Here is my summary for the book of Psalms.
The book of Psalms is a remarkable collection of Hebrew poetry focused on prayer and worship of God for His past faithfulness (Ps. 90:1), present love (Ps. 106:1), and future hope (Ps. 2:7-9; Ps. 72) in spite of life’s tremendous difficulties (Ps. 38).
Explanation of Main Idea
Psalms, the longest book in the bible, contains poems that touch every human emotion. It has been organized into five books, and contains many smaller “collections” such as the Psalms of Ascent (Ps. 120-134) and the Hallel Psalms (Ps. 111-118). Psalm 1 serves as an introduction to the book, advising the reader of the clear advantage of gaining a blessed life by meditating “day and night” (Ps. 1:2) in God’s Word. Many, if not most, of the Psalms are prayerfully directed toward God: “Answer me when I call, God” (Ps. 4:1), “Listen to my words, Lord” (Ps. 5:1), “Lord do not rebuke me in Your anger” (Ps. 6:1).
At the heart of Psalms, is the worship of God. There are numerous reasons cited to engage in worship. For example, He is worshipped for His magnificence: “Lord, our Lord, how magnificent is your name throughout the earth!” (Ps. 8:1), for His glory in creation: “The heavens declare the glory of God, and the expanse proclaims the work of his hands” (Ps. 19:1), for His provided victory: “Lord, the king finds joy in your strength. How greatly he rejoices in your victory” (Ps. 21:1), and for His wondrous works “Sing to Him, sing praise to Him; tell about all His wondrous works!” (Ps. 105:2).
Many of the Psalms reveal a profound sense of anguish and frustration on behalf of the Psalmist. Sometimes it is because of the rejection by God of Israel (Psalm 74). At other times, it is because “the water has risen to my neck. I have sunk in deep mud, and there is no footing” (Ps. 69:1-2).
Messianic hope threads through the Psalms, beginning in Psalm 2: “I will declare the Lord’s decree. He said to me, ‘You are my Son; today I have become your Father’” (Ps. 2:7), continuing through the great Crucifixion Psalm (Ps. 22), and Psalm 72, and, finally pointing toward the eternal reign of Jesus, Psalm 146:10: “The Lord reigns forever; Zion, your God reigns for all generations. Hallelujah!”
The book of Psalms was written to help us worship God. It teaches us to day and night meditate upon God’s Word (Ps. 1:2) and it provides an enormous amount of material to use in that time of private worship and reflection. Regardless of any life situation, whether it be betrayal or victory, deep loss or joyful gain, a time of confusion or a time of celebration, there is an appropriate psalm for that season.
- Meditate on God’s Word
The longest Psalm is 119. It speaks of the Psalmist’s love for God’s Word (Ps. 119:97) and all that it is capable of doing. Psalm 19 contrasts God’s voice through creation (Ps. 19:1-6), with his written instruction (Ps. 19:7-8). Psalm 1, the introduction to Psalms, tells us to mediate upon God’s Word so that our lives will be fruitful, and “whatever (we do) prospers” (Ps. 1:3)
- Life is hard, but God is good.
All of God’s saints throughout the ages have dealt with difficulties to varying degrees. The saints who composed the Psalms were no exception. They had enemies (Ps. 3:7), they felt forgotten and anxious (Ps. 13:1-2), dealt with lies and deception (Ps. 12:1-4), and sensed that God had abandoned them (Ps. 22:1). Yet this was no reason to stop praising. God is a deliverer (Ps. 37:40) and he would be faithful. It is always right to praise Him (Ps. 52:9).
- Worship God and Pray.
Many psalms call God’s people to worship. Among them are Psalm 29: “Ascribe to the Lord the glory due his name: worship the Lord in the splendour of his holiness” (Ps. 29:2), Psalm 103, Psalms 95-100, Psalm 134-135, Psalms 146-150, and many more.
Prayer is the explicit theme of Psalm 61: “God, hear my cry; pay attention to my prayer” (Ps. 61:1), and is the implicit theme of many, many Psalms, such as Psalm 51: “Be gracious to me, God, according to your faithful love…” (Ps. 51:1).
- There is a Messiah coming.
Many Psalms are messianic in nature. Notably, Psalm 22 offers a glimpse of Jesus on the cross: “they pierced my hands and my feet” (Ps. 22:16). Psalm 2, Psalm 24, and Psalm 72, among others, all point to a future king and kingdom.
How Does This Relate To Us?
It is no coincidence that Psalms is the longest book in the bible. It is the “go to” book for anyone who does not know where to go in a time of spiritual need. As the largest book, and the book in the centre of the bible, it is the easiest to find. So a curious man or confused woman, simply need open the bible to the middle and will happen to find words of encouragement and direction.
Because it is poetry, and because it is inspired by God, it has an exceptional ability to meet the deepest need of the most debilitated human heart. “The Lord is near the brokenhearted” (Ps. 34:18).
It is not just a book to be studied and amazed with; it is a book to be applied. It’s application is often simple. The exhortation to “Praise the Lord” (Ps. 148:1-4) should lead to the reader saying or singing, “Praise the Lord!” After reading Psalm 1, the reader should accept it as their responsibility to meditate upon the rest of the book. If so, they will be blessed.
Psalms can function as a handbook to prayer. Picking up a bible, opening it to Psalms, reading aloud slowly, setting your heart on God, will aid your prayer life immensely. In our culture that is inundated with social media and information that is constantly barraging us, it is so hard, but so necessary to turn it off, and meditate on God’s Word. Psalms can help us do that.
Lastly, the Messianic passages, such as Psalm 22, are strikingly amazing. God has written pre-history into this (and other) passages. We marvel as we realize that God planned Jesus to enter history at a certain time and has written about it hundreds of years before it happened.
- Read Psalm 1 and compare the wicked person with the other individual mentioned. What sets them apart? What is the main difference?
- Psalm 34:18 tells us that God is near to those with a broken heart. But isn’t God near to everybody? Why do you this verse focuses on a person with a broken heart?
- Read Psalm 107 and mark any repeated phrases. How many did you find? How many times does each occur? What did you learn from this Psalm?
- Read Psalm 119:9-16. Based on this passage, what is the key to avoiding sin?
Life Application Questions
- Psalm 1 speaks of the importance of meditating upon God’s word. Do you do that? If not, how can you start? Be specific.
- Read Psalm 37:3-4. What do you desire? Do you think God will give it to you? Why or why not?
- What does Psalm 37:8 tell us about anger? How do you deal with anger? How can this Psalm help you?
- Read Psalm 42:1-4. Do you long for God? If not, pour out your heart to Him and ask Him to renew your love.
- Read Psalm 150. How many musical instruments are mentioned? Do you play an instrument? If so, how can you use it to praise the Lord? If you don’t play an instrument, what could you do to praise the Lord? Be specific.
Copyright © 2018 Pat Sieler