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 33:17


An horse is a vain thing for safety. Military strength among the Orientals lay much in horses and scythed chariots, but the psalmist calls them a lie, a deceitful confidence. Surely the knight upon his gallant steed may be safe, either by valour or by flight? Not so, his horse shall bear him into danger or crush him with its fall. Neither shall he deliver any by his great strength. Thus the strongest defences are less than nothing when most needed. God only is to be trusted and adored. Sennacherib with all his calvary is not a match for one angel of the Lord, Pharaoh’s horses and chariots found it vain to pursue the Lord’s anointed, and so shall all the leaguered might of earth and hell find themselves utterly defeated when they rise against the Lord and his chosen.

Explanatory Notes and Quaint Sayings

See Psalms on “Psalms 33:16” for further information.

Ver. 16-17. The weakness and insufficiency of all human power, however great, as before of all human intellect. J. J. Stewart Perowne.

Ver. 16-17. See Psalms on “Psalms 33:16” for further information.

An horse. If the strength of horses be of God, or be his gift Job 39:19, then trust not in the strength of horses: use the strength of horses, but do not trust the strength of horses. If you trust the strength which God hath given to horses, you make them your god. How often doth God forbid trusting in the strength of horses, as knowing that we are apt to trust in anything that is strong, though but a beast. An horse is a vain thing for safety: neither shall he deliver any by his great strength. As if God had said, you think a horse can save you, but know he is a vain thing. And when the psalmist saith, “A horse is a vain thing, “he doth not mean it of a weak horse, but of a horse of the greatest strength imaginable; such a horse is a vain thing to save a man, neither can he deliver any by his strength; and therefore the Lord, when he promised great deliverances to his people, lest they should expect it by the strength of horses, saith Hosea 1:7, “I will save them by the Lord their God, and will not save them by bow, nor by sword, nor by battle, by horses, nor by horsemen; “as if he had told them, do not look after creature strength to be saved by; a horse will be a vain thing to save you, and I can save you effectually without horses, and I will. Joseph Caryl.

Ver. 17-20. Man is sensible of his want of earthly blessings, and will never cease, with excessive care, diligence, and vexation, to hunt after them, till he come to know that God will provide for him. When one hath great friends which they are known to lean upon, we say of them, such need take no care, they know such and such will see to them. On the contrary, come to one who knows no end of toiling and caring, ask him, Why will you thus tire yourself out? He will answer, I must needs do it, I have none but myself to trust to. So Christ followeth his disciples’ carefulness to this door, their unbelief, which did not let them consider our heavenly Father cared for them. No present estate, though never so great, can free the heart from distraction, because it is subject to decay and vanishing; we shall never cast the burden of care off our own shoulders, till we learn by faith to cast it upon the Lord, whose eye is over us for good. He will never renounce carnal supports who make not God the stay of his soul for outward things. He will trust in the abundance of his riches, wisdom, friends, or strength, that makes not God his strength. The heart of man, being aware of his inability to sustain himself if he be not underset, will seek out some prop, true or false, sound or rotten, to lean unto. They will go down to Egypt for help, and stay on horses, and trust in chariots, because they are many, and in horsemen because they are very strong, who look not to the Holy One of Israel, and seek not the Lord. John Ball.

Hints to the Village Preacher

Ver. 16-18. The fallacy of human trust, and the security of faith in God.
The Treasury of David.

A mighty man; or a giant; Goliath for instance. As the most skilful swimmers are often drowned, so here. John Trapp.

Not the chief his serried lances,

Not his strength secures the brave;

All in vain the warhorse prances,

Weak his force his lord to save.

Richard Mant.

Ver. 16-17. The weakness and insufficiency of all human power, however great, as before of all human intellect. J. J. Stewart Perowne.

Ver. 16-17. As a passenger in a storm, that for shelter against the weather, steps out of the way, betakes him to a fair spread oak, stands under the boughs, with his back close to the body of it, and finds good relief thereby for the space of some time; till at length comes a sudden gust of wind, that tears down a main arm of it, which falling upon the poor passenger, either maims or mischieves him that resorted to it for succour. Thus falleth it out with not a few, meeting in the world with many troubles, and with manifold vexations, they step aside out of their own way, and too, too often out of God’s, to get under the wing of some great one, and gain, it may be, some aid and shelter thereby for a season; but after awhile, that great one himself coming down headlong, and falling from his former height of favour, or honour, they are also called in question and to fall together with him, that might otherwise have stood long enough on their own legs, if they had not trusted to such an arm of flesh, such a broken staff that deceived them. Thomas Gataker.

Hints to the Village Preacher

Ver. 16-18. The fallacy of human trust, and the security of faith in God.
The Treasury of David.

Singing psalms


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