A Psalm for Your Calm: Psalm 33

A Psalm for Your Calm: Psalm 33

Coronavirus. Recession. Quarantine.

In moments like these, it’s easy to believe we are victims of vicious powers beyond our control. When events have such a global impact, we feel the smallness and fragility of our own life. Governments scramble to make sweeping legislation that deeply impacts us; we feel like ships swept along by the ocean tide.

Into such uncertainty, Psalm 33 reminds us who really is in control:

“By the word of the Lord the heavens were made,
and by the breath of his mouth all their host.
He gathers the waters of the sea as a heap;
he puts the deeps in storehouses.
Let all the earth fear the Lord;
let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of him!
For he spoke, and it came to be;
he commanded, and it stood firm.” (v. 6-9)

This universe isn’t an accident or the product of cosmic chance; it has behind it, intentional, faithful love:

“He loves righteousness and justice;
the earth is full of the steadfast love of the Lord.” (v. 5)

Notice that the world is full of the Lord’s “steadfast love.” This comes from the Hebrew word hesed and may be translated in your version as “mercy.” The word brings with it the idea of faithfulness; of a covenant-keeping goodness to which God is tenaciously determined to fulfill in creation. It is his counsel that stands forever (v. 11). His desire that the creation be “very good” is never thwarted by forces that attempt to implement what is very evil.

Because of this, our hope ultimately isn’t in the next vaccine or the next boom in our economy, but on our God, who looks upon our plight and saves us from every distress:

“The king is not saved by his great army;
a warrior is not delivered by his great strength.
The war horse is a false hope for salvation,
and by its great might it cannot rescue.
Behold, the eye of the Lord is on those who fear him,
on those who hope in his steadfast love,
that he may deliver their soul from death
and keep them alive in famine.” (16-19)

In view of this, how do we act in times such as these? We act with prudence yet without panic. We make wise decisions—decisions which aren’t simply concerned with self-preservation but also serving our neighbor. All of this is done with the understanding that, even our best-made plans will never grant us absolute control over circumstances. Because of this, the only reasonable response is to hope in God and wait for him to act. This is the response of faith in the face of fear: to wait on the Lord.

“Our soul waits for the Lord;
he is our help and our shield.
For our heart is glad in him,
because we trust in his holy name.
Let your steadfast love, O Lord, be upon us,
even as we hope in you.” (v. 20-21).