God to be praised. (1-11) His people encouraged by his power. (12-22)
Verses 1-11 Holy joy is the heart and soul of praise, and that is here pressed upon the righteous. Thankful praise is the breath and language of holy joy. Religious songs are proper expressions of thankful praise. Every endowment we possess, should be employed with all our skill and earnestness in God's service. His promises are all wise and good. His word is right, and therefore we are only in the right when we agree with it. His works are all done in truth. He is the righteous Lord, therefore loveth righteousness. What a pity it is that this earth, which is so full of the proofs and instances of God's goodness, should be so empty of his praises; and that of the multitudes who live upon his bounty, there are so few who live to his glory! What the Lord does, he does to purpose; it stands fast. He overrules all the counsels of men, and makes them serve his counsels; even that is fulfilled, which to us is most surprising, the eternal counsel of God, nor can any thing prevent its coming to pass.
Verses 12-22 All the motions and operations of the souls of men, which no mortals know but themselves, God knows better than they do. Their hearts, as well as their times, are all in his hand; he formed the spirit of each man within him. All the powers of the creature depend upon him, and are of no account, of no avail at all, without him. If we make God's favour sure towards us, then we need not fear whatever is against us. We are to give to him the glory of his special grace. All human devices for the salvation of our souls are vain; but the Lord's watchful eye is over those whose conscientious fear of his name proceeds from a believing hope in his mercy. In difficulties they shall be helped; in dangers they shall not receive any real damage. Those that fear God and his wrath, must hope in God and his mercy; for there is no flying from him, but by flying to him. Let thy mercy, O Lord, be upon us; let us always have the comfort and benefit, not according to our merits, but according to the promise which thou hast in thy word given to us, and according to the faith thou hast by thy Spirit and grace wrought in us.
Psalms 33:1-22 . A call to lively and joyous praise to God for His glorious attributes and works, as displayed in creation, and His general and special providence, in view of which, the Psalmist, for all the pious, professes trust and joy and invokes God's mercy.
1-3. The sentiment falls in with Psalms 32:11 (compare 1 Corinthians 14:15 ). The instruments ( Psalms 92:3 , 144:9 ) do not exclude the voice.
3. a new song--fresh, adapted to the occasion ( Psalms 40:3 , 96:1 ).
play skilfully--(Compare Psalms 15:1-5 , 16:1-11 , 21:1-13 ).
4-9. Reasons for praise: first, God's truth, faithfulness, and mercy, generally; then, His creative power which all must honor.
6. In "word" and "breath"--or, "spirit," there may be an allusion to the Son ( John 1:1 ) and Holy Spirit.
9. he spake--literally, "said."
it was--The addition of "done" weakens the sense (compare Genesis 1:3-10 ).
10, 11. In God's providence He thwarts men's purposes and executes His own.
12-19. The inference from the foregoing in Psalms 33:12 is illustrated by God's special providence, underlying which is His minute knowledge of all men.
13. looketh--intently ( Isaiah 14:16 ).
15. fashioneth--or, "forms," and hence knows and controls ( Proverbs 21:1 ).
considereth--or, "understands"; God knows men's motives.
16, 17. Men's usual reliances in their greatest exigencies are, in themselves, useless.
17. On the war horse (compare Job 39:19-25 ).
a vain thing--a lie, which deceives us.
18, 19. Contrasted is God's guidance and power to save from the greatest earthly evil and its most painful precursor, and hence from all.
20-22. waiteth--in earnest expectation.
21. his holy name--(Compare Psalms 5:12 , 22:22 , 30:4 ). Our faith measures mercy ( Matthew 9:29 ); and if of grace, it is no more of debt ( Romans 11:6 ).