Psalms: The Worship of an Honest Heart

The psalms are designed to teach us to do one thing — to worship. These psalms reflect every human emotion, but they do so in an important way: they are emotions seen in relationship to God. This book, therefore, teaches us how to be honest before God.

Bible Studies in the Book of Psalms

Overview the Book of Psalms

from Adventuring Through the Bible

There are 150 psalms in this book, making it the longest book in the Bible. Have you discovered that it is really five books in one? It divides very easily and obviously into five different books, and each of these divisions is closed by a doxology. You will find the first one at the end of Psalm 41, and every other section as well ends with this kind of doxology. Psalm 41 ends:

Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel,
from everlasting to everlasting!
Amen and Amen. (Psalms 41:13 RSV)

These books were deliberately compiled with a special purpose in view. It has often been pointed out that the book of Psalms is the book of human emotions. Indeed, every experience of man's heart is reflected in this book. No matter what mood you may be in, some psalm will reflect that mood. For this amazing book records every one of man's emotions and experiences. Those who have discovered the "secret of perpetual emotion" certainly ought to get acquainted with the book of Psalms. For instance, if you are fearful, read Psalm 56 or Psalm 91 or Psalm 23 (you know that one, of course). And if you are discouraged, read Psalm 42 -- one example among many. If you happen to be feeling lonely, then I would suggest Psalm 71 or Psalm 62. If you are oppressed, with a sense of sinfulness, there are two marvelous psalms for you: Psalm 51, written after David's double sin of adultery and murder; and Psalm 32, a great expression of confession and forgiveness. And then, if you are worried or anxious, I'd recommend Psalm 37 and Psalm 73. If you are angry, try Psalm 58 or Psalm 13. If you are resentful, read Psalm 94 or Psalm 77. If you are happy and want some words to express your happiness, try Psalm 92 or Psalm 66. If you feel forsaken, try Psalm 88. If you are grateful and you would like to say it, read Psalm 40. If you are doubtful, if your faith is beginning to fail, read Psalm 119. And we could go on and on, because all 150 psalms have to do with experience.

Most of us think the psalms are David's work. In fact, more than half of them were written by David, the sweet singer of Israel, who was given by God the gift of capturing the emotions of his full life's varied experience and putting them in beautiful lyrical terms. These became the psalm book or hymn book of Israel. Many of these psalms were written to be sung in public, which is why you will often find at the head of the psalm "To the chief choirmaster" or "To the choirmaster, " and in some of our Bibles is the word "Maskil" which is simply the Hebrew word for "psalm." You may be interested to know that one psalm, Psalm 90, was written by Moses, and two were composed by King Solomon. Still others were written by a nameless group called the sons of Korah who were especially charged with leading the singing of Israel. Also, a man named Asaph wrote many of the psalms, and even good King Hezekiah wrote ten of them. As you look into the book of Psalms, you can see that in many cases the titles refer to the author.