Book II of The Psalms

Discovery for Students

Book II of The Psalms


Psalms 42:1 through 72:20

“God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore will not we fear, though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea.” (Psalm 46:1-2)


Psalm 42 begins the second book (or subdivision) of the Book of Psalms, a collection of thirty-one chapters which ends with Psalm 72. Bible scholars think that Book II was compiled primarily during the reign of Solomon (970 B.C. to 931 B.C.), and possibly was added to the official worship collection during the reign of Hezekiah or Josiah.

David wrote the vast majority of psalms included in Book I, and eighteen in this second section are credited to him. One is attributed to Solomon, and the remaining psalms in this group are credited to the “sons of Korah,” who were Temple musicians and assistants.

These psalms were used in the Tabernacle and Temple services. In some cases, portions of the titles relate to how they were presented musically. For example, the word Shoshannim (a word that literally means “lilies”), which appears in the titles of Psalms 45, 60, and 69, may have referred to a specific melody, to a lily-shaped straight trumpet, or to a six-stringed instrument typically used to accompany the song. The word Alamoth, in the superscription of Psalm 46, can be translated as “young woman,” and probably indicates that the psalm was to be sung by a high voice or played upon a high-pitched instrument. Psalm 55 is designated as a Maschil (an “instructional” song) to be played by the Neginoth or “stringed instruments.”

With Jewish tradition correlating the five sections of the Book of Psalms to the first five books of the Bible, this grouping is called the “Exodus” section. Just as Exodus describes the bondage and deliverance of Israel, many of these psalms describe the nation as ruined and then calling out to God for deliverance. Psalm 42 sets the scene by crying out for God’s presence in a dry wilderness experience; many of the following psalms relate how God is able to rescue His people.

The divine name predominantly used in Book II is El or Elohim (God).


  1. Psalm 42 may have been written by David during his flight from Absalom, when he took refuge in Mahanaim (see 2 Samuel 17:24). Whatever the exact setting, the psalmist’s circumstances clearly prevented his attendance at public worship, and he had a strong desire to feel the presence of God among those with whom he once had worshipped. In verses 1-2, what metaphor or word picture did David use to describe his longing for God?
  2. While Psalm 45 is a wedding song (“a song of loves”) which was composed to celebrate the king’s wedding, it is also Messianic in scope as it includes a prophetic allusion to the identity of the King in verses 6-8. Given that, who does the bride represent, and what is the bride instructed to do?
  3. Psalm 46 is an expression of confidence in God after a miraculous deliverance. It may have been composed following Israel’s defeat of Assyria (see 2 Kings 19:35-36). Three times the author referred to a “refuge” (verses 1, 7, and 11). We may never face a great invading army, but we may well face life circumstances that cause us to long for a place of refuge. What might some of those circumstances be? How will looking to God as our refuge give us comfort in such times?
  4. One of the clearest views in the Old Testament of sin and its remedy is found in Psalm 51. In it, we read of David’s response after Nathan the prophet confronted him regarding his sin with Bathsheba and his subsequent murder of Bathsheba’s husband. What steps did David take, and what attitude of heart did he exhibit that eventually brought about restoration?
  5. David wrote Psalm 55, a psalm of lament, during the time when his son Absalom was attempting to take his throne. Verses 12-14 reveal that David’s pain was profound because he had been betrayed by a confidant and fellow-worshiper of God. This was likely Ahithophel, David’s trusted counselor, who secretly advised Absalom regarding David’s overthrow (see 2 Samuel 15:12). According to verse 22, what is the appropriate action when we suffer hurt or betrayal?
  6. Many of the psalms offer praise to God for His mighty works in nature. That is true of Psalm 65, a composition of David. Addressed to the chief Musician, this song was probably sung during harvest time. Looking at verses 6-13, in what specific aspects of nature did God reveal His awesome power?
  7. The short hymn of praise found in Psalm 67 is separated into three parts by the refrain, “Let all the people praise thee.” The first section, verses 1-2, asks God to grant favor to Israel so surrounding nations would come to know His “saving health” (or salvation). The second part looks to the future, calling the nations of the earth to be glad because God will “judge the people righteously, and govern the nations upon earth” (verse 4). In the third section, which begins with verse 7, the psalmist continues the thought by stating that “all the ends of the earth shall fear him.” When will this amazing event occur?
  8. Psalm 71 records the recollections and prayers of an aged man who had experienced God’s sustaining help in years gone by, and who was entreating God for continuing help in the twilight years of life. In the first section of the psalm, verses 1-8, the psalmist combined a cry to God with an affirmation of trust and remembrance of how God had been a strong refuge in all of his life. According to verse 14, what was his goal in his remaining time on earth?


Although David went through difficult times, he found refuge in God and was able to rejoice in the God of his salvation. The same can be true of us.

1. “Facts About PTSD,” <> 21 July 2015.