By David Baumann
A Reading from Psalm 33
1 Rejoice in the LORD, you righteous;
it is good for the just to sing praises.
2 Praise the LORD with the harp;
play to him upon the psaltery and lyre.
3 Sing for him a new song;
sound a fanfare with all your skill upon the trumpet.
4 For the word of the LORD is right,
and all his works are sure.
5 He loves righteousness and justice;
the loving-kindness of the LORD fills the whole earth.
6 By the word of the LORD were the heavens made,
by the breath of his mouth all the heavenly hosts.
7 He gathers up the waters of the ocean as in a water-skin
and stores up the depths of the sea.
8 Let all the earth fear the LORD;
let all who dwell in the world stand in awe of him.
9 For he spoke, and it came to pass;
he commanded, and it stood fast.
10 The LORD brings the will of the nations to naught;
he thwarts the designs of the peoples.
11 But the LORD’S will stands fast for ever,
and the designs of his heart from age to age.
12 Happy is the nation whose God is the LORD!
happy the people he has chosen to be his own!
13 The LORD looks down from heaven,
and beholds all the people in the world.
14 From where he sits enthroned he turns his gaze
on all who dwell on the earth.
15 He fashions all the hearts of them
and understands all their works.
16 There is no king that can be saved by a mighty army;
a strong man is not delivered by his great strength.
17 The horse is a vain hope for deliverance;
for all its strength it cannot save.
18 Behold, the eye of the LORD is upon those who fear him,
on those who wait upon his love,
19 To pluck their lives from death,
and to feed them in time of famine.
20 Our soul waits for the LORD;
he is our help and our shield.
21 Indeed, our heart rejoices in him,
for in his holy Name we put our trust.
22 Let your loving-kindness, O LORD, be upon us,
as we have put our trust in you.
More than 50 years ago, I was an undergraduate at UCLA with a major in mathematics. I remember one professor who had an engaging sense of humor, which he often manifested during his lectures. Once I went to see him in his office, and noted a sign on his door that made me laugh out loud. At the top of the page were the bold words, “And God said…” There followed a full page of obscure mathematical formulae, and at the bottom of the page were the words, “…and there was light!” Very funny. Very memorable. And very true.
In today’s celebratory and triumphant psalm we are presented with the image of God as the source of what is right and sure, of righteousness and justice, and loving-kindness that fills the whole earth. By his word were the heavens made. “He spoke, and it came to pass… the Lord’s will stands for ever.” In contrast to this image of this almighty God is “the will of the nations” which the Lord brings to nothing. But if a nation has the Lord as its God, that nation is happy. The implication is that any nation whose will is out of harmony with God will have its designs thwarted. There is nothing on earth more powerful than nations whose governments set policies, raise and spend money in colossal amounts, claim to be answerable to no authority, change their citizens’ lives by the millions, and create laws to their liking. Today’s psalm sees this and declares, “Apart from God, it comes to nothing.” God’s standards, God’s ways, God’s will, and God’s order cannot be abrogated. And the first verses of today’s psalm describe in that fact an uprising of joy and merriment, which bursts forth in music. From creation to consummation, God always wins.
David Baumann served for nearly 50 years as an Episcopal priest in the Dioceses of Los Angeles and Springfield; he retired last year. He has published nonfiction, science fiction, and short stories. Two exuberant small daughters make sure he never gets any rest.
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The Diocese of Albany
Province de L’Eglise Anglicane Du Congo