Psalm 33:1 - And Doña Josefa
Monday May 22, 2023
I haven’t really even started yet, and already I feel myself fainting: how am I ever going to memorize a 22-verse Psalm?
But then, just before our church service many years ago now, I had the immense privilege of speaking for a few minutes with Doña Josefa.
Now, Doña Josefa was not just anyone in our congregation. Actually, no one in our church was “just anyone”. But Doña Josefa was special – very special. Because Doña Josefa was the oldest person who faithfully attended our church. She was 97 years old. Yes! 97 years old!
She was a great, great grandmother already! Her grandchildren had grandchildren! She had been a widow for a long, long time. Many years ago, she had buried two of her three children. And now, her only living son had returned to Colombia from the USA to take her back with him to New York. And she was willing to make the move. She was 97 years old, and she was willing to move to another country to live!
But not only that. She was an amazing woman of God. She loved coming to our church every Sunday morning, she loved to worship, and she loved to listen to God’s word being preached – and at her ripe age, she was still completely lucid and able to participate with understanding and joy! At the end of my husband’s sermon one Sunday, she was the one who shouted “Hallelujah” when he asked how many were willing to “Get Up and Cross the Jordan River”!
A long time ago now, Doña Josefa stood up before our entire congregation and quoted all of Psalm 95 to us. And one Sunday before church, sitting and chatting with her for a few moments, she asked if she could quote Psalm 27 for me – and she did, the entire psalm, perfectly!
That day, I looked at her for awhile, took her lovely face in my two hands, gave her a kiss on the forehead – and told her she was my inspiration. If Doña Josefa at 97 years old could memorize several psalms and keep them well-guarded in her heart, then surely (surely!) I too can memorize at least Psalm 33!
So: no more hesitating, and no more fainting. Here we go!
“Shout for joy in the Lord, O you righteous!
Praise befits the upright.”
Read that first verse of Psalm 33 again. Read it several times, until you have it memorized. If you want, download the image with the verse onto your cellphone or your computer, so that you have it handy, and it will be easier to remember.
Now… Who are the righteous? Those who always do what is right? Those who never make mistakes? No! The righteous are those of us who know and recognize that we are sinners – that we say and do what we shouldn’t, and that we don’t say and do what we should. But we are called “righteous” because we are justified or made righteous by Jesus: His perfect righteousness covers us and makes us acceptable before God.
And who are the upright? Other translations use the word “godly”, or mention the word “integrity”. Is an upright and godly person, or a person of moral integrity, a perfect person? No! Definitely not! The upright are those of us who, accepting our sinful state, confess and honestly repent of our sins. We know that we are accepted before God, not because of our good and perfect words or our good and perfect deeds, but by the mere grace of God.
Are you righteous? Are you upright and godly? Then, the psalmist encourages you and me to shout for joy in the Lord – because He doesn’t see us as we are, but as the perfect and holy Jesus declares us to be before Him. And the psalmist calls us to offer Him praise, because it befits us and it is becoming and appropriate that we should do so – an offering of praise that rises like a fragrance before God.
As Psalm 68:3 so aptly puts it: “… let the righteous be glad; let them exult before God; yes, let them rejoice with gladness.”
And so, dear friend: today, and everyday, rejoice in the Lord – and praise Him. He sees you as a righteous man, as an upright and godly woman – when you worship Him, it is beautiful in His sight.
Let’s memorize these words today! And let’s live them this week!+ REFLECTIONS