By Mark Scott
Mother Nature is not God’s wife, but creation is God’s gift. It is therefore obvious that God’s people praise him for that gift. And it is right to start that praise on the first day of a new year. Creation arose from the character and power of God and finds its foundation in his identity. When we study creation we are studying the Creator.
Our five lessons in January (all from the book of Psalms) call God’s people to praise him for his creation, sovereignty, steadfast love, and provision. It is important that we learn the “tunes” (i.e. content) of these psalms. Today’s Psalm 33 is one of the many that praise God for his creation. The verses beyond our printed text (Psalm 33:10-22) celebrate God’s sovereignty and our response to it in eager waiting. But first comes the music.
The Musicians & the Music
Psalm 33:1-3, 8
The musicians are identified in verses 1 and 8. First God’s people (the righteous and upright—notice the parallelism) are called to sing joyfully and to praise him. If God’s people do not sing, then who will teach the world the song of God? Later all the earth and all the people of the world will join God’s people in praise. Part of our primal reality as created beings (whether part of the covenant community or not) is to praise our Creator for his creation.
The music is identified in verses 2 and 3. Instruments, content, excellence, and volume are all part of this music of creation. The harp and lyre are the instruments. The content is new. (This will be developed in next week’s lesson.) Excellence is part of playing skillfully. (A friend of mine used to say, “Holy shoddy is still shoddy.”) Finally the volume is loud. Heaven may well be a noisy place. Keep in mind how rather quiet the ancient world really was. There were no jets flying overhead and no 18-wheelers going down the highway. The musicians were everyone, and the music was loud.
Psalm 33:4, 5
The conductor of the orchestra is the one who brings all the musicians and the music together. Our cosmic maestro can lead the choir of creation because of his impeccable character. Wonderful qualities of the God of creation are underlined in these two verses. He is right, righteous, and just. These are synonymous for the most part. God conforms to his own standard. He is true in himself and to himself.
In addition to this, God is faithful. Simply put, he does what he says he will do. His yes really is yes, and his no really is no. But all of his rightness and faithfulness are wrapped up in his unfailing love. It is love that makes him do the right thing. It is love that demands that he keep his word. It is love that balances his truth. This maestro can lead the chorus of heaven’s music because he has placed his humble love within the created order.
The Music Hall
Psalm 33:6, 7, 9
The greatest concert hall in the world is the world. God made it, and his praise fills it. The word of the Lord and the breath of his mouth are parallel. God’s voice—his spoken word (see Psalm 29) and his Spirit (breath)—act like two hands in shaping creation into existence. The highest heavens (Paul talked about at least three heavens in 2 Corinthians 12:2) were the products of his word. The atmosphere (starry host—angelic armies or stars) were products of his Spirit. Psalm 33:9 affirms that this great music hall was spoken into existence and commanded to be from God himself.
The music hall is large, but the one who made it is larger still. In fact, this Creator can put the waters of the sea into jars and he can put the deep waters into storehouses. The creation is impressive, but the Creator is even more impressive. And this is not just poetry. The New Testament affirms these truths in plain speech. Jesus is “the firstborn of all creation” (Colossians 1:15). Christ “upholds the universe by the word of his power” (Hebrews 1:3, English Standard Version). “The universe was formed at God’s command, so that what was seen was not made out of what was visible” (Hebrew 11:3).
A lucid moon, a brilliant sunset, a snowcapped mountain, a fertile valley, an abundant field, and a roaring river all praise God for his creation. Let us join them.
Dr. Mark Scott teaches Preaching and New Testament at Ozark Christian College in Joplin, Missouri.
Based on International Sunday School Lesson, © 2012, by the Lesson Committee. Scripture quotations are from the New International Version ©2011, unless otherwise indicated.