With Covid cases rising, teachers returning to class not knowing what the next day or week might bring, six inches of rain threatening low-lying areas in our neighborhoods, Haiti crumbling (again) from a 7.2 earthquake, and Afghanis clinging to airplanes to take them out of harm’s way, discouragement and despair can easily set in. Psalm 33 begins with a call to praise God, to worship him. And by the end of the Psalm you realize the call isn’t to praise him when life is good, but in the wake of death and famine. (vs. 19). How can the unnamed Psalmist of Psalm 33 call us to worship God in times like these. He uses words like shout, praise, give thanks, make melody, sing. When we are tempted to look around at our circumstances, why must we look up?
We look up because God created the cosmos. By the word of the Lord the heavens were made, and by the breath of his mouth all their host. He gathers the waters of the sea as a heap; he puts the deep in storehouses. (Psalm 33:6-7, ESV) How did he create? He talked! He spoke and it came to be. A God who is strong enough to speak creation into existence, is also strong enough to sustain it…even when it appears to be falling apart from our point of view.
We look up because God confuses the counsel of nations. The Lord brings the counsel of the nations to nothing; he frustrates the plans of the peoples. The counsel of the Lord stands forever, the plans of his heart to all generations. Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord, the people whom he has chosen for his heritage. (Psalm 33:10-12, ESV) The Taliban, United Nations, United States, China, Russia…the list could go on and on…stand confused without God.
Satan may have his day but God will have his way.
We look up because God fashions our very hearts. The Lord looks down from heaven; he sees all the children of man; from where he sits enthroned he looks out on all the inhabitants of the earth, he who fashions the hearts of them all and observes all their deeds. (Psalm 33:13-15, ESV) To fashion is to mold into a shape or form. Picture a potter sitting at the wheel, clay in hand. What emerges from that wheel is the potter’s desire and design. You are no accident. God fashioned your very heart. Your desires and design are his doing.
Behold, the eye of the Lord is on those who fear him, on those who hope in his steadfast love. (Psalm 33:18, ESV) God is looking down. His eye is on you. Look up. As hard as that might be, peel your eyes away from the news for a few moments and look up. As difficult as it may be to pull away from Facebook, do it. Look up.
The Psalmist finishes. Our soul waits for the Lord, he is our help and our shield. For our heart is glad in him, because we trust in his holy name. Let your steadfast love, O Lord, be upon us, even as we hope in you. (Psalm 33:20-22, ESV) Even in the face of death and famine, the Psalmist says look up. As you read this, I know you are facing grief, disappointment, disillusionment. Looking around only brings more of the same. Look up. He’s looking down. Lock eyes with him.
For the eyes of the LORD run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to give strong support to those whose heart is blameless toward him. (2 Chronicles 16:9, ESV)