Understanding the overall characteristics of this section of the Bible can help us fully appreciate what they say and teach.
- The purpose of many of the songs is public worship in Israel's temple, although some are more suited for private devotion. They all, however, ultimately lead people to worship the true God.
A prophetic theme exists within the five-folder original structure of the Psalms.
Section 1 (1 to 41) refers to the Passover, the beginning of Israel as a nation, and the start of the New Testament plan of salvation centering around Jesus
Section 2 (42 to 72) shows Israel as a single body in the land of Israel and pictures the creation of the New Testament Church
Section 3 (73 to 89) describes the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple. In many ways, this section parallels the prophecies of the coming Great Tribulation.
Section 4 (90 to 106) revolves around the millennial reign of Christ and shows Israel re-gathered after their ruin
Section 5 (107 to 150) pictures a time when Judah (all Israel) shall again be delivered as they were in the time of Esther
The Psalms also offer prophecies centered on Jesus Christ. They predict his birth (104:4), Deity (45:6), ministry (69:9), rejection (118:22), betrayal (41:9), his crucifixion and the words he would speak (22), resurrection (2 and 16), ascension into heaven (68:18) and everlasting reign (102:26).
There are numerous ways in which to divide the book of Psalms other than by section. An example of one such division is below.
ROYAL songs concern the spiritual role of kings in the worship of God. They emphasize his role as Creator, Savior, etc. Psalm 20 and 21 are in this category.
REPENTANT songs are those in which the composer confesses their sins to the Lord and asks for forgiveness. Psalm 51 is a very good example of this type of song.
Songs of WISDOM or TEACHING focus on the contrast between both the righteous and the wicked and God's blessings and curses. Psalm 1 is in this category.
PRAISE songs center on worshipping and thanking God for all He is and does. Psalm 19, 29, 33, 146 to 150, and others are in this category. Songs of ASCENTS or DEGREES are for those approaching the Temple in Jerusalem. Psalm 120 to 134 are of this type.
LAMENTING songs, the largest category, complain or plea to God for help in times of distress. Psalm 3 to 5, 22, 79, 80, and others are of this type.
The book of Psalms runs the gamut of human emotion from cries for help while suffering in a severe trial to exalting God's name and praising him for his many wonderful works. It is a part of the Bible worthy to be read, studied and sung again and again.