Studying The Psalms

What Are the Psalms:

The book of Psalms is made up of 150 individual poems.  Across those poems in the book of Psalms, the poems are written using many types and forms.  Knowing the forms and recognizing which form you are reading helps us understand how to know the Psalm more deeply.  

  • Some forms are lyrical, while others are poetry, 
  • Some lament, some praise, some are worshipful,
  • Some are focused on nature,
  • Some are encomium (or something specific to be praised), and
  • Some leverage parallelism.  

“I have been accustomed to call this book … “An Anatomy of all the Parts of the Soul”; for there is not an emotion of which anyone can be conscious that is not here represented as in a mirror. Or rather, The Holy Spirit has here drawn … all the griefs, sorrows, fears, doubts, hopes, cares, perplexities, in short, all the distracting emotions with which the minds of men are wont to be agitated”.

—John Calvin

The Psalms are inexhaustibly rich and provide us with great wells of wisdom.  On wisdom, the Proverbs say:

 Proverbs 2:1-6

My son, if you receive my words 

and treasure up my commandments with you, 

            making your ear attentive to wisdom 

and inclining your heart to understanding; 

            yes, if you call out for insight 

and raise your voice for understanding, 

            if you seek it like silver 

and search for it as for hidden treasures, 

            then you will understand the fear of the Lord 

and find the knowledge of God. 

            For the Lord gives wisdom; 

from his mouth come knowledge and understanding;

We will begin our study in the Psalms in mid-June and leave them in September, having covered 9 Psalms, as follows:

6/12/2022Psalm 1
6/19/2022Psalm 2
6/26/2022Psalm 3
7/3/2022Psalm 4
7/10/2022Psalm 5:1-6
7/17/2022Psalm 5:7-12
7/24/2022Psalm 6
7/31/2022Psalm 7:1-5
8/7/2022Psalm 7:6-17
8/14/2022Psalm 8
8/21/2022Psalm 9:1-6
8/28/2022Psalm 9:7-10
9/4/2022Psalm 9:11-14
9/11/2022Psalm 9:15-20

Our aim is to study the Psalms each summer, giving an easy entry and exit as folks are on travel and vacations, then move into a straight-through study of the book of Genesis after summer.  As we study the Psalms, you should follow along, reading on your own according to our weekly schedule, and pursue wisdom from them. 

On how to read the Bible generally, C.H. Spurgeon gave seven suggestions for deepening our enjoyment of reading The Word:

  1. Read & Depend
  2. Read & Meditate
  3. Read & Apply
  4. Read & Practice
  5. Read & Pray
  6. Read & Try
  7. Read and Tell Out

The Psalms are divided into what are known as “books”. Those books are divided as follows into groups of our chapter/verse divisions:

Book I1-41
Book II42-72
Book III73-89
Book IV90-106
Book V107-150

As Tremper Longman put it:

Each of the five books of the Psalter shows a preference for a particular version of the divine name. For instance, in Book I, God is addressed as Yahweh, God’s personal name to Israel, 273 times. Within the same book, he is addressed as Elohim, a more generic term for God, only 15 times. The proportion between the uses of these two names is reversed in Book II. The following chart shows the use of the divine name throughout the five books of the Psalms.

Book I
Book II
Book III
Books IV and V

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