Sermon Title: God Alone
Sermon Text: Psalm 33
God alone deserves our praise (v.1-5)
God alone commands all things (v.6-12)
God alone provides for victory (v.13-17)
God alone must be our hope (v.18-22)
I provide this manuscript as a courtesy. I do not follow the document word for word during the message. I also do not write the document with the intent of publication; there may be grammatical errors throughout. Unfortunately, there is not always time to proofread. I choose to use my available time for studying, finding ways to explain the truths of Scripture while keeping a balance of time for visiting and discipleship of people in the church. Thanks for understanding.
Think of all the songs written over the years. There are approximately 35 million songs on ITunes. There are songs about leaving on a jet plane, another one bites the dust, let’s do the twist, a yellow submarine, and knock three times on the ceiling if you love me.
Music and songs are an integral part of the human experience. People write songs about everything. Some songs are for fun while others are to communicate deep emotions and feelings. Songs are an art form, an expression, of the human mind. Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth sings.
The psalmist is telling us, “You want something to sing about, I will give you something to sing about, sing about the Lord. This is how you should sing about the Lord and let me tell you why you should sing about the Lord.
1 Sing for joy in the Lord, O you righteous ones; Praise is becoming to the upright.
Sing for joy, righteous people. You are righteous person if Jesus is your Savior. Evil people curse God with a scowl and good people who have Jesus as their Savior joyfully give God praise. People who are filled with the righteousness of Christ don’t just sing, but they sing with joy in the Lord. They sing with heart-felt enthusiasm.
Sing for joy because praising God is becoming to the upright. In other words, praising God is what the upright do; it is expected and appropriate of them.
The psalmist continues by telling us to use instruments.
2 Give thanks to the Lord with the lyre; Sing praises to Him with a harp of ten strings. 3 Sing to Him a new song; Play skillfully with a shout of joy.
This is the first mention of instruments in the psalms. Use the lyre and the harp with ten strings (not sure about significance of the instrument choices) and when playing, play skillfully. Sing and play the instruments with enthusiasm, joy, and skill. In other words, let’s not have any of that half-hearted singing and music, let’s do it well. Let’s play as though the God of the Universe is sitting right here in front of us.
After giving instruction on how to sing the psalm we are given reason for the song. This is the focus of the psalm. There are four sections to the Psalm. Each one tells why we should joyfully sing praises to God. The first section tells us we should praise God because:
In verses four and five the psalmist gives reasons to praise God. The first reason for making a joyful noise is because:
4 For the word of the Lord is upright,
When God speaks, it is all truth.
There are many songs in this world singing about the need for truth. Why do you suppose that is? It is because we know what it is like to be lied to and deceived and we are fed up with not being told the truth.
Sometimes, we find that even our closest friends or loved ones are not upright in their words. That is what hurts the most. Sometimes you and I are guilty of our word not being upright. We change stories to cast ourselves in a favorable light. It is likely each of us is guilty of not being completely honest in this past week. I’ve stretched the truth so much about some of my life experiences that I have trouble remembering what is truth and what is fiction. All of my words are not upright and neither are all of your words. While the world speaks, our heart is crying out for truth.
This song is praising God because His word is upright. All of what God says is true, honorable and morally good.
Imagine if God was like us and out of His mouth we heard immoral words or dishonest talk. Imagine reading about heaven and wondering, “is this another one of God’s lies?” It would be devastating.
We can be thankful in knowing that will never happen. That is something to sing about with joy. Our Lord will never lie or deceive us. We may have great comfort in the Lord’s word. Read the Bible with great confidence and joy knowing it is truth.
Next, we should give songs of thanks because:
4 … And all His work is done in faithfulness.
God’s works are done with steady truthfulness. The work of God’s hands is done in a way which is good and secure. We never will need to double-check God’s work to know if it is done right.
I don’t always do what is right and good. I just put up a new fence and a retaining wall at our house. People are not going to marvel at the work of my hands! As I am building fences God is caring for the orphan and the widow. Every day.
All of what God does, every second of every day, is done thoroughly, perfectly, and for good. People don’t always receive the works of God with gladness. The Egyptians who lost their firstborn would not sing about God’s work, but the Israelites did.
We sing for joy when God gives us plenty of loaves of bread and fishes, but we are not always happy with God’s discipline and humbling. Everything God does is done in faithfulness; therefore, sing songs of thanksgiving to the Lord.
Verse five tells us God alone deserves our praise because:
5 He loves righteousness and justice;
Every day we hear horrible news about injustice and wickedness. It would be overwhelming and totally depressing if God took no action, or worse yet, if God rewarded wickedness. Imagine if God loved unrighteousness and injustice. Imagine God applauding criminals going free. What if God’s word delighted in the murder of a child? Is that a God we would enjoy? Of course not!
What a comfort to know God loves doing right and He rewards the righteous. Our hope is in knowing God will judge the wicked. We have reason to sing because God loves righteousness and justice!
5 … The earth is full of the lovingkindness of the Lord.
Lovingkindness may also be translated as favor, goodness, or mercy.
We need mercy. God loves righteousness and justice, but we don’t always want justice. We love justice when other people are brought to justice. We do not love justice when it is directed toward us.
We never want justice when the police officer pulls us over for speeding or rolling through a stop sign. We don’t want the justice of a ticket; we want the mercy of a warning.
Praise God because He fills the earth with His lovingkindness. Everywhere we stand we stand in God’s mercy. God cares for us by allowing us to walk in His lovingkindness every place our foot is placed.
Praise is fitting for God’s children. Praise is what the righteous do. And we praise God because He alone deserves our praise. There is no better reason to sing than to sing about the character of God.
The character of God should cause the children of God to sing the loudest of all people. He is reason to sing with joy in our heart and He causes us to play our musical instrument with skill and gusto. Break out the instruments and let’s gather together to sing because God is very, very good.
The psalmist has given us very good reason to sing and the psalm is just getting started!
Sing for joy to God because:
6 By the word of the Lord the heavens were made, And by the breath of His mouth all their host. 7 He gathers the waters of the sea together as a heap; He lays up the deeps in storehouses.
We are given the most basic of all reasons as to why we should praise Yahweh; it is because by His word, all He had to do was speak, and by the breath of His word, everything came into existence.
There was no creation and God commanded it to come forth. Ex nihilo.
The Creation account is the most spectacular show of force ever. Let’s face it, if the thought of God commanding all we know and see (including you and I) to come forth and exist doesn’t faze us, then we are not thinking rightly about God’s incredible power and wisdom.
This is why the psalmist writes in the next few verses:
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 was done; He commanded, and it stood fast.
All of the earth should stand in complete awe, looking around at what God has done. We stand in awe over minor, trivial things humans accomplish. In 1989, Jose Canseco hit a home run which traveled 540 feet and people stood amazed. Some are still in awe. He swung a piece a wood and hit a ball! Think of how silly that sounds compared to God speaking and the world comes into existence?
Our kids say goo-goo, gah-gah and we post it on Facebook. If your kid says goo-goo and gah-gah, and a star constellation appears out of nowhere, we have something to talk about.
I could give example upon example of how we humans are amazed at trivial matters. Our praise and our attention and focus is on such small things. We are too easily distracted and amused by insignificant things. Let’s keep our eyes on God and His glory and we will find ourselves finding greater satisfaction and joy.
Fear the Lord. Have Him in awe. Respect His power. Not only should we be in awe of God’s ability to speak and bring the world into existence, we need to be in awe knowing God’s plans always come to pass and nobody stands in His way.
10 The Lord nullifies the counsel of the nations; He frustrates the plans of the peoples. 11 The counsel of the Lord stands forever, The plans of His heart from generation to generation.
What this is saying is that when the plans of man bump up against the plans of God, God’s plans always prevail.
Apart from the physical laws of the Universe, the strongest force in the world is a nation. Nations are a collection of like-minded people and, as a group, they have great power. Nations have armies and universities and economic enterprises. Nations make plans to expand and accomplish objectives.
They are powerful, but the plans of nations are not more powerful than God’s plans. Are you willing to bet your life savings that the USA will be around next year? All bets are off. No matter the strength of any nation, if the nation’s plan is not to bring glory to God, God will make those plans null and void. They are for naught.
God doesn’t just nullify the counsel of the nations; He frustrates the plans of the people of the world. We make our plans in pencil and God makes His plans in ink.
Make a plan for tomorrow and see if that plan comes to pass. We all know our plans can be easily altered. How many times has a storm frustrated our plans? How many times has God sent us someone to our door to talk to and our plan was to sit in our easy chair? One moment we can be at a picnic getting ready to eat and the next moment we find ourselves in the emergency room. We can plan all we want, but there is no guarantee our plans will come to pass.
Now, let’s think of God’s plans. Imagine planning tomorrow and having 100% certainty everything you planned will come to pass! Before God spoke and brought the world into existence He made a plan. And there is nothing that is going to stand in the way of His plan. Nothing. He plans and His plan are a done deal.
God planned that He alone would receive the glory. All the plans of man are for nothing. God’s plan is to glorify Himself and this is why He created the Universe.
God’s plans came to pass in every past generation, they come to pass in our lifetime, and they will come to pass in every generation to come. This is something to sing about.
Because this is true, we may look at God’s word and know it is for certain. Everything written in the pages of Scripture will come to pass.
Here is where it gets really good. Because God’s plans come to pass with certainty, we may know for certain that, as we seek to glorify God with our lives, we will be blessed by God. The blessings of Abraham upon God’s children are a certainty.
12 Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord, The people whom He has chosen for His own inheritance.
We are that nation. As Peter said, we are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession (1 Peter 2:9). We are the ones chose for His own inheritance.
God alone commands all things and His plans will come to pass. Oh what joy to know God commanded us to be His children and we are the sheep of His pasture. His choice stands firm no matter what may happen, as Paul says, neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Because we are God’s inheritance and that is a foregone conclusion, we should sing praises to God with great vigor.
God alone deserves our praise.
God alone commands all things.
Before talking about God alone providing the victory, the psalmist talks of God’s intimate knowledge of the goings on of mankind.
13 The Lord looks from heaven; He sees all the sons of men; 14 From His dwelling place He looks out On all the inhabitants of the earth, 15 He who fashions the hearts of them all, He who understands all their works.
Imagine being God, in heaven, and looking down upon all the inhabitants of the earth. What do we look like from God’s perspective? God understand all of our works, knows every word we speak, and He created our hearts. There is nothing we do that is hidden from Him.
He knows when we are doing well and when things are not necessarily going our way. He knows our heart because He made it. He knows when we are being holy, when we are plotting against our fellow man, and when we are scared and lonely. He sees every situation we may be in. He knows when a sparrow falls and He numbers the hairs on our head.
For the most part, we see ourselves as being rather clever. We get an A in a course in a school and we think we are a brilliant star among men. We get a promotion, a contract, or jump high, and we believe ourselves to be God’s gift to the universe. A child learns to tie their shoe and they think they have arrived and are truly a special human being. We go to the mechanic and say, “I think the rotors need to be replaced” and we tell everyone how we diagnosed the problem and told the mechanic how to do his job. We read a news story on global warming and all of a sudden we are experts with an opinion. We think we know what play Belichick should call.
We all think very highly of ourselves. Everybody sees themselves as being above average intelligence. Everyone sees themselves as being above average in good looks. We all think we can conquer the world given the right circumstances and opportunity. “If I am not the best it is because someone got in my way”. (Good management versus the economy.)
God sees our heart and knows we need help. We are not as good as we think we are.
Life goes on and then bad things happen. We all have experienced a time when we needed help. Sometimes we need more help than other times.
What do we do when we need help? We call a friend. We contact a family member. We get a hold of the deacons at church. We call the governor’s office. And in the worst case scenarios, we have to beg for the National Guard, Marines, or Special Forces to come and save us from our situation.
It would seem the worst situation is one in which an army has to be involved. I can’t think of any situation in which calling for help is more drastic. If you have to call the army, you are in really deep trouble no matter who you may be.
This is what I believe the next two verses are referring to; the need to be rescued from trouble.
16 The king is not saved by a mighty army; A warrior is not delivered by great strength. 17 A horse is a false hope for victory; Nor does it deliver anyone by its great strength.
All the victories on earth are not because of the king, military strength, or arsenal. If you won in battle while sitting on a horse and your enemy was not on a horse, you didn’t win because of the horse.
I don’t care if you have the largest nuclear arsenal in the world, if God is not on your side, you are not going to win the war. Any success of a king, soldier, or army is only because God grants the victory.
Remember Gideon’s army? The army faced a battle against 135,000 Midianites. Gideon started with 32,000 men (already outnumbered by 100,000+). God told Gideon he had too many men. So, Gideon offered an honorable discharge and 22,000 men went home leaving Gideon with an army of only 10,000. God again told Gideon he had too many men.
“You shall separate everyone who laps the water with his tongue as a dog laps, as well as everyone who kneels to drink.” Now the number of those who lapped, putting their hand to their mouth, was 300 men; but all the rest of the people kneeled to drink water. (Judges 7:5-6)
For every one soldier in Gideon’s army there were 450 Midianites. God gave the victory to 300 men over 135,000 Midianites. It was not Gideon’s wisdom to reduce the army. Gideon’s army was victorious because, God gave the victory and God receives the glory.
If we think we for one moment we are rescued, or have any victory because of ourselves, our strength, money, equipment, or education, we are not understanding God’s sovereignty over the universe. Remember, God nullifies the counsel of the nations and frustrates the plans of the people.
God alone provides for victory.
Because God alone commands all things and God alone provides for victory, then:
Who stands strong? Those who fear God stand strong. Not because they are strong, but because they fear God and trust in Him alone.
18 Behold, the eye of the Lord is on those who fear Him, On those who hope for His lovingkindness, 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 our shield. 21 For our heart rejoices in Him, Because we trust in His holy name.
When we recognize God’s providential and sovereign control over our success, safety and protection, food, the necessities of life, whether or not we have wisdom and anything we may think of, we will put our hope in God alone. Everything comes from God’s hand. Everything. If there is going to be any good in our life, it is not going to be because of our strength. Our children are not going to have guaranteed success because they go to Harvard or Yale. Getting that nose job is not going to gain us more friends and a movie contract. We are not going to have victory because of what we know or who we know. We are not safe here in New Hampshire and Vermont because the United States has a strong army or because we have more guns than the rest of the world. The country is not going to be fixed because a certain political party is in office.
NONE of these things provide hope. They are empty and worthless compared to putting hope in God.
Let me make it clear. Education is better than no education. Some schools are better than others. Some politicians are better than others. We need to strive to be healthy. Don’t misinterpret what I am saying. What we have to know in our heart of hearts is, at the end of the day, our only hope is in God. Only He is faithful. Only He gives us the truth. Only He is Almighty and All-knowing. God alone will keep us from starving and only He truly delivers our soul from death.
Our soul must wait for the Lord because we truly believe He is our help and our shield. He must be the one we sing praises about.
Tomorrow, as we celebrate Independence Day, let’s celebrate that God showed His grace upon us and prospered us as a nation. Let’s thank God. Listen to what Abraham Lincoln said as he declared Thanksgiving as a National Holiday.
We have been the recipients of the choicest bounties of heaven. We have been preserved these many years in peace and prosperity. We have grown in numbers, wealth and power as no other nation has ever grown.
But we have forgotten God. We have forgotten the gracious hand which preserved us in peace, and multiplied and enriched and strengthened us. And we have vainly imagined in the deceitfulness of our hearts that all these blessings were produced by some superior wisdom and virtue of our own. Intoxicated with unbroken success, we have become too self-sufficient to feel the necessity of redeeming and preserving grace--too proud to pray to the God that made us.
Lincoln was calling the nation to repentance. The nation was intoxicated by success and became proud by thinking, somehow, all the success was because of man’s superior wisdom and virtue.
This psalm, in a similar way, is waking us up to have eyes to see and ears to hear. Let’s not get to the point where we need to be called to repentance because we think somehow, we are good and have a modicum of success because we have somehow “arrived” and earned favor in this world.
Let’s take this time today and each day going forward to recognize any good whatsoever in our life is not because of our mind or hands, but it is because of God alone.
God alone has commanded that we have good.
God alone has provided the means for us to be victorious and live in goodness.
And, should we need help, God alone is the only one able to rescue us. Our soul waits for the Lord.
The psalm ends with these words:
22 Let Your lovingkindness, O Lord, be upon us, According as we have hoped in You
In other words, “God, I only deserve good from Your hand if I hope in You to provide it for me. If my measure of hope in You is small, then only provide me with a small amount of lovingkindness. However, if my hope in You is great, then please provide me with great lovingkindness. Measure out Your goodness to me in proportion to how much I hope in You.”
How much do you place your hope in God? Don’t hope in government, education, riches, fame, family, friends, or any other thing to provide you good. Place your hope in God alone. Worship Him and give Him the glory.
Give Him the praise and place your hope in God alone. Your hope will never be disappointed.