Shout for joy in the Lord, O you righteous! Praise befits the upright. (Ps 33:1)
Psalm 33 is a beautiful example of pure praise to God as it celebrates His character, power, and sovereignty. It is believed to be linked to the previous Psalm 32 as the befitting response of those who have had their sins forgiven and have been counted righteous. The Psalm generally calls all people to praise God for who He is (righteous and just) and what He has done in creation and in fulfilling His purposes in all the earth. Both God’s character and power are necessary to carry out His sovereign purposes. A just God who is impotent is incapable of carrying out His own good will; an omnipotent God who is not inherently just would be treacherous. But because God is both good and all-powerful, He can always be trusted to act in ways consistent with his essential nature.
After summoning praise in verses 1-3, the main section of the Psalm contains two sections of 16 lines each; we find, first, an explanation of the motivation for the call to praise (4-11), and second, an exhortation to trust God (12-19). Because God is faithful and upright; because He is powerful and creative; because God’s purposes are unchangeable; it is only reasonable that all the people should praise Him. Although it is the reasonable duty of all the peoples of the earth to praise God, only the people He has chosen for an inheritance (12) are those who fear Him and trust in His unfailing love (18). And it is only His chosen ones who are the object of His saving love (18-22). Those who rely on themselves and human strength find their vain plans and purposes thwarted (10-11, 16-17); however, those who fear God and wait on Him – that is to say, those who are absolutely dependent upon Him – become those who hope in His steadfast mercy (24).
Psalm 33 celebrates the enduring quality of God’s creation as a foundation for people to trust and hope in Him; but in the end it is not the creation, but the Creator, God Himself, who inspires the Psalmist’s hope, as well as the hope of all those upon whom His favor rests.