Psalm:33 - "Praise Becoming the Upright"
Praise in the midst of global pandemic.
|UPDATE: Part 5 > Revisted 6 Months In||
(last updated: September 29th 2020)
Psalms 33: kjv
Today's Audio Commentary: "Praise Becoming the Upright"
| Psalm:33 Reading
| Part 1 >
|Part 2 >
| Part 3 >
| Part 4 >
| Part 5 > Revisted 6 Months In
|Part 5 > PLACEHOLDER FOR FUTURE CONCLUSIONS WHEN THE PANDEMIC SUBSIDES - MEANT FOR FUTURE GENERATIONS|
| Psalm:33* "Praise Becoming the Upright" (commentary as one file)
- There are times in our lives when the Holy Scriptures (especially the BookOfPsalms ) seem to take on a different level of personal meaning.
- There is no doubt that when the psalmist wrote today's Psalm 33 that he had a definite understanding of what it meant to him, what it would mean to the congregation that was about to sing this, what it meant to the culture and time it was written for. We must always be mindful and respectful of that.
- Along with that original meaning, as important as that meaning is for us to search out and understand, so too these psalms travel through many generations, each generation a culture, times and events all their own lending additional meanings. One can only imagine what this psalm meant to a young wife in 1780 praying for her young husband's return from the Revolutionary War or a family reading it at a worker's campsite during the Great Depression.
- Much different times, much different ears and appetites. Same psalm, same original message. Different practical applications. I believe that we now live in such a different time.
- 2020 will be remembered as the year of the Novel Covid 19 Corona Virus. (World wide pandemic)
- At first glance Psalm 33 appears to be a lite and happy psalm, a congregation of saints singing joyfully upon psaltery and harp played skillfully, the LORD looking down from heaven upon all the sons of men and the works. A couple of months ago I would likely have seen this psalm in that cheerful context. This morning though, going through what we are all having to go through, I see it as an inner light at the end of a long tunnel and how the saint should best respond to the incredible perceived darkness all around.
- Thankfully not too many people in my circles have contracted the virus, even fewer have tested positive and shown but mild symptoms, very few of them have died. But, that has not been the case for so many others, they have lost dearly. I have come to realize that it is not just the threat posed by the virus that so effects us, it is the threat of how both society and certain individuals will react, it's the fear and the panic and the hording and the irrational behavior and the burden on jobs and the economy that takes it's deeper toll. Certainly, we have only begun to see the faint beginnings of this panic, it could could get a whole lot worse should this event and response linger into the summer.
- Given this dark dark climate, given the sudden and out of nowhere nature of it, how does a evangelist like myself prepare hearts to lite and cheerfully examine a worshipful psalm like this when most listeners are instead asking themselves "how could God allow for such a monstrous thing"? I can somewhat see their point. I often have to ask myself the same. How do I answer myself that question?
- Well I look to psalms such as this one for some guidance. And when I landed upon this psalm this morning I asked it the same questions being asked of me. Do you want to know what it is that I found? Do you dare want to know what it said?
- Funny, worshiping the LORD seems to come much more easily when everything is going as we believe it should. Even then though there is the danger that things will go so well that we tend to forget to worship and take it all for granted. On the other hand we find it more difficult to worship Jehovah when things go unexpectedly sour, when trade centers topple, stock markets crash, tsunamis flood nuclear reactors. Even then there is the danger that the more fanatical in our ranks will push the public even farther away from God by their claims of these things being signs of the end of the world.
- What is more curious still is how it is each and every time that these occurrences blindside us, how government and nation and psyche prove to be unprepared. Be it wars or famines or quakes or pandemics, these things have all happened before. They have happened to every single generation. Why is it that we feel ourselves above this or impervious to it or like this time we have done something different to keep this all from happening? Isn't it rather quite an arrogance we carry thinking ourselves impervious to it and then violated even by God when it does happen? that God is to somehow keep our generation from all of this when HE has not done it for every other? Is that our expectation? Well then is it God that is wrong or is it our expectation?
- Better it would be to expect the unexpected than to blame God when our expectations are violated. Then we can properly ask why then does God not protect us from these things happening. They are really two separate questions, one has already been violated and is asking why, the other has not been violated and is sincerely seeking to understand why. And once having search out the divine answer, only then can we properly ask then why should I worship the LORD in the manner psalm 33 and others prescribe.
- I shall not shy away from the question why when approached in this proper fashion. Minus our own arrogant and unreasonable expectations this is a valid question.
- These words give us the idea that the psalmist feels that God is always in command, God created everything, God controls everything else why would have created it? But then the psalmist also portrays:
- If not a king, if not even the mighty man is safe, who then? who then is safe?
Psalms 33:6-9 kjv
Psalms 33:16-17 kjv
- My hope is that by the end of this message that each of us will find that place in our hearts to draw from a praise becoming of the upright.
Psalms 33:4-5 kjv
- In the words of that great mid twentieth century philosopher Ricky Ricardo: "Lucy...you got some 'xplaining to do".
- The question being asked Psalm 33 today we've so far determined is why in the face of disaster or war or famine or pandemic should we praise God as prescribed here in the psalm. I believe that I have already established that the question logically could be asked from two opposing positions, one of blaming God or even denying God's existence because of this, the other calmly seeking from God from HIS own words a better answer. The first I believe takes the error of false expectation to the point of arrogantly placing one's self above the situation. The second takes on the hope that there is something more to God's purpose than the carnal mind is wanting to see.
- The first thing that I would like to draw out of 33 is that there are two opposing voices being presented. The obvious one is labeled "the counsel of the heathen v10 (heathen = masses foreign to Jehovah). The other not so obvious voice is the voice of hope centered squarely on the word of God v4.
Psalms 33:4 kjv
- This verse is the core foundation of all hope and therefore all worship. From this hope in God's word in this case we get the idea presented that God "loveth righteousness and judgment: the earth is full of the goodness of the LORD" v5 and that God is fully in control of all things v6-9. We hope in God's word and God's word then gives us these further hopes.
- On the other hand we have the "counsel" (We are talking hope versus counsel in a manner of speaking) the counsel of the masses which is not a unified nor monolithic counsel of it's own but a blunt conglomeration of several often opposing views. While it carries with it the the opinions of science and academics and politics and majority, during times of crises it also carries the opinions of fright and avoidance and obsessive compulsion and herd/survival instinct and such of the masses that constantly must be searched out and filtered down.
- One evidence of how distorted this counsel can get in times such as this is the social climate during the time compared to the analysis of the facts after the crises has subsided; they often appear as two opposing entities. Much like the human autoimmune system, the actual harm of a virus is not typically in the virus as much as it is in the systems overreaching response to it. So too is the danger of the heathen counsel.
- There is a third voice logically implied as well, the voice that says "hide your head in the sand and ignore all of this, just try to weather your way through this until you get to the other side of this". Sadly the voice of hope and the mass' counsel are both extremely vulnerable to listening to this voice far too much.
- Think of these voices as the options available to each of us in regards to this consideration as to why worship a God who seems to allow for this.
- The option of godly hope may not know all the answers going in but, is going to inquire and search these things out. What I would call the presumption of righteousness much like the legal presumption of innocence is offered the suspect God; the defense's case is allowed to continue.
- The counsel of the masses is going to say the opposite, God for some reason has abandoned HIS post and has left us to fend for ourselves. Now there is several variations of that sentiment some more forgiving of God than others but, of the same final verdict nonetheless. It is this voice that says "it is better to do too much than too little", that "the government needs to do this", that "we must all pull together/overcome and defeat this". Such might be the proper sentiment however, with so many backseat drivers refusing to surrender the steering wheel the car rarely can even leave the parking spot.
- I know that it is popular to blame God for how many times HE has failed our expectations but, isn't rather how many times the counsel of the masses foreign to God Jehovah have failed our expectations. It's as if our expectation is for the God to uphold the misappropriated counsel that we cling to and when HE doesn't we blame HIM for our misappropriations.
- How many floods have there not been enough sand bags? Is that God's fault? How many times have there not been enough shelter and food and drinking water? Is that God's fault? How many times have there not been enough medical care or vaccinations? Is that God's fault? We new before Katrina that the levies and pumps were not going to hold. We even provided federal funding to the locals to do something about it, yet nothing meaningful ever got done. Is that God's fault? We have known long before the previous pandemic in 2009 that there were not enough ventilators and respiratory masks and that the healthcare system could easily get overrun with sick people? Did anyone do anything significant about it? Is that God's fault? Why then do we continue expecting a different result while essentially not changing any of our approach, then crying out foul on God when our expectations predictably become offended?
- Now I am not saying that hope alone in God solves all of this, not if hope is all that hope ever becomes. No hope leads to action, perhaps the very same action that the counsel would also suggest but, it performs said action with much more of a God centered/determined/righteous/loving and self reliant way. Hope births action and with that a God given responsibility; a responsibility to God, a responsibility for your immediate family, a responsibility to the people HE has called you into action to protect.
- While this psalm speaks openly about worship in terms of music and singing and instruments, what better praise is there than by those who have diligently completed the day's godly responsibilities and are excited and lively in the true living experience of our wondrous LORD?
- And then in this active participation with the will of God it can literally be said:
Psalms 33:12 kjv
Psalms 33:5 kjv
- Let us expand our discussion now to the topic of judgment.
- The mere mention of God's judgment I know is going to turn a lot of people off. In times of crises or catastrophe such as this there is this pervasive notion that God is actively judging. The notion is even stirred on and inflamed by many a preacher and evangelist. If as the psalmist contends the LORD loveth righteousness v5, if the earth is filled with HIS goodness v5, how then can HE unrighteously judge v5 and also still fill the earth with goodness?
- If in fact crises or catastrophe is a vehicle of God's judgment (if) what or who is it that HE is judging? Is it the person that dies from a corona virus? Most people think of God's judgment in this way! Or is it a judgment on the the people and the systems that were called upon by God to protect that victim?
Psalms 33:10-11 kjv
- Who or what does the psalmist say God is judging? If anything it's the "counsel of the heathen" according to the psalmist; HE is bringing it to naught. Why? Because all things whether in Heaven or Earth must be judged by one certain eternal standard in ordr to be fair and impartial. The standard must be God's counsel which "standeth for ever" alone. The test is not so much for HIM to know for certain that it is in compliance, rather it is for us to see for certain that no it is not. Let every man and woman in their own heart in this sudden matter examine the evidences stirred up and so judge.
- Think of it this way, crises and catastrophes are built into the sandbox here, they are guaranteed to happen almost randomly/indiscriminately, they are like the stirring of the pot so that it never fully settles. Knowing that these events are going to happen, certain people and organizations and governments are called to act on the people's behalf to prepare and protect against these occurrences then to respond and recover. There is no greater failure than for these people and systems to fail protecting the lives of those citizens they were called out to protect.
- Thereto the citizens themselves are under examination. What if anything have they done for themselves? Have they wisely saved and prepared and put into their storehouses or have they frivolously squandered their wealth in the times of plenty? Have they developed and hedged and watched over their smaller communities and economies? Have they distributed to their poor and properly sheltered their homeless? All of this action before hand or have they selfishly focused the years of plenty on their own greed and covetousness and drunkenness? How have they reacted to this now that this all has happened? Have they subjected themselves to the higher powers who are all ordained by God ( kjv@Romans:13:1-6)? Have they spoken evil of their dignitaries? Have they lined their own and their corporations pockets at the afflicted's expense? These are but a few of the things that can be judged.
- And the judgment does not have to be God's judgment alone, we can observe these very same things side by side with the counsel of God and judge these matters for ourselves. You have observed these things just as much as I have. You tell me, were we ready? Were we inline with the counsel of God even slightly? Now that this event is happening, how are we doing? How are we holding up? Have we responded appropriately? Hopefully soon it will have run it's course and we'll be looking back on it with much more solid facts and figures. Did we do this right? Did we minimize the damage to our homes and our communities? Are we now restoring our communities more inline with the counsel of God? Did we rightly assess what we could have done better? Do we know better how to prepare for the next unknown event? Can we keep ourselves from making the same mistakes?
- If there is any judgment to be found in this, this is where the focus of God's judgment most likely or most righteously is to be placed. Is God wrong for judging these people and organizations on this bases? Surely not. Would it not be righteous for us to judge ourselves by the same self examination? I can tell you with almost all certainty to the answers to everyone of these questions past present and future are no; no we didn't, no we are not, no we will not. Why is this? Because of our continuing reliance on the "counsel of men". Every historical proof helps support this conclusion.
- Okay so the next question is: What about those that will die because of this virus. Is God wrong for allowing innocent people to die to make HIS point? It depends on how you view death. Is death their unfortunate punishment or is death their sweet reward? This is where our consideration gets much more complicated.
- In one real sense these people are dead because of us. I guess we could consider it God's mercy that many more people than this didn't die because of our constant selfish excess. Cain's flippant response "what am I my brother's keeper" didn't work for him and it won't work for us.
- In another real sense we have to ask where were the upright Christians in all of this? Does not judgment begin with the house of God? The psalmist writes:
Psalms 33:18-21 kjv
- If there is any discomfort in the loss of these innocent lives it is likely centered on the whereabouts of their souls. Is it not? There are two sides to this tricky coin. Yes the individual is responsible to God at all times to have his/her business in before meeting their maker above. Yes, the Christian now saved by God's grace offered through the atoning blood of Jesus Christ is responsible for convincingly modeling the redeemed and regenerated life and to convey the sincerest and uncontaminated public rendition of the message of the Gospel of Christ. Failure on either party's part is a most sad affair.
- It is troubling because both of us think that we have plenty of time before either of our roles in salvation need be met. It is troubling because with both get too distracted by the normal daily affairs of life, by our own wants and needs, our own dreams and ambitions that when it is all said and done prove to be nothing more than a puff of smoke; such is both our vanities. To have this end this way, unexpected yes but not really, final and ultimate, yes just like that.
- This too is a judgment by the simple stirring of the pot, a judgment upon you and upon me and upon society at large that influences us away from the counsel of God that stands for ever. This is a judgment knowing God's final judgment that you and I considered and made for ourselves. The counsel of God was set forth all along and we both knew it. Why then did we both choose to do the opposite? And now, indiscriminately without respect for any person saved or unsaved the lots are cast and set into motion, either you or I or someone else is removed from our wounded body and taken to the greater beyond. We should both prayer sir for each other.
- For now however there is the "counsel of the heathen" should we choose to continue with it or there is the voice of hope if we so dare. Beware, hope as I previously said births action and with action responsibility.
kjv@Psalms:33:15 @ He fashioneth their hearts alike; he considereth all their works.
- Once again we must ask of this psalm: why should we worship this God Jehovah as prescribed herein? Let me begin my defense of this type of biblical God by reminding you of this scriptural fact:
- "He fashioneth their hearts alike" v15a. My heart is no different than yours. My trust in this God is not because I am any smarter than you or better than you or more deserving than you. I am not going to suggest that I have all the answers or that I can remotely explain any of this to your complete satisfaction. I'll be the first to admit that there are still things about this that perplex and trouble me. This trust I am going to speak of is not a trust that comes along to any of us easily and naturally, rather this trust comes as a challenge each and every step along the way.
- "He fashioneth their hearts alike". Likewise, your heart is no different than mine. No doubt you consider yourself open minded. You do not consider yourself as being particularly hostile to God. You are just reserving judgment as to who that God actually is until all the information is in and you can answer that question without any doubt or question or perplexing quandary. You do not wish to be later proven or considered a gullible fool, well neither do I.
- Let's read on: "...he considereth all their works" v15b.
- I think that most people would prefer to look at this statement as being good works (God considers all our good works). The thought is that similar to a bank ledger, there is a column to tally one's good works, a column to tally one's not so good works; if the good tally out ways the not so good then the not so good can be completely over looked. The text doesn't say anything of the such, God considers "all our works".
- My first point is that we choose to see our works as either good or bad and we attempt to tally them up appropriately, when in fact each of our works contain both good and not so good; there is a corruption our hearts inflict upon everything said or done (to one level or another).
- The point involves the further question: if God is considering all works, what then is HE considering them for? The bible taken in full context (OT/NT) has long claimed that the soul's eternal salvation is not ever based upon one's works good or bad, rather it is based solely upon God's very own mercy and grace as handed mankind in the person and all sufficient substitutionary work of HIS only begotten Son Jesus Christ. There are absolutely no works that we could perform on our own that ever could buy us back out of our arduous journey toward death. There are no works we could do that would ever equal up to or superseded the works of Jesus Christ either. Yet works it is said here are being considered. They are being considered because they are an accurate indicator of the state of our heart towards God.
- "He fashioneth their hearts alike". We both believe that we have done many good works, we've done them individually, we done them together. Which of these many good works are good enough? Good enough to deliver us from this crises? Good enough to keep us from any future crises? Good enough to deliver ourselves or our loved ones from death? The answer - very few if any of these good works would have been good enough had not by God's merciful hand the crises been subsided.
- Well so... what does that fact say about us good working our way into heaven?
- Perhaps we could consider the person or person's that eventually come up with the corona virus vaccine to have done the good work. It is a confusing sense of good however being that it only gets us through till the next pandemic. It's somewhat like the arcade game "Wack-a-Mole" where you smash one mole down and another mole elsewhere pops it's head up; it is good that you are scoring points but in actuality the game just keeps on going. In real life the points you have earned don't eventually stop the moles from returning.
- Frankly, the majority of works you and I have set out to do and tally in our personal ledger as good really have to be examined in the light of what these works were good for. Maybe they were good for our jobs. Maybe they were good careers and financial bottom line. Maybe they were good for our children's future jobs and careers. That is all that most of these presumed good works are. So maybe these good works are more along the lines of charity or community work or volunteer work. Maybe they were religious sacraments and observances. Good yes Important? Yes Good for what? Good for who? Us? Good enough to keep us from these crises situations and or death? Good enough to earn us eternal salvation? As simple stir of the stick in the pot says "not even close".
- "...he (God) considereth all their works" v15.
- Consider. Judge for yourselves or better yet judge yourselves: are the good works either you and I have done good enough on the grand scale of things that the LORD wants us better to see?
- Consider. Does this mean that we both would be better not attempting any good works at all? Don't be silly. There is no worse of a work than there being no work done at all. And for many many people that is more of the story of crises than we'd care to admit, that we have not done any work either good or bad, we have simply sat still expecting somebody more inclined to do the work for us.
- The bible insists that we shall be known by the fruit our works, that people will see our works and either glorify or curse God. Though we may not be saved nor justified eternally by our works, in Christ Jesus we were created unto good works ordained by God beforehand. How can I say that I have the faith of Christ and not be able to show for any of these good works? How can I say that I abide as a branch in Christ yet not produce the fruit of His vine? It is not the good works that I can show that get me into heaven, it is the good works that I can show that because of Christ's continuing work upon me that freely flow abundantly as a result from me.
- I want to switch the word work now that we have so deeply emphasized it to the word "Praise"
- I said that hope birthed action, think of action as work, think of work as praise. A good many of the good works that each of us set ourselves to doing are little more than the vain attempt to draw praise unto ourselves, to draw the praise of other men, draw the praise of our own wounded egos. The praise the psalmist here speaks of is purely praise to the LORD. In the light of this present crises what praise can we rightly offer ourselves or even one another? If not to ourselves, how much praise then shall we offer the counsel of the heathen?
- The psalmist speaks here of offering this praise in song on musical instrument played and sung skillfully. The intent of the psalmist surely is to paint a picture much larger than something merely musical. A guitar for instance, while it can be played in private say in your bedroom or prayer closet, it is really meant because of it's forward acoustical projection is meant to be played for others more than yourself. It is meant not only for you to sing along with but for others to join in as well. A song, the melody, the harmony, the repeating and rhyming structure, all of it is meant to be a group action, a group performance. Skillful really wouldn't matter unless it was skillful for the benefit of those who wish to join along. So too is praise. So too are good works. They are meant for the groups experience and the groups performance. And the ultimate object of the group's endeavor is for the praise of.... (who?) ....the praise of God.
- All along we have been asking in light of troubled times who seemingly allows for all of this why should I worship a God at all. I believe now that we are beginning to come to a better answer. It is because we hope in God, we have extended to Him the initial presumption of righteousness and actively search out in His word where that righteousness might for us be found, God's word has given better and clearer definition to our hope, and abiding in this much greater hope (the hope of Christ Jesus) we have taken to responsible action that is already producing signs of a different unworldly fruit. We now see the events and occasions brought upon our locales and nations and our responses to them in a much different light compared side by side with the counsel of God and now intend before they happen again to do something much more godly and substantial about all of this.
- What is more to be praised is that despite our many past and continuing failures, God still extends His hand of mercy; HE has not given up on any of us yet. We do not deserve HIS mercy. We did not earn HIS mercy. HIS mercy comes to us as a voluntary act of HIS grace.
- When it comes to these crises much of the judgment to be had falls directly upon us, we did not do as HE best had counseled us; in good measure we did not even lift a finger to do so being so engaged with our own carnal counsels. Other people paid dearly for this and yet somehow you and I are allowed to continue. Why did HE do this? Why was it them and not us? Not even a king with all a nation's might nor strong man mounted on a strong horse was immune nor protected. We slumbered and we slumbered but, now at least for a moment we are shaken back awake.
- HE did not have to do this, ah but HE loves righteousness and HIS goodness fills the earth. All that is left for us is to trust that HE has done all of these things in truth, that the thoughts of HIS heart is towards all generations and that HIS mercy will remain upon us according as we hope "in THEE".
UPDATE: 9/28/2020 I have just revisted my audio commentary 6 months into this crisis. Ifeel like we are still at the infancy of this and that the future consequences are only beginning to be visualized. Hopefully by revisiting this commentary our thoughts will be 6 months clearer. I will likely revist these again in another 6 months or sooner for future generations' consideration.
At the time of this writing we are so very early into the Covid19 global pandemic. I think it wise that we hold off for now making any final conclusions. We shall see how the next weeks and months develop and regather later to discuss some of the more practical aspects of our experience with the hopes of being able to be more of a complete resource for future generations that will have to face things similar to this as well. For now I will journal my thoughts on this in the comment section of this "Back To The Psalms Series" page.
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