All you who are righteous,
shout joyfully to the Lord!
It’s right for those who do right to praise God.
2 Give thanks to the Lord with the lyre!
Sing praises to him with the ten-stringed harp!
3 Sing to him a new song!
Play your best with joyful shouts!
4 Because the Lord’s word is right,
his every act is done in good faith.
5 He loves righteousness and justice;
the Lord’s faithful love fills the whole earth.
6 The skies were made by the Lord’s word,
all their starry multitude by the breath of his mouth.
7 He gathered the ocean waters into a heap;
he put the deep seas into storerooms.
8 All the earth honors the Lord;
all the earth’s inhabitants stand in awe of him.
9 Because when he spoke, it happened!
When he commanded, there it was!
10 The Lord overrules what the nations plan;
he frustrates what the peoples intend to do.
11 But the Lord’s plan stands forever;
what he intends to do lasts from one generation to the next.
12 The nation whose God is the Lord,
the people whom God has chosen as his possession,
is truly happy!
13 The Lord looks down from heaven;
he sees every human being.
14 From his dwelling place God observes
all who live on earth.
15 God is the one who made all their hearts,
the one who knows everything they do.
16 Kings aren’t saved by the strength of their armies;
warriors aren’t rescued by how much power they have.
17 A warhorse is a bad bet for victory;
it can’t save despite its great strength.
18 But look here: the Lord’s eyes watch all who honor him,
all who wait for his faithful love,
19 to deliver their lives[a] from death
and keep them alive during a famine.
20 We put our hope in the Lord.
He is our help and our shield.
21 Our heart rejoices in God
because we trust his holy name.
22 Lord, let your faithful love surround us
because we wait for you.
“A Nation Under God”
It is now 244 years later, and our country has had another birthday. A people seeking freedom and self-governance gave birth to our great land. We celebrate that birth! We also recognize our rights and responsibility to do our best to preserve this country and what she stands for.
Unfortunately, our current national situation is filled with strife, political rancor, racial unrest, crime, and now a new disease and its effects. We are pressed from so many directions. It would be easy for our country to lose its way and forfeit our quality of life.
How do we honor our country? How do we bolster its foundations and functioning? How do we insure that we do not lose our way?
“The nation is happy whose God is the Lord.” (Psalm 33:12) In the Psalm the word “nation” is immediately qualified as “the people whom God has chosen as his possession.” Our nation is not merely a geographic landscape, though we are defined by borders and lands. It is not merely a governmental structure, though we are a democracy. Our constitution says it well as it opens with, “We the people… .” Above all we are a people – diverse, amazing, creative. We are a people with a dream of freedom that brings fulfilling life.
2 Chronicles 7:14 is a word from God in the midst of a people losing their way. Once again, God sees the people again wandering off toward the illusion of self-sufficiency, forgetting God and going their own way. God says, “If my people who belong to me will humbly pray and seek my face …” The New Revised Standard Version says, “If my people who are called by my name, with humble themselves and pray … .” God doesn’t say, ‘if My Nation… .’ He is not talking to a political entity. He is talking to his people, At the foundation of it all, it is “a people whose God is the Lord”. People making decisions to follow. It is interesting that in both Psalm 33 and 2 Chronicles 7:14 God is talking to people – his people. God’s people.
Do we need more religion to make our nation better? No! So often religion implies structures, systems, beliefs, constructs. Conservative, liberal, traditional, progressive … the list goes on and on. God does not seek our man-made systems. Do we need more people seeking God, ABSOLUTELY! It was people with a dream that founded our country – the systems came later.
Let’s look a little closer at Psalm 33. How do we show that the Lord is our God? Verses 1-3 are a wonderful pile of musical comparisons. “It is right for those who so right to praise God.” How? “Give thanks to the Lord with the lyre! Sing praises to him with the ten-stringed harp! 3 Sing to him a new song! Play your best with joyful shouts!” It is our work to glorify God. It is our work because we recognize the goodness of the Lord, the majesty of the Lord, the multitude of ways the Lord has provided for us. It is the inner heart of a human being expressed outwardly. It is not empty phrases, memorized and spoken on cue. It is truly “Seeking his face.” It is a people “whose God is the Lord.” The Psalm goes on to recount the amazing work of God. “Because” is the connecting word. We give him all our praise because … .” God’s love fills the earth. By the Lord’s word the skies were made, the oceans and great seas, the stars. “The Lord’s faithful love fills the earth.” Verse 8 pictures our honoring God. “All the earth honors the Lord; all the earth’s inhabitants stand in awe of him.” That comes when we recognize our amazing God.
Once again, how can we best honor our country. Psalm 33:16-19 and 20-22 contrast two ways of honoring our country and lifting it up – as the people and as the leaders. “Kings aren’t saved by the strength of their armies … But look here: the Lord’s eyes watch all who honor him, all who wait for his faithful love, 19 to deliver their lives from death and keep them alive during a famine.” Do we rely on ourselves and our cunning and power? NO! God frustrates the plans of human beings. He frustrates them because the plans are not including the God who created them.
Instead we are called to put our hope and trust in God. Verses 20-22 say it so eloquently. “20 We put our hope in the Lord. He is our help and our shield. 21 Our heart rejoices in God because we trust his holy name. 22 Lord, let your faithful love surround us because we wait for you.” God is the source of all that has been good, all that is good, all that will be good.
Max Lucado said it well when he stated, “It’s not about me!” An entire book was devoted to that theme. It is not about my beliefs or systems, or constructs, but about my connection with the living God. “A People who’s God is the Lord.”
What is God attributed with in verses 4 and 5? “Because the Lord’s word is right, his every act is done in good faith. 5 He loves righteousness and justice; the Lord’s faithful love fills the whole earth.” A follower of God rightly should honor and live by the same things – not that we can do them perfectly, but they should be a moving force behind what we do and say. As the wonderful song, Let There Be Peace” says, let it begin with me. We cannot wait for a system to change. We must be the force behind the change. And our only true power or force is the Lord living in us. He will guide our steps. He will lead the dream.
Psalm 33 ends with a short, earnest prayer [vs. 22]. “Lord, let your faithful love surround us because we wait for you.” And from Let that be our prayer for ourselves, for our great country, for all of God’s world.
“… but those who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength, they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.” [Isaiah 40:31]
Pastor Ross Kershaw