Reasons for Praise


Psalm 33

If you feel spiritually barren, that is a good thing. It is because you are, and because God has shown it to you. However, a barren heart cannot praise God. So often we rock up to church with empty hearts and attempt to feel “worshipful.” Well, we are commanded to worship, but must we draw water from dry wells?

The spiritual can only follow the death of the natural. I think it was George Mueller who said that reading the Bible beforehand helped him to pray. Every act by the saints, including the “Acts” of the Apostles, is in fact a response to the Word and an act of the Spirit. Attempting to whip up the crowd into a fleshly frenzy is flogging a dead horse. We all need to hear and meditate on the Word first, then our praise will be the most natural thing in the world. The song of the Bride is always a response to the Word of the Bridegroom. [1]

Psalm 33 is the first psalm to mention musical instruments for praise. It begins with a command to praise and reasons to fear God (forming) but continues with reasons to praise God (filling), because if we fear Him, we have nothing else to fear.

A first glance at the Psalm shows the matrix order of its general subject matter. We have:


…..Righteousness / Waters

…..…..Counsel of the Lord

…..…..…..God’s eyes


…..Deliverance for the Faithful

Hope for the Future [2]

After defining the basic thematic structure, it’s a matter of observing the flow of each of these seven sections. The authors seem to use repeated key words to make “Covenant pattern” allusions. This strategy really shines in the Psalms.

What is really interesting is the way that each line has to have a double reference. For instance, line 5 of stanza one has to be a combination of Maturity within a “house” of Creation. My favourite example of this is when Isaiah needs a “Pentecost” within a “Trumpets.” What does he do? He refers to the battle of Midian, a military reference with flaming torches. How smart is that?

Initiation – Word – Light – Day 1. Cycles often begin with a command or someone speaking. It focusses on the Lord (Transcendence)

Rejoice in the LORD,
…..O you righteous!
……….[For] praise from the upright is beautiful.
……………Praise the LORD with the harp;
……….Make melody to Him with an instrument of ten strings.
…..Sing to Him a new song;
Play skillfully with a shout of joy.

Notice the “upright” at Ascension and “ten strings” at Maturity. At Conquest/Atonement, there is a new song. The Day of Coverings made everything new. This corresponds with the angels in Revelation 5 and the redeemed Jews in Revelation 14.

“And they sang a new song, saying, “Worthy are you to take the scroll and to open its seals, for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation…”

Righteousness / Waters:
This is a combination of the chosen Hierarchy and the waters of Day 2. The Lord also gathered the waters of the Red Sea and the Jordan into heaps, but it goes back to the “waters above” being “kept in store” for Noah’s day of wrath.

In the structure of the Psalm, it’s the opening of the Red Sea. But within the stanza itself, it is the opening of the Veil for the people of God on the Day of Atonement, followed by their ministry to the nations. This is played out in history as the dividing and plundering/gathering of the Gentiles into the house of God as a crystal city at the feast of Booths.

HIERARCHY (Passover)
For the word of the LORD [is] right,
…..And all His work [is done] in truth.
……….He loves righteousness and justice;
……….The earth is full of the goodness of the LORD.
……………By the word of the LORD the heavens were made,
……….And all the host of them by the breath of His mouth.
…..He gathers the waters of the sea together as a heap;
He lays up the deep in storehouses.

The next three steps are the Ethics of the Covenant. I’d expect to find symbols relating to 1) The Law given 2) the Law opened 3) the Law received

Counsel of the Lord: the Lord speaks. The Land rises up on Day 3. Notice the double hit on Ascension for Altar and Table (Land and Firstfruits) and also the mention of generations at Succession (Glorification). As the Ascension stanza, we have a reference to “standing” at Ascension (the Covenant Head) and also at Conquest, where the now-vindicated Mediator stands qualified before God with His bride.

ETHICS 1 (Firstfruits)
Let all the Land fear the LORD;
…..Let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of Him.
……….For He spoke, and it was [done;]
……….He commanded, and it stood fast.
……………The LORD brings the counsel of the nations to nothing;
……….He makes the plans of the peoples of no effect.
…..The counsel of the LORD stands forever,
The plans of His heart to all generations.

God’s eyes: the Lord sees and considers.
He watches over men as the Lampstand.

ETHICS 2 (Pentecost)
Blessed [is] the nation whose God [is] the LORD,
…..The people He has chosen as His own inheritance.
……….The LORD looks from heaven;
……………He sees all the sons of men.
……….From the place of His dwelling He looks
……….On all the inhabitants of the Land;
…..He fashions their hearts individually;
He considers all their works.

The “hearts” are those of the men who face God as Mediators, the Land of Israel.

Armies: Here, trust in military strength is an ungodly replacement for the Law.

ETHICS 3 (Trumpets)
No king [is] saved
… the multitude of an army;
……….A mighty man is not delivered by great strength.
…..A horse [is] a vain hope for safety;
Neither shall it deliver [any] by its great strength.

Notice that line 5 of stanza 1 had a military allusion (fives and tens are military numbers). So the rest of the Psalm is actually a “germination” of the seed of stanza 1.

It is interesting that this stanza and those following only seem to have five lines. These are the “Bridal” stanzas, and they are Covenant scrolls that are yet unopened, un-”filled.” This is a song of an Israel which fears God and is waiting on Him for resurrection.

Deliverance for the Faithful: The theme here is Mediation, Mercy, and the Day of Atonement. There is usually a reference to blood. Here it seems to be deliverance from famine, which Jordan observes was a judgment from God for the shedding of innocent blood. This is the Covenant Sanctions.

SANCTIONS (Atonement)
Behold, the eye of the LORD
…..[is] on those who fear Him,
……….On those who hope in His mercy,
…..To deliver their soul from death,
And to keep them alive in famine.

Hope for the Future:
Succession is the “future orientation” of the faithful.

SUCCESSION (Glorification)
Our soul waits for the LORD;
…..He [is] our help and our shield.
……….For our heart shall rejoice in Him,
…..Because we have trusted in His holy name.
Let Your mercy, O LORD, be upon us, Just as we hope in You.

This final stanza moves from the Covenant Head, the Lord, to the Covenant Body, the people. Israel has plenty to praise God for, but the architecture of the Psalm contains another subtle message: Israel was to be a clean house awaiting the Shekinah. She had not yet been filled, but she had the promises of God, and they were enough of a reason to praise Him.


[1] In the Lord’s service, Praise appears at Ascension, but this follows the Confession and Absolution at Division. So we certainly have something to sing about.

[2] This analysis resulted from a discussion which included John Barach questioning why I arranged these verses in a “chiastic” pattern when there are no obvious “mirror matches” in the layouts. That is a very good question! The answer is that the underlying matrix structures are chiastic.

This is not an exact science, but it is far more exact than the analysis of any other poetry I’m aware of. The authors have an existing chiastic trellis and the vines they come up with to grow on it are amazing. The vines aren’t necessarily chiastic, but laying the text out like this is a simple way of identifying what is going on for those familiar with the pattern.

ART: Firmament by Estelle Carraz-Bernabei

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