Psalm 33: 1-2, 4-5, 18-19
This week’s responsorial psalm is from Psalm 33, a hymn in which the just are invited to praise God, who by a mere word created the universe.
Exult, you just, in the LORD; praise from the upright is fitting. Give thanks to the LORD on the harp; with the ten-stringed lyre chant his praises.
This psalm employs language that is closely linked to ancient Israel’s covenant theology, emphasizing concepts such as righteousness (sādēq), uprightness (yāshar), trustworthiness (‘āman), lovingkindness (hesed), and — as seen here in the opening invocation to praise — justice (mishpāt).
Upright is the word of the LORD, and all his works are trustworthy.
The first theme presented is the trustworthiness of God’s word, which is as firm as God’s own self. It was by this word and this word alone that the universe was created (Genesis 1). The order and stability manifested through the marvels of creation not only stem from God’s power and faithfulness, they are witnesses to it as well. Trusting in the consistency and stability of the natural world, as we do, we can certainly also trust in its creator, from whom it originates.
He loves justice and right; of the kindness of the Lord the earth is full.
The foundation of this trustworthy relationship to God is his kindness, which is more than a passing sentiment. It is unwavering covenant loyalty (hesed).
See, the eyes of the LORD are upon those who fear him, upon those who hope for his kindness,
The psalmist transitions to extolling God’s providence. For whom does God care? For all those who fear the LORD.
In this context, fear refers to being awestruck in the presence of a great power or majesty, and the trembling and powerlessness that accompany such a feeling. Having surveyed the marvels of creation and having reflected on the trustworthy word of God that called them into being, what other attitude would be appropriate?
to deliver them from death and preserve them in spite of famine.
God is described as a savior who will rescue and protect his people in times of great need.
Although this is a psalm of praise, it also aims to inspire confidence in those who sing it by extolling God’s attributes. Anyone who loves and fears the LORD will be gathered under the wings of God’s providence and will be protected from famine and death.