This is a hymn of praise to Jehovah, as at once Almighty Creator and Ruler of the universe, and the Protector of His chosen people. It was plainly for liturgical use, and beyond this, as even the compilers of the collection left it anonymous, it is useless to inquire into its authorship or date. All that we see clearly is that faith in the protection of Jehovah and not in material force, that which we regard as the traditional faith of Israel, had by this time been firmly implanted. Both in rhythm, which is fine and well sustained, and subject this psalm bears a close relation to Psalms 147
With the psaltery and an instrument of ten strings.—Properly, as LXX. and Vulg., “with the ten-stringed psaltery.” (See 1 Samuel 10:5.) Evidently a more elaborate instrument than the khinnôr, and with greater capacities. (See Bible Educator, 1:70, and art. “Psaltery” in Smith’s Biblical Dictionary.) From the Greek psalterion comes the title “psalter” for the Book of Psalms. By its derivation it meant an instrument played with the fingers. The word was in use in old English:
“And before hem went minstrels many one,
As harpes, pipes, lutes, and sautry.”
CHAUCER: The Flower and the Leaf, 237.
Play skilfully with a loud noise.—The latter words represent a Hebrew expression of common hymnic use, describing the full choral effect when instruments and voices were joined in the service of the sanctuary (Psalm 95:1; Psalm 100:1, &c). Some, however, limit it (after Leviticus 25:9) to the trumpet accompaniment, and render—
“Strike the harp deftly for him,
Amid the blare of trumpets.”
Psalm 33:12 is the pivot, as it were, on which the whole psalm turns, and was doubtless sung in full chorus.
“Moulding their hearts for all,
Observing all their deeds.”
The Hebrew word rendered “fashion” is that used of a potter moulding clay.
“I have waited for thy salvation, O Lord,”
and which, while itself held back outside the promised land of the hope of immortality, was to be the birth-race of the great and consoling doctrine that alone could satisfy the natural craving expressed by the moralist in the well-known line—
“Man never is, but always to be, blest;”
and by the Christian apostle—
“For here we have no continuing city, but we seek one to come.”