“The Psalms are poems or songs of praise, worship, thankfulness, and repentance, and each one of them is complete by itself. They also show a variety of feelings, emotions, attitudes and interests. . . .
Because the Psalm are written by so many people, from different time periods, and they show such a variety of emotions they have had a world-wide appeal and are familiar and loved by many people.
Hebrew poetry often uses pairs of lines. The second line either repeats the thought of the first or gives an opposite. Look for these pairs of lines as you read the Psalms.” — Introduction to Psalms, NIV.
Authorship of the Psalms
“In the Titles, 73 Psalms are ascribed to David; 12 to Asaph; 11 to the sons of Korah; 2 to Solomon (72, 127); 1 to Moses (90); 1 to Ethan (89); 50 are Anonymous. . . . The age-old, universal and unbroken tradition is that David was the principal author of the Psalms. . . .
So, we speak of the Psalms as the Psalms of David, because he was the principal writer, or compiler. It is generally accepted that a few were in existence before David’s time, forming the nucleus of a Hymnal for Worship. This was greatly enlarged by David, added to from generation to generation, and it thought, brought to completion in its present form by Ezra.
David was a warrior of unprecedented bravery, a military genius, and brilliant statesman, who led his nation to its pinnacle of power. He was also a poet and a musician, and with his heart a lover of God.
David’s creation of the Psalms was in reality a far greater accomplishment than his creation of the kingdom. The Book of Psalms is one of the noblest monuments of the ages.
In the Psalms the real character of David is portrayed; and in them God’s people generally see a pretty fair picture of themselves, their struggles, their sins, their sorrows, their aspirations, their joys, their failures and their victories.
For the Psalms, to endless ages, David will have the undying gratitude of millions upon millions of God’s redeemed people.” — Halley’s Bible Handbook.
I Messianic Psalms
Jesus, after His resurrection, spoke to the disciples saying, “This is what I told you while I was still with you: Everything must be fulfilled that is written about me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms” (Luke 24:44 NIV). [emphasis added.]
There are several Psalms that refer to Yeshua the coming Messiah. We will look at some of them.
Comment: “Jesus had been named long before he appeared, `The Messiah’ (Hebrew), or `The Christ’ (Greek). Both words mean the same, `Anointed’: the `One Anointed’ of God to Redeem and Rule the world. `Jesus’ was his personal name. `The Messiah’ or `The Christ’, his official name.”– Halley’s Bible Handbook.
Here is a selection of the Messianic Psalms (i.e. Psalms that talk directly of Jesus Christ).
Messiah, the Son of God, and His Universal Reign Described
It talks about the Messiah being the Son of God and His universal reign. Zion is the place from where the Messiah will rule and He will rule with an iron sceptre.
Man the Crown of Creation
The Man, Jesus the Messiah, will rule over all creation. See Hebrews 2:69. Also John 19:5, where Pilate said: “Here is the man!” [Compare verse 2 and Matthew 21:16 where Jesus quotes the verse.]
The Resurrection of the Messiah
David prophetically foretold the resurrection of the Messiah. “Because you will not abandon me to the grave, nor will you let your Holy One see decay” (v. 10). Quoted by Peter, who, filled with the Holy Spirit, in his first sermon on the day of Pentecost said that these words referred to the resurrection of Jesus the Messiah (Christ) from the dead. Read Acts 2:22–33.
Psalm 22 and Psalm 69
The Crucifixion of the Messiah and His Suffering
Psalm 22 Verse 1: The fourth word from the cross: “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” Verses 7 and 8: The mocking of His enemies described. Verse 16: “They have pierced my hands and my feet.” Now this verse is worthy of mention because the Jewish people never knew the method of crucifixion. This was a method of the Roman rule which came 1000 years after David wrote this Psalm. Verse 18: Describes lots being cast for Jesus’ clothing.
Comment: “Psalm 22 gives us a picture of Calvary. We see the Crucifixion portrayed here more clearly than in any other part of the Old Testament. The Psalm opens with the cry of our Lord in the darkest hour of His life: “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” It closes with, “for he has done it.” The original Hebrew means, “It is finished”the last cry of the Saviour (John 19:30).
Psalm 22:6 says, “But I am a worm and not a man, scorned by men and despised by the people.” This tells us of the offense of the Cross!
Read and compare these verses:
Psalm 22:1 & Matthew 27:46
Psalm 22:67 & Luke 23:35–36
Psalm 22:68 & Matthew 27:39, 41, 43
Psalm 22:12–13 & Matthew 27:36, 44
Psalm 22:28 & 1 Corinthians 15:23–24
`I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint. My heart has turned to wax; it has melted away within me’ (Psalm 22;14). This depicts excessive perspiration because of physical torture. It also means the breaking of Jesus’ heart.
He tells us why His heart was broken. `Scorn has broken my heart’ (Psalm 69:20). In John 19:34–35, we read that `one of the soldiers pierced Jesus’ side with a spear, bringing a sudden flow of blood and water. The man who saw it has given testimony, and his testimony is true. He knows that he tells the truth, and he testifies so that you also may believe.’
Jesus died of a broken heart. He bore the reproach and shame for others. Bearing our sins hid Him from His Father’s face; this is what broke His heart. Death by a broken heart is very rare. It is caused by intense agony of suffering.
`My tongue sticks to the roof of my mouth’ (Psalm 22:15). This verse describes intense thirst. The account in the New Testament said, `Knowing that all was now completed, and so that the Scripture would be fulfilled, Jesus said, “I am thirsty.” ‘Yes, Psalm 69:21 says, `They put gall in my food and gave me vinegar for my thirst.’ Read John 19:28–29.
`They have pierced my hands and my feet’ (Psalm 22:16). Crucifixion! The Roman method of crucifixion is described here. The Jewish law did not know of this method. These words give the description of death by crucifixion–hands and feet nailed to the cross–bones of hands, arms, shoulders out of joint as a result of hanging from the cross, straining bone and muscle.
`They divide my garments among them and cast lots for my clothing’ (Psalm 22:18). Even the act of soldiers is described here. See Matthew 27:35.”
— From What the Bible Is All About by Dr. Henrietta C. Mears.
Note: Psalm 31:5, “Into your hands I commit my spirit” was the last words of Jesus from the cross. See Luke 23:46. The disciples of Jesus understood Psalm 69:9, “Zeal for your house consumes me” as relating to Jesus when He cleared the temple of the merchants there. John 2:17. Compare Psalm 22:8 and Matthew 27:42, 43.
The Messiah’s Royal Bride and Eternal Throne
This Psalm is a Wedding Song of a King. Comment: “Bearing the name of God, seated on an Eternal
Throne. It may, in part, have reference to David or Solomon. But some of the statements are wholly inapplicable to either, or to any other human sovereign. It surely seems to be a Song of the Messiah anticipating the Marriage of the Lamb. Rev. 19:7.” Halley’s Bible Handbook. Verses 6 and 7 are quoted in Hebrews 1:89 as referring to Jesus, the Son of God, the Messiah.
Glory and Grandeur of Messiah’s Reign
This is a Psalm of Solomon. It describes his reign. But some of the statements are universal in scope and therefore applies only to the Messiah. Look at these verses: “In his days the righteous will flourish” (v. 7), “He will rule from sea to sea and from the River to the ends of the earth” (v. 8), “All kings will bow down to him and all nations will serve him,” “Praise be to his glorious name forever; may the whole earth be filled with his glory” (v. 19); all point unmistakably to the reign of Jesus the Messiah.
God’s Oath to Give David a Throne Forever
Comment: “He [The Psalmist] builds all his hope on God’s covenant with David, as a symbol of Christ, ver. 1937” Matthew Henry’s Commentary. Verse 25 refers to the dominion of Christ. David’s kingdom was limited to the Promised Land, but here it talks about the Messiah’s universal reign. Verse 26 talks about the intimate relation of the Messiah to His Father which Jesus exhibited during His lifetime calling God, “Abba, Father.” And verse 27, “I will also appoint him my firstborn, the most exalted of the kings of the earth” applies to none else but Jesus Christ alone. See Colossians 1:15, Hebrews 1:2, 6.
Eternal Priest and King
In Jesus the offices of Priest and King were merged into one. Psalm 110 predicted the same one thousand years before Jesus was born on earth. The person of Melchizedek is referred to here. This Psalm was quoted by Jesus in Matthew 22:44 and by Peter in Acts 2:34 and by the author of the Letter to the Hebrews (1:13; 5:6).
The Messiah’s Rejection by the Nations’ Leaders
This Psalm is part of the Hallel Psalms. Comment: “This was Jesus’ Farewell Hymn with His disciples. He left the Passover, on His way to Gethsemane and Calvary, Matt. 26:30. It embodied a prediction of His Rejection, 22, 26; Matt. 21:9, 42. God, His Strength and His Song.” – Matthew Henry’s Commentary.
Jesus’ rejection is recorded by John thus: “He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him” (John 1:11 NIV). But the rejected Messiah became the capstone of God’s house and it is was the LORD Himself who did this (Psalm 118:22, 23).
The verse “The Lord has done this, and it is marvellous in our eyes” refers to the exaltation of Christ and not to marriage [since this verse is quoted in many wedding invitations]. “This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it” refers to the resurrection of the Messiah on the first day of the week; i.e. Sunday.
On Palm Sunday, as Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a donkey, the crowds shouted, “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord,” Matthew 21:9, which is quoted from Psalm 118:26.
The Messiah, Eternal Inheritor of David’s Throne
Like Psalm 89, this Psalm also portrays the Messiah as the rightful and eternal heir of David’s throne.
Other Psalms that refer to the Messiah:
The King of Glory
The King of glory is the Messiah Himself. Comment: “May have been written when the Ark was brought to Jerusalem, II Sam. 6:12–15. Maybe we will Sing it in that Glad Day when the King of Glory Comes Again.” – Halley’s Bible Handbook.
The Messiah–Fulfilment of Scripture and Obedience to God’s Will
The author of the Letter to the Hebrews quotes the words this Psalm (verses 6 to 8) and says that it was spoken by Christ Himself, “I have come to do your will, O God.” (see Hebrews 10:5–10). We understand from these passages that the body of Jesus was prepared for sacrifice and all other sacrifices in the Old Testament were pointers to this.
Betrayal of the Messiah
Verse 9 reads, “Even my close friend, whom I trusted, he who shared my bread, has lifted up his heel against me.” Comment: “Apparently, David is referring to his own friend, Ahithophel, II Sam. 15;12. But Jesus quoted it as a Picture-Prophecy of His own betrayal by Judas, John 13:18–27; Luke 22:47, 48.” –Halley’s Bible Handbook.
Note: Psalm 109:8 and Pslam 69:25 is quoted by Peter in Acts 1:20 as referring to the Betrayer of the Messiah and his office being taken up by another.
The Eternity of God
Verses 25–27 are quoted in Hebrews 10:12. The eternity of God is here applied to the Messiah.
II Blessedness of God’s Word
Blessed Is the Man Who Delights In God’s Word and Meditates on It.
The Book of Psalms open with the word “Blessed.” It talks about the blessedness of the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked or stand in the way of sinners or sit in the seat of mockers.
Instead his delight is in the law of the Lord. And he meditates on it day and night. Such a man is compared to a tree planted by the waters, yielding fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither. Whatever he does prospers.
In contrast to the tree planted by the waters, i.e. rooted in God and abiding in Him, the wicked are like chaff (waste material; worthless) driven away by the wind. Make the Bible your best loved companion today. Read much, and treasure what you read in your hearts; often prayerfully thinking about it day and night. Then you’ll be blessed.
Note: Some of David’s Beatitudes (the word beatitude means perfect blessedness or happiness). David penned a lot of statements beginning with “Blessed.” Jesus, the Son of David, also gave us Beatitudes in His Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5:3–10).
Let us look at David’s Beatitudes:
Blessed is he that fears the Lord, 112:1.
Blessed is he that considers the poor, 41:1.
Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord, 33:12.
Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, 32:1.
Blessed are they that dwell in the Lord’s house, 84:4.
Blessed is the man whom Thou chastenest [discipline], O Lord, 94:12.
Blessed are they that put their trust in Him, 2:12.
Blessed is the man who takes refuge in the Lord, 34:8.
Blessed is the man whose strength is in the Lord, 84:5.
Blessed are they that keep His testimonies, that seek him with the whole heart, 119:2.
Blessed is the man . . . whose delight is in the Law of the Lord, 1:1, 2.
Taken from Halley’s Bible Handbook.
Perfection of God’s Word (vv. 7–11).
The law of the Lord is perfect, trustworthy, right, radiant, sure, altogether righteous, more precious than gold, sweeter than honey. It revives the soul, makes wise the simple, gives joy to the heart and light to the eyes. David says, “By them [the law of the Lord] is your servant warned; in keeping them there is great reward” (v. 11).
The Word of God is a warning light like a beacon (a signal fire on top of a hill, or lighthouse) to ships (your life) in the seas. In listening to its warning there is great reward (the saving of your life).
This Psalm also talks about the wonder and glory of creation. Spurgeon called this Psalm “World Book and Word Book.” The closing prayer found in verses 13 and 14 is one the best expressions of prayer found in the Bible. Make it your own prayer too.
The Glories of God’s Word
Psalm 119 is the longest Psalm and the longest chapter in the Bible. Many Bible Scholars believe that Psalm 119 might have been a contribution of Ezra, the great teacher of the Law of Moses. This Psalm has 176 verses.
All these verses except 90, 121, 122, 132 mention God’s Word in one way or the other. This Psalm is an Acrostic. It has 22 stanzas and each stanza has 8 lines. Each of these stanzas and the lines in them begin with one of letter of the Hebrew Alphabet thus covering all the 22 alphabets. Now let us look at some of the verses in this Psalm:
Verse 2, Blessed are all who seek God with all their heart.
Verse 9, A young man can keep his way pure only by living according to God’s Word.
Verse 11, Hiding God’s Word in one’s heart keeps us from sinning against God.
Verse 14, The Psalmist rejoiced in following God’s statutes as one rejoicing in great riches.
Verse 18, A prayer to open our eyes to see wonderful things in God’s Law.
Verse 24, God’s statues have the ability to give us counsel.
Verses 67 and 71, Sometimes suffering is good. It helps us to learn, appreciate and obey God’s Word. Verse 89, God’s Word is eternal; it is of divine origin and enduring forever.
Verse 92, Delight in God’s Word takes away the sting from suffering.
Verse 96, Even perfection has limits, but God’s commands are boundless.
Comment: “David, in his time, had seen Goliath, the strongest, overcome, Asahel, the swiftest, overtaken, Ahithophel, the wisest, fooled, Absalom, the fairest, deformed; and, in short, he had seen a limit to perfection, of all perfection. The glory of man is but as the flowers of the grass. But your commands are boundless. The word of God reaches to all cases, to all times.” Matthew Henry’s Commentary.
Verse 99, Those who meditate on God’s Word have more insight than their teachers.
Verse 101, To obey God’s Word there should be a deliberate keeping away of our feet from every evil path.
Verse 103, The Word of God is sweet, sweeter than honey!
Verse 105, The Word of God is like a lamp and a light. It guides us step by step throwing light on the path ahead as we follow it one step at a time.
Verse 131, The great desire and longing for God’s Word is expressed by the Psalmist in these words: “I open my mouth and pant, longing for your commands.”
Verse 162, We can rejoice in God’s Word like one who finds great spoil.
Verse 165, There is great peace to those who love God’s Law and nothing can make them stumble.
Verse 176, This is a surprising conclusion to this great Psalm. After having praised God’s Word and its benefits, the author concludes on a note of prayer.
He tells God that he has not forgotten His commands. Yet he points to his own weakness saying that even though he loved God’s Word, he was like a sheep that easily went astray. So, O God, please do not forget me. But “Seek your servant.”
In Jesus, we find a response to this prayer, when he said, “Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Does he not leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbours together and says, `Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep” (Luke 15:46 NIV). “For the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost” (Luke 19:10).
God does not forget you. Do not stay away from Him when you go astray. Instead ask Him to seek you. He will find you and joyfully carry you home!
Comment: ” `Ascribe to the Lord the glory due his name; worship the Lord in the splendour of his holiness’ (Psalm 29;2). This is the key verse to the book of the Psalms. The door into the temple of praise and prayer is open. Go in with the Psalmist to rest and pray. It is a real privilege to go apart during the rush of earthly things.” — What the Bible Is All About by Dr. Henrietta C. Mears.
The Psalmist also asks us to “Sing to the Lord a new song” (Psalm 96:1; 98:1) and also to “Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth. Worship the Lord with gladness; come before him with joyful songs. . . . Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name” (Psalm 100:1, 2, 4 NIV).
The invitation is open: “Come, let us sing for joy to the Lord; let us shout aloud to the Rock of our salvation. . . . Come, let us bow down in worship, let us kneel before the Lord our Maker; for he is our God and we are the people of his pasture, the flock under his care” (Psalm 95:1, 6, 7).
IV Penitential Psalms
Penitential means “showing that you are sorry for having done something wrong.” Psalms that fall under this category are 6; 32; 38; 51; 102; 130; and 143.
Do Not Rebuke Me in Your Anger
This Psalm was written in great anguish, suffering and weeping. David prays to the Lord asking Him not to discipline him in His wrath and seeks for mercy by telling God that no one remembers Him when he is dead. He is full of sorrow because of his enemies. But he ends confidently knowing that God has heard his cry for mercy and has accepted his prayer.
Blessed Is He Whose Transgressions Are Forgiven
This Psalm opens with David’s understanding of God’s forgiveness. He understood that when God forgave someone, He did not hold against him the sin he had committed. Such a man is blessed. He speaks of the torture on his mind and body when he tried to cover up his sin. He finally acknowledged and confessed his sin to God and found relief. And God forgave him the guilt of his sin. Now David found God to be his hiding place and as the One who would show him the way to go forward.
My Guilt Has Overwhelmed Me Like a Burden too Heavy to Bear
Comment: “It seems that David was suffering from a loathsome disease, caused by sin, on account of which his closest friends and nearest relatives had become estranged, and enemies had multiplied and become very bold. It shows how the `man after God’s own heart’ sometimes went to the depths in sorrow and humiliation for his sin.” Halley’s Bible Handbook.
Have Mercy on Me, O God
This Psalm was written when David was confronted by Prophet Nathan after David had committed adultery with Bathsheba and had murdered her husband Uriah. This Psalm is a plea for God’s mercy. David prays that his sins may be blotted out and that he be cleansed from it. He acknowledges that his sin is against God Himself.
He prays that God may create in him a pure heart. David knew that he had grieved the Spirit of God (see Ephesians 4:30) by his sin. So He asked God not to take the Holy Spirit away from him.
Another great prayer is to restore to him the joy of God’s salvation (salvation from God is full of joy; see Luke 2:10, good news of great joy). Finally David understands that God is not pleased with sacrifices. Instead God accepts the sacrifices of a broken and contrite heart; which He will not despise.
This Psalm is used in Churches around the world as a prayer of confession. David’s brokenness after he confessed his sins is seen in this Psalm.
Hear My Prayer, O Lord
This Psalm is the prayer of an afflicted man. Verses 3 to 11 describe very graphically the great distress and humiliation in which the Psalmist found himself. Feelings of being forsaken (I have become like a bird alone on a roof) and the reproach of enemies find expression in this Psalm.
With You There Is Forgiveness, Therefore You Are Feared
The Psalmist cries out to God from the depths of his despair or depression. He understands that no one could come into God’s presence if God kept a record of sins. Instead he finds that there is forgiveness with God and therefore He is to be feared. The Psalmist expresses his hope in God’s Word and his soul waits for God more than watchmen wait for the morning.
Do Not Hide Your Face from Me
David’s enemies are pursuing him. So his spirit grows faint within him and his heart is dismayed. He prays to God for guidance and protection. He prays, “Teach me to do your will, for you are my God; may your good Spirit lead me on level ground” (v. 10)
V The Hallel Psalms
Comment: “They were sung in families, on the night of the Passover: 113 and 114 at the beginning of the meal: 115, 116, 117, 118 at the close of the meal. They must have been the hymns that Jesus and his disciples sang at the Last Supper, Matthew 26:30. Hallel means Praise.” Halley’s Bible Handbook.
VI Songs of Degrees
Comment: “Also called Songs of Ascent, or Pilgrim Songs. Believed to have been designed for vocal music, to be sung by the pilgrims on the road up to the Feasts at Jerusalem: or, as they went up the 15 steps to the Men’s Court; or, Ascents may mean the elevated voice in which they were sung.”
Halley’s Bible Handbook.
Help comes from God, the Maker of heaven and earth, who does not slumber or sleep. He watches over you and will not let your foot slip (121).
Keep looking to God expectantly till He shows His mercy to us (123). God’s deliverance is compared to escape like a bird out of the fowler’s snare (124).
God surrounds His people now and forevermore (125). Return from captivity is described as “we were like men who dreamed. Our mouths were filled with laughter, our tongues with songs of joy” (126).
Unless God is actively present with us in our efforts; be it building a structure or building a family; unless God is with us in it, it is bound to fail (127).
Description of the blessedness of a godly family (128). Childlike trust in God described as “like a weaned child with its mother” (131). Brothers living together in unity is described as good, pleasant and like the precious anointing oil poured on the head of Aaron the high priest (133).
VII Hallelujah Psalms
Comment: “These are called `Hallelujah’ Psalms, each beginning and ending with `Hallelujah,’ which means `Praise the Lord.’ The word appears often in other Psalms. The grand outburst of Hallelujahs, with which the book of Psalms comes to a climatic close, is carried over to the end of the Bible itself, and is echoed in the heavenly choirs of the redeemed. Rev. 119:1, 3, 4, 6. Halley’s Bible Handbook.
VIII Imprecatory Psalms
The word imprecatory comes from the word imprecation which is an offensive word used to express extreme anger. It also contains the idea to pray for or invoke a curse.
The Imprecatory Psalms are 35, 52, 58, 59, 69, 109, 137. Perhaps the most famous lines would be from Psalm 137 where the Jewish people taken into exile by the rivers of Babylon prayed, “O Daughter of Babylon, doomed to destruction, happy is he who repays you for what you have done to us—he who seizes your infants and dashes them against the rocks” (vv. 8 and 9).
Comment: “They [imprecatory psalms] breathe vengeance on the enemies. They are not God’s pronouncements of His wrath on the wicked; but are the prayers of a man for vengeance on his enemies; just the opposite of Jesus’ teaching that we should love our enemies.
In the Old Testament God’s purpose was to maintain a nation to pave the way for the coming of Christ. He was working with human nature as it was, and did not necessarily endorse everything that even his most devoted servants did or said. Some of these Psalms are Battle Hymns, expressions of intense patriotism, designed, in life and death struggles with powerful enemies, to help the nation survive.
With the coming of Christ, God’s revelation of the meaning of human life, and its standards of conduct, were completed; and God shifted the direct emphasis of his work from the maintenance of a nation to the transformation of individuals into the kind of persons He wants us to be; and God will not NOW excuse some things he overlooked THEN.
In Old Testament times God, in measure, for expedience’ sake, accommodated Himself to men’s ideas. In New Testament times God began to deal with men according to His own ideas. (Read Luke 6:27–36).– Halley’s Bible Handbook.
IX Salvation History Psalms
These few Psalms (78, 105, 106, 135, 136) have as their focus a review of God’s saving works among the people of Israel, especially his deliverance of them from bondage in Egypt and his creation of them as a people. Israel, through whom eventually came Jesus the Christ and through whom the Word of God was mediated, is of course a special nation in human history, and its story is celebrated in these salvation history Psalms. — From ‘How to Read the Bible for all its Worth’ by Gordon D. Fee & Douglas Stuart
X Songs of Zion
The songs of the City of Jerusalem (46, 48, 76, 84, 87, 122). According to the predictions of God through Moses to the Israelites while they were yet in the wilderness (e.g. Deut. 12), Jerusalem became the central city of Israel, the place where the temple was built, and from which the kingship of David exercised authority. Jerusalem as the “holy city” receives special attention and celebration in these songs. — From ‘How to Read the Bible for all its Worth’ by Gordon D. Fee & Douglas Stuart
XI Position of the Book
“Hold your Bible in your hand and turn to the middle of the book. Most often you will open to the Psalms. Not merely is this true physically. There is a deeper truth. The Psalms are central in human experience.
This book is used by Hebrew and Christian alike even in our day. The Psalms were for use in the Temple, for which many were prepared. They were written for the heart to worship God out under the open heavens or in the pit of despair or in a cave of hiding. When you find yourself in deep need, you can always find a psalm that expresses your inmost feeling. Or, if you have an abounding joy, the words are there for you, too.
It is the book for all who are in need, the sick and the suffering, the poor and the needy, the prisoner and exile, the person in danger, the persecuted. It is a book for the sinner, telling him or her of God’s great mercy and forgiveness. It is a book for the child of God, leading him or her into new experiences with the Lord. It tells of God’s law in its perfection and pronounces blessings upon the one who will keep it.” — From What the Bible Is All About by Dr. Henrietta C. Mears.
XII The Structure of the Book of Psalms
Book I: Psalms 1—41: MAN
1. Man blessed (Psalm 1)
2. Man fallen from his high position and at enmity with God (Psalms 2:14)
3. Man restored by his blessed Redeemer, the Man Christ Jesus (Psalms 16–41).
Book II: Psalms 42–72: ISRAEL
1. Her Ruin (Psalms 42–49) 2.
Her Redeemer (Psalms 50–60)
3. Her Redemption (Psalms 61–72)
Book III: Psalms 73–89: THE SANCTUARY
In the psalms of this third section we see the sanctuary mentioned or referred to in almost every one. We see God’s counsels in relation to the sanctuary. The sanctuary is seen from its ruin to its restoration in the fullness of blessing.
Book IV: Psalms 90–106: THE EARTH
1. Blessing Needed (Psalms 90–94)
2. Blessing Anticipated (Psalms 95–100)
3. Blessing Enjoyed (Psalms 101–106)
Book V: Psalms 107–150: THE WORD OF GOD
All the teaching in the psalms is grouped around the Word of God. This section opens with Psalm 107, which gives the key: `He sent forth his word and healed them’ (v. 20). Psalm 119 is the great psalm of the whole book. It extols the word of God, which is the great revelation of the heart and mind of the Lord. This book is `more desirable than gold, yes, than much fine gold; sweeter than honey and the drippings of the honeycomb’ (Psalm 19:10 NASB). — Taken from What the Bible Is All About by Dr. Henrietta C. Mears.
XIII Leading Ideas in the Psalms
” `Trust’ is the foremost idea in all the book, repeated over and over. Whatever the occasion, joyous or terrifying, it drove David straight to God. Whatever his weaknesses, David literally LIVED IN GOD.
`Praise’ was always on his lips. David was always asking God for something, and always thanking him with his whole soul for the answers to his prayers.
`Rejoice’ is another favourite word. David’s unceasing troubles could never dim his joy in God. Over and over he cries, `Sing,’ `Shout for joy.’ Psalms is a book of devotion to God.
`Mercy’ occurs hundreds of times. David often spoke of Justice, Righteousness, and Wrath of God. But, God’s mercy was the thing in which he gloried.” – Taken from Halley’s Bible Handbook.
XIV Some Favourite Selections
(other than dealt with above)
Praise the Lord, O my Soul
“If you wish to praise the Lord for His goodness, read Psalm 103. It is full of worship, adoration, praise and thanksgiving. This is a great exercise for the soul.” — From What the Bible Is All About by Dr. Henrietta C. Mears.
This Psalm is “thought to have been written in David’s old age, summarizing God’s dealings with him. One of the best loved Psalms” — Halley’s Bible Handbook.
We are called to remember and not forget all God’s benefits towards us. He forgives all our sins, heals all our diseases and redeems our life from the pit. He crowns us with love and compassion. He satisfies our desires with good things so that our youth is renewed like the eagle’s. “For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him.” “As a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him.”
The Lord Is My Shepherd
Comment: “We’re all familiar with the 23rd Psalm. Its comforting message is well-known even among non-believers. This renowned Psalm was written by King David, and its most famous passage is contained in the opening verse: `The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.’
The Hebrew word David uses for want in this verse indicates a meaning of lack. David is saying, in other words, `I shall not lack anything.’ When we combine this meaning with the first part of the verse, David is saying, `The Lord leads, guides and nourishes me. And because of that, I have no lack.’
In this brief verse, David gives us yet another reflection of the Lord’s character and nature. The literal Hebrew translation of the first part of this verse is Jehovah [Yahweh] Rohi. It means `the Lord, my shepherd.’
David continues to develop this idea of the Lord as shepherd throughout the rest of the Psalm. In the next verse, he writes, `He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters” (Psalm 23:2). What an idyllic [this word means `peaceful and beautiful; perfect, without problems’] picture … The whole scene seems so pleasant, peaceful and carefree . . .
I ask you, what’s wrong with this picture? Simply this: life is nothing like the image of the idyllic existence. It’s my sincere belief that this tranquil picture is not the image David intended to put forth in Psalm 23—not at all.
The truth is, even the saintliest of God’s people are a motley bunch. With that in mind, I want to paint for you another picture of the sheepfold David describes here. Yes, sheep are lying about in green grass besides still waters. But, according to Isaiah, this flock includes lambs that are frail, weak and unsteady. Some are barely able to walk. Others are in deep pain. A few are pregnant. Still others have to nurse their restless young.
Isaiah writes, `He shall feed his flock like a shepherd: he shall gather the lambs with his arm, and carry them in his bosom, and shall gently lead those that are with young’ (Isaiah 40:11). Of course, Isaiah is speaking here of Christ, our Jehovah [Yahweh] Rohi. Our Lord Jesus is our shepherd. And he came not to tend just healthy, strong sheep, but also those who are sick, broken, diseased and weak.” — Taken from Hallowed Be Thy Names, by David Wilkerson [also the author of The Cross and the Switchblade].
Dear friend, Jesus said, “I am the good shepherd.” Read John 10:1—18. Do you have a personal relationship with Him? Do you know that He knows you by name? When He calls, do you listen?
Psalms 90 and 91
The Lord, Our Dwelling Place, Dwelling in the Shelter of the Most High
Comment: “Christ was victorious because He lived in the `dwelling place’ described by these two psalms. We are told that there is a point of perfect calm at the centre of a cyclone. There may be raging storms, snares, pestilences, terror by night, darkness and destruction, but when the soul is abiding under the shadow the Almighty, it is safe.” — From What the Bible Is All About by Dr. Henrietta C. Mears.
Psalm 90 contrasts God who is “from everlasting to everlasting” with man, “The length of our days is seventy years—or eighty, if we have the strength; yet their span is trouble and sorrow for they quickly pass, and we fly away.” So the Psalmist asks God to “Teach us to number our days aright, that we gain a heart of wisdom.” Psalm 91 contains the lovely thought of finding refuge under God’s wings: “He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge” (v. 4).
Taste and See That the Lord Is Good
This Psalm was written when David pretended to be insane before the Philistine King. Read the story in 1 Samuel 21:10–15. This Psalm has precious promises. It talks about God delivering David from all his fears. It speaks of the angel of the Lord encamping around those who fear him and delivering them.
It exhorts us to taste and see that the Lord is good. You need not live on hearsay about God; here instead is an invitation for you to experience God and find Him good. Those who seek the Lord lack no good thing. The righteous man may have many troubles but the Lord delivers him from them all. Surely, this is a Psalm to praise God and thank Him for His great deliverances on your behalf.
Delight Yourself in the Lord, He Will Give You the Desires of Your Heart
This Psalm is David’s attempt to understand the prosperity of the wicked. David speaks of his own trust in God and the ultimate good that will come to the righteous. He continually contrasts the miserable end of the wicked to the blessed state of the righteous. David gives an encouraging word to all who trust God: “I was young and now I am old, yet I have never seen the righteous forsaken or their children begging bread. They are always generous and lend freely; their children will be blessed” (v. 25).
The Lord Is My Rock
This Psalm, also found in 2 Samuel 22, was penned when the Lord delivered him from the hand of all his enemies. David attributes all his victories to God, his strength, his rock, his fortress, his deliverer, his shield, horn of his salvation and his stronghold. David reveals the secret of his strength, “With your help I can advance against a troop; with my God I can scale a wall” (v. 29). Verses 43–45 has Messianic overtones.
We Trust in the Name of Our Lord
A lovely Psalm written like a battle hymn; full of assurance of God’s help and protection and victory granted. The classic verse is: “Some trust is chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God.” (verse 7).
The Lord Is My Light and My Salvation
This Psalm speaks of David’s fearless trust in God even when an army is found to besiege him. This Psalm also speaks of David’s devotion to the house of God where he wants to dwell all the days of his life to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord and seek Him in his temple. David expects God to shelter him within the house of God in the day of trouble. David concludes by asking all of us to, “Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.”
O Lord, You Brought Me up from the Grave
David was often near death as he was hunted down by Saul and other enemies. Yet God delivered him from all of it. And this song which speaks of great deliverances was written for the dedication of the temple. David asks us to sing to the Lord, “For his anger lasts only a moment, but his favour lasts a lifetime; weeping may remain for a night, but rejoicing comes in the morning.” David also speaks of God changing difficult situations around: “You turned my wailing into dancing; you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy.”
He Put a New Song in My Mouth
David waited patiently for God. God heard his cry and from the slimy pit delivered him and set his feet on a rock giving him a firm place to stand. God put a new song in his mouth; a song of praise. Because God delivered him, David is sure that “Many will see and fear and put their trust in the Lord.”
Psalms 42 and 43
As the Deer Pants for Streams of Water
These Psalms expresses deep desire for the house of God. It also encourages us when we are downcast, “Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Saviour and my God.”
God, an Ever-present Help in Trouble
This is an excellent Psalm. Martin Luther’s famous song, “A Mighty Fortress Is Our God” is based on this Psalm. It was the Song of the Reformation. This Psalm tells us that God is our refuge and strength and He is an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore, whatever happens, we will not fear. This Psalm also tells us to be still before our God and not panic because God will be exalted among the nations.
Psalms 47 and 48
God Reigns Over the Nations
God is the King over all the earth. God reigns. God is seated on His holy throne. This God is our God for ever and ever. God will be our guide even to the end.
Lead Me to the Rock That Is Higher Than I
We all grow tired and weary. But that is the time to call on God when our heart grows faint. Then God will lead us to a firm place of safety higher than the enemy’s reach.
Open Your Mouth Wide and I Will Fill It
Even after repeated miracles that God does on our behalf we often fail to trust in Him. Here God finds fault with the people of Israel for not listening to Him. God is saying that if they trust in Him (open your mouth wide), He will definitely satisfy their needs. If they would but listen to Him, they “would be fed with the finest of wheat; with honey from the rock I would satisfy you.”
Blessed Are Those Whose Strength Is in You (Who Dwell in Your House)
This Psalm talks about those who long for the house of God. They envy the sparrow who has found a home in the courts of the Lord. Those who dwell in the house of God are blessed for they are ever praising God. Those who go on pilgrimage to the house of God might have to pass through the valleys (of tears, despair and difficulties for Valley of Baca can mean Valley of Weeping), but they go from strength to strength till they reach the House of God.
Blessed Is the Man Who Fears the Lord
Comment: This Psalm describes the “Blessedness of the man who fears God, and is righteous, merciful, gracious, kind to the poor, and loves the ways and Word of God, and whose heart is fixed in God. Everlasting blessedness in his.” Halley’s Bible Handbook.
How Can I Repay the Lord for All His Goodness to Me?
Comment: “A song of gratitude to God for deliverance from death, and from temptation, and for repeated answers to prayer. One of the best Psalms. Gracious. Merciful. Praise.” – Halley’s Bible Handbook. To the question asked, the answer is given, “I will lift up the cup of salvation and call on the name of the Lord.” It also contains the encouragement, “Be at rest once more, O my soul, for the Lord has been good to you.” (v. 7) “For you, O Lord, have delivered my soul from death, my eyes from tears, my feet from stumbling.” (v. 8). “Praise the Lord.”
O Lord, You Have Searched Me and You Know Me
God’s intimate knowledge of each one of us is shown in this Psalm. Also it is shown that there is no place where we can hide from the Lord: “Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your Presence?” David praises God as he understood the truth of his birth: “I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made.” God thinks much of His servants; those thoughts are precious and they cannot be numbered. This Psalm closes with a prayer that we need to pray often: “Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thought. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.”
How lovely that the Book of Psalms end with a loud note of praise.
Psalm 1:1 Blessed Is the Man
Psalm 2:12 For His Wrath Can Flare Up in a Moment
Psalm 5:3 Morning, I Lay My Requests Before You and Wait in Expectation
Psalm 16:11 Joy in Your Presence
Psalm 19:12,13 Keep Your Servant Also from Willful Sins
Psalm 20:7,8 Some Trust in Chariots and Horses, But We
Psalm 21:6 Made Him Glad with the Joy of Your Presence
Psalm 22:1 My God, My God, Why Have You Forsaken Me?
Psalm 22:24 For He Has Not Despised
Psalm 29:9 In His Temple All Cry, “Glory!”
Psalm 32:10 The Lord’s Unfailing Love Surrounds
Psalm 32:6, 7 You Are My Hiding Place
Psalm 34:4 He Delivered Me from All My Fears
Psalm 34:18 The Lord Is Close to the Brokenhearted
Psalm 37:4 Delight in the Lord, He Will Give Desires of Your Heart
Psalm 37:23, 24 If the Lord Delights in a Man’s Way
Psalm 40:5 The Things You Planned for Us
Psalm 40:8 I Desire to Do Your Will
Psalm 42:1, 2 My Soul’s Thirst for God
Psalm 46:10a Be Still, and Know that I am God
Psalm 48:14 God Our Guide
Psalm 51:1 Have Mercy on Me, O God
Psalm 51:10a Create in Me a Pure Heart, O God
Psalm 51:17 God Will Not Despise
Psalm 56:3 Trust in God When Afraid
Psalm 60:4 A Banner Unfurled Against the Bow
Psalm 61:2 Lead Me to the Rock that is Higher than I
Psalm 65:3 Overwhelmed by Sins, You Forgave
Psalm 65:4 Blessed Are Those You Choose and Bring Near
Psalm 65:10 Drench, Level, Soften, Bless
Psalm 65:3 When We Were Overwhelmed by Sins, You Forgave
Psalm 66:18,19,20 If I Had Cherished Sin in My Heart
Psalm 68:9 You Refreshed Your Weary Inheritance
Psalm 68:19 God, Who Daily Bears Our Burdens
Psalm 69:6 May Those Who Hope in You Not Be Disgraced Because of Me
Psalm 73:26 God Is the Strength of My Heart
Psalm 78:19 Can God Spread a Table in the Desert?
Psalm 79:8 Do Not Hold Against Us the Sins of the Fathers
Psalm 81:10 Open Wide Your Mouth and I will Fill It
Psalm 84:5–7 As They Pass Through the Valley of Baca
Psalm 86:11 Give Me an Undivided Heart
Psalm 87:3 Glorious Things Are Said of You, O City of God
Psalm 89:15,16 Blessed Are Those Who Have Learned
Psalm 90:8 Our Secret Sins
Psalm 93:5 Holiness Adorns Your House
Psalm 94:18 Slipping foot; Supporting Love
Psalm 94:19 Consolation When Anxiety Was Great
Psalm 99:3b He Is Holy
Psalm 101:2b,3a Set No Vile Thing Before Your Eyes
Psalm 105:41 He Opened the Rock
Psalm 114:7,8 Hard Rock into Springs of Water
Psalm 119:11 I have Hidden Your Word in My Heart
Psalm 119: 67, 71, 75 It Was Good for Me To Be Afflicted
Psalm 119:105 God’s Word: A Lamp and a Light
Psalm 119:162 I Rejoice in Your Promise
Psalm 121:1,2 My Help Comes from the Lord
Psalm 126:1,2 Like Men Who Dreamed
Psalm 126:5,6 Sow in Tears; Reap with Songs of Joy
Psalm 127:1 Unless the Lord Builds
Psalm 130:3,4 Record of Sins, Forgiveness
Psalm 138:3 Made Me Bold and Stouthearted
Psalm 139:23,24 Search Me, O God
Psalm 140:7 God, Who Shields My Head in the Day of Battle
Psalm 141:4 Let Not My Heart Be Drawn to What Is Evil
Psalm 142:3 When My Spirit Grows Faint
Psalm 143:10 Teach Me to Do Your Will
Psalm 143:12z For I Am Your Servant
Psalm 145:14 The Lord Upholds All Those Who Fall
Psalm 145:18,19 The Lord Is Near to All Who Call
Psalm 148:7,8 Stormy Winds that Do His Bidding