In this post we’re going to look at the four most common types of psalms. In my next post I will cover the four more types.
Just as there are certain discernible patterns of stories in the Gospels there are also certain discernible kinds of psalms that can be found in the book of Psalms. After reading this post not only will you have a better understanding ofwhat you’re looking at when you read the psalms, but you will also know where to go when you either feel like praising the Lord or complaining to Him.
The nature psalms are, of course, psalms about nature. More importantly they are about praising God for the beauty and wonder that can be found in the world.
The Hymn O Lord How Majestic is Your Name is based on psalm 8 which is a nature psalm. In psalm 8 the psalmist praises God for creation and for putting humanity in charge of everything that He created.
The other nature psalms are: Psalms 19, 29, 104, and 148.
You might be thinking, “Aren’t all the Psalms about worshiping God?” Well all the psalms involve worshiping God but the worship psalms have as their subject the worship of God in the temple of Jerusalem.
For these psalms it is important to remember the background of the writers. During this time the people of God worshiped Him in the Temple in Jerusalem. For us as Christians we are the temple in which the Lord dwells by way of the Holy Spirit. But back then when someone spoke of the temple of the Lord they were talking about the physical temple in Jerusalem.
Psalms 27, 48, 84, 122, and 137 are some of the worship psalms.
The praise psalms are the second largest category of psalms. They are psalms written simply in praise of God and follow a pattern in their composition.
At the beginning of a praise psalm the psalmist issues a call to praise the Lord, names who should praise God, or describes how they will praise Him.
From there the praise psalm is developed. Usually the psalmist lists the attributes of God which are the reasons why he is praising Him.
The psalm often ends with either a prayer or wish to conclude the exaltation of the Lord.
Psalms 18, 30, 97, 107, and 139 are some examples of praise psalms.
Have you ever felt bad for complaining too much? Well apparently complaining is a common trait among God’s people. And why shouldn’t it be? Life’s tough, it’s not fair, and often times it seems like life never lets up.
The lament psalm is the most common type of psalm in the book Psalms. If you’ve read Joshua through Esther you would understand why.
By the time the psalms were penned and were being penned Israel had had a very rough go. Before the nation was even founded they were forced into slavery under the Pharaoh of Egypt. Shortly after they started having their own kings in their own land the nation found itself split in two. Each new nation would come to fall to the reigning empires of their day.
The people of Israel had something to complain about. So what if it was their own fault? Aren’t most of the difficulties we face our own fault as well? In the end we are our worst enemy (Romans 7).
Like the praise psalms the lament psalms follow a common pattern.
They begin with a cry to God. Sometimes they already include the subject of their complaint in their introduction.
The next element is the actual complaint. Usually the subject of the lament is not an abstract concept. For instance in Psalm 137 the psalmist is complaining to God that they are being led away from their homeland and now their captors are asking them to sing a song about their home, Zion.
After the lament is stated next is the prayer to God to fix their present predicament.
Because of the nature of a lament psalm the atmosphere is largely negative. However, the psalmist still declares his trust in the Lord. This takes place just before the end.
The psalmist concludes with a promise to always praise the Lord or he simply praises Him.
Psalms 10, 38, 51, 74, and 77 are some examples of lament psalms.
I hope you liked this brief look at the four largest categories of psalms. In my next post I will cover four more categories. Feel free to leave a comment in the comments section below.