Turning I to We
(20) Our soul waits for Yahweh. He (is) our help and our shield, (21) for our hearts shall rejoice in him because we have trusted in his holy name. (22) Let your steadfast love, Yahweh, be upon us, even as we hope in you.
The first thing to note in these three verses is how frequently the first person plural pronoun is used, altogether seven occurrences. “Our” is found three times in the opening verse (vs. 20). In the next verse we note “our” and “we” (vs. 21) and, finally, “us” and “we” (vs. 22). These verses clearly emphasize the close relationship Yahweh’s covenant people have with him together with their fellow believers.
We should also observe that each verse in this closing segment recapitulates one of the previous segments of the psalm. The first verse which speaks of waiting on Yahweh who is “our help and shield” (vs. 20) summarizes the theme of trusting in the Lord’s protection and deliverance (vss. 13-19). The second verse which links our rejoicing in Yahweh with trusting in his name (vs. 21) reminds us of the opening of the psalm which begins, “Sing for joy to Yahweh, you righteous” (vss. 1-5). The final verse, a prayer for Yahweh’s steadfast love to abide with us (vs. 22), reminds us of the middle segment (vss. 6-12), especially the verse which promises God’s blessing on the nation that belongs to him (vs. 12).
I. Waiting on Yahweh (20)
II. Rejoicing in Yahweh (21)
III. Loved by Yahweh (22)
Those who patiently wait on and joyfully trust in Yahweh will experience the full measure of his steadfast love.
All too frequently, when believers consider their relationship with God, they do so on a purely personal basis. The title of the old Gospel song, “My God and I,” expresses how so many of us think, namely, in the first person singular. This kind of rugged individualism is all too frequently accentuated by the way we present the Gospel: “All you need to do is trust in Christ as your personal Savior.”
While this is unquestionably true, we often de-emphasize the vital reality that no one ever comes to faith in isolation. Old Testament believers belonged to a covenant community, Israel, called the “people of God.” New Testament believers belong to the body of Christ, the church. We are engrafted into this group when we receive Jesus Christ as Savior. Peter wrote, “But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God” (1 Pet. 2:9). In applying Israel’s covenantal designations to the church, Peter reminds us that our personal relationship with Christ should always be viewed within the context of community.
Christians never live in isolation. We must worship together, grow together, serve together, and minister with and to one another if we are to fulfill Christ’s desire for his disciples. That is why the seven uses of the first person plural in the closing three verses of Psalm 33 serve as a good reminder that ours is a “one another” faith. Dwight Edwards in his book, Revolution Within, recounts the following story: “At the Seattle Special Olympics, a competition for physically and mentally disabled children, the hundred-yard dash had nine entrants. The gun sounded and the runners started off as fast as they were able. Then one little boy tripped, fell on the track, and began to sob. The other eight heard this and stopped to turn and look. Seeing him on the ground, they all walked back to him. One little girl with Down Syndrome bent down, kissed his leg, and said, ‘This will make it better.’ Then all nine put their arms around one another and walked together to the finish line. Everyone in the stadium stood and applauded, their cheers continuing for several minutes.” When will we, all members of the Body of Christ, learn to love and support one another in the community of believers like this?