Psalm 33 (34)


Psalm 33 (34) is a psalm of thanksgiving sung by King David when he fled from the court of Abimelech of Geth (also known as Achous the Philistine). David had come to Abimelech’s court when he fled from the madness of Saul. However, when he saw those around Abimelech looking at him and whispering, he feigned insanity and was dismissed by Abimelech. In this way, according to St Nicodemus the Hagiorite, David escaped certain death and was thankful to God.

Despite his ingenious escape, David remembered that it was God who was ultimately responsible for it. This gratitude is seen throughout the Psalm, starting with the second verse: “I will bless the Lord at all times: his praise shall continually be in my mouth.”

This Psalm is useful for all who are in danger, and reminds us of our weakness in the face of our enemies and temptations. However, it never leaves us despairing as we are always reminded of God’s strength. We see that he delivers and illuminates without shaming (33:5-6).

David instructs the listeners to fear the Lord and place all of their hopes in Him, not trusting in riches or the things of this world. While those seeking holiness are to fear the Lord, this fear is simply the doing of God’s will by avoiding sin and turning towards virtue.

Many of the verses in this Psalm are regularly chanted and prayed in our Orthodox Church. The phrase “taste and see that the Lord is good” (33:9) is often chanted and recited prior to receiving Holy Communion – the Body and Blood of Christ. Additionally, verse eleven is chanted before meals: “The rich have become poor and gone hungry, but those who seek out the Lord will not be lacking in any good thing.”

May we also seek out the Lord, as “the Lord will redeem the souls of his servants, and all who hope in him will surely not err” (33:23).


Source: Lychnos February – March 2021