The Book of Psalms
Introduction to Psalms
The Book of Psalms is really five books combined, with the final psalm of each book closing with a doxology, a word of
praise to God. They were Israel’s hymnal with a strong theological content.
Hebrew poetry differs from ours in that we know poetry as primarily having rhyme and rhythm, whereas Hebrew poetry
has a parallelism of ideas, sometimes comparative, sometimes contrasting and sometimes completing the idea of the
Nearly half the psalms were written by David, with another twelve written by Asaph, the Head of David’s choir, twelve for
the sons of Korah, just two by Solomon, one each by Heman and Ethan the Ezrahites, and one by Moses. Forty eight
psalms are anonymous.
Psalms Book 1
The happiness of a righteous man is contrasted with the state of the ungodly who are like the chaff separated by the wind
and will perish.
This psalm is not ascribed to David in its title, but by Peter in Acts 4:25-26 where he quotes verses 1 and 2.
This is the first of the Messianic psalms and speaks of the opposition by both Gentiles (the heathen) and Jews (the people)
to Christ, of His victory and a call for all to accept Him with a warning to those who will not.
A Psalm of David: When he fled from Absalom his son [2 Sam 15].
David complains of the increase in number of his enemies who say that God has forsaken him. Nevertheless, David is
confident God will be his protector as He has been in the past.
A Psalm of David: A prayer for the night.
David pleas to be heard by the ungodly and reasons with them to turn to God and put their trust in Him, as true happiness
can only come through God’s grace. David attests to God’s protection as he lays down his head for the night.
A Psalm of David: A prayer for guidance in the morning.
David asks God to hear his prayers, referring particularly on this occasion to morning prayers. He expresses the displeasure
God has toward the bloody and deceitful man. He then tells of his determination to continue to worship God and asks for
guidance in the face of his enemies who he calls on God to destroy. His prayer continues focusing on the people of God,
that He will give them joy and keep them safe.
A Psalm of David: Faith in a time of distress.
This psalm is a plea for mercy for a man worn down physically and mentally, crying out for the return of the Lord’s favour,
which he is confident will happen.
A Psalm of David: Concerning the words of Cush the Benjamite. Some consider Cush to be in reality a reference to Saul.
Prayer and praise for deliverance from his enemies.
David puts his trust in God to deliver him from his enemies, deliverance which will vindicate him and edify the people. He
expresses confidence in God’s dealing with the wicked who will have brought judgement upon themselves. David will give
God the glory for his deliverance.
A Psalm of David: Man’s place in God’s glorious creation.
God’s glory and excellence is manifest in his creation with the heavens getting particular mention. Man was created only a
little lower than the angels and is given dominion over all His creation, leading to God’s name being held in esteem over all
A Psalm of David: A prayer of thanksgiving for the Lord’s righteous judgements.
David praises God for his righteous judgement on his and Israel’s enemies. He knows God will always be a refuge for those
in distress, and all are encouraged to join him in his songs of praise. He prays for continuing mercy and support, foretells
the fate of the wicked and prays on behalf of the needy and the poor, and against their oppressors.
(Psalms 9 and 10 are considered to have been originally written as one psalm).
A Psalm of David: David complains about the pride of the wicked.
There are wicked men who defy God, disregard His laws and seem to get away with it. It is the poor who suffer. David calls
upon the Lord to exercise His judgement.
A Psalm of David: Faith in God’s righteousness.
David expresses his trust in God’s judgement of the wicked and His love for the righteous.
A Psalm of David: A cry for God’s help.
Thought at the time to be destitute of human comfort, David cries out for help from God, telling of the nature of people
around him. He speaks of God’s judgement against them, and His protection of the poor and needy.
A Psalm of Daviid: Trust in the Lord’s salvation.
It would seem to David that time is passing and the Lord has forgotten him. Yet he trusts in God’s salvation and that it will
come in time to witness to his enemies.
A Psalm of David: The folly of the godless.
Society is generally godless and none can be found that do any good. They will fear God because He is the refuge for the
David prays for the restoration of Israel.
A Psalm of David: Qualities of the righteous.
David lists some qualities of the righteous. If they maintain these qualities they will dwell with the Lord.
A Psalm of David: The hope of the saints and the Messiah’s victory.
It is thought that David is likely to be hiding from Saul when he cries out for his preservation. He declares his trust in God,
expresses his abhorrence of idolatry and his confidence in the saints’ hope of inheritance. Then follows a remarkable
prophecy of the resurrection of Christ.
A Psalm of David: Confidence in final salvation.
Expressing confidence in his own righteousness, David calls on God to deliver him from his unrighteous enemies who have
now surrounded him. David is confident in his final salvation.
A Psalm of David: Thanksgiving for David’s deliverance from all his enemies and from Saul [2 Sam 22:1-51].
David declares it is God who has delivered him. He briefly relates his sufferings and prayers for assistance, then gives a
dramatic description of his deliverance, which only came about because of his strong faith and adherence to God’s statutes.
For all his victories, and with an expectation of more to come, he gives the glory to God.
A Psalm of David: God’s creation and law.
The majesty of God is revealed in His creation. His perfection is revealed in His law given for man’s benefit. David prays for
help in living an upright life.
A Psalm of David: A prayer for the king before battle.
This psalm is thought to be a prayer for the king, used before he went into battle. That his prayers may be heard, offerings
accepted and his wishes fulfilled. Confidence of victory is expressed and the psalm concludes with an earnest request that
their prayers be heard.
A Psalm of David: Thanksgiving for victory in battle.
Thanks are given to God for answering David’s prayers in giving him victory over his enemies with consequential blessings.
Confidence is expressed in further victories if his enemies rise against him again. This psalm is concluded with a word of
praise for God’s power.
A Psalm of David: Suffering and salvation; Christ on the cross.
This is the most quoted psalm in the New Testament. It is a prayer to God at a time when David is under great distress. As
a summary, it is not so much David’s prayer and circumstance that is of primary interest, but the fact that it is clearly a
prophetic (Messianic) psalm as can be seen in the following verses:
My God, myGod, why hast thou forsaken me?
are the words cried out by Jesus on the cross.
descrive the abuse Jesus received whilst hanging on the cross.
describe the agony on the cross.
describes the dividing of, and casting lots for, Jesus’ garments.
speak of Jesus’ deliverance
A Psalm of David: The Lord the Shepherd.
Arguably the most well known psalm: “The Lord is my Shepherd.”
As the Good Shepherd, the pastor of His people, the Lord takes care of them in their earthly lives, providing physical and
spiritual needs and protecting them in the face of the enemy. They can have confidence in His continual mercy and an
A Psalm of David: A psalm of worship of the King of Glory and His Kingdom.
Some considered this psalm to have been written for the occasion when the ark was returned to Jerusalem from the house
The Lord is Sovereign Ruler of the universe. Who is fit to minister to the Lord in his temple? Worship and praise is given to
the King of Glory as He returns to His temple.
A Psalm of David: A plea for forgiveness and deliverance.
This is the first of seven acrostic psalms where the first letter of each line follows the order of the twenty two letters of the
Hebrew alphabet. [The others are 34; 37; 111:1-10; 112:1-10; 119; 145].
In a time of distress David prays to God expressing his trust in Him. He prays for pardon with confidence, as should all who
fear the Lord. He pleas for mercy and deliverance for himself and for the restoration of Israel.
A Psalm of David: Confidence in an upright life.
In this psalm David is putting himself on trial before God for his integrity to be judged. He states he has walked in truth,
avoided any fellowship with ungodly people, and has been a witness to others in his love for the Lord. He throws himself on
the mercy of God, resolving to hold fast to his integrity.
A Psalm of David: A prayer of faith and trust in God.
Here is a prayer of a righteous man’s confidence in God, his desire to worship God in His temple and benefit from the
resultant blessings. David prays for continuing fellowship with God and to be taught how to deal with his enemies so that
His goodness will be seen in this life. He exhorts others to be of good courage and to have faith in the Lord.
A Psalm of David: A prayer answered.
In his distress, David makes supplication to God not to be drawn into the ways of the wicked. He blesses God for hearing
his prayers, is consoled, then prays for God’s people.
A Psalm of David: The power of the voice of the Lord.
David calls upon the mighty to give the glory to God and to worship Him in the beauty of His holiness. He expresses the
power of God’s voice in His creation, in the wonders produced by a thunderstorm, His sovereign dominion over the earth
and His particular concern for His people.
A Psalm of David: Thanksgiving for deliverance from sickness.
David gives thanks to God for delivering him from sickness and calls upon others to trust in Him. He recalls his previous
state of mind, his cries to God for mercy, and how his deliverance brought great joy and a resolve to forever sing God’s
A Psalm of David: Complete trust in God in times of trouble.
Throughout this psalm there is a sense of complete trust in God. David begins by professing his confidence in Him and
prays for deliverance from his present troubles. He speaks of his current pitiful state and relates how his prayers were
previously heard despite feeling cut off from God. He calls on all saints to love God and to have trust in Him.
A Psalm of David: The joy of forgiveness.
Sins must be acknowledged and no thought given to being able to hide them. They must be confessed to God, then
forgiveness will follow.
In praise of God, His creation, sovereignty and mercy.
The righteous are called upon to praise God for His works of creation, His governance over it, and for the favour He has
shown in choosing His own people. Those that fear God are blessed because they trust in Him and His mercy.
A Psalm of David: In praise of God who cares for His people.
This is the second acrostic psalm. Our Bibles tell us this is a psalm of David when he feigned madness before Abimelech
[Achish] who drove him away [1 Sam 21:13-15], but there is little in its content that can be said to be peculiar to that
David praises God for what He has done for himself and others. He encourages all people to fear and seek Him. He then
gives counsel to all to depart from evil and pursue peace, encouraging them with the understanding that God gives favour
to the righteous, but will punish the wicked.
A Psalm of David: A plea for God’s judgement against his enemies.
David, as is frequent, is in fear of his enemies and prays for his safety and for their confusion. He speaks of the kindness
he showed to those who had rewarded him evil for good, and consequently appeals to God’s judgement that he might deal
with his enemies. He prays for his supporters and praises God for His righteousness.
A Psalm of David: Hatred of sin; Satisfaction in God’s loving kindness.
The wicked have no fear of God, are deceitful and mischievous. Those that put their trust in God receive His mercy,
faithfulness and loving kindness, and are abundantly satisfied. David prays for the faithful, that he might be protected from
pride and from the wicked whose fate is certain.
A Psalm of David: This is the third acrostic psalm.
There is no worship or praise in this psalm, hence it is considered a teaching psalm giving instruction for those in adversity.
They are not to envy the prosperity of the wicked, for the little a righteous man has far exceeds the riches of the wicked
whose prosperity will only be for a while, but the saints are preserved forever. They can have confidence in God if they put
aside all malice and live according to His laws and statutes. This is the way to contentment in this life and in that which is
A Psalm of David: A prayer for forgiveness in a time of great distress.
David’s general predicament is causing him to reflect on his sins and to humble himself before God. He speaks of being in a
miserable state, has been forsaken by his friends and is being persecuted by his enemies. He confesses his sins and
earnestly implores God’s help.
A Psalm of David: The brevity of life.
This psalm would appear to be a reflection on life, and the vanity of it, as it approaches its final period. David relates the
care he took over his thoughts, tongue and actions, considers the brevity of life, prays for deliverance from sin and that his
remaining time might be without afflictions.
A Psalm of David: Perseverance and faith.
David speaks of God delivering him from distress following a period of patience and trust. He writes in the Spirit in verses 6
to 8, speaking of the redemptive work of Christ. David prays for God’s mercy and deliverance from evils, for himself and all
who seek Him.
(Verses 13 to 17 are repeated in Psalm 70)
A Psalm of David: Comfort in sickness.
David is on his sick-bed and is experiencing malice from his enemies. He comforts himself in communing with God,
complains concerning his enemies and prays for support. He blesses God who hears his prayers and preserves him,
expressed in a closing doxology.
Psalms Book 2
For the sons of Korah: Longing for God in a time of distress.
The psalmist longs to worship again in God’s house and expresses the distress he is feeling. Faced with jibes from his
enemies, he tries to take comfort believing that God will be with him.
This psalm has no title, but some consider it to have originally been part of the previous psalm.
The psalmist pleads with God to take his side against his enemies, to send His light and truth to guide him to the
tabernacle, where he promises to praise Him with exceeding joy on the harp. He ends this short psalm with self-
examination of his spiritual state (a repeat of Psalm 42:5).
For the sons of Korah: A prayer for the nation.
The psalmist recounts God’s protection of his people in days of old, but He now seems to have deserted them, as can be
seen from their present predicament. He claims they have not turned away from God and that God will surely know this, so
calls upon Him for deliverance.
For the sons of Korah: The Messiah and His bride.
This psalm speaks of Christ the bridegroom:
His glory and majesty
the royal bride which is the church
presented to the groom
and her numerous descendants
For the sons of Korah: God our refuge and strength.
We can take comfort in God when things around us seem threatening, for He is amongst us and is our protector. God will
be exalted among the heathen and throughout the earth.
For the sons of Korah: Shout praises to the Lord.
Gentiles are called to praise God, and the Jews to exalt His favour toward them. All are then called to sing praises together,
with a hint in verse 9 of Jews and Gentiles becoming one church.
For the sons of Korah: Zion, the glorious city of God.
Jerusalem is praised for its relationship with God, it is His dwelling place and other nations’ kings are in awe of it. Zion will
be established forever and the name of God known throughout the earth. All are called to rejoice, to walk around and see
the beauty of this city favoured by God.
For the sons of Korah.
This psalm is more a sermon than a song of praise, intended to comfort godly people. It speaks against those that trust in
their wealth, that boast about it and have vain expectations. Death is inevitable, but riches cannot be taken with you and
cannot secure happiness after death. Do not be concerned about the prosperity and power of the wicked, for they are
brutish and die like beasts.
A Psalm of Asaph: God the righteous judge.
God will come and judge his people. They are reproached for their vain confidence in sacrifices when prayer is the kind of
worship God responds to. Those that pretend to worship God but live in disobedience are rebuked and will receive due
judgement, whereas salvation will come to those that truly praise and glorify God.
30-Day Reading Plan
This is a 30-day reading plan based on an average of 15 minutes per session - a total read time of 7½ hours.
The actual read times vary from 12 to 20 minutes to accommodate for practical read session end points. If the reading
times don’t suit you, then simply go at your own pace and note where you finished.
Please select your reading day below
New Testament History Books -
Old Testament History Books -
New Testament Epistles -
The Prophets -
The Poetry Books -