The Old Testament | The Books of Poetry

Psalms

Things to know
Where does the book begin?

The first psalm is a song that introduces the whole book. It tells us that a blessed* man thinks about God’s words.

Where does the book end?

The last Psalm is a song of praise*. Let everything that has breath praise* the LORD*!

People to know

David
Asaph
Moses

Places to go

The writer described a blessed* man.
Psalm 1

God is the good shepherd*.
Psalm 23

A song comforts those who struggle.
Psalm 73

Number your days.
Psalm 90

The Lord* is great.
Psalm 145

The Story of Psalms

The Psalms are songs. The people read and sang them to help them worship* God. That makes the Psalms different from any other book in the Bible.

There are many different kinds of Psalms. Some are songs that praise* God for the good things that he has done. Some praise God because he is good and great. But sometimes the Psalms are sad songs. They talk about the pain that we feel or the problems that we have. But they almost always remind us that God is greater than our problems. We can trust* him because he knows about our troubles. He is with us as we go through them. He will not always take away our pain. But he will always use our problems to do what he wants to do in us and what he wants to do for us.

Many different people wrote songs for this book. King David wrote some Psalms. Some of the workers that helped people worship* in the temple* wrote Psalms. Sometimes, we know what was happening in the writer’s life when he wrote. Sometimes, we do not know. But the reason so many people like the Psalms is that the people who wrote the Psalms were just like we are. Sometimes, they were very happy and wanted to praise* God. Sometimes, they had problems and needed God’s help. Sometimes, they were hurting and sad. They wanted to know that God was close and he was listening. The words of the Psalms talk about all of those things. They give us the words we need to talk to God, just like the writers in the Psalms did.

The first psalm is a song that introduces the whole book. It tells us that a blessed* man thinks about God’s words. When he does this, he will know God’s ways. He (and we) will find blessing when we know and respect God’s written words. But, if we refuse his words, we show that we are wicked. The wicked lose everything in the day when God will judge all people.

The second psalm is also a kind of introduction. Many people who read this psalm say that it reminds them of the promise God made to David.[1] The second song talks about a king. This great king is sent by God. He will rule over Israel* and the nations. He will judge all people. Those who trust* him are blessed*.[2]

These two psalms* tell us that the blessed* man is one who remembers the word of God. And he waits for God’s promised king.

When we read the Psalms and 2 Samuel together, we can understand the Psalms better. Both books show how David believed God’s promises. 2 Samuel tells the stories in David’s life that show he trusted God. Psalms tells us David’s thoughts and words.[3] David believed God would send a great king. One day, God did send the king David was waiting for. His name was Jesus.[4]

We do not know who collected these Psalms and put them in a book. Many people think it was Ezra and his helpers. They did this after they returned to the land. When they put the book together, they divided the Psalms into five parts or books.

Psalm 1 to Psalm 41 are in book 1.
Psalm 42 to Psalm 72 are in book 2.
Psalm 72 to Psalm 89 are in book 3.
Psalm 90 to Psalm 106 are in book 4.
Psalm 107 to Psalm 150 are in book 5.

The Psalms teach us many things about God and what it means to follow God. The Psalms tell us that we can be honest with God. We can tell him how we feel. We can tell him when we are hurt or afraid. We can tell him when we are happy and grateful. But the Psalms teach us that, no matter how we feel, we should always trust* God and praise* him. He deserves our praise because he is great, he is wise, and he is good.

  • [1] 2 Samuel 7:16
  • [2] Psalm 2:12
  • [3] 2 Samuel 15 and Psalm 3
  • [4] John 5:46

The Old Testament | The Books of Poetry