The Barnabas Ministry

Psalms
Undertaking a study of the Psalms can seem overwhelming. The Psalms were used as prayer guides in Jewish worship, yet they have application for the Christian today. Not only are they important for understanding the life of Jesus and the early church as one of the most cited books from the Old Testament, they contain a context of expression suitable for prayer and reflection today. This series of articles will help make the Psalms more practical for the Christian.

Categories of Psalms
The Psalms may be classified into various groups. Originally, they were published in five books (1-41, 42-72, 73-89, 90-106, 107-150). Three ways to group the Psalms are by author, context, usage and theme
 
Psalms by Author
Note: The person referenced at the beginning of these Psalms may or may not be the author. It could also be for or regarding the person stated at the beginning.

Person Book 1
(1-41)
Book 2
(42-72)
Book 3
(73-89)
Book 4
(90-106)
Book5
(107-150)
David (75) 1-41 (all except 1, 2, 10, 33) 51, 52, 53, 54, 55, 56, 57, 58, 59, 60, 61, 62, 63, 64, 65, 68, 69, 70, 72 86, 89 101, 103 108, 109, 110, 122, 124, 131, 133, 138, 139, 140, 141, 142, 143, 144, 145
Asaph (12)   50 73, 74, 75, 76, 77, 78, 79, 80, 81, 82, 83    
The Sons of Korah (11)   42, 44, 45, 46, 47, 48, 49 84, 85, 87, 88    
Anonymous (49) 1, 2, 10, 33 43, 66, 67, 71   91, 92, 93, 94, 95, 96, 97, 98, 99, 100, 104, 105, 106 107, 111, 112, 113, 114, 115, 116, 117, 118, 119, 120, 121, 123, 125, 126, 128, 129, 130, 132, 134, 135, 136, 137, 146, 147, 148, 149, 150
Miscellaneous (6) 39- Jeduthun 62- Jeduthun 77- Jeduthun
89- Ethan
90- Moses 127- Solomon


Psalms with Some Historical Context

Psalm
Context of Psalm
Other OT Reference
3
When David fled Absalom
(2 Samuel 15:14)
7
Concerning Cush the Benajamite
(no other reference to Cush the Benjamite in the OT)
18
When David was delivered from Saul
several instances in 1 Samuel
34
When David feigned madness before Abimelech
1 Samuel 21:13
51
When David was rebuked by Nathan for the Bathsheba incident
2 Samuel 12:1
52
When Doeg the Edomite betrayed David to Saul
1 Samuel 22:9
54
When the Ziphites betrayed David to Saul
1 Samuel 23:19
56
When the Philistines seized David at Gath
1 Samuel 21:12
57
When David fled from Saul in a cave
two possibilities: 1 Samuel 22:1, 24:3
59
When Saul sent men, and they watched the house in order to kill him
1 Samuel 19:11
60
When David killed Edomites in the Valley of Salt
2 Samuel 8:13, cf. 1 Chronicles 18:12
63
When David was in the wilderness of Judah
perhaps 1 Samuel 23:14
142
When David was in a cave
1 Samuel 24:3
74
79
106
126
137
Post-exilic


Psalms Usage Index
The introductions to the Psalms (as well as some of the internal evidence) sometimes indicate what that Psalm might have been intended for. For example, the following uses are identified:

Per the research of Gunkel (discussed by LaSor et. al), some particular Psalms were intended for particular uses: Psalms By Subject
The following chart references the major themes of the psalms and which specific psalms address those themes. All psalms appear at least once below, but some may appear more than once. This table is not intended to be restrictive or exclusive, but simply a reference to help one read or pray through Psalms that fit the whatever situation one finds himself in.
 
Subject Book 1 
(1-41)
Book 2
(42-72)
Book 3
(73-89)
Book 4
(90-106)
Book 5
(107-150)
The Blessed Man, The Righteous Man 1, 4, 5,11, 15, 17, 23, 24, 26, 32, 34, 37, 40, 41 50, 52, 65 84 91, 92, 94, 97, 101 112, 119, 127, 128, 133, 145, 146
The Wicked Man, 
The Nations
1, 2, 9, 10, 11, 12, 14, 17, 36, 37 49, 50 52, 53, 55, 58, 64 73, 75, 82 94 107, 109, 112, 119, 129, 146, 147
Meditation 1, 4, 19, 23, 25, 27, 37, 38, 39 42, 43, 49, 51, 55, 57, 61, 62, 63, 66, 69 73, 74, 77, 81, 84, 86, 88 90, 91, 95, 101, 103, 104, 105 116, 118, 119, 121, 123, 130, 131, 137, 138, 139, 141, 142, 143, 144, 145, 146
The Law, The Word of the Lord 1, 12, 19   81 105 119, 147
The Son, The Anointed One, The King, David 2, 16, 18, 21 45, 61, 72 78, 89    110, 122, 132, 144
Deliverance From Adversaries, Intercession for the Righteous 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 13, 16, 17, 18, 20, 22, 25, 27, 28, 31, 35, 38, 40 42, 43, 44, 48, 51, 53, 54, 55, 56, 57, 59, 60, 64, 67, 69, 70, 71 74, 79, 80, 82, 83, 85, 86, 89 90, 94, 102, 106 108, 109, 119, 120, 122, 125, 128, 134, 139, 140, 141, 142, 143, 144
Chronicle of God's Acts, Thanks for Deliverance, Praise of God, God's Glory 8, 19, 24, 28, 29, 30, 33, 34, 40 44, 46, 47, 57, 65, 66, 67, 68 75, 76, 78, 81, 83, 85, 87, 89 90, 92, 93, 96, 97, 98, 99, 100, 102, 104, 105, 106 107, 111, 113, 114, 115, 116, 117, 118, 124, 126, 129, 134, 135, 136, 138, 145, 146, 147, 148, 149, 150

Seeking God
One of the most common themes in the Psalms is that of seeking God in the worshipper's present circumstance. While Christians rightly use the phrase "seeking God" to refer to those beginning a life of faith, seeking God is something that characterizes the life of the godly person. It is something we should always do, not just at times of conversion or when things are going poorly for us:

"Seek the LORD and His strength; Seek His face continually. (Psalm 104:5)."
Accordingly, the Psalms provide a means of seeking God during all sorts of times of life: during times of rejoicing and sorrow, victory and defeat. Thus, the above subject index of the Psalms can help us seek God and pray to Him whatever our situation.

The Psalms and the New Testament
Jesus once said:

All things which are written about Me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled (Luke 24:44).
Quotes and references from the Psalms appear often in the New Testament. Jesus and the early church were familiar with the Psalms and often used the language and/or context of the Psalms to express themselves and/or provide direction. Here are listings of references from the Psalms in the New Testament:

The Psalms in the New Testament
(Taken from The Greek New Testament, Aland et. al., Third Edition, United Bible Societies, 1983)
 
Psalms New Testament
2:1-2 Acts 4:25-26
2:7 Acts 13:33
2:7 Hebrews 1:5
2:7 Hebrews 5:5
4:4 Ephesians 4:26
5:9 Romans 3:13
8:3 Matthew 21:16
8:4-6 Hebrews 2:6-8
8:6 1 Corinthians 15:27
10:7 Romans 3:14
14:1-3 Romans 3:10-12
16:8-11 Acts 2:25-28
16:10 Acts 2:31
16:10 Acts 13:35
18:49 Romans 15:9
19:4 Romans 10:18
22:1 Matthew 27:46
22:1 Mark 15:34
22:18 John 19:24
22:22 Hebrews 2:12
24:1 1 Corinthians 10:26
31:5 Luke 23:46
32:1-2 Romans 4:7-8
34:12-16 1 Peter 3:10-12
35:19 John 15:25
36:1 Romans 3:18
40:6-8 Hebrews 10:5-7
41:9 John 13:18
44:22 Romans 8:36
45:6-7 Hebrews 1:8-9
51:4 Romans 3:4
53:1-3 Romans 3:10-12
68:18 Ephesians 4:8
69:4 John 15:25
69:9 John 2:17
69:9 Romans 15:3
69:22-23 Romans 11:9-10
69:25 Acts 1:20
78:2 Matthew 13:35
78:24 John 6:31
82:6 John 10:34
89:20 Acts 13:22
91:11-12 Matthew 4:6
91:11-12 Luke 4:10-11
94:11 1 Corinthians 3:20
95:7-8 Hebrews 3:15
95:7-8 Hebrews 4:7
95:7-11 Hebrews 3:7-11
95:11 Hebrews 4:3,5
102:25-27 Hebrews 1:10-12
104:4 Hebrews 1:7
109:8 Acts 1:20
110:1 Matthew 22:44
110:1 Matthew 26:64
110:1 Mark 12:36
110:1 Mark 14:62
110:1 Luke 20:42-43
110:1 Luke 22:69
110:1 Acts 2:34-35
110:1 Hebrews 1:13
110:4 Hebrews 5:6
110:4 Hebrews 7:17,21
112:9 2 Corinthians 9:9
116:10 2 Corinthians 4:13
117:1 Romans 15:11
118:6 Hebrews 13:6
118:22 Luke 20:17
118:22 Acts 4:11
118:22 1 Peter 2:7
118:22-23 Matthew 21:42
118:22-23 Mark 12:10-11
118:25-26 Matthew 21:9
118:25-26 Mark 11:9-10
118:25-26 John 12:13
118:26 Matthew 23:39
118:26 Luke 13:35
118:26 Luke 19:38
132:11 Acts 2:30
140:3 Romans 3:13

Psalms- New Testament References By Topic

Concerning God

Concerning Godliness

Concerning Sin

Concerning Jewish History

Concerning The Messiah

The Psalms in the Church Today
Christians today ought to be far more familiar with the Psalms than they typically are. Jesus and the early Christians used the language of the Psalms to capture their expressions of prayer to God and to provide spiritual guidance. Indeed, the apostle Paul urged that Christians use the Psalms to praise God and teach each other, that we might be filled with God's Spirit and the word might dwell within us (Ephesians 5:19, Colossians 3:16).

While David was the "sweet psalmist of Israel (2 Samuel 23:1, NASB),"  he was not the only Psalmist in Israel. Neither are all the Psalms recorded in the book of Psalms. For example, consider the psalms of Miriam (Exodus 15:1-18), Moses (Deuteronomy 32:1-43), Deborah (Judges 5:1-31), to name a few.

The practice of psalm-writing continues in the early church. In the Corinthian church, it was common practice for Christians to compose Psalms for the encouragement of the rest of the church (1 Corinthians 14:26). Indeed, portions of the epistles appear to be psalm-like in their structure and presentation (e.g. Philippians 2:5-11, 1 Timothy 3:16).

Not only have God's people in Israel and the church used the Psalms for prayer and meditation, they have used the psalm as a literary genre to express their own worship to God. This spirit needs to be rekindled in the church today. We should be familiar enough with the Psalms to identify with their language and meaning. And we should be inspired by the biblical Psalms to write new psalms of praise to God in our day.



Additional Resources for Further Study

Alden, Robert- Everyman's Bible Commentary, Psalms, Moody Press, Chicago. Vol 1, Songs of Devotion 1974; Vol. 2, Songs of Dedication 1975; Vol. 3, Songs of Discipleship 1976.
Anderson, Bernhard- Out of the Depths, The Westminster Press Philadelphia 1970, 1974.
LaSor, William Sanford et. al.- Old Testament Survey, Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co, Grand Rapids, MI 1982, 1996.
 

Copyright © 2002, 2009 John Engler. All rights reserved.

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