By James Boice
Theme: Creation and Providence
In this week’s lessons the psalmist teaches us how and why we are to praise the Lord.
Scripture: Psalm 33:1-22
The next stanza contains two subjects that are closely related: creation and providence. Both are examples of the way the word and the works of God go together.
1. Creation (vv. 6-9). The first and most obvious example of the unity of God’s word and works is the creation of the heavens and the earth, and the psalmist turns to it naturally. Genesis 1, which these verses echo, says that God created the heavens and earth by speaking. The words “And [or then] God said” occur eight times in that chapter in regard to God’s creating something. This emphasis is picked up in verses 6 and 9 of our psalm, where the psalmist notes that it was by “the word of the LORD” and by “the breath of his mouth” that the heavens were created, adding, “He spoke, and it came to be; he commanded, and it stood firm.”
This is fiat creation, creation by the naked word of God, and it is entirely different from and infinitely superior to anything mere human beings can do. It is no wonder the writer interjects at this point: “Let all the earth fear the LORD; let all the people of the world revere him” (v. 8).
2. Providence (vv. 10, 11). The second example of the unbreakable link between God’s word and God’s work is providence, the ordering of all things according to the secret counsels of God. The author’s statement of this is a longer expression of the better known words in Proverbs 19:21: “Many are the plans in a man’s heart, but it is the LORD’s purpose that prevails.” We should be glad it is so, because “the word of the LORD is right and true; he is faithful in all he does” (v.4), while our words are inconsistent or false, our plans frequently wrong, and ourselves unfaithful.
Responding to this from a New Testament perspective, as we do, it is hard to think of God’s unfailing purposes in Psalm 33 without also reflecting on God’s stated purposes for us, as expressed in Romans 8:28-30: “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified.” The passage tells us that God’s purpose is to make us like Jesus Christ by the path of foreknowledge, predestination, effectual calling, justification and glorification, and that in everything God works good for those who are on that path. This means that we can thank him for anything and should thank him for everything, even the hardships and suffering.
This is a uniquely biblical approach to thanksgiving, one which very few persons practice.
- How do God’s words and works go together in the doctrine of creation?
- What is God’s providence? How is it seen in this psalm?
- Why should we thank God for all things, even hardship and suffering?
Application: What is going on in your life right now that may be causing you to question God’s providence? What does this psalm teach you about how to deal with your situation in a way that pleases the Lord?
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