Psalm 33 - The word of the Lord is upright
1) Rejoice in the Lord, O you righteous.
Praise befits the upright.
2) Praise the Lord with the lyre;
make melody to him with the harp of ten strings.
3) Sing to him a new song;
play skillfully on the strings, with loud shouts.
4) For the word of the Lord is upright,
and all his work is done in faithfulness.
5) He loves righteousness and justice;
the earth is full of the steadfast love of the Lord.
6) By the word of the Lord the heavens were made,
and all their host by the breath of his mouth.
7) He gathered the waters of the sea as in a bottle;
he put the deeps in storehouses.
8) Let all the earth fear the Lord;
let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of him.
9) For he spoke, and it came to be;
he commanded, and it stood firm.
10) The Lord brings the counsel of the nations to nothing;
he frustrates the plans of the peoples.
11) The counsel of the Lord stands forever,
the thoughts of his heart to all generations.
12) Happy is the nation whose God is the Lord,
the people whom he has chosen as his heritage.
13) The Lord looks down from heaven;
he sees all humankind.
14) From where he sits enthroned he watches
all the inhabitants of the earth—
15) he who fashions the hearts of them all,
and observes all their deeds.
16) A king is not saved by his great army;
a warrior is not delivered by his great strength.
17) The war horse is a vain hope for victory,
and by its great might it cannot save.
18) Truly the eye of the Lord is on those who fear him,
on those who hope in his steadfast love,
19) to deliver their soul from death,
and to keep them alive in famine.
20) Our soul waits for the Lord;
he is our help and shield.
21) 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 (NRSV*)
Proper 5, Sunday between June 5 and June 11, Year A, verses 1-12
Proper 14, Sunday between August 7 and August 13, Year C, verses 12-22
The Hebrew word יָשָׁר (yashar), meaning straight, upright, is often used in parallel with, and as an active metaphor for righteousness. This same kind of usage is present in English. We know there is a spiritual difference between upright and "keeled over," between straight and "crooked." Righteousness is able to stand up straight.
This is a "good news" psalm, which hymns God's virtue. God uses her immense power in the service of creation And God's creation is a world filed with God's hesed (steadfast love, everlasting and never-failing). The Lord gives life and saves life. The Lord loves righteousness and justice. The Lord intervenes to frustrate the plans of princes and people when they are directed away from good.
"A king is not saved by his great army; a warrior is not delivered by his great strength." Great might does not save. God's power alone, working for good, anchored in truth, standing strong in faithfulness, leading in love, this power is what makes the difference.
"Rejoice in the Lord, O you righteous. Praise befits the upright. Praise the Lord with the lyre; make melody to him with the harp of ten strings. Sing to him a new song; play skillfully on the strings, with loud shouts."
Glory to God! Without the Lord, we could not know right from wrong, without God's word we could not tell straight from crooked.
In the Abrahamic faiths, the book, the word received form God, serves as this kind of guidepost. The texts may not be unambiguous, as the product of human hands, and many voices over a long span of time. But communities of faith have discerned a direction. The word of the Lord stands upright. It is true, like a straightedge, or plumb line.
Our heart is glad in the Lord, because we trust in God's holy name. And we trust in God's word, which is straight and true. God's word, in turn, mirrors God's work, all of which is done in faithfulness.
Kings trust in their armies, bankers trust in their balance sheets, con men trust in their wiles and in peoples' gullibility and greed. Satan trusts in fear.
God trusts in us, giving us life, the power to choose for good and ill. And God gives of herself to lead us to the holy goodness that is more than we can imagine.
Trust in God is never misplaced. Let your steadfast love, O Lord, be upon us, even as we hope in you.
Kristi Herbert, Maen Llia Standing Stone. This stone stands at the head of a valley north of Ystradfellte, in the Brecon Beacons National Park, 14 Jan 2007. Used under (CC BY 2.0).
AUTHOR, TITLE. Public domain (CC BY 1.0).
Free-Photos, Pădure Trunchiuri Vertical. Public domain, Pixabay license.
* New Revised Standard Version Bible (NRSV), copyright © 1989 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.