Reading Through the Psalms
Whatever situation in life you are going through, the Book of Psalms contains a chapter that addresses it. Most of the Psalms were written by King David, the remainder by Asaph and his fellow Levites.
David lived a tumultuous life, from the youngest of eight brothers who was stuck out in the fields caring for the sheep, to being the gopher for his brothers when they were at war, to musician in Saul’s court. He married the king’s daughter, was friends with the king’s son, and was on the run from the same king for most of his young adult life, alternating between living in caves and foreign lands until the time came for him to step into God’s promise to him as King of Israel.
The drama didn’t end there, but from his first years as a shepherd tending sheep, he learned to trust in God. He knew where to turn. He developed a relationship with his Heavenly Father and sought after God’s heart. He praised God in victory. He poured his heart out to God when he was betrayed. He called on the Giver of Justice to judge rightly and presented his case before him. And even in the times when he was depressed and felt that God was far from him, he trusted in the goodness and faithfulness of God.
He knew who his Savior was and trusted in his salvation (Yeshua.)
A Plan for Reading Through the Psalms
There is no “right way” for reading through the Psalms other than asking the Holy Spirit to guide you and speak to you through them. However, for the past several years, I have read through the book of Psalms during the 50 days between Resurrection Sunday/First Fruits and Shavout/Pentecost as part of my devotional reading plan. This fifty days is also known as the Counting of the Omer during the Feast of Weeks. As there are 150 Psalms, I read three each day, beginning with Psalm 1, 51, and 101 and ending on the final day on Psalm 50, 100, and 150.
You don’t have to wait until specific time to begin. Read through the Psalms any time you want to set aside a time to draw close to God. Each morning as you begin, thank God for his goodness and faithfulness and for his gift of Jesus Christ, claim the atonement of the blood of Jesus and ask him to renew your mind, invite in the present of the Holy Spirit and ask God what he wants to reveal or speak to you about that day . . . and then begin.
50 Days of Psalms
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In both the times of David and today, there are talkers and then there are doers . . . those who seek God with their whole heart. God doesn’t want actions for show, he is looking for those with a sincere heart. Psalm 50 makes this clear. He will answer those who serve him in truth (v 15,) but those who are just making a show are doomed for destruction. (v 22)
There is an expression, “You can’t take it with you.” This sentiment is clearly expressed in Psalm 49. Not only can one not take their wealth with them, but it won’t save them from the grave (verses 6-9) and it can’t redeem another.
Psalm 48 speaks of the confidence in the protection of God who has claimed Jerusalem and Mount Zion for his own. Psalm 98 speaks of his ultimate victory and when he will judge all in righteousness, and Psalm 148 again proclaims that all the earth praises him.
Psalm 47, 97, and 147 are all three about the joy that is only found in God’s righteousness. Romans 8:19-22 states that the earth groans under the wickedness of man, of sin that is ruling the earth. Psalm 97:1 states that the earth itself, the very land, rejoices when God’s truth reigns.
Psalm 45 begins a set of three Psalms in which David exalts in the glory of God throughout the circumstances of life. Psalm 45 is a wedding song, to be sung during a time of joy. Psalm 95 tells of God’s great care for his people, even when they rebel. He praises God for his goodness and faithfulness and expresses the confident hope, that as Jesus assured in Matt xxx x, that all who seek God in truth will find him. (Psalm 145:18)
In Psalm 44, David reflects on the works of God, of his goodness to the people of Israel and how he delivered them. He also acknowledges the righteousness and justice of God, that because of Israel’s sin, they experienced judgment. Psalm 94 again speaks about the justice of God, that the wicked will get their due rewards. Psalm 144 is a confident praise that regardless of the circumstances, God will deliver those who put their trust in him.
In Psalm 143, David acknowledges that no one is righteous in God’s sight and we have no right to claim justice from God on our own merits. The set of Psalms: 43, 93, and 143, are about going to God for justice on the basis of relationship, because of his love and mercy for his. That he alone saves.
Psalm 23 is probably the most well known out of the 150 Psalms in the Bible. It is a declaration of David’s confident assurance that God will be with him no matter what the circumstances, whatever valleys life brings. But not many are familiar with Psalm 42 which is also about the valleys of life. If Psalm 23 is about God’s faithfulness in the valley, Psalm 42 is what it actually feels like to walk through it.
Psalm 91 is one of the most powerful of the Psalms written by David speaking of God’s deliverance and salvation (Yeshua.) It is God’s “911.” Satan himself quoted the verse 12 of the Psalm when in the wilderness temptation, he suggested that he through himself off the cliff because angels would lift him up (Luke 4:11-12, Mattthew 4:6-7.) Psalms 41 and 141 both illustrate the characteristics of the person who can have that faith in the deliverance of God.
Everyone goes through trials and tribulations, dark times and depression. If you haven’t, you either haven’t lived long enough or are lying to yourself. God doesn’t promise that we won’t have trials, but he does promise that he will be with us through them. Psalm 40 was written by David praising God after coming through one of his many trials.
Psalm 139 is one of the most vivid pictures of the loving care of God and his personal interest in us. In contrast to the cold and distant god of Islam who demands followers kill in his name to reach him and the abstract and impersonal god of Hinduism, Kabbalah, and the New Age where not only is the deity impersonal and unaware, even of itself in its highest form, but the ultimate goal is the destruction of the individual, a “oneness with the universe” where the unique person is no more.
Psalms 38 and 88 were both written in times of trouble. David cried out to God asking, “Do you see what is happening to me? Do you know what is going on?” Even in the the dark time, David expresses his confidence in God, knowing that if he humbles himself and cries out to God, the Lord will deliver him.
In Psalm 37, David addresses the question so many of us ask, “If the wages of sin is death (Genesis 2:17, Romans 6:23,) then why do so many wicked seem to prosper.” David’s assurance is that God will vindicate the righteous.
In the beginning of Psalm 36, David gives the key insight . . . the one thing . . . that keeps people from God. Pride, and more specifically, pride in their own self righteousness. The wicked flatter themselves and cannot detect their own sin.
In James 4:7, the James, the half brother of Jesus gives a short and succint instruction on how to stand firm in the face of trials and tribulation. “Submit yourselves to God. Resist the devil and he will flee.” Paul gives further instruction in Ephesian 6:10-18 where he talks about the armor of God and how to prepare to stand firm. All of these was preceded by David, who in Psalm 35 also references the armor of God and God’s salvation, Yeshua.
In these three Psalms, the writer encourages those who seek after God to praise him for his goodness. Psalm 34 is especially rich in David’s exaltation
in the Lord after God provided a way out of a difficult situation. He called to God and the Lord answered (vs. 6) and the confident declaration “the Lord’s angel encamps around those who fear him and delivers them” is a verse to keep close to our hearts whatever trials come.
This collection of Psalms includes both praise and the prophetic. In Psalm 33, David reiterates his common refrain to trust in the Lord. Whatever the
circumstance or situation, God alone is our ultimate hope, to put one’s confidence in anything else is foolishness.
When you listen to the news, sometimes it seems like the world has gone insane. It doesn’t seem to make sense. It doesn’t make sense because ther
are forces in operation outside of what we immediately see. Not only the Great I AM, the truine God, and his angels, but also those who rebelled against him (Rev 12:7-12, Isaiah 14:12) and Paul explains this clearly in Ephesians 6:11-12 where he states the real enemy is evil in three areas: evil rules and authorities of the unseen world, powers in our world, and evil spirits in heavenly places.
Every account in the Old Testament is either a prophetic foreshadowing of what was to come or an illustrative lesson applicable throughout time for those who seek after God. This is seen frequently throughout the Psalms of David. His cry to God begins with his current situation, but then will transition into the prophetic.
A clear illustration of this is Psalms 31. It begins with a cry to God for help during one of the many times David was fleeing from his enemies and
transitions to a portrayal of the suffering Messiah who stood in the middle of those who were conspiring to kill him.
Verse 22 is a prophetic utterance that is repeated by Daniel in Dan 9:24-27 that the Messiah would be cut off in midlife, and seemingly have accomplished nothing. But the chapter ends with a confident assurance that God will hear him and vindicate him as does Isaiah in Isaiah 53:10-12 NLT. The Savior is victorious!
In Psalm 30, David expresses his confidence in God and in his salvation (Yeshua) and looking forward to the resurrection of Christ when joy comes in the morning.
All of creation echoes the glory and majesty of God. This is the refrain of Psalm 29. Psalms 79 and 129 declare God’s justice, righteousness, and faithfulness in his deliverance of Israel.
Life is full of choices. Every day, every moment, we choose which path we will be on. Moses told the Israelites that life and death was before them. In Psalm 28, David reflects on the consequences of those choices as does Asaph in Psalm 78.
The movie Jerry Maguire made the phrase, “you complete me” famous, but David said it over 3,000 years before in Psalm 27. However, he wasn’t saying it to another human being who could fail and disappoint but to the ever faithful God, the only one who can truly “complete” us.
David expresses his trust and confidence in the Lord in Psalm 26. The importance of walking with integrity is stressed and that wrongdoers will be judged.
Give praise to the Lord. David cries out in Psalm 25, declaring his trust in God and asking God to show him His ways and keep him in the ways of the Lord.
Psalm 24 reflects on the greatness and majesty of the Lord and Psalm 74 and 124 repeat on our dependence on God’s faithfulness
Psalm 23 is one of the most well known and beloved of the Psalms among the young and old. The image of the Great Shepherd is vividly portrayed, whatever the situation, God is with us and will bring us through.
Psalm 22 is one of the Messianic psalms. David is inspired to pen words foreseeing Jesus’s suffering and those Jesus spoke while dying on the cross. It paints a picture of the desolate Jesus felt at the one point in time he was separated from the Father and literally had the weight of the world on his shoulders. Even then, he knew the Father would deliver him. Psalm 72 speaks of the justice and righteousness of the victorious Christ and Psalm 122 looks forward to the Messianic kingdom.
In times of discouragement, follow David’s advice and look up. Stand on God’s faithfulness and goodness.
Sometimes it seems like the whole world is against us and there is nowhere to turn. David often felt this way and many of his Psalms reflect that. These Psalms are about David’s trust in the Lord and his salvation, Yeshua. Psalm 20: Our triumph is in his salvation. Psalm 70: We will exalt in his Salvation.
Psalm 119 is the longest chapter in the Bible. It contains reflections on life principles. Solomon compiled the book of Proverbs, David, Psalm 119. It contains 22 sections which have been aligned to the 22 letters in the Hebrew alphabet.
The refrain in Psalms 18, 68, and 118 is that the Lord Saves and he is a faithful deliverer.
Psalms 17, 67, & 117 reflect on the justice and mercy of God. David remembers the times God has delivered him and answers his prayers.
Psalms 16, 66, & 116 are all Psalms that thank God for his goodness and faithfulness.
Peace and rest come through God alone. This is the theme of Psalms 15, 65, and 115. Those who have a clear conscience, who act with integrity, and walk in righteousness are those who can put their confidence in God’s justice.
Regardless of how smart people think they are, no one gets away with anything. In Psalm 14, David expresses his confidence in the omnipotence and justice of God, that everyone will get exactly what they deserve. Psalm 64 claims confidence in His protection and Psalm 114 recounts his faithfulness in his deliverance of Israel.
In Psalms 13, 63, & 113, David clearly expresses his need for his God and Savior, that it is only in him that deliverance comes. In Psalm 113, he praises God and expresses his thankfulness for his goodness.
Those who walk in the fear of the Lord can have confidence in him, he will come to their defense. Out of all the chapters in the book of Psalms, Psalm 62 is a call to God for justice.
The righteousness of God as a high tower is a recurring frame in David’s Psalms. He was wronged, betrayed, and maligned. He depended on the righteousness of God to defend and vindicate him.
In Psalm 10, God gives a warning to the wicked, even though they think they can act without consequences, ultimately God will hold them to account. Psalm 60 claims victory for the humble and Psalm 110 is one of the clearest Messianic Psalms where the Father tells the Son to sit at his right hand until his enemies are made a footstool under his feet.
The refrain through Psalm 9, Psalm 59, and Psalm 109 is that the Lord is a refuge in times of trouble. A high tower, a fortress of safety, for those who trust in him. He will judge rightly and the righteous will be vindicated.
David rejoices in the majesty of the Lord in Psalm 8. Psalm 58 is an expression of confidence in the justice of God, and in Psalm 108 he expresses his confidence in the faithfulness of God and his deliverance.
This set of Psalms is about calling on God for righteous judgment and justice. David calls on God to take up his case and render justice. In the last part of 107, he makes a very accurate observation on how many people wait until they are in dire straights to start the conversation with God. Let us not be one of their number, but let His praise be continually in our mouths.
Psalms reflecting on the goodness of God, his patience with our waywardness, and his deliverance and salvation.
The ultimate justice of God, the wicked will not prosper and appealing to God in times of trouble.
A set of Psalms on the greatness and goodness of God, his majesty and his justice.
Reading through the Psalms: Psalm 3, 53, and 103 all deal with crying out to God when we are in distress and having faith in His justice and faithfulness.
The nations rage, rulers conspire, but in the end, God’s will will be done. This set also contains Messianic prophecies about Jesus, God’s anointed one and that he will honor and hold his covenant promises. I also believe that it is a polemic against the spiritual rulers who have rebelled against God.
These three psalms each speak of the righteousness and justice of God and particularly on the importance of integrity.