Last Monday, I was teaching my students about the history of the book of Psalms. Many questions were raised including the purpose of the Psalms.
Thanks to my theological knowledge and my studies of the book of Psalms, we ended up having a fruitful lesson. But I realized that if you want to understand the history of the Book of Psalms, you must first be able to answer the question, what is the Book of Psalms about?
The Psalms are a collection of poems, prayers, and hymns meant to worship God. They illuminate God’s greatness and reflect the Psalmist’s gratitude for His goodness. Christians today use this Book as a guide for prayer, a source of comfort, and inspiration for music.
Join me in exploring the purpose of the Psalms. I’ll summarize the Book and cover some facts about it. Additionally, I’ll tell you how to read it.
Let’s get started.
Summary of the Book of Psalms
The Book of Psalms spans over 1000 years of Israel’s history. It’s a collection of songs, prayers, and poems used to worship God.
Psalms is divided into five books.
- Book one covers chapters 1 to 41. Most of these were written by David. They’re prayers for help and expressions of confidence.
- Book two spans chapters 42 to 72. Most were written by the descendants of Korah and David.
- Book 3 covers chapters 73 to 89. Most were written by Asaph. Others by Korah. These Psalms express frustrations over injustice.
- The fourth Book spans chapters 90 to 106. Some talk about God’s dealings with Israel (103-106), while others emphasize His sovereignty (93-100).
- The final Book covers chapters 107-150. It comprises hallelujah songs (146-150), some Davidic Psalms (110, 132, 144), and the Songs of Ascent (120-134).
When was the Book of Psalms written?
As mentioned, the Book of Psalms was written over 1000 years. Historians believe these Psalms go as far back as the deliverance from Egypt to the return of Exiles from Babylon.
Some of these were linked to historical events in Israel. For instance, Psalm 59 is associated with 1 Samuel 19:11, which narrates Saul’s attempt to kill David: “Saul sent men to David’s house to watch it and to kill him in the morning. But Michal, David’s wife, warned him, ‘If you don’t run for your life tonight, tomorrow you’ll be killed.'”
How many Psalms are there?
There are 150 Psalms split into five books. These were composed by authors including Moses, David, Solomon, Heman, Ethan the Ezrahite, Asaph, and Korah’s descendants.
They were songs and hymns for praising and worshipping God.
What was the point of the Book of Psalms?
The Psalms were for worshipping God. Its writers composed them during different times in their lives. For instance, Psalm 51 was a prayer of repentance after David killed Uriah and took his wife.
What points does the Book of Psalms talk about?
The Psalms address several Theological, practical, and prophetic themes. Here are three:
Jesus taught that the law, prophets, and Psalms spoke about his suffering and resurrection (Luke 24:44). This is evident in Psalm 22, which predicts his death by Crucifixion, and Psalm 110:1, which foreshadows Christ’s glorification at the right hand of God.
The Psalmists frequently echo their frustrations when facing trials. They often feel as though God is far from them. This is seen in Psalm 22:1-2.
Some of these were used when the Israelites traveled to Jerusalem during feasts and celebrations. They’re called songs of ascent (120-134). They express the Psalmists’ confidence in God and anticipation of being in His presence.
What is the longest Psalm in the Bible?
Psalm 119 is the longest in the Bible. It has 176 verses split into 22 stanzas. Each stanza is denoted by the 22 letters of the Hebrew alphabet.
The theme in this chapter is God’s word and the value of obeying it.
How to read the Book of Psalms
The Psalms are a favorite among believers. However, some find the Book tedious and repetitive. Here are three tips for reading the Book of Psalms.
- Read the Book in context. This means understanding the type or genre of the Psalm. Do this by asking yourself what feelings are evoked by the Psalm.
- Meditate. The Psalms use imagery and parallelisms to get their message across. Meditate and unpack the imagery in the Psalm to understand its message.
- Ask how the Psalms point to Jesus. Reading them with Christ in mind helps you appreciate the hope He gives you.
How do you pray the Book of Psalms?
Praying the Book of Psalms is helpful when words are insufficient. Here are three tips to pray through the Psalms:
- Find a quiet place. Pastors advise you to designate a time and place for prayer. This helps you focus and hear from God.
- Identify a Psalm for your situation. For instance, Psalm 107 is perfect for expressing gratitude.
- Pray its words. It helps to connect with the emotion of the Psalm and speak its words audibly to God.
As a theologian, I have always been curious to learn more about the Christian Faith. That is why I pursued a Certificate in Christian Studies, Certificate in Christian Foundations and a Masters in Theology. I also have an immersive experience in editing for numerous websites. I have worked as an editor for over a decade and am currently the editor-in-chief at Christian Faith Guide. I enjoy working as an editor and feel privileged to share my expertise and help spread God’s word. You can read more about me on the about us page.