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Psalms Summary

Psalms Summary, Wednesday Night Studies, to April 2017

Tod Kennedy


Psalm 1. The godly person contrasted with the ungodly person. How blessed is the man. This is a fitting start for the entire book. The godly believer’s spiritual joy, contentment, and production are based on delight in and meditation on Yahweh’s word in contrast to the spiritually worthless life of the ungodly person. This psalm contrasts the godly believer with the ungodly person. The godly believer delights in and meditates on Yahweh’s word and so makes the right choices about ideas, activities, and relationships. He reaps spiritual joy, contentment, and production because of his right relationship with Yahweh, while the ungodly person has a spiritually worthless life, though from the human viewpoint he may be temporarily successful and prosperous. In the end the godly will be saved and blessed while the ungodly will perish.

Psalm 2. Coronation of the Davidic king. Why are the nations in an uproar…Kiss the Son. God chose David and his heirs to rule from Zion (Jerusalem) as Israel’s kings. This Royal Psalm is about the coronation of the Davidic kings, including the perfect and final Davidic king, Messiah. This Royal Psalm was put in the sanctuary for use at every coronation. This Psalm ultimately refers God's final king, King Messiah. The surrounding nations are rebelling at the coronation of the Davidic king in Jerusalem.  They plan and rage, but these pagan kings cannot stop Yahweh’s king. An anointed Davidic king ruling in Jerusalem limits the pagan kings’ power over Yahweh’s people. Yahweh laughs at them from heaven. He then pronounces that he has installed his Son King on Zion. His final king, Son King Messiah, will inherit the whole world and will completely break all rebels. The only hope for the rebels, and all people of the earth, is to take to heart the Psalmist’s words—worship Yahweh with reverence, joy, and submission.

Psalm 8. The majestic LORD delegated earth dominion to mankind. What is man?..You crown him. The LORD shows his majesty and power in the heavens, in humanity, and in his plan for mankind to rule his earth creation. The majestic LORD has shown his splendor in the heavens and has shown his strength even through the words of children which confound the LORD's enemies (Psalm 8.1-2). When the psalmist thinks about the greatness of the Lord he marvels about the insignificance of man whom the LORD created in his own image and gave ruling dominion over all the earth (Psalm 8.3-8). Truly the LORD is majestic in all the earth (Psalm 8.9).

Psalm 13. A question, a prayer, then trust and rejoicing. How long, O LORD?  What we believe and apply about our LORD God is more important than how we feel. Even though one feels forsaken or ignored by the LORD God, one can pray, trust in God's loyal gracious love and deliverance, and rejoice.  David feels abandoned and neglected. He asks the LORD four questions: how long will the LORD forget him, how long will the LORD hide, how long must David bear this heartfelt sorrow, and how long will David's enemy gloat over him (Psalm 13.1-2)? David then prays that God will answer by both encouraging him and delivering him. Otherwise, David's enemies will claim victory and rejoice at David's defeat (Psalm 13.3-4). After David prays and before God delivers him, David trusts in God's lovingkindness. This trust results in rejoicing and praise to the LORD because of confidence that God will deliver and bless. (Psalm 13.5-6).

Psalm 14. Fools deny God while the righteous anticipate LORD Yahweh’s deliverance. The fool has said in his heart, “there is no God.”  The fool is morally and intellectually an atheist because he denies that God matters and so he thinks that he is master over his life. This changes his values. Right and wrong can become confused. Society suffers. His worldview affects everything in his life and overflows to individuals and the culture. His life does not please God. Fools arrogantly do not want to know if God exists. The fool shows his denial of God by his own sin and his attack on God’s people. The LORD looks at the fools and judges them as corrupt. In contrast, the righteous, even though the fools oppress them, have LORD Yahweh as their refuge and wait for the LORD to deliver, restore, and bring joy to Israel.

Psalm 15. Qualifications for Fellowship and Worship. Who may abide in your tent?  To have fellowship with God and worship him one must live blamelessly, do righteous acts, and speak honestly. David asks who is qualified to have access to the LORD and spend time as a guest or as a temporary resident in the tabernacle at Zion. He answers that the person who lives a life of integrity, does righteous deeds, and speaks truthfully may do so. David then expands his statement with seven more character traits.  He concludes that this kind of person will also have spiritual stability, spiritual security, and confidence from the LORD. This psalm reminds people what is required to worship God. Proverbs 6.16-19, Matthew 5.1-16, Galatians 5.13-26, Ephesians 5.1-21, and Philippians 4.8-9 are a few of the many passages that include lists of sins and good spiritual life habits. The context may have reference to Israel gathering for prayer, sacrifices, and festivals.

Psalm 16. Protection and Blessings in Life and Death. Preserve me for I take refuge in you. David so focuses his life on the LORD that he experiences great confidence and joy in his present life, and is sure that the LORD will give pleasures after death—forever. David, under some kind of attack, asks God to protect him. He then immediately confesses his loyalty to and dependence on the LORD and acknowledges that his good is always from the LORD’S presence and ability. While under pressure he delights in the righteous Israelites and avoids those who left the LORD. The LORD is his lot in life. This brings blessings and purpose to him. David blesses the LORD for his counsel and meditates on the LORD who is his authority and strength. This keeps him faithful and strong. He rejoices because he knows he will not die then. The LORD will show him how to live and David will experience full joy both in the present life and his joy will continue after he dies.

Psalm 19. Creation and God’s word powerfully proclaim Yahweh's glory, works, and instructions and this prompts David to pray. The heavens are telling of the glory.  David, in this Psalm, proclaims that creation powerfully reveals God’s glory and works (Psalm 19:1-6). He further proclaims that Yahweh’s word powerfully reveals Yahweh’s provisions, instructions, warnings, and blessings, and is desirable and enjoyable (Psalm 19:7-11.) These revelations prompt David to pray that Yahweh will alert David to sin, keep him from sin, and guide his speech and thoughts so they please Yahweh (Psalm 19:12-14). When we take these truths into our lives the result should be the same.

Psalm 20. Pray with confidence in the LORD. Some boast in chariots and some in horses. Both the congregation and King David confidently pray that Yahweh, the God of Jacob, will give the King victory in the upcoming battle, and they all confidently expect victory because chariots and horses cannot succeed against the name of Yahweh. This psalm was likely sung by Israel and King David before he led his army into battle against strong armies that depended on horses and chariots. It is a liturgical song with part sung by the assembled Israelites and part sung by the king. In it they express confidence in the name of Yahweh. The congregation and even David had gathered before the LORD, probably in the sanctuary of that day. He had offered the meal offerings and the burnt offering. The congregation prayed. David prayed. Then the congregation concluded with the final confident plea to the LORD. For confident prayer one must pray to the one personal and capable God. This was true for King David and the gathered Israelites. They knew to whom they prayed. This is true for us now. God is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow. We know to whom we pray.

Psalm 22. Undeserved Suffering, Prayer, Deliverance, Praise. My God, My God, why have you forsaken me? Urgent prayer during undeserved attack and suffering; the LORD delivers; praise the LORD. Psalm 22 is about David. David is suffering at the hands of his enemies—suffering to the point of almost dying. He does not yet experience God’s deliverance, and he continues to pray. God answered his prayer. David was delivered from death and he goes on living. Because of God’s deliverance, David praised God and encouraged others to praise God and trust God. This psalm includes statements that go beyond David—hyperbole about David that find expression in the greater David, Messiah. The greater David, Jesus Messiah, suffered horribly and was delivered out of death by his resurrection.

Psalm 23. The LORD shepherds his people. The LORD is my shepherd. This Psalm emphasizes the spiritual life, so as the Psalm develops David is assured that the LORD will provide David with all spiritual necessities. See Psalm 95.7.  These include God's word, spiritual cleansing and refreshment, restoration of attitude and of fellowship, guidance onto right paths, lack of fear even in the most deathly circumstances, comfort, protection, much blessing even though enemies press him, and God's goodness and loyal love.  David concluded that he wanted to spend the rest of his life in fellowship with the LORD which begins in the tabernacle and continues wherever David might be.

Psalm 24. Who May worship the LORD in His holy place? The earth is the LORD’S and all it contains. The exact historical situation is unknown. The evidence within the Psalm indicates that this is a victory liturgy sung or chanted by Israel as they carried the Ark of the Covenant to the sanctuary of the LORD after a military victory. David asks who is qualified to worship The LORD in His holy sanctuary, probably at Jerusalem. The LORD created the earth and everything that lives in it. He is the creator, holy, the king of glory, the LORD of hosts. In order to enter God’s presence, one must be perfect—righteous in acts, thoughts, and words. The LORD will bless those who qualify to enter into the sanctuary. With people ready to enter the sanctuary, the plea is made that the ancient gates will open so the LORD of hosts may enter—probably a reference to the Ark being brought to the sanctuary after a battle.

Psalm 26. Vindicate me and be gracious to me, or blessing, not judgment. Vindicate me, O LORD…, Examine me…, Test my mind and heart.  Apparently David is under some kind of attack. He asks Yahweh to declare him righteous and deliver him because of his life and his faith, and asks Yahweh to examine him—his conscience and his volition. He has kept Yahweh’s lovingkindness before him and has walked in Yahweh’s truth.  He has avoided sin and sinners. He will fellowship with Yahweh with clean hands, will participate in the sanctuary ritual, and will proclaim Yahweh’s works. Furthermore, David loves the sanctuary where he has safety and where Yahweh’s glory meets him, and asks that Yahweh will not judge him with sinners. David closes with a statements of his loyalty, his humble need for grace, his commitment to faith in Yahweh, and his assurance of Yahweh’s acceptance.

Psalm 27. David prays and waits on Yahweh for fellowship and protection. The Lord is my light and my salvation. While under attack, David expresses his confidence in Yahweh as his light, his salvation, and his defense. David’s one main request to Yahweh is that he may fellowship with Yahweh person to person in the sanctuary, but to do this Yahweh must defend him from the evildoers. David continues by saying that he wants to seek Yahweh’s face, and asking Yahweh not to abandon him, but instead to protect him, to teach him his ways and guide him, and to deliver him from those who want to kill him. He concludes with an expression of confidence in Yahweh and a challenge for faith—to wait for Yahweh, be strong and courageous, yes, to wait for Yahweh.

Psalm 28. David calls on Yahweh and blesses Yahweh. To you O LORD, I call; My rock. David cries out to Yahweh, his rock, to listen and answer his prayer. David prays that Yahweh will judge and break the wicked because they practice evil and disregard Yahweh’s works. He asks that Yahweh not allow him to be caught up in the net of judgment and share by association the fate of the wicked. David then breaks into blessing Yahweh because He has heard his petition, and David proclaims that Yahweh is his strength and shield. He trusts Yahweh. David thanks Yahweh with song. Not only is Yahweh David’s strength and shield, Yahweh is also Israel’s strength and the saving defense of His anointed king. David concludes with the request that Yahweh deliver, bless, shepherd, and carry them through everything, always.

Psalm 85. Revive us again—Recall, Pray, Listen. Restore us…revive us again. The psalm may be around the time of Ezra and Nehemiah when Israel did not take God seriously and her enemies tormented her. They are back in their land but face spiritual and physical failure and oppression. This psalm is about national revival, both physical and spiritual. The psalmist recalls God’s past deliverance of Israel and now asks God to again restore the nation, stop his anger, revive them again so they may praise him show. They ask that he will show his lovingkindness, and grant deliverance. They will listen for God’s answer and anticipate that the LORD will do what is good.

Psalm 90. God is eternal while man is temporal and sinful, so man should focus his life on the LORD—Yahweh—and pray for Yahweh's blessings in life. So teach us to number our days. This was most likely written during the exodus (1445-1405 BC) while Israel was experiencing rebellious and therefore unhappy times in the Sinai desert, and probably near the end of Moses' life. Moses, the man of God, declares that the everlasting Lord, God, has always been the home or dwelling place—place of security—for Israel and mankind because he is eternal, the creator, the master, the one who sets the rules, the one who judges and blesses, and is not bound by time, while man is bound by time and time quickly fades away. Man also sins and clings to the wrong perspective and values. Because of this repeated sin God is angry. He judges sin, and though man may live seventy or eighty years, the time goes fast and is full of labor and sorrow. Moses then pleads that God will instruct them to number their days and realize how few each person has so that they use them wisely. He also asks Yahweh to return, to pity them, to satisfy them with his lovingkindness, to make them glad, to show them his work and majesty, and concludes with the appeal that Adonay Elohim's favor will be upon them and that he will confirm and establish their work.

Psalm 95. Sing, Worship, Listen to, and Believe God. We are the people of his pasture and the sheep of his hand. Israel is to joyfully worship him because he is Creator, God, and Shepherd. At the same time the Israelites are warned against hardening their hearts in unbelief and disobedience like the Exodus generation did at Meribah (Rephidim) and Massah (Kadesh). They are to joyfully sing, shout, come before the LORD God with thanksgiving and psalms because he is the only great God and King, creator and owner of his creation; and to worship, bow down, and kneel before our LORD, our Maker, our God, and our shepherd because we are his people and his sheep; and we are to listen to and believe God, so not to imitate the Exodus generation who hardened their hearts against God by disbelieving him and therefore failed to enter the rest he provided for them. And by application all God's people, should respond to the LORD God with song, worship, attention, and faith.

Psalm 98. Sing to the LORD. O sing to the LORD a new song. Yahweh has done many great deeds throughout history, and though the specific historical background for this psalm is unknown, his people ought to recognize those great acts and joyfully praise him for doing them—to sing a new song to Yahweh. All creation—the nations, Israel, all people, and even the sea and rivers and mountains—everything ought to rejoice because Yahweh is coming back to earth and will judge creation righteously and justly. This praise in song is based in Yahweh’s revelation to Israel about himself and his promises and his actions. The response in song that glorifies Yahweh is rooted, founded, based in, and controlled by Yahweh’s revelation to Israel and mankind.

Psalm 117. All people praise Yahweh. Praise the LORD all nations. In this descriptive praise psalm the psalmist calls all people, Israel and the nations, to praise Yahweh because his lovingkindness is so great toward all and his faithfulness-truth never stops. This psalm may be a doxology to psalms 111-116.

Psalm 119. The value of God’s word, the Bible. According to your word. Psalm 119 is an acrostic psalm which means that each line in each section begins with a letter of the alphabet in order from aleph (the first Hebrew letter) to tav (the last Hebrew letter). Yahweh is the word most often used in this Psalm to refer to God. Yahweh is God’s personal name. It is translated LORD in contrast to adonay which is translated Lord. It is used 5321 times in the Hebrew Bible. Yahweh’s word is the same as God’s word or the word of God. The unknown psalmist finds himself alone, persecuted, and discouraged. He prays to Yahweh and meditates on Yahweh’s word which is unerring, dependable, wise, preventative, reviving, and corrective. It is the source of delight, and the light that guides us on the path of life. Our response to this Psalm should also be prayer, meditation on Yahweh’s word, and love for Yahweh. This psalm will foster love for His word, meditation on His word, memorizing His word, delighting in His word, obeying His word, and allowing His word to shape, order, and determine our thinking, speaking, and acting. The psalmist refers to Scripture in every verse except 84, 121, and 122. The psalmist uses nine different Hebrew words for Yahweh God’s word, Scripture. He calls Yahweh’s word law, testimony, precepts, statutes, commandments, judgments, word, sayings, and ordinances. Psalm 119 is the longest chapter in the Bible—176 verses.

Psalm 136. Thank Yahweh for who He is and what He does because of His lovingkindness. For his lovingkindness is everlasting. The Psalmist calls the people to thank LORD (Yahweh) God (Elohim) Lord (adonay) for Who he is, and for what he has done through creation, redemption, provision, and rescue and care; and for what He is doing in the world and in the lives of his people. The repeated refrain “For His lovingkindness is everlasting” highlights Yahweh’s loving faithfulness to his people.

Psalm 146. Praise Yahweh, do not trust princes. Do not trust in princes. You all and I praise Yahweh while we are alive. Do not trust influential people because they die and their thoughts die with them. In contrast, the person who trusts the God of Jacob, Yahweh Elohim, is happy because Yahweh, is the creator, protector, and provider. He created the heaven, the earth, the seas, and all creatures. He is faithful, performs justice, gives food, frees prisoners, gives sight, encourages the discouraged, loves the righteous, protects strangers, supports the fatherless and widows, and thwarts the way of the wicked. Yahweh, the God of Zion, your God, will reign forever, so praise Yahweh.