The book of Psalms is Hebrew poetry – a song book for the traveler. The songs are the emotions of the writer as he is stirred by the thought of God. The word “Psalm” means “a composition set to music.” It carries with it the thought of “sweeping the strings.” We call that “strumming the strings.” The difference between a Psalm and a hymn is that a Psalm is composed when words are stirred by music, while a hymn is music stirred by words. In order to study the Psalms you must study the words of the Psalms.
There are a total of 150 Psalms in the Bible, of which seventy-three were written by David. Fifty of the Psalms were written anonymously, Asaph wrote twelve, Korah wrote ten, Moses wrote one, Solomon wrote two, Ethan wrote one, and Heman wrote one.
The Psalms are divided into five books. Book one is comprised of chapters 1-41, book two consists of chapters 43-72, book three includes chapters 73-89, book four consists of chapters 90-106, and book five includes chapters 107-150.
Now, let us look at the structure of the Psalms. You will notice that some verses repeat other verses, saying the same thing, but using different words. This simply reinforces the other verse which is repeated. (An example of this is in Psalms 24:7, 8, 9, and 10). Some verses show the importance of a statement by following it with an example of an opposite view point. An example of this is found in Psalms 1:6 which reads, “For the Lord knoweth the way of the righteous: but the way of the ungodly shall perish.” You will notice that the second part of this verse is opposite from the first part. (See Psalms 37:9; also compare verse 10 with verse 11 of Psalms 37). Sometimes a statement is repeated more than once, such as the scripture in Psalms 93:3. Psalms 136 is a great example of statements being repeated. The statement “for his mercy endureth forever” is used several times. Some of the Psalms major on only one subject. The greatest of these is Psalms 119. Psalms 119 shows the importance of the Word of God. These are just a few examples of the structure of the Psalms.
Do not go so deep that you miss the main thought in each Psalm. As you read and study the Psalms, you will see that you are not the only one who has gone through problems or has had those particular thoughts. You will quickly find out someone else has been there and done that and did not like it. Read carefully and you will find that they looked to the Lord and trusted in Him and HE BROUGHT THEM OUT. Have you ever had your closest friend turn on you? Read Psalms 41:9. Now read the rest of the chapter. Read also Psalms 35. Notice how the writer ends the Psalm with verse 28, “…my tongue shall speak of thy righteousness and of thy praise all the day long.” Do you ever feel like everyone has forsaken you? Psalms 142:4 was the Psalmist David’s cry while hiding in a cave from King Saul who was trying to kill him. In verse 5 we learn that David cried out to the Lord. THE LORD delivered him. David didn’t complain or treat his enemies wrongfully, but instead he trusted in the Lord.
It is now time for you to find yourself in the Psalms. Read this book often. When you are discouraged, doubting, etc. – read it and reread it. Allow the sweet Holy Spirit to lift you up to higher heights in the Lord and to put a song (Psalm) in your heart.