1 Rejoice, you righteous, in the LORD; praise from the upright is fitting.
2 Give thanks to the LORD on the harp; on the ten-stringed lyre offer praise.
3 Sing to him a new song; skillfully play with joyful chant.
4 For the LORD’s word is upright; all his works are trustworthy.
5 He loves justice and right. The earth is full of the mercy of the LORD.
6 By the LORD’s word the heavens were made; by the breath of his mouth all their host.
7 He gathered the waters of the sea as a mound; he sets the deep into storage vaults.
8 Let all the earth fear the LORD; let all who dwell in the world show him reverence.
9 For he spoke, and it came to be, commanded, and it stood in place.
10 The LORD foils the plan of nations, frustrates the designs of peoples.
11 But the plan of the LORD stands forever, the designs of his heart through all generations.
12 Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD, the people chosen as his inheritance.
13 From heaven the LORD looks down and observes the children of Adam,
14 From his dwelling place he surveys all who dwell on earth.
15 The One who fashioned together their hearts is the One who knows all their works.
16 A king is not saved by a great army, nor a warrior delivered by great strength.
17 Useless is the horse for safety; despite its great strength, it cannot be saved.
18 Behold, the eye of the LORD is upon those who fear him, upon those who count on his mercy,
19 To deliver their soul from death, and to keep them alive through famine.
20 Our soul waits for the LORD, he is our help and shield.
21 For in him our hearts rejoice; in his holy name we trust.
22 May your mercy, LORD, be upon us; as we put our hope in you.
-Ps. 33, New American Bible, Revised Edition
This is a song of hope. It’s no rosy picture, no claim of sunshine and “all’s right with the world.” The psalmist paints an honest picture of what God’s people face in the world, because that’s the only way we can understand what God does and wants to do for us.
We’re called to exult — not because everything around us is great and perfect, but because we belong to a God who deeply loves and cares for His creation, a God Who keeps His Word, loves justice, and leads those who believe in Him and trust Him into a place where His own kindness and justice prevail.
This song of hope does not ask us to ignore or blithely pass by the evil forces around us, but rather to see them clearly and recognize that God is greater than they are, that His love for us enables us to overcome them.
This song of hope leads us right into the Gospel reading for this day (John 6:16-21). The wind and the storm are very real, and the fear of the disciples as they row out into the sea in its midst is also very real. Their fear is so real and so intense that it keeps them from recognizing Jesus when He comes to them walking on the sea. And then His voice reassures them, and their deliverance from fear is instantaneous as “the boat immediately arrived at the shore to which they were heading.”
What we so often fail to see and understand, as we face our daily trials and tribulations, as we encounter the evils that surround us in this world, is that God wants to protect us and save us from it. In Jesus, He comes walking on the turbulence that surrounds us. Psalm 33 reminds us not to put our trust in the wrong things, but to rejoice in the protection that God alone offers.
I’ve felt for some time that I needed to spend time with the Psalms and in reflection on their place in my spiritual life. It seems like reflecting on the psalm selected for the day’s readings is a good place to start. What I’m finding most amazing is how closely these psalms are fitting my current spiritual needs. As my soul begins to find its way out of what I’d call a minor spiritual darkness, as I recognize my tendency to resist the workings of the Holy Spirit and His very gentle but insistent promptings to overcome that tendency, today’s psalm reminds me that God has a plan for me. And His plan is the only one I need to be concerned with, because He alone is trustworthy. His Word, in all the ways it enters my world, is all I need.
So there is the plan for me: Listen. Trust. Repeat.
I can live with that.
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