That Frustrating Jesus - Psalm 33 Sermon From June 2014 Prayer Service
That Frustrating Jesus - Psalm 33 / Mount Olive Lutheran Church / Rev. Ted A. Giese / Wed June 4th 2014
Shout for joy in the LORD, O you righteous!
Praise befits the upright.
Give thanks to the LORD with the lyre;
make melody to Him with the harp of ten strings!
Sing to Him a new song;
play skillfully on the strings, with loud shouts.
For the word of the LORD is upright,
and all His work is done in faithfulness.
He loves righteousness and justice;
the earth is full of the steadfast love of the LORD.
By the word of the LORD the heavens were made,
and by the breath of His mouth all their host.
He gathers the waters of the sea as a heap;
He puts the deeps in storehouses.
Let all the earth fear the LORD;
let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of Him!
For He spoke, and it came to be;
He commanded, and it stood firm.
The LORD brings the counsel of the nations to nothing;
He frustrates the plans of the peoples.
The counsel of the LORD stands forever,
the plans of His heart to all generations.
Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD,
the people whom He has chosen as His heritage!
The LORD looks down from heaven;
He sees all the children of man;
from where He sits enthroned He looks out
on all the inhabitants of the earth,
He who fashions the hearts of them all
and observes all their deeds.
The king is not saved by his great army;
a warrior is not delivered by his great strength.
The war horse is a false hope for salvation,
and by its great might it cannot rescue.
Behold, the eye of the LORD is on those who fear him,
on those who hope in His steadfast love,
that He may deliver their soul from death
and keep them alive in famine.
Our soul waits for the LORD;
He is our help and our shield.
For our heart is glad in Him,
because we trust in His holy name.
Let Your steadfast love, O LORD, be upon us,
even as we hope in You.
(Psalm 33 ESV)
Let us pray: May the words of my mouth and the meditations of all our hearts be acceptable in your sight O Lord. Amen.
Grace peace and mercy to you from God our Father and from our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Good Christian Friends. Psalm 32 and Psalm 33 are understood to go together. So what are the reasons that people think these two Psalms, Psalm 32 and 33 are linked together? Apart from the fact that they come one after the other in the numerical ordering of the Psalms? Well, the big hint that puts these two Psalms together is in how Psalm 32 ends and how Psalm 33 begins. Psalm 32 ends "Be glad in the LORD, and rejoice, O righteous, and shout for joy, all you upright in heart!" Psalm 33 starts, "Shout for joy in the LORD, O you righteous!" This end and this beginning are like dovetails carefully cut and joined by a master Carpenter. It means the prayer you learn to pray in Psalm 32, a prayer where you ask for forgiveness, trusting in the grace of the LORD in Christ, will be dovetailed into the prayer of Psalm 33. Psalm 32 and Psalm 33 teach that prayer need not be only for personal things but for big picture things. David regularly pleads for the LORD to act on his behalf, but not just on his behalf, David also prays that the LORD would act on behalf of others, that the LORD would be active in the world.
Keep that in mind as Psalm 33 shifts from the deeply personal to the corporate confession of the church: It becomes like the Creeds, it has an eye on the big picture. Psalm 33 starts out with specifically first article stuff, it starts off being about the "I believe in God the Father Almighty maker of Heaven and Earth" first article part of the Creed. That's the kind of stuff that this Psalm starts off covering. Psalm 33, like Psalm 32, wants to teach you something and wants to give you something in which to trust, it wants to guide your prayers to trust in the workings of the LORD in His creation, of which you are a part.
The Psalm says "Shout for joy in the LORD, O you righteous!" And who are the righteous? “These are the ones coming out of the great tribulation. They have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb." That's the answer from the book of Revelation, it's the same answer by the way that you get in Psalm 32, "Blessed is the one whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered. Blessed is the man against whom the LORD counts no iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no deceit." This is you, this is you in your baptism, so Psalm 33 then says, "Hey you! Shout for joy in the LORD, Give thanks to the LORD, make melody to Him, Sing to Him a new song ... and why? Because the Word of the LORD is upright, all His work is done in faithfulness and the earth is full of His care; His creation is full of His steadfast love!" Psalm 33 teaches you to pray like Jesus teaches you to pray, as one redeemed to the one who gives the redemption, like a dear child asking their dear father, the righteous calling upon the LORD, "Our Father who art in Heaven, Hallowed be Your name." Psalm 33 teaches you to confess with lips of prayer "I believe in God the Father Almighty maker of Heaven and Earth," I will shout to Him in my prayer, I will give thanks to Him in my prayer, I will make melody to Him in my prayer, I will sing to Him in my prayer, I will, as St. Paul later says, "Rejoice always, [I will] pray without ceasing, [I will] give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for [the Christian]." All this prayer, all this rejoicing goes to the one who made all things, to the LORD and not just to God the Father but to the whole Holy Trinity. Psalm 33 teaches this too.
The Gospel of John, written by the same John who wrote the Book of Revelation say that, "in the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him was not any thing made that was made." Psalm 33 says, "By the Word of the LORD the heavens were made." Knowing the Gospel of John and what it teaches, Christ Jesus is then firmly set in the creative work of the LORD both in John chapter one and in Psalm 33, for Jesus is the Word of the LORD. The church has taught that this Psalm also refers to the Holy Spirit when it says that "by the breath of His mouth all [the hosts of heaven were made]." This draws the mind back to the breath of life breathed into Adam's "nostrils, the breath of life, [that made the man into] a living creature." In the Nicene Creed we confess that the Holy Spirit is the LORD and giver of Life! the Holy Spirit then gives life to all, to all the inhabitants of Earth and the Heavenly Hosts too.
The first third of this Psalm is celestial in nature, it is a prayer that soar into the stratosphere and beyond, into all creation into the seen and the unseen, into the depths of the mysteries of God's handwork. But it doesn't stay so far afield. In an instance the whole Psalm comes crashing down in an incarnational way, this prayer comes pummelling down into the here and now, into History, into our life, into your life with the words "He frustrates the plans of the peoples" ... "The LORD brings the counsel of the nations to nothing." The gravity of this comes in knowing who He is, in knowing what He has revealed about Himself in Scripture. He is the one who "commanded, and it stood firm," the one who "spoke, and it came to be." God said “'Let there be light,' and there was light." Jesus is the one who in the boat on the sea of Galilee "rebuked the wind and the raging waves, and they ceased, and there was a calm." Jesus is the answer to the prayer of Psalm 33, Jesus is the one who ultimately "frustrates the plans of the peoples," and "brings the counsel of the nations to nothing."
Jesus explodes onto the scene when the angel Gabriel visits Mary saying, “Greetings, O favoured one, the Lord is with you!” But she was greatly troubled at the saying, and tried to discern what sort of greeting this might be. And the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favour with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call His name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to Him the throne of His father David, and He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there will be no end.” Later when Jesus is presented at the temple Simeon tells Jesus' parents, “Behold, this child is appointed for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign that is opposed." Jesus even says this of Himself, He says, “Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword." The life death and resurrection of Jesus frustrates the plans of nations and brings to nothing the designs of people.
The plans of Herod the Great where frustrated at the news of Jesus' birth, Matthew tells us that "When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him;" While Herod didn't fully know the enormity of it, this little baby would grow up to be the King of the Jews and Jesus would be a King who when killed would not stay dead - this was deeply frustrating to the men who sought Jesus' death. They figured that Jesus would be like Herod, that He'd be like David and like all other kings when they die, that He'd stay dead. Saint Peter on the Day of Pentecost says, “Brothers, I may say to you with confidence about the patriarch David that he both died and was buried, and his tomb is with us to this day." The Sanhedrin, the Pharisees and Sadducees and the Scribes and the Elders of the people all expected Jesus to be crucified, they expected Him to die, and they expected Him to stay dead. They knew the words of Psalm 33, they knew that they had been true for David, they knew that they were true for Herod the great, they knew that "the king is not saved by his great army; a warrior is not delivered by his great strength. The war horse is a false hope for salvation, and by its great might it cannot rescue." The Sanhedrin, the Pharisees and Sadducees and the Scribes and the Elders of the people all knew that these men, these kings, and they themselves could not save themselves, that death was inevitable.
Death came to all people from the least to the greatest. Jesus in their estimation, who others considered great and they considered least would be no different. Dead is dead they thought. Dead meant out of the way! In fact "it was Caiaphas [the high priest that year] who had advised the Jews that it would be expedient that one man should die for the people," rather than allow the whole nation to perish. Caiaphas trusted that death would get rid of Jesus. Yet who did Caiaphas think was saving the nation? Did Caiaphas think he was saving the nation with his clever plot? Did he think that death was saving them? He clearly hadn't considered that his plan was about to be frustrated by the LORD. If man could not save himself, if Caiaphas in his clever plot could not save himself, who then saves? Can any save? is there salvation at all? If a king cannot save himself, if his armies and all that he has that he musters up to the task cannot save from death, then who saves? Only the LORD God, The Father Almighty the Maker of Heaven and Earth can truly save. Caiaphas the high priest and the Sanhedrin, the Pharisees the Sadducees and the Scribes and the Elders did not consider that three days after Jesus hung dead upon the cross that Jesus would be saved from the clutches of death; They did not consider that three days after Jesus' body was taken down and sealed into the tomb that the tomb would be open and that this frustrating Jesus would be walking out of it, that this frustrating Jesus would be the one that the LORD would save. Not in their wildest dreams had they considered that "just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father," as Saint Paul tells us, that, "we too might walk in newness of life." They had never considered that we Christians, because of Jesus, could be just as frustrating as Jesus, when we on the last day we all pop up out of our graves alive and made perfect in this same Christ.
They had never considered that this Jesus would become the ultimate evidence that, the LORD, "He who fashions the hearts of them all and observes all their deeds" was truly at work in the world. Not just in the individual lives of people as we see in Psalm 32 but also in the life of nations and peoples as we see in Psalm 33. On the one hand the wicked think that they are hidden from God, that God doesn't see them, they even deny that the LORD exists, while on the other hand the Christian trusts and has faith that that the Eye of the LORD truly "is on those who fear Him, on those who hope in His steadfast love, that He may deliver their soul from death and keep them alive in famine." What a surprise! For some a joyous surprise ... for others a horrifying surprise.
In Jesus God the Father intercedes into the History of Man, He makes Himself known. He positions Himself immovably into the affairs of the world. Take heart in the promise Jesus gives you: Jesus says, "In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” You therefore can pray for the LORD to intercede in the affairs of the nations, not just in the affairs of your own life, for in Christ He has demonstrated that He is not a God who only acts in small ways but in large ways too. So, what does that look like? You're watching the news, you're scrolling through Facebook you see some terrible thing happening in the world, what do you do? Do you keep scrolling? Do you flip the channel? You can ... you can also pray, trusting that God actually does involve Himself in what happens in the world: You can place those things into God's hands, you can ask God to act, you can plead to God to act, because you know that He does act, you have proof in Christ Jesus, in His birth, in His death and in His resurrection.
While "our soul waits for the LORD;" we trust that "He is our help and our shield." Your "heart [can be] glad in Him, [as you] trust in His holy name." We with the Children of Israel can pray as Psalm 33 teaches us to pray to the LORD asking, "Let Your steadfast love, O LORD, be upon us, even as we hope in You." For "The counsel of the LORD stands forever, the plans of His heart to all generations." The plan fulfilled in Christ Jesus, who is the centre of History, the LORD of Creation, the one who saves, the one who saves you, even when you have no joy, when your melody is out of tune, when your song feels old, when there is no shout in your throat, when you look around and only see a world that hates the LORD and your cynical self tempts you to distrust the promise ... even then there is forgiveness for you in Christ Jesus. Father, Son and Holy Spirit, the Holy Trinity sees you, sustains you and all creation, saves you from sin, death and the devil by the blood of Christ Jesus, and gives you eternal life: He is [your] help and [your] shield. Amen.
Let us pray:
Lord have mercy on us, Christ have mercy on us, Lord have mercy on us, “take our minds and think through them, take our lips and speak through them, take our hearts and set them on fire; for the sake of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, Amen.
 Psalm 32:11
 Psalm 33:1
 Revelation 7:14
 Psalm 32:1-2
 Matthew 6:5-15
 Luther's Small Catechism with Explanation, Martin Luther, Concordia Publishing House 1991, pg 15.
 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
 John 1:1-3
 Genesis 2:7
 Lutheran Service Book, Concordia Publishing House, pg 158.
 Genesis 1:3
 Luke 1:28-33
 Luke 2:34
 Matthew 10:34
 Matthew 2:3
 Luke 23:38
 Acts 2:29
 John 18:14
 Romans 6:4
 Psalm 10
 John 16:33