The Treasury of David

The Treasury of David is one of several C.H. Spurgeon books that are in the public domain. If you propose to study the Psalms, I suggest you download this as a companion for your other references.

Psalm 33

Title. This song of praise bears no title or indication of authorship; to teach us, says Dickson, “to look upon Holy Scripture as altogether inspired of God, and not put price upon it for the writers thereof.”

Subject And Division. The praise of Jehovah is the subject of this sacred song. The righteous are exhorted to praise him, Psalms 33:1-3; because of the excellency of his character, Psalms 33:4-5; and his majesty in creation, Psalms 33:6-7. Men are bidden to fear before Jehovah because his purposes are accomplished in providence, Psalms 33:8-11. His people are proclaimed blessed, Psalms 33:12. The omniscience and omnipotence of God, and his care for his people are celebrated, in opposition to the weakness of an arm of flesh, Psalms 33:13-19; and the Psalm concludes with a fervent expression of confidence, Psalms 33:20-21, and an earnest prayer, Psalms 33:22.
The Treasury of David.

Psalm 33:2

Exposition

Praise the Lord with harp. Men need all the help they can get to stir them up to praise. This is the lesson to be gathered from the use of musical instruments under the old dispensation. Israel was at school, and used childish things to help her to learn; but in these days, when Jesus gives us spiritual manhood, we can make melody without strings and pipes. We who do not believe these things to be expedient in worship, lest they should mar its simplicity, do not affirm them to be unlawful, and if any George Herbert or Martin Luther can worship God better by the aid of well tunes instruments, who shall gainsay their right? We do not need them, they would hinder than help our praise, but if others are otherwise minded, are they not living in gospel liberty? Sing unto him. This is the sweetest and best of music. No instrument like the human voice. As a help to singing the instrument is alone to be tolerated, for keys and strings do not praise the Lord. With the psaltery and an instrument of ten strings. The Lord must have a full octave, for all notes are his, and all music belongs to him. Where several pieces of music are mentioned, we are taught to praise God with all the powers which we possess.

Explanatory Notes and Quaint Sayings

Praise the Lord with harp: sing unto him with the psaltery and an instrument of ten strings. Here we have the first mention of musical instruments in the Psalms. It is to be observed that the early fathers almost with one accord protest against their use in churches; as they are forbidden in the Eastern church to this day, where yet, by the consent of all, the singing is infinitely superior to anything that can be heard in the West. J. M. Neale.

Harp; Psaltery, etc. Our church does not use musical instruments, as harps and psalteries, to praise God withal, that she may not seem to Judaise. Thomas Aquinas. It was only permitted to the Jews, as sacrifice was, for the heaviness and grossness of their souls. God condescended to their weakness, because they were lately drawn off from idols; but now instead of organs, we may use our own bodies to praise him withal. Chrysostom. The use of singing with instrumental music was not received in the Christian churches as it was among the Jews in their infant state, but only the use of plain song. Justin Martyr.

(last clause). It is said that David praised God upon an instrument of ten strings; and he would never have told how many strings there were, but that without doubt he made use of them all. God hath given all of us bodies, as it were, instruments of many strings; and can we think it music good enough to strike but one string, to call upon him with our tongues only? No, no; when the still sound of the heart by holy thoughts, and the shrill sound of the tongue by holy words, and the loud sound of the hands by pious works, do all join together, that is God’s concert, and the only music wherewith he is affected. Sir Richard Baker.

Hints to the Village Preacher

Instrumental music. Is it lawful? Is it expedient? If so, its uses, limits, and laws. A sermon to improve congregational music.
The Treasury of David.

Whole Psalm This Psalm is eucharistic: the contents are:—

  1. An exhortation to praise God Psalms 33:1-3.
  2. The arguments to enforce the duty Psalms 33:4-19.
  3. The confidence of God’s people in his name, their happiness, and petition Psalms 33:20-22.—Adam Clarke.

Rejoicing—the soul of praise; the Lord—a wellspring of joy. Character—indispensable to true enjoyment.

(last clause). Praise comely. What? Vocal, meditative, habitual praise. Why? It is comely as wings to an angel, we mount with it; as flowers to a tree, it is our fruit; as a robe to a priest, it is our office; as long hair to a woman, it is our beauty; as a crown to a king, it is our highest honour. When? Evermore, but chiefly amid blasphemy, persecution, sickness, poverty, death. Whom? Not from the ungodly, hypocritical, or thoughtless. To be without praise is to miss our comeliest adornment.
The Treasury of David.

Singing psalms

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