The Power and the Purpose of God: Psalm 33


October 1, 2017

A note to readers: Today’s post is part of a Sunday Voice Series by Dr. Timothy C. Tennent, a close friend, mentor and colleague of mine. He serves as the President of Asbury Theological Seminary among other posts he holds across the global church. This Sunday Voice Series will cover the Psalms, beginning to end, by focusing on a Psalm each Sunday. I can’t tell you how excited I am for his interest in contributing here. This will be a huge blessing to us all.

Psalm 33 (NIV)

Sing joyfully to the LORD, you righteous;
it is fitting for the upright to praise him.
Praise the LORD with the harp;
make music to him on the ten-stringed lyre.
Sing to him a new song;
play skillfully, and shout for joy.

For the word of the LORD is right and true;
he is faithful in all he does.
The LORD loves righteousness and justice;
the earth is full of his unfailing love.


Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD,
the people he chose for his inheritance.
From heaven the LORD looks down
and sees all mankind;
from his dwelling place he watches
all who live on earth—
he who forms the hearts of all,
who considers everything they do.

No king is saved by the size of his army;
no warrior escapes by his great strength.
A horse is a vain hope for deliverance;
despite all its great strength it cannot save.
But the eyes of the LORD are on those who fear him,
on those whose hope is in his unfailing love,
to deliver them from death
and keep them alive in famine.

We wait in hope for the LORD;
he is our help and our shield.
In him our hearts rejoice,
for we trust in his holy name.
May your unfailing love be with us, LORD,
even as we put our hope in you.


Psalm 33 celebrates the awesome majesty and kingly sovereignty of God. This psalm, in particular, calls the righteous to gather and celebrate the power of God’s Word. The psalmist rejoices in the power of God’s word which is the source of the whole created order: “By the word of the Lord the heavens were made, their starry host by the breath of his mouth” (vs. 6). This psalm teaches an important doctrine of creation known as ex nihilo. This is a phrase that means, “out of nothing.” God did not use previously existing materials to shape and form the universe. Rather, he created the entire universe out of his spoken word: “For he spoke, and it came to be; he commanded and it stood firm” (vs. 9).

The psalm establishes that God is the creator and that the power of His word created the universe. It then moves from the power of God to the purpose of God. We can be confident in the purposes of God in creating the world. “The plans of the Lord stand firm forever, the purposes of his heart through all generations” (vs. 11). As sure as the earth’s presence, so sure are we to be of the purposes of God. Therefore, the psalm calls the nations of the world to trust in the Lord: “Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD” (vs. 12). The leaders of the nations are called to not put their hope in their military strength (size of armies or numbers of horses), but to trust in his great strength and power.

If you feel powerless today, or that the purposes of God are somehow being thwarted in the world, then take heart. God is in control of human history. His plans will unfold according to His eternal and unchanging purposes. The last headline of the newspapers of the world will be: “The kingdoms of this world have become the Kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he will reign forever and ever!” (Rev. 11:15).


Timothy C. Tennent is the President of Asbury Theological Seminary and a Professor of Global Christianity. His works include Invitation to World Missions: A Trinitarian Missiology for the Twenty-first Century and Theology in the Context of World Christianity: How the Global Church Is Influencing the Way We Think about and Discuss Theology. He blogs at and can be followed on twitter @TimTennent.