Sing joyfully to the Lord, you righteous;

    it is fitting for the upright to praise him.

2 Praise the Lord with the harp;

    make music to him on the ten-stringed lyre.

3 Sing to him a new song;

    play skillfully, and shout for joy.

‘Whereas all Scripture speaks to us, the psalms speak for us.’

In Jonathon Aitken’s autobiography, ‘Pride and Perjury’, he describes how early on in his spiritual journey, as his life was falling apart, he met a pastor in a church in New York. This man encouraged him to pray the Psalms.

In the middle of the Bible we have this great prayer book (or hymn book? Both!??). For the next few weeks we are going continue on from Psalm 32, by taking time to study some of these wonderful prayer poems.

Psalm 33 opens where Psalm 32 closed – with the theme of joy and rejoicing. In fact, this psalm itself begins and ends calling for, and affirming, joy in the Lord (1-3,20-22).

The “righteous” are those who have been made right with God. Out of that relationship – in the overflow of it – they endeavour to live ‘’upright’’ lives before men. It is entirely “fitting” that such people should want to praise God with joyful shouting and singing and skilful music-making.

Alec Motyer, in the ‘New Bible Commentary’, says that a “new song” is ‘not so much novel as fresh, prompted by a fresh awareness of who and what he (God) is. True praise requires this fresh sense of God as it needs the fervour of joy and the skill of good musicianship’ (pp.505,506).

Last week-end, on a Radio 4 programme, I heard a fascinating story told by a lady about an incident which occurred a number of years ago. I think she must have been a child at the time. She was with her dad one day, when they came across a former Prime Minister who was in trouble in the water. Her father rescued him and saved him from drowning. The next morning they just happened to come across him again. She said that he clearly was not pleased to see them, but did speak to them because he had to. Apparently there was a feeling that he could suffer severe political embarrassment if the story got out, as his chief opponent was a highly proficient yachtsman. It wouldn’t make him look good. (It appears this story has never found its way into any of the biographies written about this leading statesman). As I listened to this I thought, ‘How could you fail to show warm gratitude to one who saved you?’ He clearly was not pleased to see us. How inadequate and inappropriate! But…

“…it is fitting for the upright…” to praise God.

PRAYER: Lord, fill our hearts and churches with joyful songs and shouts, skilful music, and utterly befitting praise to you, the One who saved us.