INTRODUCTION: The Book of Psalms is the largest and perhaps most widely used book in the Bible.  It explores the full range of human experiences in a very personal and practical way.  Its 150 songs run from the Creation through the patriarchal, theocratic, monarchial, exile, and pre-exilic periods.  The tremendous breadth of subject matter in the Psalms includes diverse topics, such as jubilation, war, peace, worship, judgment, messianic, prophecy, praise, and lament.  The Psalms were set to the accompaniment hymn book and devotional guide for the Jewish people.

AUTHORSHIP: The Book of Psalms is commonly called "The Psalms of David" because almost half of them are ascribed to him.  According to the superscription we find the following authorship:

David - 3-9, 11-32, 34-41, 51-65, 68-70, 86, 101, 103, 108-110, 122, 124, 131, 133 and 138-145. 

NOTE: David's wide experience as a shepherd, musician, warrior, and king (1011-971B.C.) are reflected in these Psalms. TOTAL - 73

Asaph - 50, 73-83 (Ezra 2:41) NOTE: A priest who headed the service in music. TOTAL - 12

Descendants of Korah - 42, 44-49, 84, 85, and 87 (Num.26:9-11) NOTE: A guild of singers and composers TOTAL - 10

Solomon - 72 and 127 NOTE: Israel's most powerful king. TOTAL - 2

Moses - 90 NOTE: A prince, herdsman and deliverer. TOTAL - 1

Heman - 88 (I Kings 4:31, I Chr. 15:19) NOTE: "Faithful" a wise man. TOTAL - 1

Ethan - 89 (I Kings 4:31, I Chr. 15:19) NOTE: "Enduring" a wise man.  TOTAL - 1

Anonymous - 1, 2, 10, 33, 43, 66, 67, 71, 91-100, 102, 104-107, 111-121, 123, 125, 126, 128-130, 132, 134-137 and 146-150. NOTE: Some of these anonymous Psalms are traditionally attributed to Ezra. TOTAL - 50

With the knowledge of these men and the time in which they lived, reflects a basic truth that must be understood.  The TIME span is very wide from Moses to the time of Ezra and Nehemiah.  This causes a large variety of moods and situations under conveyance.

When interpreting the Psalms, remember theses 4 items:

1.When the superscription gives the historical event, the Psalm should be interpreted in that light. When it is not given, there is little hope in reconstructing the historical occasion.

2.Some of the Psalms are associated with definite aspects of Israel's worship and this can help in understanding those Psalms.

3. Many Psalms use definite structure and motifs.

Many Psalms anticipate Israel's Messiah and are fulfilled in Christ.  However, care must be taken not to allegorize them and forget the grammatical-       historical method of interpretation.

CHRIST IN PSALMS: Many of the Psalms specifically anticipated the life and ministry of Jesus Christ, the one who came centuries later as the Messiah.  Some of the specific messianic prophecies in the Book of Psalms include:

  2:7   Declare Him to be His Son.  Matthew 3:17

  8:6   Under His feet.  Hebrews 2:8

 16:10  Resurrected from the dead.  Mark 16:6-7

 22:1   God will forsake Him.  Matthew 27:46

 22:7-8 Scorned and mocked.  Luke 23:35

 22:16  Hands and feet will be pierced. John 20:25

 22:18  Gamble for His clothes.  Matthew 27:35

 34:20  No bones will be broken.  John 19:32

 35:11  False witnesses.  Mark 14:57

 35:19  Hated without a cause. John 15:25 

 40:7-8 Come to do God's will. Hebrews 10:7

 41:9   Betrayed by friends.  Luke 22:47

 45:6   His throne will be forever. Hebrews 1:8

 68:18  To God's right hand. Mark 16:19

 69:9   Zeal of God's house.  John 2:17

 69:21  Vinegar and gall to drink. Matthew 27:34

109:4   Pray for his enemies.  Luke 23:34

110:4   Priest like Melchizedek. Hebrews 5:6

118:22  Chief cornerstone.  Matthew 21:42

118:26  Come in the name of the Lord. Matthew 21:9


The Key Word:  WORSHIP This is an applicable word exposed by contents and usage of the Book of Psalms.  This book was used in the two temples and some were a part of the liturgical service.  They also served as individual and communal devotional guides.

SURVEY OF PSALMS: The Psalms are really FIVE books in one, and each book ends with a doxology.  The last Psalm is the closing doxology for 5 books and the Psalms as a whole.  After the Psalms were written, editorial superscriptions or instructions were added to 116 of them.  These superscriptions are historically accurate and are even numbered as the first verse in the Hebrew text.

BOOK 1 - 41 Psalms beginning at Chapter 1


BASIC CONTENT - Songs adoring Worship



POSSIBLE DATE - 1020-979 B.C.


BOOK 2 -  31 Psalms beginning at Chapter 42.      

CHIEF AUTHOR - David and Korah.

BASIC CONTENT - Hymns of National Interest.


TOPICAL LIKENESS TO THE PENTATEUCH - Exodus: Deliverance and Redemption 

POSSIBLE DATE - 970-610 B.C.


BOOK 3 -  17 Psalms beginning at Chapter 73.


BASIC CONTENT - Hymns of National Interest.


TOPICAL LIKENESS TO THE PENTATEUCH - Leviticus:           Worship and Sanctuary.

POSSIBLE DATE - 970-610 B.C.


BOOK 4 -  17 Psalms beginning at Chapter 90 

CHIEF AUTHOR - Anonymous

BASIC CONTENT - Anthems of Praise (Submissive Worship)


TOPICAL LIKENESS TO THE PENTATEUCH - Numbers: Wilderness and Wandering.

POSSIBLE DATE - Until 430 B.C.


BOOK 5 - 44 Psalms beginning at Chapter 107 

CHIEF AUTHOR - David and Anonymous

BASIC CONTENT - Anthems of Praise (Perfected Worship)


TOPICAL LIKENESS TO THE PENTATEUCH - Deuteronomy: Scripture and Praise.

POSSIBLE DATE - Until 430 B.C.


The following classification further divides the Psalms into ten types.

1. INDIVIDUAL LAMENT PSALMS - Directly addressed to God, these Psalms petition Him to rescue and defend an individual.

2. COMMUNAL LAMENT PSALMS - The Only difference is that the nation rather than an individual makes the lament.

3. INDIVIDUAL THANKSGIVING PSALM - These Psalms thank God for something He will yet do.

4. COMMUNAL THANKSGIVING PSALMS -  In these Psalms the acknowledgment is made by the nation rather than an individual.

5. GENERAL PRAISE PSALMS - The Psalmist attempts to magnify the name of God and boast about His greatness.

6. DESCRIPTIVE PRAISE PSALMS - These praise God for His attributes and acts.

7. ENTHRONEMENT PSALMS - These Psalms describe God's sovereign reign over all.

8. PILGRIMAGE SONGS - Also known as Songs of Zion, these Psalms were sung by pilgrims traveling up to Jerusalem for the three annual religious feasts of Passover, Pentecost, and Tabernacles.

9. ROYAL PSALMS - The reign of the earthly King and the Heavenly King are portrayed in most of these Psalms.


10. WISDOM AND DEDICATION PSALMS - The reader is exhorted and instructed in the way of             righteousness.


There is a problem with the so-called imprecatory (to call down a curse) Psalm.  These Psalms invoke Divine judgement on one's enemies.  Although some of them seen unreasonably harsh, a few things should be kept in mind:

1. They called for divine justice rather than human vengeance.   

2. They ask God to punish the wicked and thus vindicate His righteousness.

3. They condemn sin.

4. Even Jesus calls down a curse on several cities and tells his disciples to curse cities that do not receive the Gospel.

Psalms 139:21-23_____________________________________________________________________________


A number of musical terms are used.  "To the chief Musician" appears in 55 Psalms, which indicates that there is a collection of Psalms used by the conductor of music in the temple, perhaps for special occasions.  "SePah" is used 3 times in Habakkuk 3.  This word may mark a pause, a musical interlude, or a crescendo.

Remember the Psalms by there basic content:

SONGS OF WORSHIP              1-41


ANTHEMS OF PRAISE            90-150


Psalms 119:11________________________________________________________________________________




Psalms 145:21_____________________________________________________________________________________


CONCLUSION: Don't forget, the Psalms are the expression of human experiences written through Divine inspiration.  They will meet in every life if they are read for enrichment and for meditation.  What a storehouse of precious Truths!!


1.         What does the word Psalms mean?




2.         How many Psalms did David write?




3.         How do the Psalms relate to the Pentateuch?




4.         What periods of time are covered in the Psalms?




5.         What are the three divisions to remember?




6.         Which of the Psalms has become your favorite?