(13) From heaven Yahweh looks and sees all the sons of men. (14) From his dwelling place he gazes at all the inhabitants of the earth, (15) he who fashions the hearts of all and understands all their works. (16) No king is saved by his great army, nor is a warrior delivered by his great strength. (17) A horse (is) a false hope for deliverance, nor shall it save by its great strength. (18) Behold, the eye of Yahweh (is) on those who fear him, on those who hope in his steadfast love, (19) to deliver their soul from death and to keep them alive in famine.
Yahweh’s omniscience is the first major theme of this paragraph. Here the psalmist uses several terms for “seeing,” examples of anthropomorphism, a figure of speech in which human characteristics and behavior are attributed to God. These include “Yahweh looks and sees” (vs. 13), “he gazes” (vs. 14), “he understands” (vs. 15), “the eye of Yahweh (is) on those who fear him” (vs. 18).
Another group of synonyms points to a second major theme, Yahweh delivering those who fear him and depend on his help (vss. 16-19). Here we find “saved” and “delivered” (vs. 16), “deliverance” and “save” (vs. 17), “deliver” and “keep them alive” (vs. 19). Note that two of these verses contain three expressions referring to what we might normally be tempted to rely on for safety and protection, “a great army...great strength...a horse of great strength” (vss. 16 & 17). Instead of trusting in material or temporal resources, David urges us to look to Yahweh who has promised to deliver those who rely on him.
I. What distinguishes Yahweh (13-15)
II. What we naturally rely on for deliverance (16 & 17)
III. Who we must learn to trust for deliverance (18 & 19)
Why rely on anything else when we can trust in our omniscient, loving God?
All the currency issued by the United States carries the same inscription, “In God we trust.” According to a fact sheet issued by the Department of the Treasury, this came about “because of the increased religious sentiment existing during the Civil War.” While there have been many attempts to have this motto changed or expunged, it is still stamped on all our coins and printed on all our bills.
Whether or not this is an appropriate motto for a nation as religiously diverse as the United States is not the point of this study. “In God we trust” certainly is a fitting motto for those whose God is Yahweh! That is precisely what the psalmist is asserting in this segment of Psalm 33 with the unstated implication that if God is really as powerful and wise as the Bible says he is, we would be foolish, indeed out of our minds, to trust in anyone or anything else for our protection and deliverance.
Sadly, those who know Yahweh often trust in other resources for their safety and protection, their education, their experience, their investments, the advice of their friends, the alarm systems in their cars and homes, the agencies of our government such as the police or the Department of Homeland Security. Our motto thus becomes, “When all else fails, trust in God” instead of “In God we trust.” We need to stop erecting our lives on foundations of sand and start placing our trust exclusively in the Rock of Ages, our great and powerful Yahweh. We should determine that the exhortation, “Trust in him at all times, O people” (Ps. 62:8), is reflected in the way we actually live.