Psalm 33 - What Do You Trust In?

Text: Psalm 33:16-17

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.


Though not attributed to David himself, Psalm 33 serves well as a commentary on the life of a man who great hope and only Deliverer was the Lord. In contrast to the rest of the Psalm’s positive tone, verses 16 and 17 serve first to expose and then to immediately deconstruct the sources in which many of us are tempted to place our trust and hope: namely, human power. We so naturally love what we can see and rest secure in what is (by our estimation) “great.”

The underlying point is this: whatever we hope in most, wherever our ultimate trust lies, there we will find our “god.” It really doesn’t matter whether we pay lip-service to God or not. Whatever finally makes our hearts secure and enables us to sleep peacefully at night, that thing (and not the resurrected Christ) is what we worship.

Of course, the flip-side is also true: whatever we fear most, whatever thing, if we lost it, would make us a miserable, anxious mess, that (again) is our god. The profoundly useful thing about fear is that we often don’t know what we’re trusting in until it’s taken away. As long as our army is great, our bank accounts are full, our families are safe, and our reputation’s intact, it’s easy to say, “I trust in the Lord.” It’s only when those false hopes are demolished that we finally see (and more importantly, feel) what it is we truly hope in.

Implication (Gospel):

In the gospel, we see the ultimate contradiction in human hope and trust: it is not by might that we saved, but by weakness. The cross signals the end to any hope we might have had in what we consider great (or wise, for that matter). The cross ushers us into the truth that it is only through death that new life comes. And this Christ-shaped pattern now defines our lives. Through the gospel we are enabled to release our trust, as Psalm 22:7 says, in “chariots and horses,” and to instead anchor ourselves on “the name of the Lord our God.”

Application (Gospel):

Today I will confess to God all those things I’m naturally inclined to trust in—whether it’s my job, my reputation, my body, my money, my family, or even my religious efforts. In their place, I will (as Paul put it in 2Corinthians 12:9) “boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.”

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