I read a psalm every day, as part of my morning devotions. I’ve done that for many years. I read other parts of the Bible too, but I normally start with a psalm.
The Psalms are such a great help! Billy Graham used to read five psalms a day; they certainly helped him. St Athanasius, the 4th Century church father read them because from the Psalms ‘you can select a form of words to fit in, so that you … learn the way to remedy your ill.’ U2 lead-singer Bono agrees, saying: ‘What’s so powerful about the Psalms are, as well as they’re being gospel and songs of praise, they are also the blues.’ So if you don’t regularly read the psalms, make a start, and find a way to get them into the rhythm of your day. God will speak and you will grow.
My psalm for today is Psalm 33. It’s a lovely poetry-song, which begins with praise (vv.1-3), urging us to sing joyfully to God. I read it a few times and noticed that after the introduction it gives 3 reasons why we should give God our praise. First, because of the word of the Lord (v.4). Second, because of the plans of the Lord (v.11). And third, because of the eyes of the Lord (v.18). Here’s a brief summary.
1) The Word of the Lord. We praise God because his word – his message to us – is right and true. The Lord always has life-giving things to say to us, to encourage and equip, as well as to comfort and challenge. This is the same transformative word that brought the wonders of creation into being: God spoke, and it came into being. Such is the creative power of God’s word! That’s why the psalmist urges us to revere him.
2) The Plans of the Lord. God has good plans for us and for our world – many of which we do not yet see. The wise nation will seek God and desire to walk in his purposes, for the Lord is looking for a people who will follow him and make him their God. Serving any other power, or trusting in our own strength and abilities is so tempting, but not the best way. Don’t do that.
3) The Eyes of the Lord. God sees. He watches. Not to spy on us to trip us up, or catch us out, but because he loves us, wanting to help us, especially in tough times. So we hope in him. Three times in the final verses we are invited to ‘hope’ in God. This is an invitation to rely on the Lord for all that lies ahead in the future.
In the uncertainty of our present and post-pandemic world, and with so many feeling understandably fragile, this encouragement to ‘hope in the Lord’ is such a help. For this hope is not a vain hope (v.17) but a strong hope. It is an assurance that the best is yet to come.
I spoke to a couple yesterday who were visiting York as tourists. They were fascinated by church and by our worship. They were very open, saying they were unsure about the future and where to find hope, and I suggested that they look to the Lord to find it.
If you’ve not got this hope, or want more, don’t be afraid to ask the Lord for it today, because he has lots of hope to give away! That’s why my prayer for those who read this blog today, as well as for myself, is that of Romans 15:13: ‘may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, that you may overflow with hope, by the power of the Holy Spirit.’