KEY VERSE FOR MEMORIZATION
“The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusted in him, and I am helped: therefore my heart greatly rejoiceth; and with my song will I praise him.” (Psalm 28:7)
The Book of Psalms contains 150 chapters which are divided into five sections, or books. This lesson focuses on Book I, which encompasses Psalms 1-41. All the psalms in this section are attributed to David except three: Psalms 1, 10, and 33.
Book I was probably the first official psalter of Israel (the compendium of the nation’s lyrical songs, hymns, and prayers). The other sections, added later, were written over about one thousand years between the time of Moses (approximately 1520 B.C.) until after the return of the Southern Kingdom from Babylonian captivity (approximately 445 B.C.). In the records of David’s era found in the Chronicles, there is frequent mention of sacred music and song being part of Israel’s worship. (For example, see 2 Chronicles 7:6 and 35:15.) Bible scholars agree that most of the psalms likely were sung for some period of time before they were added into the psalter.
Most of the psalms in Book I are personal in nature. They are presented in no particular order. While some relate to specific events in the life of David, even those are not arranged in a chronological progression.
Psalm 1 offers a prelude to the whole collection in Book I. It may have been composed for that purpose, but whether or not that is the case, the first psalm does provide a foundation for all the psalms that follow.
God’s provision of a Savior for His people is a recurring theme throughout the Book of Psalms, and many instances are found in this section. Psalm 2 portrays the Messiah’s triumph and kingdom; this psalm is quoted or alluded to in the New Testament at least eighteen times — more than any other in this section. Psalm 16:8-11 foreshadows Christ’s death and resurrection. Psalm 22 alludes to the suffering Savior on the Cross and presents detailed prophecies of the crucifixion, all of which were fulfilled perfectly. Psalm 34 prophesies that the Messiah’s bones would not be broken, and Psalm 40 relates that He came to do His Father’s will. (While Psalm 23, “The Shepherd Psalm,” is a part of Book I, it will be studied as a separate lesson.)
Jewish tradition correlates the five sections of the Book of Psalms with the Pentateuch (the first five books of the Bible, which were authored by Moses), so Book I is called the “Genesis” section. The divine name mainly used within this section is “Jehovah” (Lord).
The Psalms are beautiful because they are so personal. Every man, woman, and child can relate to them in some degree, and find comfort in them. While the Psalms are the experiences of humanity expressed in writing, we also see in them how man is affected by a holy God.