DavidThe book of Psalms is a beloved and wonderful book in the Word of God. It is a book filled with emotion, and as we read through the book it takes us from the heights of faith and relationship with God to the depths of despair in the current, evil condition of this present world and all the difficulties and hardships it brings upon us. Psalms is also a book of prophecy, speaking the words of God regarding events in the past, events that were then present for the Psalmist, and events that have not yet taken place, but will take place in the future.

Because of the emotional and often uplifting character of the book, many find help and encouragement from reading it in times of difficulty and sorrow in their lives. Because of this, no doubt, in many printed copies of just the New Testament, the book of Psalms is included. Yet many when they read the book of Psalms see in them a lot of beautiful, flowing, nice-sounding words, but they see very little truth that they can latch unto. The book, for them, is good for comfort, for positive words when one is down, or for words of encouragement when they are needed. Yet to actually sit down and explain these Psalms and what they mean is, for them, impossible. Much of what is said, then, for them is just so much nice-sounding hyperbole, and not really a revelation of God’s truth.

Yet I believe that the book of Psalms is a revelation of God’s truth, not just a collection of nice-sounding words to encourage the down-hearted. There is nothing wrong with such encouragement, yet there is much truth here that the LORD would seek to teach us, if only we are willing to listen. We will miss out of much if we refuse to see it.

C.I. Scofield said of the book of Psalms, “The simplest description of the book of Psalms is that they were the inspired prayer and praise book of Israel.” We could modify that slightly, and say that this is the prayer and praise book of the Kingdom of God, as Otis Q. Sellers has suggested. Much of what is said here relates to that Kingdom, and only by considering the truths regarding the Kingdom given in the Psalms will we ever come to a complete picture of all that God has revealed about that great, future Government. By reading it, we learn much of the works and ways of God, and much ultimately of His great plans for the future Kingdom of God upon the earth.

Scofield goes on to say, “They are revelations of truth, not abstractly, but in the terms of human experience.” The book of Psalms is very emotional, and focuses, not just on what will happen, but on what it will feel like when it happens. In many ways, it gives us a unique look at the emotions of the Kingdom of God, letting us in on God’s heart for the time when He will at last bring the lost, sinful condition of this world to an end, and make things on earth the way He has always wanted them to be. We also see those events through the emotions of the people who will experience them, and thus, with the eyes of faith, get to see and live in advance some of the glorious things that will then take place.

The book of Psalms is the first in the third and final division of the Hebrew Bible (Old Testament.) Our current Bible is in a scrambled order made up by men, but the structure of this section in the original, Hebrew Bible was as follows:

III. The Psalms (Writings)

A. Psalms. The song book of God’s future government, revealing His works and purposes then.
B. Proverbs. Rules to govern men’s lives.
C. Job. God’s purpose worked out in Satan’s defeat and the rescue of His man Job from trial and trouble.

The Five Feast Books (Megilloth)
D. Song of Songs (Solomon). The Shulamite’s virtue rewarded. Passover.
E. Ruth. The stranger gathered in to share in God’s redemption. Pentecost.
F. Lamentations. Israel’s woes. The fast of the ninth month.
E. Ecclesiastes. The people collected to hear of the emptiness of man. Tabernacles
D. Esther. Standing up for God’s people rewarded. Purim.

C. Daniel. God’s purpose worked out in the defeat of the Anti-Christ and the rescue of His people from the trials and troubles of the tribulation.
B. Ezra-Nehemiah. Rulers who governed God’s people.
A. Chronicles. The log book of God’s past government, revealing his works and purposes then.

The book of Psalms is divided into five books. The meaning of this is debated, and yet the fact cannot be doubted. I believe that these five books relate to the five books of the law, or the “Pentateuch,” as it is often called. The first book of Psalms, then, is the “Genesis” book, the second is the “Exodus” book, and so forth. So we can better understand each Psalm book in the light of the book of the Law that it corresponds with.

I believe we will understand each of these books better, however, if we identify them with the Hebrew names of the first five books of the Old Testament, and not the man-made Latin names that we have traditionally attached to these books. The book of Genesis in the Hebrew Bible was named after the first three words in the book, “In the Beginning.” It explains to us the beginning of all God’s works, of our fall from God, and of the start of His work to reach out to us again even in our sin. Exodus was also named after its beginning words, having nothing to do with the exit from Egypt, but rather being called “These are the names.” It is the book of redemption, and the names emphasize the people whom God redeems. To Him, each one of them has a name, and is precious to Him. Leviticus also was named based on the first words of the book, “And He called.” It has to do with worship, and the LORD’s meticulous orders as to how it was to be done. It is the natural progression from the last book, for when once one is redeemed, what remains is for one to worship. Yet that worship must be done in the way that God tells us, not according to our inventions. Numbers was named “In the wilderness.” It speaks to us of the wilderness of this world that the redeemed worshippers must pass through. And Deuteronomy was simply called “The words.” This gives us the key to surviving the world we live in: the words of God that sustain us.

So, having an idea of the books of the Law with which each book of Psalms corresponds, let us focus now our attention on the first book of Psalms, where we will begin our study. This is the Genesis book, or the “In the Beginning” book. Genesis is indeed a book of beginnings. It records the beginning of all the works of God in creation. It explains the beginning of all man’s troubles in the fall. And it shows the beginning of God’s redemptive work in calling and choosing a particular man and family through which to bless the world.

The first book of Psalms likewise focuses on man walking with God, as he did when first created, man at enmity with God, as he was after the fall, and the Man Christ Jesus, Who only can restore us to that position of fellowship with God from which we once fell. Creation is a topic discussed in the book, as well as the recreation that will take place when God’s government comes to earth. The man of sin, the anti-Christ, features large in the book as the embodiment of man in rebellion against God. Even the current “last days” of the dispensation of grace are discussed as the culmination of man’s long rebellion against God and separation from Him begun at the fall. Yet God’s redemptive work and His choice of Christ to perform that work and accomplish it also feature largely in the book, and form a wonderful contrast to the rebellious works of men.

So this is a blessed book indeed, and we can learn much from it, both about God, and especially about His plans in His future Kingdom. As we examine each individual Psalm, let us keep in mind that this is the book of beginnings. Sometimes those beginnings are grim, and yet the wonderful truth is that God has a plan based on those beginnings, and He will work it out, as this book of Psalms triumphantly declares. For it also has as a subject the beginning of that glorious future Kingdom of God, the beginning for which we all eagerly wait, and which will bring to an end all the wickedness that has so long beset the world and bring to pass His will on earth at last. May God speed the day!