Hierarchical Précis

Psalms - Book 1

[Psalms 1-41]

Psalm 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.

Psalm 2

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.

Psalm 3

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.

Psalm 4

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.

Psalm 5

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.

Psalm 6

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.

Psalm 7

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 deliveranc e.

Psalm 8

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 the earth.

Psalm 9

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.

Psalm 10

(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.

Psalm 11

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.

Psalm 12

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.

Psalm 13

A Psalm of David: 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.

Psalm 14

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 poor. David prays for the restoration of Israel.

Psalm 15

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.

Psalm 16

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 .

Psalm 17

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.

Psalm 18

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.

Psalm 19

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.

Psalm 20

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.

Psalm 21

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.

Psalm 22

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: 1 My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? are the words cried out by Jesus on the cross. 7-8 describe the abuse Jesus received whilst hanging on the cross. 14-16 describe the agony on the cross. 18 describes the dividing of, and casting lots for, Jesus’ garments. 20-21 speak of Jesus’ deliverance

Psalm 23

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 eternal life.

Psalm 24

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 of Obededom. 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.

Psalm 25

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.

Psalm 26

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.

Psalm 27

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.

Psalm 28

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.

Psalm 29

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.

Psalm 30

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 praises.

Psalm 31

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.

Psalm 32

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.

Psalm 33

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.

Psalm 34

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 occasion. 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.

Psalm 35

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.

Psalm 36

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.

Psalm 37

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 to come.

Psalm 38

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.

Psalm 39

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.

Psalm 40

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)

Psalm 41

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.
Old Testament History Books New Testament History Books New Testament Epistles Old Testament Poetry & Wisdom Old Testament  Old Testament Prophets Psalms Job Proverbs Ecclesiastes Song of Solomon
Book 1 Psalms 1 to 41 Book 2 Psalms 42 to 72 Book 3 Psalms 73 to 89 Book 5 Psalms 107 to 150 Old Testament  Book 4 Psalms 90 to 106 Collection of Messianic Psalms