye on us, and directs us how to live in light of this reality. We see in verses 13-15 that as our maker, he is watching us. The conclusion of the Psalm, verses 16-22, instruct us then in what we need to be mindful of if we are to live well under his watchful eye.
We are first warned against placing our hope in things that cannot save us. A great army will not save the king, and a warrior’s strength is not a sufficient deliverance. Gideon was specifically directed by God to reduce the size of his army. Thirty-two thousand men will just get in the way. Let’s go with 300. Neither will mighty warriors avail for deliverance, as we are taught in the story of Goliath. In Deuteronomy 17:16 the Lord instructs the kings that would rule over the people of Israel not to acquire large numbers of horses for themselves, and verse 17 in our psalm is perhaps one of the reasons for this. Many horses can lead us to place our hope falsely in things that cannot save.
Then, in verse 18, we are told what the Lord is looking for as he watches us: “Behold, the eye of the Lord is on those who fear him.” Here is a strong hope. Here is deliverance from death, and nourishment in times of famine. The steadfast love of the Lord is a well-placed hope for those who fear the Lord.
The psalm closes with a declaration of well-placed hope and confidence: “Our soul waits for the Lord, …we trust in his holy name. Let your steadfast love be upon us as we hope in you!”
Let us fix our eyes on Our Creator God who fixes his eyes on us. Let us place our hope in his steadfast love. This is a firm foundation.