more types of psalms

4 More Types of Psalms

Earlier today I posted about the four most common types of psalms. Now I’m going to be talking about four more types of psalms. Each of these categories can probably fit into one of the four previous ones but they are significant enough to be looked at on their own. 

Meditative Psalms

Meditative psalms deal with a certain subject like the character of a godly person or the Law of Moses.

For instance in psalm 1 the psalmist develops the idea of what it means to be a righteous person versus what it means to be a wicked one. Psalm 119 is the longest psalm and it’s subject is the righteousness of the Law, the Law referring to the books: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy.

Royal Psalms

Royal psalms have the king as their subject or theme. When they were first written the writers had in mind the king of Israel. As Christians looking back we can see that much of what they contain can be applied to Christ since he is the final Davidic King of Israel.

Some examples of royal psalms include psalms 2, 20, 72, 110, 118.

Penitential Psalms

Penitential psalms fall under a larger category of psalm, the lament psalms. The feature that sets penitential psalms apart from the rest of the lament psalms is that they put more of an emphases on seeking forgiveness from God for wrongs committed.

In penitential psalms the speaker confronts his sins and then looks for a way (he asks God to forgive him) to relieve himself of his guilt.

Psalm 51 is the penitential psalm par excellence. This was the psalm David wrote following his transgression with Bathsheba and the murder of her husband Uriah.

Other penitential psalms are psalms 6, 32, 102, 143.

Imprecatory Psalms

This kind of psalm can also be included in the lament psalms category. In these psalms the speaker is calling on God to curse his enemies.

At first this type of psalm seems a little unethical at least according to the standards of  the rest of scripture. However it must be remembered that God was the one who was to have revenge so calling on Him to fulfill their desire for revenge was completely in line with the rest of the teaching of scripture (Deuteronomy 28:53-57; 32:25, 35).

Psalm 137 is the harshest example of an imprecatory psalm. The psalmist ends with a beatitude (blessing) for the one who kills the infants of their enemies.

It is important to keep in mind that the setting for psalm 137 is just after the people of Judah have been defeated and exiled from Jerusalem. It is difficult for us to understand but think back to how those conquered and occupied by the Nazis during WWII must have felt. Would you have wished anything but ill will towards your enemy?

The Jews are now being hauled off to a foreign land. Separated from friends, family, loved ones, and the lives they once knew. Perhaps their children will be sold into slavery. In any case the situation was bleak.

Some other imprecatory psalms are psalms 12, 52, 70, and 140.

So there’s four more kinds of psalms for you, let me know what you think in the comments below.

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