Psalm 33:1-8 “God Is Worth Singing About!”

Translation & Sermon By Nate Wilson for Christ the Redeemer Church, Manhattan, KS, 11 Feb 2018

Omitting greyed-out text brings the presentation time down to about 45 minutes.

INTRO: The Difference Between Dogs And Saints

The story is told of a time when Harry Ironside, the famous pastor of Moody Memorial Church, Chicago, was eating lunch in a crowded restaurant. A man came up to him and said, “Could I share your table with you?”

The man sat down, and they introduced themselves. Then Ironside bowed his head, and silently thanked the Lord for his food. When he lifted his head, the other man looked at him and said, “Are you sick?”

He said, “No, I’m fine.”

He said, “Is there something wrong with your food?”

“No, it’s fine. Why do you ask?”

“Well, I saw you put your head down, and I thought maybe something was wrong - you were sick, or something was wrong with the food.”

Ironside said, “No, I was thanking God for providing the food.”

The man said, “Oh, you’re one of those.” He said, “I don’t thank anybody. I earn it. I provide it for myself, so I just start right in.”

Harry Ironside said, “Yeah, that’s the way my dog does.”

§         In Psalm 33, David reminds us that if we are aware of who God is and what He has done for us, we won’t take Him for granted, instead, we will be eager to praise Him.

§         I assume this is David, anyway, because, although it’s not in the 10th century Masoretic text, the superscription “By David” is in the Vulgate, which is 500 years older, and it’s also in the Dead Sea Scrolls and the Septuagint, which are both about 1,000 years older.

§         The plural audience in this psalm “points to a national rather than a personal victory” however, as its context. (A. Cohen, Soncino Books of the Bible)

§         The first five verbs of this psalm are all masculine plural imperatives of various stems[1]. David was an accomplished army commander, and like a drill-sergeant, he fires off these five commands in rapid succession, starting with…

v.1 Sing out, you righteous ones with Yahweh, for it is those who have been made right for whom praise is home-base.

v     The first command is “Rejoice/Sing for joy.” We saw that same command at the end of Psalm 32.

v     And, as it is in Psalm 32, this command is limited as to who should be doing the singing:

Ø      it should be the tsadiqim – the righteous – those without moral or ethical problems.

Ø      In the second half of v.1, these people are also called yesharim – the upright, those who have been justified such that no offenses stand between them and God.

Ø      These Hebrew words are plural. This is addressed to more than just you alone; it is commanded that all the saints in the congregation sing together!

Ø      That’s one reason we don’t do solos during our corporate worship service.

v     A further limitation is given with the little preposition “in” (which is mistakenly translated “to” by the NIV).

Ø      Now, most English versions construe that preposition with the command (i.e. “Rejoice IN the LORD”), and that is a reasonable translation,

Ø      but in Hebrew, the preposition comes after “righteous,” not after “rejoice,” so it seems more accurate to say that they are righteous in respect to the LORD, in other words:

§         that it is Yahweh who makes us right despite our moral problems,

§         that our righteousness is to be judged by the standard of Yahweh rather than by anybody else’s standard,

§         and that it is in relationship with Yahweh that we receive righteousness and live in it.

§         All three of these statements are important points in the Gospel message of the Bible:

1.      We don’t start out “all-right” with God, we start out “dead in sins and trespasses” (Eph. 2:1,5; Col. 2:13), unable to make ourselves all right with God, so to get righteous it has to be “in the LORD.”

2.      “Right” is defined by God, so it doesn’t really matter how you feel about whether you are in the right. Jesus gets to be the judge of that, so it is only by Him that you can be judged right.

3.      In order to be “all right” you must be united to Christ by His life-giving Spirit and your faith in Him to make you all right with Him. “In Christ alone my hope is found.”

v     The second half of verse 1 gives us a reason to obey this first command, and that reasons is that: “praise is becoming/comely/fitting.[2]

Ø      This kind of singing, therefore, is about praising God, and praising God is na’avah

§         literally “home” – like “home base” – for the righteous.

§         Praise is “comfortable,” like the furniture in your home, where you let your hair down.

§         It fits –A hand fits in a glove because the glove was made for the hand to be in it, and likewise, praise fits those who have been justified. We were made righteous in order to praise God. Praise is “at home” among the righteous.

§         Psalm 147:1 is the only other Psalm with this word in it: “Praise the LORD! For it is good to sing praises to our God; For it is pleasant [נעים – delightful, agreeable], and praise is beautiful [comely/becoming/fitting].” (NKJV)

Ø      Psalm 9:13-14 “…Be gracious to me by raising me up away from the gates of death, in order that I may recount all Your praises within the gates of the daughter of Zion, [and] rejoice in Your salvation.” (NAW)

Ø      Psalm 22:3 “You are holy, basking in the praises of Israel.” That’s the way it should be; we should be praising God!

v     Now, on to the second command in….

v.2 Y’all, respond to Yahweh with a guitar; with a ten-string harp make music to Him!

v     This is the first mention of these instruments in the Psalms.

Ø      The kinnor-guitar/harp was an instrument made of fir or sandalwood (2 Samuel 6:5, 1 Kings 10:12), and it’s often mentioned together with the nabel-psaltery/lyre/harp, which was also made of wood.

Ø      Both the kinnor and the nabel were stringed instruments apparently without a fretboard, so they were strummed or plucked like harps.

§         The Hebrew word kinnor means to pluck a string, and they had six or so strings (give or take a couple) like our modern-day guitars. These strings were traditionally made of sheep intestines.

§         The Hebrew word nebel has to do with something hollow inside, so its hollow soundbox must have been a prominent feature. It is mentioned three times in scripture as having 10 strings (cf. Psalm 92:3, 144:9). [Show drawings of these two instruments.]

Ø      Both instruments were small enough to be portable; they could be played by prophets as they were walking down the road in 1 Sam 10:5, or by the woman who was walking around in the city in Isa. 23:16.

Ø      Cain’s great-great-great grandson Jubal invented the kinnor (Gen. 4:21), but the nabel isn’t mentioned in the Bible until the time of Saul and David (1 Sam 10:5).

Ø      God directed both the kinnor and the nabel to be used by the priests and Levites in worship (1Chr. 15:16, 25:1-6, 2 Chron 5:12, 29:25, Psalm 43:4), and to be used by prophets to sing songs that would give people instruction about God (Psalm 49:4).

Ø      People also used the kinnor to accompany mourning (Job 30:31), and pagans used both the kinnor and the nabel at parties (Isa. 5:12).

v     Verse two and following makes it clear that playing musical instruments is not only a valid way of worshipping God, it is commanded to be part of worshipping God.

Ø      The imperative zammru in the second half of v.2 is addressed to the same plural audience that the command in v.1 to “sing out” was addressed to.

Ø      The word zammru literally means to make a plucking motion, so I’m with the NIV and ESV (as well as the ancient Greek Septuagint) that this is not referring to singing so much as it is referring to playing instruments.

Ø      Now, does this mean that every one of you have to go buy a lyre and a psaltery and start taking lessons or else you aren’t a real Christian? No, I don’t think this command is intended to be interpreted that way.

§         The context of the Bible does not support everybody having to own those two particular instruments. Some people played different instruments – like trumpets and drums – which aren’t mentioned here.

§         Some people in the O.T. worship groups seemed to just focus on singing instead of instruments, and they are not treated as second-class believers because they weren’t playing instruments.

§         Jesus didn’t mandate that all His disciples carry a harp with them wherever they went.

§         But clearly if someone in your family (and someone in your church) can get their hands on some kind of musical instrument and learn to play it and worship God with it, that is a good thing, and if that person is you, then go for it! And “the more the merrier!”

§         I believe you are only disobeying this command if you are working against the trend of having people around you who respond to God’s love by playing musical instruments to praise Him.[3]

1.      Encourage others to learn instruments,

2.      get piano or guitar lessons for your kids,

3.      enjoy music when it is made to glorify God,

4.      and, as God provides the interest and opportunity for you to dabble with music yourself, seize those opportunities!

v     Now, I know that God gives us different levels of capability with music. Some folks seem like they can play and sing like angels without hardly trying, and others of us have to work hard at it, and even then we only just sound decent. That’s o.k.

Ø      Remember, all the elders in the book of Revelation (5:8) could play the harp when they got to heaven, so you might as well get a head-start on something down here before we get there!

v.3 Y’all, sing a new song to Him; make the strumming good with fanfare!

v     The next command is to sing a new song:

Ø      “Fresh manifestations of His supernatural abilities call for new hymns of praise.” ~Meir Malbim[4]

Ø      Now, does this mean you can’t sing old songs? No, to command a new song does not prohibit singing an old one. Whenever there’s singing there’s going to be “oldies,” and that’s no problem. What God is commanding is to make sure to sing one new one (“a new song”).

Ø      But it puts us a little out of our comfort zones to learn new songs, so many of us don’t naturally want to learn another new song. That’s why we need this command to break us out of our comfortable ruts (of songs we’re familiar with) to go to the effort of learning something new.

Ø      Often, the way I end up learning new songs is when one of y’all requests a song for church. Often I haven’t heard that song before, so I am forced to learn a new song, and even though that is work for me, God says that’s what we should be doing, so keep up the good work of requesting new songs!

Ø      Let’s also check our attitudes about new music. It does not honor God’s command when we sigh or grumble over having to learn yet another new song. (And, I admit, that’s an attitude I struggle with myself, so I include myself in this exhortation:) Let’s cultivate an attitude of excitement, “What new song can I learn this week to worship God? I’m going to go after it with gusto; I’m going to make it good!”

v     The last imperative in this rapid-fire series of commands is literally, “make it good” – interpreted play “skillfully” in most English versions[5].

Ø      The word “play” (nagan) implies strumming strings.

Ø      And the Hebrew word for “loud noise/shout for joy/fanfare” – depending on which translation you’re following – is teru’ah. I suggest that, since teru’ah is used throughout scripture to describe a trumpet blast in connection with the worship of God, that is what David means here, what we would describe in modern orchestra terms as a brass fanfare.

§         This Hebrew word teru’ah first shows up in the Bible in Leviticus, describing the blowing of silver trumpets at the beginning of the seventh month as part of the Mosaic holy day system: Lev. 23:24 “Speak to the children of Israel, saying, ‘At the seventh month, on the first of the month a special-time-of-rest must happen for y’all: a fanfare memorial. There shall be a holy conference [for y’all].’” (NAW)

§         This noise shows up again when the Jubilee year is announced: Lev. 25:8-9 “So you must tally for yourself seven sabbatical years – seven times seven years... Then you must cause a horn fanfare to sound abroad in the seventh month during the tenth of the month on the Day of Atonements. Y’all must cause the horn to sound abroad through all your land.” (NAW)

§         And the next time we see this word teru’ah in the Bible after Psalm 33 is Psalm 47:5, where it is in parallel with a shofar blast: “God has gone up with a terua’, The LORD with the sound of a trumpet.” (NKJV)

Ø      But whatever you interpret teru’ah as being, the command to “make it good” at the end of v.3 appears to be defined as “playing with a shout/loud noise/fanfare” – in other words, adding another sound to the stringed instrument in worship. I don’t think it matters so much what you add – whether percussion or vocals or trumpet – as long as it makes the song even better!

Ø      It is God’s command not only to add freshness to worship but also to find ways to make the music better and better.

v     Ways we can pursue that might include:

Ø      upgrading the quality of instruments we use,

Ø      expanding the number of instruments we use,

Ø      and studying music and practicing our instruments in order to grow more skilled in how we play them.

v     The root of our English word “worship” is the same as our English word “worth.” When we worship God, we are expressing out loud what He is worth.

Ø      If our worship is shoddy, poorly practiced, and stuck in a rut, what does that say of what we think about God?

Ø      May God forgive us for all the times we have portrayed in worship that we think little of Him because we did not give Him the best that there is; we didn’t try to make it good; we ho-hummed our way through Sunday and were too worried about what others would think to raise our voice with any kind of volume.

Ø      I don’t mean to come across harshly. When I’m not behind the microphone, I struggle with this too. Brothers and sisters, let us make God’s praise glorious to match how glorious He is!

v     Now after these five commands to praise God with music and singing, David slows down to give about half a dozen compelling reasons behind these commands:

v.4 For the word of Yahweh is right, and everything He does is with faithfulness.

v     You’ve heard the two rules of thumb: “Number One: The boss is always right, and, Number Two: If the boss is wrong, see rule number one.” It’s kind-of funny because no boss is ever right 100% of the time, and we all know somebody who thought he was right when he was really wrong and, as a result, who did something that was unjust to those who were really in the right.

v     But God is never like that. He actually is always right. He never says anything wrong; He never does anything wrong. That sets Him apart from any human leader that’s ever been. That is reason to rejoice and sing!

v     I shudder to think what life in this universe would be like if, at the very top of the ladder of power and authority, there was someone who was occasionally wrong. There would never be anyone higher to appeal to, injustice would necessarily exist, and there would be no way to fix it.

v     Praise God that His word is right, and that everything He does, He does with faithfulness! He never breaks His word. He will never let you down on a promise. And since He is faithful, He can be completely trusted as the object of your faith.

v     The word of the Lord, by the way, is written down in your Bible!

Ø      Every prophecy in the scriptures was explicitly labeled “the word of the Lord,” and, when you get to the New Testament, it is the good news of Jesus Christ who died to save sinners that is called “the word of the Lord,” for instance, Acts 8:14 & 25, “Now when the apostles in Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent them Peter and John… So, when they had solemnly testified and spoken the word of the Lord, they started back to Jerusalem, and were preaching the gospel to many villages of the Samaritans. (NASB)

Ø      Read the Bible: it is true and right.

Ø      Trust what God says in the Bible; He is faithful and trustworthy.

Ø      Believe in the gospel of Jesus; it is the only way to happiness.

Ø      And Sing the word of God – it is true, though every man be a liar.

v     That is reason enough to sing and make music, but wait, there’s more!

v.5 He loves righteousness and justice; the earth is full of the lovingkindness of Yahweh!

v     We looked at that word “righteousness” before. God holds to an absolute standard of right and wrong, and He will not fudge on it. He cannot be bribed or tricked or pressured into overlooking evil. He treats rich and poor alike with perfect fairness.

Ø      Me? I tell my kids they can only eat two cookies, and then I eat four. And then when Maggie or Jed come by and give me those Bambi eyes and ask for another cookie, I say, “Aw shucks, you can have another one if you ask like that…” But God loves righteousness and justice.

v     That also means that God will bring to judgment every evil deed which hasn’t been punished yet. The fact that He “loves justice” means that He’s going to judge.

Ø      That’s good news if you’ve been wronged: the jerk that got away with doing something mean to you is going to have to answer before God eventually for it, and God will make sure he (or she) gets what’s coming to them.

Ø      It’s also bad news, because none of us have been perfectly good. We have all been hateful, deceitful, dishonoring to authority, covetous, forgetful of God, and more, and every one of those things is breaking one of God’s Ten Commandments – His absolute standards of right and wrong. The apostle James wrote that it doesn’t take but one occasion of breaking one commandment to condemn us.

v     So, praise the Lord for the second half of verse 5: “the lovingkindness/mercy/goodness/steadfast-unfailing love of the Lord”!

Ø      In the Bible, when “the earth is full of” something, it means a lot of people are doing it.

§         When God looked down on sinful mankind in the days of Noah, He said that “the earth was full of violence” (Genesis 6:13).

§         When God looked down on sinful mankind in the days of Jeremiah (Jeremiah 23:10) He said “the land was full of adultery.”

§         And when God looked down at sinful mankind during the days of Ezekiel, He said that “the land was full of bloodshed” (Ezek 7:23, 9:9).

Ø      So how – on God’s green earth – could David say here in Psalm 32 that “the land is full of God’s lovingkindness”?

§         If you know the gospel (“the word of the Lord”), you know the answer. It’s because God sent His Son Jesus to take upon Himself the punishment for adulterers and murderers and rebels of every kind, so that God could credit our unrighteousness to Jesus’ account and credit Jesus’ righteousness to us so that God can take the lovingkindness that He would direct toward His son Jesus, and direct it to us. So the word of the Lord says that the earth is FULL of that lovingkindness – that undeserved, graciously-given mercy – because there are persons from every tongue and tribe and people and nation all over the globe receiving that good news and living under the lovingkindness of God[6]. Folks, this is something worth singing about!

§         That’s why: “they sang a new song, saying: ‘You are worthy to take the scroll, And to open its seals; For You were slain, And have redeemed us to God by Your blood Out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation, And have made us kings and priests to our God…” (Revelation 5:9-10, NKJV)

§         Sing it! Play it! Make it good!

v     And now, as if God’s personal relationship with us of righteousness, truth, faithfulness, justice, and lovingkindness, were not reason enough, verses 6-7 add the majesty of who God is, as Creator:

v.6 It was through Yahweh’s word[7] that the heavens were made, and all their host through the breath of His mouth,

v     This closely parallels the creation account of Genesis 1: Then God said, "Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters." Thus God made the firmament, and divided the waters which were under the firmament from the waters which were above the firmament; and it was so. And God called the firmament Heaven. So the evening and the morning were the second day. Then God said, "Let the waters under the heavens be gathered together into one place, and let the dry land appear"; and it was so. And God called the dry land Earth, and the gathering together of the waters He called Seas. And God saw that it was good… So the evening and the morning were the third day. Then God said, "Let there be lights in the firmament of the heavens to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs and seasons, and for days and years…"; and it was so… So the evening and the morning were the fourth day…” and Genesis 2 begins, “Thus the heavens and the earth, and all the host of them, were finished. And on the seventh day God ended His work which He had done, and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had done.” (Genesis 1:6-19, 2:1-2, NKJV)

v     The thing that David emphasizes in verse 6 (by putting it first in the Hebrew word order) is “the word of the Lord” – the word which is faithful and true and brings justice and mercy also is a word that creates. By speaking mere words into the air, God created the sky and the stars and planets. Talk about power of speech! All God has to do is talk, and things that had no existence before come into being! And what staggeringly awesome marvels! Stars more than can be counted, each gigantic flaming sphere bigger than any object we can really imagine, spangled throughout light-years of space more vast than we can comprehend – together with a million other interstellar objects and forces we haven’t even discovered yet. All from the mere utterance of the words, “Let there be a firmament… let there be lights….”

v     Matthew Henry wrote, “Christ is the Word, the Spirit is the breath… By the Word and Spirit of God… the world was made... By the Word and Spirit the church is built, that new world... What cannot that power do which with a word made a world!”

v     The mind-boggling creative power of the Lord of Hosts is well worth singing about. The inanimate stars themselves sang for joy at creation (Job 38:7), and should we who have the gift of intelligence do any less?[8]

v     The language of v.7 appears to be an allusion to the parting of the Red Sea and the Jordan River when God led the Hebrew people across those bodies of water[9]:

v.7 gathering the waters of the sea like a heap, putting the ocean-depths into treasuries

Ø      Cf. Exodus 15:4-13 “Pharaoh's chariots and his army He has cast into the sea… 8 with the blast of Your nostrils The waters were gathered together; The floods stood upright like a heap; The depths congealed in the heart of the sea… You blew with Your wind, The sea covered them; They sank like lead in the mighty waters. Who is like You, O LORD, among the gods? Who is like You, glorious in holiness, Fearful in praises, doing wonders? … You in Your mercy have led forth The people whom You have redeemed...” (NKJV, cf. Ps. 78:13, Isaiah 51:10; 63:13, etc.)

Ø      Joshua 3:13 “And it shall come to pass, as soon as the soles of the feet of the priests who bear the ark of the LORD, the Lord of all the earth, shall rest in the waters of the Jordan, that the waters of the Jordan shall be cut off, the waters that come down from upstream, and they shall stand as a heap.” (NKJV)

Ø      That was a lot of water that God moved around for His people!

v     There are ocean trenches two miles deep. The pressure of that much water at such depths is enough to crush you flat as a pancake. The volume of that much water is greater than any means of storage any man could invent, and yet God manages the ocean depths like nothing. He’s got a storehouse for the ocean He could stick all that water in if He ever wanted to move it off the ocean floor.

v     And as for the vast Arctic and Antarctic sheets of snow and ice that comprise two thirds of the world’s fresh water, the book of Job tells us God has a storehouse for all the snow in the world (Job 38:22). If God got tired of keeping it all at the North and South Poles, He could throw it all back into His treasury.

v     And, as if it’s not enough to be able to easily handle all the frozen and liquid water in the world, Psalm 135:7 says God has treasuries for the winds too. All the billions of gallons of air that blow around our planet, God manages that too, and He could throw it all in a closet if He ever wanted to. A God this big is truly to be revered!

v     And that’s not all; natural resources are only the beginning of what God manages; Colossians 2:3 says that all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge are also hidden in Christ.

v     “Such knowledge is too wonderful for me.” No wonder David bursts out in the next verse:

v.8 Let all the earth be respectful of Yahweh! Let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of Him!

v     In Hebrew, the mem preposition stands before the word “Yahweh/Lord” and also before the word “him,” indicating some distance or “otherness” about God which every human being on the planet should recognize. I see this as a recognition of God’s holiness. A certain distance is proper to observe out of respect for His “other-ness,” the nearness of His merciful presence notwith­standing. He is worthy of fear; He is worthy of dropping what you’re doing to spend time with Him and marvel at the wonder of who He is.


v     So take the time to stand in awe of this God who is both just and merciful, powerful yet tender in saving His people. Don’t take Him for granted. Give thanks to Him. Sing with Him. Play music about Him, Make it good and skillful. Make praise your home-base!


Psalm 33:1-11[A]                                                                   Imperatives are highlighted


Brenton (LXX)

Douay-Rheims (Vulgate)




32:1 Τῷ Δαυιδ. Ἀγαλλιᾶσθε, δίκαιοι, ἐν τῷ κυρίῳ· τοῖς εὐθέσι πρέπει αἴνεσις. 

1 A Psalm of David. Rejoice in the Lord, ye righteous; praise becomes the upright.

1 A psalm for David. Rejoice in the Lord, O ye just: praise becometh the upright.

1 Rejoice[B] in the LORD, O ye righteous: for praise is comely for the upright.

1 [By David – a song for singing.] Sing out you righteous ones with Yahweh, for it is those who have been made right for whom praise is at home.

א[C] רַנְּנוּ צַדִּיקִים בַּיהוָה לַיְשָׁרִים נָאוָה תְהִלָּה.

32:2 ἐξομολογ­εῖσθε τῷ κυρίῳ ἐν κιθάρᾳ, ἐν ψαλτηρίῳ δεκα­χόρδῳ ψάλατε αὐτῷ. 

2 Praise the Lord on the harp; play to him on a psaltery of ten strings.

2 Give praise to the Lord on the harp; sing to him with the psaltery, the instrument of ten strings.

2 Praise the LORD with harp: sing[D] unto him with the psaltery and an instrument of ten strings.

2 Y’all, respond to Yahweh with a guitar; with a ten-string harp make music to Him!

ב הוֹדוּ לַיהוָה בְּכִנּוֹר בְּנֵבֶל עָשׂוֹר זַמְּרוּ לוֹ.

32:3 ᾄσατε αὐτῷ ᾆσμα καινόν, καλῶς ψάλατε ἐν ἀλαλαγμῷ. 

3 Sing to him a new song; play skillfully with a loud noise.

3 Sing to him a new canticle, sing well [unto him] with a loud noise.

3 Sing unto him a new song; play skilfully[E] with a loud noise.

3 Y’all, sing a new song to Him; make the strumming good with fanfare!

ג שִׁירוּ לוֹ שִׁיר חָדָשׁ הֵיטִיבוּ נַגֵּן בִּתְרוּעָה.

32:4 ὅτι εὐθὴς λόγος τοῦ κυρίου, καὶ πάντα τὰ ἔργα αὐτοῦ ἐν πίστει· 

4 For the word of the Lord is right; and all his work[s] are faithful.

4 For the word of the Lord is right, and all his work[s are done] with faithfulness.

4 For the word of the LORD is right; and all his work[s] are done in truth.

4 For the word of Yahweh is right, and everything He does is with faithfulness.

ד כִּי יָשָׁר דְּבַר יְהוָה וְכָל מַעֲשֵׂהוּ בֶּאֱמוּנָה.

32:5 ἀγαπᾷ ἐλεη­μοσύνην καὶ κρίσιν, τοῦ ἐλέους κυρίου πλήρης ἡ γῆ. 

5 He loves mercy and judgment; the earth is full the mercy of the Lord.

5 He loveth mercy and judgment; the earth is full of the mercy of the Lord.

5 He loveth righteousness and judgment: the earth is full of the goodness[F] of the LORD.

5 He loves righteousness and justice; the earth is full of the lovingkindness of Yahweh!

ה אֹהֵב צְדָקָה וּמִשְׁפָּט חֶסֶד יְהוָה מָלְאָה הָאָרֶץ.

32:6 τῷ λόγῳ τοῦ κυρίου οἱ οὐραν­οὶ ἐστερεώθησαν καὶ τῷ πνεύματι τοῦ στόματος αὐτοῦ πᾶσα δύναμις αὐτῶν· 

6 By the word of the Lord the heavens were established; and all the host of them by the breath of his mouth.

6 By the word of the Lord the heavens were established; and all the power of them by the spirit of his mouth:

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

6 It was through Yahweh’s word that the heavens were made – and all their host – through the breath of His mouth,

ו בִּדְבַר יְהוָה שָׁמַיִם נַעֲשׂוּ וּבְרוּחַ פִּיו כָּל צְבָאָם.

32:7 συνάγων ὡς ἀσκὸν[G] ὕδατα θαλάσσης, τιθεὶς ἐν θησαυροῖς ἀβύσσους. 

7 Who gathers the waters of the sea as [in] a bottle; who lays up the deeps in treasuries.

7 Gathering together the waters of the sea, as [in] a vessel; laying up the depths in storehouses.

7 He gathereth the waters of the sea together as an heap: he layeth up the depthX in storehouses.

7 gathering the waters of the sea like a heap, putting the ocean-depths into treasuries.

ז כֹּנֵס כַּנֵּד מֵי הַיָּם נֹתֵן בְּאֹצָרוֹת תְּהוֹמוֹת[H].

32:8 φοβηθήτω τὸν κύριον πᾶσα γῆ, ἀπ᾿ αὐτοῦ δὲ σαλευθήτω­σαν πάντες οἱ κατοικοῦντες τὴν οἰ κουμένην· 

8 Let all the earth fear the Lord; and let all that dwell in the world be moved because of him.

8 Let all the earth fear the Lord, and let all the inhabitants of the world be in awe of him.

8 Let all the earth fear the LORD: let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of him.

8 Let all the earth be respectful of Yahweh! Let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of Him!

ח יִירְאוּ מֵיְהוָה כָּל הָאָרֶץ מִמֶּנּוּ יָגוּרוּ[I] כָּל יֹשְׁבֵי תֵבֵל.


[1] v.1 Rannenu (Piel), v.2 Hodu (Hiphil), Zammeru (Piel), v.3 Shiyru (Qal), Heytivu (Hiphil)

[2] Calvin: But the real meaning of the clause, Praise is comely for the upright, is, that there is no exercise in which they can be better employed… [T]he word rendered comely may also be properly rendered desirable, if we view it as derived from the Hebrew word avah, which signifies to wish or desire.

[3] Calvin had to interpret this figuratively in order to maintain his position of no instruments but the human voice in worship: “It is evident that the Psalmist here expresses the vehement and ardent affection which the faithful ought to have in praising God, when he enjoins musical instruments to be employed for this purpose. He would have nothing omitted by believers which tends to animate the minds and feelings of men in singing God’s praises.” But I can agree with that much of what he wrote.

Plumer claimed that Justin Martyr and Theodoret’s writings indicate that the early church they knew did not use instruments in worship and went on to quote Chrysostom, " it was only permitted to the Jews as sacrifice was, for the heaviness and grossness of their souls. God condescended to their weakness, because they were lately drawn off from idols ; but now instead of organs, we may use our jwn bodies to praise him withal." He also included a quote from around 1250 by Thomas Aquinas, describing the Roman Catholic church, " Our church does not use musical instruments, as harps and psalteries, to praise God withal that she may not seem to Judaize." But Plumer concludes by saying we shouldn’t be judgmental or divisive on this practice but should stick to Scriptural arguments: “It is not right to make a schism in the body of Christ on such points.”

Richard Baxter: “…in the persecuted and poorer times of the church, none such were used… And I grant… it is in the power of weak, diseased Christians, to make many things unlawful to their brethren lest we be hurtful to them, and to deprive us of much, not only of our liberties but our helps, so in abundance of congregations, church-music is made unlawful by accident, through their mistake. For it is unlawful by an unnecessary thing to occasion divisions in the churches… But plain intelligible church-music, which occasioneth not divisions, but the church agreeth in, for my part I never doubted to be lawful. For, 1. God set it up long after Moses' ceremonial Law, by David, Solomon, etc. 2. It is not an instituted ceremony merely, but a natural help to the mind's alacrity, and it is a duty and not a sin to use the helps of nature and lawful art… [a]s it is lawful to use… spectacles in reading the Bible… 3. Jesus Christ joined with the Jews that used it, and never spake a word against it. 4. No Scripture forbiddeth it, therefore it is not unlawful. 5. Nothing can be against it, that I know of, but what is said against tunes and melody of voice…” (Christian Directory, Works,vol. v., pp. 499-501.)

“[T]he reasons the early church did not employ instruments were not because they were tied theologically to the Temple, but because they were tied into pagan temples and pagan worship.  Instruments were suspect in respectable Roman and Greek society.” ~Tony Cowley, “My View of the Regulative Principle”

[4] 19th century Jewish scholar who wrote a commentary on the Psalms entitled Yair Ohr

[5] Calvin: “he urges them to sing loudly. In this sense, I understand the Hebrew word, heytib, although others refer it rather to the proper setting of the notes.”

[6] Cf. Augustine: “throughout the whole world are sins forgiven unto men by the Mercy of the Lord”
Calvin: “the more experience which any man has of his beneficence and mercy, the more strongly is he influenced to worship him”

[7] I was pleased to discover that Calvin’s explanation for why he did not identify Jesus the Word of God with this particular “word” was basically the same as my reason: the focus is not the Messiah, but rather God’s utterance of words as the agency of Creation.

[8] Cf. Calvin: “By the figure synecdoche, he uses the term heavens for the whole fabric of the world, because… the sight of the heavens more than all the other parts of creation transports us with admiration.”

[9] Calvin (and Jewish commentators Kimchi and Malbim before him and Keil & Delitzsch after him) correlated it instead to the separation of land and water at creation. But the verb translated “gathered” in Gen 1:9 is יקוו, whereas the word translated “gathered” in Psalm 33:9 is כּנס. I read recently that if the crust of the earth was leveled, water would cover the surface of the entire earth a mile and a half deep!

[A] My original chart includes the NASB and NIV, but their copyright restrictions have forced me to remove them from the publicly-available edition of this chart. I have included the ESV in footnotes when it employs a word not already used by the KJV, NASB, or NIV. (NAW is my translation.) When a translation adds words not in the Hebrew text, but does not indicate it has done so by the use of italics (or greyed-out text), I put the added words in [square brackets]. When one version chooses a wording which is different from all the other translations, I underline it. When a version chooses a translation which, in my opinion, either departs too far from the root meaning of the Hebrew word or departs too far from the grammar form of the original text, I use strikeout. And when a version omits a word which is in the Hebrew text, I insert an X. (I also place an X at the end of a word if the original word is plural but the English translation is singular.) I occasionally use colors to help the reader see correlations between the various editions and versions when there are more than two different translations of a given word. Hebrew text that is colored purple matches the Dead Sea Scrolls, and variants between the DSS and the MT are noted in endnotes with the following exceptions: When a holem or qametz-hatuf or qibbutz pointing in the MT is represented in the DSS by a vav (or vice versa), or when a hireq pointing in the MT is represented in the DSS by a yod (the corresponding consonantal representation of the same vowel) – or vice versa, or when the tetragrammaton is spelled with paleo-Hebrew letters, I did not record it a variant. Dead Sea Scrolls that contain Psalm 33 include 4Q83 (vs. 2-11) and 4Q98 (vs. 1-18).

[B] NAS/Niv=Sing, ESV=Shout

[C] The text of 4Q98 is שיר מזמור לדויד and that matches the LXX and Vulgate. There doesn’t appear to be room in the 4Q83 Dead Sea Scroll for such a superscription, however.

[D] NIV=Make music, ESV=Make melody

[E] ESV adds “on the strings,” but this is implied by the verb naggen.

[F] Here and in vs.18 & 22: NASB=lovingkindness, NIV=unfailing love, ESV= steadfast love

[G] Cf. Aquilla: χυμα (?) E: σωρον (“heap”)

[H] DSS 4Q98 adds נוד [כמו נצבו] המים שם “there the waters were set like its movement,” which comports with the idea of the verse without adding or subtracting anything to conflict with the meaning, but the LXX supports the shorter Masoretic reading, so I will go with the shorter reading.

[I] I usually translate this verb “lodge/be a guest/visit” but that doesn’t seem to fit with the mem preposition “from Yahweh.” I interpret this preposition as being consistent with God’s holiness; a certain distance is proper to observe out of respect for His “other-ness,” the nearness of His merciful presence notwithstanding.