Psalms Overview

Who? | Author & Audience

There are many authors, including Moses, David, Solomon, Asaph, the sons of Korah and some anonymous authors.

When? | Dates

Psalms were likely written between 1440-430 BC

Where? | Setting

As Psalms were written over about 1000 years, their locations and settings vary greatly.

What & Why? | Outline & Purpose

Book One (1-41)

  1. Mostly from David

Book Two (42-72)

  1. From the sons of Korah (42-49)

  2. From Asaph (50)

  3. From David (51-71)

  4. From Solomon (72)

Book Three (73-89)

  1. From Asaph (73-83)

  2. From the sons of Korah (84-88)

  3. From Ethan the Ezrahite (89)

Book Four (90-106)

  1. From Moses and anonymous authors (90-100)

  2. From David (101-106)

Book Five (107-150)

  1. Combination of David, anonymous authors, and ascents.

How? | Application

  • The book of Psalms is a praise and worship book for God’s people that teaches God is worthy of all praise, honor, glory and worship in all circumstances.

  • Psalms displays that God will defend His people against their enemies in the ways and times that He knows is right.

  • Psalms expresses that being in a relationship with God is the key to joy and security in life.

There are several different types of Psalms:

Royal Psalms:

  • Emphasize that God is King

  • Uses phrases such as “the Lord reigns”

  • Addresses God’s role and Creator, Savior and Coming One

Psalms of Zion:

  • Focuses on Jerusalem using its endearing name, Zion

  • Emphasizes God’s choice for the city as His Holy temple

Penitential Psalms:

  • Poems that confess sins to, ask for and receive forgiveness from the Lord

  • Poems of praise to God for renewal of relationships and forgiveness

Wisdom Psalms:

  • Often focuses on the same issues throughout Proverbs

  • Provides clear descriptions of the differences between righteous and wicked

  • Addresses God’s blessing and curses, focusing primarily on righteous living

  • Includes some focus on the Torah, identifying the beauty, truth and sufficiency of God’s Law

  • Includes some focus on creation and history

  • Often calls for believers to praise God, identifying Him as Creator and Savior

  • Seeks renewed commitment to God, often in times of disorder and rebellion

Imprecatory Psalms:

  • Prayers that ask God to curse the wicked, often believed to conflict with the gospel but actually reflect God’s abhorrence for sin and evil

Passover Psalms:

  • Also called the joyful and prophetic Psalms

  • Were a part of the Passover celebration in Judaism

  • Focus on the events of God delivering the Israelites from Egypt

  • Point toward Jesus as our Savior and Deliverer

Hallel Psalms:

  • Praise God, His character, and His divine saving works


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