This post in my year-long series with lessons from my NIV Bible for Men called The MANual finishes the book of Psalms. My first post with the Introduction to the Psalms indicated there are five collections of songs and prayers that form 150 chapters. I covered the first 72 in my post on lessons from books 1 & 2 so this post on the last 3 books will cover the remainder of the 150 chapters.
Even More about The Psalms
As I previously explained, the collections of Psalms parallel the five books of Moses: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy. Each book collection concludes with a doxology that signifies the completion of the book with Psalm 150 serving as the final doxology for all the Psalms.
Psalms are found in the very center of the Christian Bible so Psalm 118:8-9, “It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in man. It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in princes.” serves as God’s central theme for the entire Bible. King David wrote the majority of books 1 & 2 with some authored by the sons of Korah. Books 1 & 2 include three of the most famous psalms:
- Psalm 22: “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me” – important during the season of Lent.
- Psalm 23: “The Lord is My Shepherd” – words of comfort used at funeral services.
- Psalm 51: “Have mercy on me, O God” – widely used in the sacrament of repentance or confession.
Book 3: Continual Worship of a Sovereign God
Chapters 73-89 is a collection that celebrates the supremacy of God, His hand in history, His faithfulness, and His Covenant with David. These chapters are similar to the book of Leviticus which discuss the Tabernacle and God’s holiness that deserve our continual worship and reverence.
The “Psalms of Asaph” include Psalms 50 and 73-83, written by the leader of one of the Temple choirs (see 1 Chronicles 6:31–32, 39; 1 Chronicles 16) or his descendants. When King David assembled musicians, he chose some called the “sons of Asaph” which could refer to blood relatives or those Asaph was mentoring, who modeled themselves musically after their master.
Men of The Bible: Asaph
Asaph was an officer within the religious system in Jerusalem. He participated in both the public and private sides for many years, starting with King David and serving under King Solomon. During his long term, Asaph saw the best and worst of these officials. His complaint against corruption among the rich and influential in Psalm 73 might have been directed towards them. Asaph could not understand how the wicked could thrive while the righteous endured hardship until he eventually acknowledged God’s wisdom. He understood that justice would be done one day so that the godly would gain the rewards of eternal life.
Asaph is also mentioned as a “seer” or prophet (2 Chronicles 29:30). As Asaph expresses his requests to God throughout these psalms, his focus changes from thinking of himself to worshipping God, especially in Psalm 77.
- When you only see the worst of someone or are in a time of deep distress, remember to seek out God. Read Psalm 77 and pray that God shifts your focus from yourself to Him.
Psalm 89 describes the glorious reign of David and his descendants who God promised would always sit on the throne. It hints that Jesus, as a descendant of David, is the One to reign forever.
Book 4: Submitting to a Mighty God
Psalms 90-106, mainly written by unknown authors, are similar to the book of Numbers. These psalms often mention the relationship of God’s overruling Kingdom to the other nations to keep our troubles in proper perspective.
Psalm 90 is Moses’ oldest psalm. It reminds us that our time on earth is limited and we are to use it wisely. Moses says God knows all our sins, even the secret ones, but He still loves us and wants to forgive us when we submit to Him.
Psalm 91 has an anonymous author but helps us remember that God is our shelter and refuge whenever we are afraid. He is our ultimate fortress. He is our true safety and stronghold Who can turn back every enemy.
Consider how many people in your life encounter problems and barely hold on. Their protection is caving in and they are perhaps one step away from disaster or a major downfall.
- How can you be like your heavenly Father? Offer your home or yourself as a shelter to someone who needs a safe place from the cruel, uncaring world.
An anonymous author wrote Psalm 92 as a song for Sabbath Day. It reminds us to focus on God and express our gratitude for His blessings.
Beginning with Psalm 93, we enter a new phase of Book 4 with seven psalms (93–99) that herald the enthronement of God Himself. These “Messianic psalms” tell us “For the Lord is a great God, and a great King above all gods” (95:3). They foretell of The Lord as Saviour of His people (Ps 97:10-12, 98:2, 99:8-9). They tell of The Lord as The Judge of all (Ps 94:1-3, 94:10-11, 94:22-23, 96:10, 96:13, 97:2-6, 98:9). They state The Lord is to be praised and worshipped by everyone, everywhere (95:1-2, 95:6-7, 96:1-3, 96:7-10, 96:11-13, 97:1-2, 97:8-12, 98:1-3, 98:4-6, 98:7-9, 99:1-3, 99:8-9, 100:1-3.)
David may have written Psalm 101 early in his reign as king to set the standards he wanted to follow. However, he knew he needed God’s help to avoid wickedness (101:2), evil thoughts & perverse ideas (101:1-4), and slander & pride (101:5). He exhorts us to look for faithful companions who are above reproach (101:6). “Bless the Lord, O my soul…” is the famous praise in Psalm 103 of God Who removed our transgressions.
Forgiveness by God
Guilt is a huge weight to carry. We pay the price over time since guilt takes its toll on our emotional, spiritual and physical health.
The only way to dispose of guilt is through a genuine prayer of repentance. When you confess what you have done, ask God to forgive you, try to make amends with those you hurt, and commit yourself to turn away from your sin, you can become guilt-free. God promises to forgive you forever. Even when you do the same sinful thing over and over again.
- How often do you confess, ask for forgiveness, and repent for your sins?
Psalm 105 is a summary of God’s faithfulness but Psalm 106 is a summary of humanity’s sinfulness. Fortunately, God’s compassion and mercy are not limited by our faithfulness to Him.
Book 5: Give Thanks to The Lord
Psalms 107 through 150 are similar to the book of Deuteronomy. These psalms, mainly written by David, are anthems of praise and thanksgiving for God and His Word. They recount the blessings of righteous living, thank God for deliverance, and praise God for His wonderful Word. These show how God is always among us.
Psalm 107 begins with the lyrics “Give Thanks to The Lord for He is Good!”to remind us that the best sacrifice we can offer is a faithful and obedient life.
Psalm 110 includes clear references to the Messiah. Verse 1 looks forward to Christ’s total destruction of the wicked (see Revelation 6-9). Verse 2 prophecies Christ’s reign on earth. Versus 3 and 4 tell of His priestly work for His people. Verses 5 & 6 tells of the final battle on earth when Christ will overcome the forces of evil.
Psalms 111-118 are called “hallelujah psalms” to express their uplifting nature. Traditionally sung at the Passover meal, Psalms 115-118 commemorate Isreal’s escape from slavery. Psalm 117 is the shortest chapter of the Bible with just 2 verses.
Psalm 119 is both the longest psalm and the longest chapter in the Bible containing 176 verses. Ezra the priest may have written it after the rebuilding of the Temple. It includes 22 carefully constructed sections that correspond to a different letter in the Hebrew alphabet. Almost every verse mentions God’s Word.
God’s Word is Too Restrictive
The writer of Psalm 119 talks about keeping the laws and yet being free. Contrary to what we expect, obeying God’s laws does not inhibit or restrain us. Instead, it frees us to be what God designed us to be. His gift of salvation enables our freedom from sin and removes the resulting oppressive guilt of our disobedience.
- What is your view of following God’s laws and commandments? Are they restrictive or freeing?
Psalms 120-134 are “pilgrim psalms” or “songs of ascent.” Those journeying to the Temple sang those psalms for annual festivals with each chapter depicting a step in the journey.
Psalm 127 reminds us that all of life’s work – building a home, establishing a career, raising a family, must have God as its foundation. Psalm 128 is often called the Marriage Prayer. It paints a picture of a man who fears God. He is happy and blessed. His wife is like a fruitful vine within the home, and his children are like olive plants around the table. He sees peace and prosperity in his nation.
Psalms 136 repeats the phrase, “His faithful loves endures forever.” as a responsive reading. It helps the important lessons about God’s love, kindness, mercy, and faithfulness sink in. The last 5 psalms (146-150) overflow with praise. Each begins and ends with “Praise The Lord.” to show us where, why, and how to praise God. Psalm 150 is the closing hymn of praise.
God Buddy Focus
The Psalms parallel our journey through life. They begin by presenting us with two roads: the way of life and the way of death. Even when we choose God’s way, we will still face blessings and troubles, joy and grief, successes and obstacles. Through it all, God is at our side, guiding, encouraging, comforting, and caring for us.
As the wise and faithful person’s life draws to an end, it becomes clear God’s road is the right one. Knowing this, we should praise God for leading us in the right direction and assuring us an eternal place with Him. Remember to praise God every day!
My next post will provide lessons from the Proverbs.