The structure of Psalms
Psalms is really five smaller books in one. And since each of these smaller books is an anthology, there’s really not a single narrative to follow throughout the book; however, there are a few things we can learn from the book’s structure:
Book One (Ps 1–41) is mostly written by David, and focuses on God’s ability to deliver those who fear Him. We see David pour out his heart to God, beg for protection, and ask for help against his enemies. Of all the books, this is the most personal, and has the feel of a one-on-one interaction with God. In Book One, we see the Lord beside us during times of trouble.
Book Two (Ps 42–72) focuses on God as the mighty Judge and King. He is the executor of justice on all nations, and the rescuer of those who delight in Him. In Book Two, we see the Lord going before us to execute justice on His enemies.
Book Three (Ps 73–89) is mostly written by the sons of Asaph, a family devoted to leading the people in worship to God in His temple (1 Ch 25:1). This book focuses on God’s relationship with the whole nation of Israel, not just the psalmist. It emphasizes God’s faithfulness—a faithfulness that spans generations. In Book Three, we see the Lord around us, remaining faithful to His people through the generations.
Book Four (Ps 90–106) directs our eyes to the Lord who rules over all the earth. Several of these psalms begin with simply, “The Lord reigns,” or “Praise the Lord!” This part of Psalms shows the Lord above us, the kind and righteous God who deserves our worship and praise.
And in Book Five (Ps 107–150), we are called to thank Him. He’s the Savior, deliverer, and God of all. In Book Five, we see the Lord among us, in His temple with his people.