Psalm 33:2 - Take 1

Psalm 33:2 - Take 1

Monday May 29, 2023


The oddest thing happened to me today. 

As I was working on Reflections For Living – thinking and praying, writing and re-writing my Psalm 33 thoughts – I noticed that I had two reflections titled Psalm 33:2 on my computer desktop. I assumed, of course, that the second one was a copy of the original one. But then, on reading them both, I discovered they were different. Then I assumed that I had mistaken the verse I was working on: that, yes, one reflection was based on verse 2, but that the other one was perhaps a copy of the reflections on Psalm 33:1 or Psalm 33:3, and I had simply and mistakenly entitled it Psalm 33:2. But on looking more carefully, no, I hadn’t made a mistake: somehow, over the last week or so, I had written two separate – and completely different – reflections on the very same verse! 

I couldn’t believe it! I couldn’t believe that my memory was so bad that I had forgotten that I had already written a reflection on verse 2 – and so I wrote another one! And I couldn’t believe that I could have written two completely different meditations on the very same verse in the first place! You see, this God-given project of meditating on, studying, memorizing and writing a reflection on each and every verse of Psalm 33 has begun as a very daunting and yet a very faith-building venture for me. So the fact that I was able to write not only one, but two reflections on a single verse – well, that has amazed me! and strengthened my faith that, with God’s help, I really can do this! 

So, as odd as it is, Psalm 33:2 will have two postings: Take 1 and Take 2. Because both takes are worth reading and reflecting upon.

So let’s start with Psalm 33:2 – Take 1…


“Give thanks to the Lord with the lyre;
    make melody to him with the harp of ten strings!”


In today’s 21st century, we hear about praising God with “lyres” and “harps” – and either we don’t even know what those instruments are; or, if we do, we imagine the worship time to be extremely quiet and slow and boring. After all, when we think of a lyre, we think of a simple shepherd boy named David playing and singing in a dark and hushed room for an anxious and depressed King Saul. And when we think of harps, we envision small plump cherubs sitting on puffy white clouds in heaven mindlessly stringing away. 

But at the time when this psalm was composed and played and sung – about 3000 years ago – Old Testament worship was anything but quiet and slow and boring!

God’s people had many different instruments back in those days, most of which we can identify today – some of which we cannot. 

There were stringed instruments that were struck or plucked: like the quite-similar lyre and harp, and the guitar-like lute.

There were wind instruments: like the shofar made of a ram’s horn, trumpets made of brass or silver, flutes made of cane or wood or bone, and pipes made of reeds.  

And there were percussion instruments: like small hand-drums, tambourines, cymbals, castanets and cornets of all sizes and shapes and sounds. 

Yes, occasionally they were played on their own – as a simple and quiet accompaniment to a lone singer. 

But most often, they were played all together – with sometimes dozens and usually hundreds of musicians exuberantly stringing and plucking and blowing and drumming away. 

Trumpets were sounded to assemble and give direction: as when the Israelite camp was in the desert and was ordered by God to pick up and move on. They were sounded to make an announcement or a proclamation: as when Moses prepared the people of Israel to hear the 10 Commandments. They were sounded when there was a threat of war – or as a signal to engage in battle. 

Many of the instruments were sounded during the numerous annual Jewish celebrations and festivities – always together with much joyful singing and shouting and dancing. 

And, of course, all the instruments were played during the temple worship times, with hundreds of Levitical priests and musicians playing and singing and leading the entire congregation in praise and adoration. When we think carefully of many thousands of people in praise led by hundreds of musicians and singers and dancers, undoubtedly temple worship wasn’t at all as sedate and subdued as the instruments themselves seem to suggest to us today. 

Often times the Bible refers to the people of Israel celebrating before God “with all their might” and strength – with “one hundred and twenty priests blowing trumpets”, with “loud-sounding clashing cymbals”, with much “clapping of hands”, with much “joyful shouting”, with lively and exuberant singing and dancing.

So, let’s go back to Psalm 33:2… 


“Give thanks to the Lord with the lyre;
    make melody to him with the harp of ten strings!”


Yes, in today’s modern world we may be alone in our quiet place in private adoration –with just our voices, or with a simple piano or guitar. Or we may be in a huge church or auditorium, together with thousands of other worshipers, led in vibrant and joyous praise by a large worship band. 

But whether alone or together with others, let’s “give thanks to the Lord” and “make melody to Him” with all that we have and all that we are: like the Israelites of old, let’s worship the one and only living God with all our might, with exuberant singing and shouting, with lively playing and dancing, with passion and joy. 

It’s what we were created for! To worship God.

As John Piper from Desiring God Ministries once said: 

“Don't worship angels, worship God! Don't worship nothing, worship God! Don't neglect God or despise God, worship God! This is the last chapter of the Bible, and this is the last duty of man: worship God!” – in spirit and in truth, every day and all the time, in your deepest heart. 

Let’s memorize these words today! And let’s live them this week!