Psalms is one of the most beloved books of the Bible. It is the largest book of the Old Testament, and the most often quoted book in the New Testament. It was both the hymnal and devotional guide for Jewish believers. It is easy to memorize, easy to understand, and easy to relate to. In Hebrew, the title of this book is “Songs of Praise” or Praises“.
One of the reasons that Psalms is so easily relatable is because it was authored by multiple people. Moses, Solomon, Asaph, the sons of Korah, Heman, Ethan, and David are some of the authors that contributed to this book. By simply looking at some of the authors of the Psalms, one can gather that this book was written over a large span of time. This span of time includes the Patriarchal period, the Theocratic period, the Monarchial period, the Exilic period, and the Post- exilic period. Basically, the book of Psalms covers the whole of Israel's history. To understand who a Psalm was written to, one must figure out the time period in which it was authored. This also applies to the location of the Jews when a specific Psalm was written. The purposes of Psalms are listed below.
Historical Purpose- Psalms comprised the worship and service hymnal which is how the Jewish people prayed and praised God during the time of the temple.
Doctrinal Purpose- All of the main doctrines found in the Old Testament are taught in Psalms.
Christological Purpose- Basically all of Christ's life and ministry can be found in Psalms.
I. Man and Creation (1-41) (Can be compared to Genesis.)
II. Israel and Redemption (42-72)(Can be compared to Exodus.)
III. Worship and the Temple (73-89) (Can be compared to Leviticus.)
IV. Our Journey on the Earth (90-106) (Can be compared to Numbers.)
V. Praise and the Word of God (107-150) (Can be compared to Deuteronomy.)
These Psalms predict or depict the life of Christ. (Examples: Psalms 2:2, 2:1, 2:6)
Each of the five divisions of Psalms ends with a Psalm of praise. (Examples: Psalms 41, 72, 106)
These Psalms are pleas to God for His help or deliverance. (Examples: Psalms 4, 39, 71)
These Psalms contain confessions of sin. (Examples: Psalms 6, 32, 51)
These Psalms are evidence of God's care for His people, as a Shepard cares for his sheep. (Example: Psalms 23)
Psalms was/is a handbook of doctrine and ethics. (Examples: Psalms 32, 37)
Psalms is filled with prayers to God. (Examples: Psalms 3, 51, 63, 84, 139)
Professions Psalms are Psalms that are about God but addressed to other men. (Examples: Psalms 33:1, 107:2, 103:1, 2)
These Psalms deal specifically with God's people, the Israelites. (Examples: Psalms 44:4, 46:7, 108:8,9)
These are Psalms that the Israelites sang on their way to Jerusalem for festal holy days. (Examples: Psalms 120, 124, 131)
I will praise thee, O Lord, with my whole heart; I will shew forth all thy marvellous works. (Psalm 9:1)
The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handywork. (Psalm 19:1)
The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? the Lord is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid? (Psalm 27:1)
O taste and see that the Lord is good: blessed is the man that trusteth in him. (Psalm 34:8)
Delight thyself also in the Lord: and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart. Psalm (37:4)
O come, let us sing unto the Lord: let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation. Let us come before his presence with thanksgiving, and make a joyful noise unto him with psalms.(Psalm 95:1,2)
Though there are many personal applications one could take from Psalms, I will focus on three.
1. Give Your Burdens to the Lord- Psalm 55:22 says, “Cast thy burden upon the Lord, and he shall sustain thee: he shall never suffer the righteous to be moved.” It is not our job to worry and fret about situations that are out of our control. God knows exactly what is happening, and He knows exactly how everything is going to turn out. Our job is simply to give our burdens to God, pray, and ask for His will to be done.
2. Our Strength is in Christ- Psalm 62:7 says, “In God is my salvation and my glory: the rock of my strength, and my refuge, is in God.” Where do we find our strength? Is it in ourselves, or in Christ? Do we find our strength in the things of the earth, or in the things of God?
3. We are Fearfully and Wonderfully Made- Psalm 139:14 says, “I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well.” God made each of us uniquely. We are each ”…fearfully and wonderfully made….“ Often, we feel the need to compare ourselves to others. We compare looks, talents, social status, athletic ability, etc. Instead of constantly comparing ourselves to others, we should be thankful for the way in which God created us. We should strive to be like Christ, not like the people around us.
A Popular Survey of the Old Testament: Pages 199-203