Pastor Michael P. Walther
Last Updated Good Friday, April 2, 2021
The Book of Psalms is a collection of 150 songs which take the teachings of the Bible and transform them into prayers meant to be used for God's people to worship. The psalms are very theological, carefully affirming the nature of God and of man and of his salvation. They are also very emotional focusing on our love for God, our struggle with sin, our fear of enemies, our thankfulness to God, and our confidence in God's final victory over evil.
David wrote seventy three psalms, and this accords with his reputation as “the see psalmist of Israel” (2 Samuel 23.1). It is likely that his psalms and most of the rest began as intensely personal poems, which were then adapted for congregational use.
The Five Collections
We’re not sure when these “collections” were created. The earliest record of them comes from the Dead Sea Scrolls. Each section ends with a doxology, and the last Psalm (150) is a grand doxology.
Book I: (Psalms 1-41) These are the intensely personal psalms of David. They probably fit with the life of David and the time of the tabernacle.
Book II: (Psalm 42-72) These psalms of David especially focus on the nation of Israel.
Book III: (Psalms 73-89) These psalms probably come from the time of David and Solomon including the time of the first temple.
Book IV: (Psalm 90-106) These are anonymous psalms and laments. Some refer to earlier people like Moses (Psalm 90) or David (Psalm 122), but other refer to the time of exile in Babylon (Psalm 137).
Book V: (Psalm 107-150) These are the Songs of Ascents (sung while going to Jerusalem for the Passover) and psalms of David. Many believe that Psalm 90-106 were brought together after the fall of both Israel and Judah. They direct the people’s attention to God as the everlasting King.
The Cursing Psalms
One troubling part of the psalms can be the Cursing Psalms (often called Imprecatory Psalms, for example: Psalms 35, 55, 59, 69, 79, 109, and 137). At first, Christians may not see how these prayers fit with Jesus' command to love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you. These psalms are not meant to exclude prayers for our enemies. Many of the psalms pray for the salvation of the nations. But you can’t have salvation without judgment. The New Testament also has calls for judgment and condemnation (Acts 1.20; Romans 11.9-10; 1 Corinthians 16.22; Galatians 1:8-9; Revelation 6.9-10). Jesus’ parables of the Wicked Vinedressers, The Faithful and Evil Servants, The Wise and Foolish Virgins, all call for God’s judgment upon unrepentant sinners. His calling the Pharisees "a brood of vipers" and promising that “all the righteous blood shed on earth” would come upon them are part of God’s ultimate judgment upon sin. The cursing psalms are a prayer for God’s judgment upon those who willfully resist God and persist in wickedness. This prayer does not exclude or over-ride the many prayers for the conversion and salvation of sinners. The two prayers are inevitable because some will not be saved. That is a reality. These prayers are not a call for believers to destroy the wicked personally. That judgment and vengeance belongs to God alone.
The psalms really are a collection of prayers by a number of different authors. Other than the rough, five-part outline mentioned above, there is no real structure or outline to the psalms. In 1531 Martin Luther prepared a summary for each of the 150 psalms. This is a good way to get a quick overview of all the psalms and to begin remembering them according to their individual themes. I have prepared the summaries below by combining my own reflections with those of Luther. Anyone who studies the psalms may want to create their own summary as a way to have a good overview of all the psalms and as a way to remember them. I'm sure I will be revising these summaries for the rest of my life.
01) Two Ways (Maybe Ezra?)
This psalm points to two ways: One way follows God’s word and leads to blessings and life. The other way is that of the “ungodly” or “wicked.” These do not follow God’s word, and that way leads to destruction.
02) Kings Who Kiss the Son (David)
This psalm warns everyone, but especially kings, not to persecute the Messiah. Those who do will be dashed to pieces. Those who take refuge in Him will be blessed.
03) Salvation Belongs to the Lord (David)
When David fled from Absalom, he was afraid. But he cried out to the Lord for salvation, and he found it because it only comes from the Lord.
04) Trust in the Lord. He Hears Our Prayers (David)
This psalm rebukes those who love vain words and seek after lies. They mock our faith in God. But God, who is our righteousness, hears our prayers.
Luther puts these words in the mouths of those who mock: “Shall we tell this fool what is good? Yes, be patient until a roast chicken flies into your mouth. Trust in that and starve!”
05) A Morning Prayer for Guidance (David)
We look to God not to the wicked, for God abhors them. We ask Him to lead us in righteousness in the midst of those who are unfaithful. We pray for joy in the Lord’s blessings.
06) An Evening Prayer for Mercy (David)
This psalm prays for mercy instead of the punishment we deserve because of our sins. The psalm doesn’t mention sins, but it speaks of the effects of sin - the troubled soul. We pray for deliverance from those who work iniquity and are enemies of the faithful.
07) A Prayer for Deliverance from Enemies (David)
This psalm prays for deliverance especially from false accusations and the rage of our enemies. We pray for God’s judgment and God’s salvation. But the wicked will have no salvation. They will fall into their own pit.
08) A Song of Praise for the Creation of Man and for the Eventual Messiah, the Son of Man (David)
This psalm praises God for the work of creation. David highlights the heavens and man who was made a little lower than angels. Jesus quoted this psalm when the children praised Him on Palm Sunday after He cleansed the temple crying “Hosanna to the Son of David.” Luther considered this a prophetic messianic psalm.
09) A Song of Praise for God’s Justice Against the Wicked and His Mercy on Those Who Trust in Him
The nations that forget God and cause destruction and wickedness will be turned to hell. But He is a refuge for those who trust Him and seek Him.
10) A Reminder That the Wicked Will Not Get Away with Their Wickedness (Anonymous)
It seems that God hides and the wicked prosper. God is not in their thoughts, and they murder the innocent. But God sees and repays. He gives justice to the oppressed.
11) An Affirmation That The Lord Tests the Righteous But Punishes the Wicked Who Try to Destroy the Righteous (David)
12) A Prayer for Help Because of Those Who Try to Overcome the Faithful with Words (David)
The wicked think they can overcome with their tongues (Postmodernism). But words of the LORD are purified seven times.
13) A Prayer that Those Who Trust in God’s Mercy Will Prevail (David)
14) A Prayer for God’s Salvation From Atheists (David)
Only fools deny God’s existence and do not call upon Him. They eat up God’s people, but He will save them.
15) A Conversation with God About What It Means to Be Righteous (David)
The righteous live and speak the truth and therefore abide with the LORD in His tabernacle.
16) A Song About Those Who Are Saints in the Messiah (David)
A prayer for preservation as God blesses His saints through faith in His Son died but did not see corruption. (Acts 2.25; Acts 13.35).
17) A Prayer for Vindication and Final Salvation (David)
We pray for God’s vindication and salvation as we live by faith. We pray to be the “apple” of God’s eye. Even though the wicked surround us, we will “awake” in God’s likeness.
18) Thanks for God’s Deliverance from David’s Enemies, Especially Saul (David)
19) A Psalm Acknowledging God’s Word Revealed in Nature and Through the Prophets (David)
In verse 11 David says we are warned and rewarded by God’s word. He prayed for obedience.
20) A Cheerful Psalm Assuring Us of God’s Salvation (David)
“May” the LORD answer, send, remember, grant. We will rejoice.
21) A Psalm of Praise for the LORD’s Salvation (David)
We rejoice for the LORD’s salvation and for His destruction of His enemies.
22) A Prayer Calling on God for Help (David)
This prayer beautifully prophecies the crucifixion of Jesus. All of us can pray this prayer and realize God’s salvation because Jesus prayed this prayer, suffered, died, and finally realized God’s promises in this psalm in His resurrection.
23) A Psalm Affirming God’s Preservation of Life (David)
He compares God to a shepherd caring for his sheep.
24) A Psalm Affirming the Creator and the Advent King of Glory (David)
God created everything. We can only be in His presence if we have a pure heart. But, having been saved, we can greet the coming King.
25) A Prayer for Forgiveness and Deliverance (David)
We pray for forgiveness, guidance, help in our distresses, and to be preserved.
26) An Affirmation of Faith and a Holy Life, and a Prayer for Redemption (David)
David prays for vindication as he continues to live by faith and affirms the faith. He also prays for salvation and redemption.
27) A Strong Declaration of Salvation (David)
David declares his strength and salvation from the LORD. He continue to pray for God’s guidance and salvation.
28) Praise for God’s Answer to Prayer and for Salvation (David)
29) Praise for the Glory of God and His Power Over Creation (David)
The voice of the Lord is over the waters, etc. It divides, shakes, makes the deer give birth! He will give strength to His people. Luther connects the “flood” of this psalm with baptism.
30) A Song of Praise for God’s Healing, Preservation & Salvation (David) Used for the dedication of the house of David
“Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning.”
Luther: “God is only angry for a blink of the eye and does not desire our death or distress rather to see us live and be joyful.”
31) A Psalm of Praise and Prayer for God’s Deliverance (David)
“Into Your hands I commit my spirit. My times are in Your hand.”
32) Joy in Forgiveness. God Promises to Guide (David)
“Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven. When I kept silent, my bones grew old. You forgave the iniquity of my sin.” Luther: “Our righteousness is called ‘the forgiveness of sins.’”
33) A Psalm of Praise for the Words and Works of God (Anonymous)
“Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD. Let Your mercy, O LORD, be upon us, Just as we home in You.”
34) The LORD Delivers the Righteous (David)
David fled from Saul to Achish, King of Gath. They recognized him as the one who had killed many Philistines, so David feigned madness, and Achish let him go (1 Sam. 21:11). This psalm praises God for His salvation. This is the first psalm that mentions angels.
35) The LORD Is the Avenger of His People (David)
This psalm praises God because He avenges for His people. “Fight against those who fight against me” (v 1).
36) Wickedness Contrasted with the Goodness of God (David)
Wicked men do not fear God nor abhor evil. God’s goodness is seen in His mercy and righteousness. David prays that God would continue showing mercy and righteousness.
37) Do Not Worry About the Wicked (David)
The wicked often appear to prosper. But their prosperity vanishes quickly as they face the judgment of God. The righteous should trust in God’s deliverance and endure mistreatment. The end of this is peace.
38) A Song of Sorrow Over Sin (David)
David laments his sin and its consequences. He is weakened, and his enemies are ready to overtake him. He cries out for help. Luther says: “For to truly feel one’s sins and despair over a guilty conscience is the torture of all torture.”
39) A Prayer for Forgiveness (David)
He confesses his sin and his helplessness. But his hope is in God. He prays for deliverance from all his transgressions.
40) Persevering in Trial (David)
As he faced inner and outer trials, David waited on the LORD, put his trust in Him and prayed for His help. He also proclaimed the LORD’s faithfulness and salvation.
41) God’s Blessings to Those Who Help the Poor, Repent of Their Sins, and Suffer Attacks from Enemies (David)
“LORD, be merciful to me; Heal my soul, for I have sinned against You” (v. 4). Luther saw Jesus as the subject of this psalm. “For the godless cannot help themselves, when they see all things go ill with the godly, they must whistle, laugh and wink… These wrongheaded, blind, and poisonous guides-for-the-blind will not understand that God flogs His own people, yet comforts them again and does not desert them.”
42) Yearning for God in Distress (Sons of Korah)
Korah led a terrible rebellion against Moses. Yet his descendants wrote eleven of the most beautiful psalms: Ps. 42; Ps. 44; Ps. 45; Ps. 46; Ps. 47; Ps. 48; Ps. 49; Ps. 84; Ps. 85; Ps. 87; Ps. 88. The psalm is summed up well with the twice used verse: “Why are you cast down, O my soul? And why are you disquieted within me? Hope in God, for I shall yet praise Him For the help of His countenance.”
43) Prayer for Vindication (Anonymous)
This is a prayer for God’s truth to prevail over the lies and injustice of man. It uses the same verse as in Psa 42 “Why are you cast down, O my soul…”
44) A Prayer for Help Because of Oppression (Sons of Korah)
They acknowledge that Israel’s past victories were because of God. But they question why they are are now being oppressed by their enemies. They have been faithful, yet they suffer. They find no answer to this question. They pray for help nevertheless. Quoted by Paul in Romans 8.
45) Praise for the Messiah and His Bride (Sons of Korah)
This psalm describes the wedding between a magnificent king and his bride. But this is no ordinary king. He is anointed by God. His bride will worship Him. His name will be remembered in all generations and the people will praise Him forever. This can’t refer to one of the kings of Israel and Judah. It must refer to the ultimate king which God promised to David in 2 Samuel 7.11-16. Hebrews 1.5,7 quotes this psalm showing that Jesus was greater than angels.
46) Confession of Faith - God is Our Refuge (Sons of Korah)
They confess God to be an unshakable mountain and a river that makes God’s city glad. Though the nations rage against this city, God defends her. He makes wars cease. “Be still and know that I am God.”
47) Praise to God, Ruler of the Earth (Sons of Korah)
This psalm encourages the people of God to praise Him because He rules over all peoples and nations.
48) Praise to God in Zion (Sons of Korah)
This psalm praises God according to His lovingkindness, righteousness, and judgments who is in the Zion, the city of God. Other kinds and princes tried to stop this worship, but they were broken. Luther says this also applies to the Gospel which is assailed by kings and princes, but they cannot drive it away.
49) Don’t Fear or Envy the Rich (Sons of Korah)
We should not fear or envy the rich. Their wealth cannot redeem their souls. They fear death and can do nothing about it. But God redeems our souls from the grave.
50) God Saves Those Who Worship and Obey (Asaph)
God is almighty and He saves those who humbly trust in Him and obey Him. He does not save the hypocrite or those who forget God and mistreat others.
51) A Prayer of Repentance (David)
David prays for forgiveness in the aftermath of his adultery and murder. He also prays for renewal to teach and to worship.
52) The Contrast Between the Wicked and the Righteous (David)
David was betrayed by Doeg. Though his immediate circumstances were dire, he knew that wickedness would end badly and righteousness well.
53) A Prayer for God’s Salvation From Atheists (David) Almost identical to Psalm 14
Only fools deny God’s existence and do not call upon Him. They eat up God’s people, but He will save them.
54) A Prayer for Salvation From Enemies (David)
While on the run from Saul, David hid in the wilderness of Ziph (between Hebron and the Dead Sea). The Ziphites betrayed him to Saul. David knew that God would save him and that he would sacrifice to Him and praise Him.
55) A Lament Because of the Wickedness of Men and the Betrayal of a Friend (David)
David was very afraid of the violence of wicked men, and he just wanted to fly away from it all. Especially troubling was the betrayal of a good friend. Nevertheless, David trusts in God to deliver him.
56) A Lament Because of Enemies (David)
David cries (“put my tears in a bottle) because of his enemies. But he knows that God will deliver him.
57) A Prayer for Deliverance from Enemies and Praise for That Deliverance (David)
David prays for deliverance from men who want to kill him. They will fall into their own pit. He then praises God for His mercy and truth.
58) God’s Judgment on the Wicked (David)
The wicked go astray from the womb. David prays for their destruction and rejoices in God’s vengeance. The righteous “shall wash his feet in the blood of the wicked.”
59) God’s Judgment on the Wicked (David)
David prays for deliverance from his enemies. They are like growling dogs. He prays that God would consume them in His wrath. Nevertheless he will sing praises because God has been His defense and refuge.
60) A Prayer for God’s Help Even Though He Had Cast Them Off (David)
David prays for restoration even though God had been displeased with Israel. He acknowledges that they will be victorious because God will help them.
61) Assurance of God’s Eternal Protection (David)
David prays for help because of his enemies. He praises God for helping him, and he is glad to fulfill his vows.
Luther: He notes that a good governments that last a long time are a great blessing. “New king, new laws,” and ever changing governments are harmful.
62) Silently Waiting for God’s Salvation (David)
God is our rock and salvation. We wait silently for Him to save us. Do not trust in men or riches.
63) Blessing the LORD for His Lovingkindness (David)
David wrote this while in the wilderness of Judea. Even in the desert of this life, the LORD satisfies us and protects us.
64) A Prayer for Preservation from the Wicked (David)
David prayed for deliverance from the words and plots of the wicked. He was confident in God’s judgment on them. They will stumble over their own tongue. The righteous will glory.
65) A Prayer of Thanksgiving (David)
David begins with the blessing of his atonement and continues to thank God for all the blessings that God provides - especially the blessings of rain and the growth it gives.
Luther: How rare this praise is among the rabble, who abuse the word of peace and prosperous times and live a totally destructive life, as Sodom and Gomorrah did. It will go with them at the end as with Sodom and Gomorrah.
66) Praise to God for His Great Works and His Testing and Saving (Anonymous)
Echoes of the Egyptian captivity and Exodus followed by sacrifices… “If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear.”
67) A Prayer for Salvation that Salvation May be Known to All Nations (Anonymous)
A cry for mercy and salvation and that all peoples and nations would praise God
68) The Glory of God in His Goodness to Israel (David)
God has always provided for and will continue to provide for His people. He also protects them and defeats their enemies. Paul quotes v. 18 about Jesus’s descent into hell, “leading captivity captive.”
69) An Urgent Plea for Help in Trouble (David)
David cries for help because of “flood waters” and his enemies. Yet he also confesses his sins. He describes their reproaches and their mistreatment: “They gave me vinegar to drink.” This points to the crucifixion. He also prays for their punishment.
70) Prayer for Relief from Adversaries (David)
A short psalm praying for God to come quickly to save.
71) A Prayer for Deliverance from Enemies (Anonymous)
The LORD has saved from youth, and now He still saves in old age. He will increase our greatness and comfort us. We will praise Him.
Luther: Says that this prayer is in regard to the last Christians, who will face many hardships as the world comes to an end.
72) A Prayer for Righteous Rule (Solomon)
Solomon prays for good judgment in order to protect the poor and to promote prosperity. It telescopes to the Messiah as he acknowledges that “His name shall endure forever…” A note says “The prayers of David the son of Jesse are ended.”
73) Tragedy of the Wicked and Blessedness of Trust in God (Asaph)
Asaph says it is tempting to envy the boastful. They seem to prosper. But they will be cast down. Those who trust in God may be grieved and vexed, but God will save them.
74) A Prayer for Deliverance from the Wicked (Asaph)
The wicked have destroyed the sanctuary. They burned up all the meeting place of God in the land. “Do not deliver the life of Your turtledove to the wild beast!”
Luther says that he prays this against Mohammed and “our Antiochus” (The Pope)
75) Thanksgiving for God’s Righteous Judgment (Asaph)
“God is the Judge: He puts down one, and exalts another.” The wicked will drink the dregs of His judgment. The horns of the wicked are cut off. The horns of the righteous shall be exalted.
76) Respecting God’s Judgment (Asaph)
God is the ultimate judge, and He will judge and deliver the oppressed. Seek a good relationship with God (“make vows to the LORD your God, and pay them…”).
77) Remembering God’s Works In Times of Affliction (Asaph)
When he was in anguish, he remembered the great works of the Lord from the past.
78) God’s Grace Despite Israel’s Unfaithfulness (Asaph)
He remembered the many wonders God performed for Israel during the Exodus. Yet Israel forgot His works and “refused to walk in His law.”
79) A Lament and a Prayer for Israel, Destroyed by Enemies (Asaph)
The temple was destroyed. People were killed. He prayed for forgiveness and deliverance. He prayed that God would avenge their blood against the nations that did not believe in God.
80) A Prayer for Israel’s Restoration (Asaph)
He prayed that God would stir up His strength and save Israel. He fed them the bread of tears. But now he prays for God to restore the vine that He brought out of Egypt.
81) The LORD Promises to Restore Israel (Asaph)
God speaks in the first person - I brought you out of Egypt. “Oh, that My people would listen to Me, that Israel would walk in My ways! I would soon subdue their enemies…”
82) A Prayer for Justice for the Poor and Needy (Asaph)
God is the ultimate judge. Those who judge in His stead (“gods”) should not judge unjustly. They should defend the rights of the poor, fatherless, and needy. When the wicked judge unjustly, the foundations of the earth are unstable.
83) A Prayer for Deliverance from the Enemies of Israel (Asaph)
He lists the nations who conspired together to erase the name of Israel. He prays that God would deal with them as He did with those who opposed the Exodus. “Fill their faces with shame, that they may seek Your name, O LORD.”
84) The Blessings of Dwelling in the House of God (Sons of Korah)
“How lovely is Your tabernacle…” Even the sparrow and swallow use it as a home. They are blessed who also journey to it and dwell there. “A day in Your courts is better than a thousand.”
85) A Prayer for Restoration (Sons of Korah)
“You have brought back the captivity of Jacob. You have forgiven the iniquity of Your people…” “Show us Your mercy, LORD, and grant us Your salvation.” “Mercy and truth have met together…”
86) A Prayer for Mercy and Strength (David)
“For You, Lord, are good, and ready to forgive, and abundant in mercy to all those who call upon You.” “Teach me Your way…” “The proud have risen against me…” “…have mercy on me! Give strength to Your servant…”
87) The Glory of the City of God and Those Born in Her (Sons of Korah)
“Glorious things are spoken of you, O city of God!” “This one and that one were born in her…” “All my springs are in you.”
88) A Cry for Help From a Man Near Death (Sons of Korah, Contemplation of Heman the Ezrahite)
He prayed to the LORD, God of his salvation as death drew near and his soul is full of trouble. He acknowledges that the LORD has allowed him to be afflicted.
89) Remembering the Covenant to David and Holding to It Despite the Trouble That Came to the Anointed (Ethan the Ezrahite)
He remembers and praises God for the Covenant to David. But he also laments the trouble that came to His anointed (the descendants of David / the Messiah?). Nevertheless, he still holds to the covenant.
90) The Eternity of God, the Frailty of Man (Moses)
This psalm begins Book Four (Psalms 90-106)
God existed before the creation. Man suffers and dies because of sin. He prays for compassion and mercy that God’s people may rejoice.
Luther: For those who never think of death and feel no misery remain senseless fools caring nothing for God’s grace or help.
91) Safety of Abiding in the Presence of God (Anonymous)
As we abide under the shadow of the Almighty, we are protected from arrows, pestilence, and destruction. Believers will see the recompense of the wicked. But they will kept from evil. God’s angels will protect them. Because they love Him, He will deliver them.
Luther: This is the second psalm to say that angels guard us. The other is Psalm 34.
92) Praise to the LORD on the Sabbath Day (Anonymous)
He praises God for His lovingkindness, faithfulness, and great works. The wicked do not do this and are destroyed forever. “Those who are planted in the house of the LORD shall flourish in the courts of our God.”
93) The LORD Reigns Even Over Mighty Floods (Anonymous)
His throne is established. He is mightier “than the noise of many waters.”
94) A Plea for Justice and Judgment (Anonymous)
“How long with the wicked triumph… They… speak insolent things… workers of iniquity boast in themselves…” “He who planted the ear, shall He not hear?” The thoughts of man are futile. “Judgement will return to righteousness.”
95) A Call to Worship and Obedience (Anonymous)
In Latin “The Venite.” “Oh come, let us sing to the LORD!” “He is our Maker… We are the people of His pasture.” Avoid the disobedience of the Exodus. The Book of Hebrews treats this as a prophecy of the New Testament and voice of the Gospel.
96) A Song of Praise to God Coming in Judgment (Anonymous)
Sing to the LORD. Even the forests, seas, and trees are inclined to worship. Proclaim the good news of His salvation. He is great, holy, and just. He will judge the world in righteousness.
97) Praise for the Power and Righteousness of the LORD (Anonymous)
The mountains melt like wax. The heavens declare His righteousness. “You who love the LORD, hate evil.” He preserves the souls of His saints.
98) Praise for the LORD’s Salvation and Judgment (Anonymous)
Sing to the LORD a new song. He has made known His salvation. The rivers clap their hands. With righteousness He shall judge the world.
99) Praise to the Lord for His Holiness (Anonymous)
The LORD reigns, the people tremble. Moses, Aaron & Samuel served Him. He is holy, but He is also “The God-Who-Forgives.”
100) Thanks and Praise to the LORD Because He Is Good (Anonymous)
He made us, not we ourselves. He is good and His mercy and truth are everlasting.
101) A Vow to Behave According to the Will of the LORD (David)
I will behave wisely… I will walk with a perfect heart… I will set nothing wicked before my eyes… I will destroy the wicked.
102) A Prayer of the Afflicted When He Pours Out His Complaint Before the LORD
Hear my prayer… My days are consumed… My heart is stricken… My days are like a shadow… But the LORD endures forever… You will have mercy on Zion… He will regard the prayer of the destitute… You are the same and Your years have no end.
103) Praise for the Lord’s Mercies (David)
He forgives, heals, redeems, crowns with lovingkindness. He has not punished us according to our sins. As far as East and West, He has removed transgressions. We are dust. His mercy is forever.
104) Praise for God’s Creation and Provision (Anonymous)
He laid the foundations of the earth. He gives water and vegetation for food and wine (that makes glad the heart of man). “How manifold are Your works! In wisdom You have made them all.”
105) The Eternal Faithfulness of the LORD (Anonymous)
Sing and talk of His wondrous works. Seek the LORD and His strength. He remembers His covenant. He protected His people. He sent Joseph. He sent Moses. He sent the plagues. He gave them the lands of the Gentiles.
106) Joy in Forgiveness (Anonymous)
We have sinned. We rebelled at the sea. They soon forgot His works. The earth swallowed Dathan. They made the calf. They sacrificed their sons and daughters to demons. He gave them to the Gentiles. “Save us, O LORD our God, and gather us from among the Gentiles to give thanks to Your holy name.”
Book Five (Psalm 107-150)
107) Thanksgiving to the LORD for His Deliverance (Anonymous) Repeated phrase: Oh, that men would give thanks to theLORD for His goodness. He saved Israel in the Exodus. He saves sailors. He makes the harvest fruitful. He helps the poor.
Luther points out that God helps different people (sailors, farmers, poor). He complained that the Papists had given these duties to the saints and turned them into idols.
108) Praise for God’s Victory Over Enemies (David)
I will praise You, O LORD among the peoples… His mercy and truth are great. He humbled Moab, Edom, Philistia. The help of man is useless. Through God we will do valiantly.
109) A Prayer for Judgment of False Accusers (David)
He prays for God’s judgment and curses upon those who have lied against him. Quoted in Acts 1 for Judas. “Save me… That they may know that this is Your hand…”
110) Announcement of the Messiah’s Reign (David)
“The LORD said to my Lord, ‘Sit at My right hand…’” He will overcome His enemies. He will be a priest forever of the order of Melchizedek. He will judge the nations.
Luther: “It would be fair to acknowledge it (this psalm) as the chief confirmation of the Christian faith. For nowhere else is Christ prophesied with such clean plain words as a priest and an eternal priest.”
111) Praise for the LORD’s Faithfulness and Justice (Anonymous)
His works are great, studied by all… His works are verity and justice… He has sent redemption to His people… The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom…
112) The Blessings of the Righteous
Blessed is the man who fears the LORD… Descendants will be mighty… Wealth and riches in his house… He deals graciously and lends… His heart is established… He has given to the poor…
113) Praise for the LORD Who Is High, Yet Humbles Himself for the Poor (Anonymous)
“From the rising of the sun to its going down the LORD’s name is to be praised.” He humbles Himself… He raises the poor out of the dust…
114) Remembering the Exodus (Anonymous)
Israel went out of Egypt… Judah became His sanctuary… The sea fled, the Jordan turned back, the mountains skipped…” Luther: “We sing this psalm daily to Christ to praise Him, who has led us out of death and sin, through the wilderness of the flesh and the devil, into eternal life, etc.”
115) Glory to the LORD; Idols Are Useless (Anonymous)
“Not unto us, O LORD, not unto us, but to Your name give glory, because of Your mercy, because of Your truth.” Gentiles say they can’t see Him. But the idols that they “see” are the nonliving works of their hands. Trust in the LORD. He will bless. Luther: “The 115th psalm is a psalm of thanks in which God is praised that He is the true helping God.”
116) Thanksgiving for Deliverance from Death (Anonymous)
The pains of death surrounded me… You have delivered my soul from death, my eyes from tears, and my feet from falling… Take up the cup of salvation… Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of His saints.”
117) All Peoples Praise the LORD (Anonymous)
All nations praise the LORD for His mercy and truth.
118) Praise for God’s Everlasting Mercy (Anonymous)
Oh give thanks to the LORD for His mercy endures forever… Trust in the LORD… The LORD is my strength… The stone which the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone. Luther: “The 118th psalm is a psalm of thanks and my dearest and most beloved confi..?” Luther wrote a commentary on this psalm 1530 during the Diet of Augsburg.
119) The Blessings of God’s Word (Anonymous)
He praises God for reviving him, leading him, and saving him through the word, the precepts, the statutes, and the testimonies of God. Luther: “It is, however, written chiefly to excite us about God’s word.”
120) A Prayer for Relief from Bitter Foes (Anonymous) A Psalm of Ascents
The psalmist’s enemy has lying lips and a deceitful tongue. He wants peace, but his enemies want war. Meshech and Kedar were places where evil people lived. Luther connected Meshech to the Turks in the north and Kedar to the Mohammedans of Arabia.
121) A Confession of Faith that God Will Help (Anonymous) A Psalm of Ascents
The Creator will help. He does not slumber. He will keep you day and night. He will preserve you from all evil.
122) The Joy of Going to the House of the Lord (David) A Psalm of Ascents
“I was glad when they said, ‘Let us go up to the house of the LORD.’” “Pray for the peace of Jerusalem.”
Luther: “How much is it to be lamented that, seeking everywhere for God’s word and being no where able to find it, the children of Israel wound their way to idols. And we Christians did the same, with our running to pilgrimages and winding our way to the cloister, etc. But the holy church is our Jerusalem, and Christ is our temple, city altar, and mercy seat, to which, from which, and with which we seek and hear His word.”
123) Looking for Mercy Because of the Contempt of the World (Anonymous) A Psalm of Ascents
As servants look to their masters, so we look to God for mercy because of the contempt of the proud.
Luther: The heathen and the idolatrous Israelites “despised and scorned the little of the land and the true teaching…” “So also today, our Junkers and factious spirits - who are holy as the Gospel itself - in an entirely Junkerish and pious manner despise the poor preacher and the faithful worshiper of Christ, and tread them underfoot.”
124) Blessing the LORD Because He Saved Us (Anonymous) A Psalm of Ascents
If the LORD had not been on our side… We would have been swallowed, overwhelmed. We have escaped.
125) A Prayer for God’s Protection (Anonymous) A Psalm of Ascents
Those who trust in the LORD are like Mt. Zion. The LORD will do good for them.
126) Joy for the LORD’s Salvation (Anonymous) A Psalm of Ascents
The LORD brought us from captivity (of Babylon). Those who sow in tears shall reap in joy.
127) Laboring and Prospering with the LORD (Solomon) A Psalm of Ascents
Unless the LORD builds the house, they labor in vain. Children are a heritage from the LORD. Happy is the man who has his quiver full of them.
128) Blessings of Those Who Fear the LORD (Anonymous) A Psalm of Ascents
You will work and eat. You will have the blessing of children. The LORD blesses out of Zion.
Luther: “The 128th Psalm is a psalm of comfort, in which the estate of marriage is splendidly praised. Marriage partners are given this great comfort: they should not look only at the trouble, work, discouragement, and discomfort, which they must feel and experience in marriage, but rather the gracious will of God toward them that their station and life are a gracious will of God toward them that their station and life are a gracious creation of God and are blessed by Him. Therefore marriage is dear to Him and He gives it much more happiness and blessing than discomfort, where one only believes and adapts oneself within marriage and faithfully remain with it.”
129) Those Who Afflict God’s People Will Be Afflicted (Anonymous) A Psalm of Ascents
Though God’s people are afflicted, He cuts the cords of the wicked. They will be turned back.
Luther: “For all those peoples (who oppressed Israel) are gone, Israel alone remains. Thus all the heathen and enemies of Christ are like the grass on the roof that sprouts and grows as though it will produce much. But it withers before it is fully developed. It brings no fruit and blessing in it. So also the heathen, heretics, and other enemies when they rage and storm ultimately vanish, leaving neither seed nor mark behind them. The Christians, however, remain forever and ever.”
130) Waiting for the LORD’s Redemption (Anonymous) A Psalm of Ascents
“Out of the depths I have cried to You.” He has forgiveness. We watch and wait for the Lord’s mercy and redemption.
Luther: Look! Here is a true Master and Doctor of the Holy Scriptures who has understood what this means; the seed of the woman shall tread on the head of the serpent (Gen 3.15) and through this seed all the nations of the world shall be blessed (Gen 12.3; 22.18). Therefore he places both a promise and a prophecy of Christ in this verse: “He will redeem Israel from all his sins.” Upon this verse, and from it, comes the entire Psalm.
131) Simple Trust in the LORD (David) A Psalm of Ascents
Israel’s hope is in the LORD. Because of this we don’t have to worry. We are like a weaned child with his mother.
Luther: “Without the nipple of the promise of grace, I cry day and night and have no peace in my conscience.” Therefore this is the conclusion: Let Israel and everyone trust and hope in God and depend only on His grace. Let no one take this nipple from you. I commend it to you, for the promised and coming Christ is in it. (Note: Luther follows the LXX and Vulgate translation in this psalm.)
132) Remembering God’s Messianic Promise to David (Anonymous) A Psalm of Ascents
David wanted a house for the LORD. But the LORD gave a covenant to David that his throne would endure forever. The LORD chose Zion for His dwelling place. From here He will bless His people.
133) The Blessing of Unity (David) A Psalm of Ascents
Dwelling together in unity is like the anointing oil of Aaron and the dew of Mt. Hermon. It is a blessing from the LORD centered in His worship.
Luther: But where disunity and faction prevail, there the devil dwells, and death, and all misfortune.
134) Praising the LORD at Night (Anonymous) A Psalm of Ascents
The LORD’s servants worship in the sanctuary at night. They worship the LORD who made heaven and earth.
Luther: [This psalm] teaches and admonishes the priests and spiritual ones of their office. They should indeed worship God faithfully and diligently, day and night praise God, preaching, and occupying themselves with His word… They should not concern themselves that men despise the word and turn themselves from it too fables, etc. (2 Tim 4.2). For where one discards God’s word, there both spiritual and worldly will fall as well - at least, fall into error, and abandoned by God, fall into the devil’s power. However, where one continues with preaching, there He who made heaven and earth is always present too bless. For the sake of the word, he helps and gives all blessings even to the unworthy and the unthankful. Let this psalm be sung by you pastors, preachers, bishops, and whoever sits in a spiritual office.
135) A General Psalm of Praise Based on the Creation and the Exodus (Anonymous)
Praise the LORD who chose Jacob, who controls the weather, who brought Israel out of Egypt and into the Promised Land. The idols of the nations are lifeless. Bless the LORD, Israel, Aaron, and Levi.
136) Thanksgiving for God’s Mercy (Anonymous)
Thanks for God’s enduring mercy as shown in His Creation, Exodus, Entrance to the Promised Land, who rescues His people from enemies and gives food to all flesh.
137) Longing for Zion in Babylon (Anonymous)
He remembers weeping by the rivers of Babylon. The captors asked for a song. He prays for God’s vengeance against them.
Luther: Although Babylon and Edom greatly rejoiced at this destruction (of Jerusalem) and mocked those who lamented it, yet they should not thereby escape, unrepentant and blameless, but rather shall be torn to pieces in return. There children shall be dashed on the rocks and they shall have no descendants. This indeed happened to Babylon and shall also happen our Edomites and Babylonians, who today rejoice, mocking both the poor church, torn to pieces, and the destruction of God’s word and worship. But, for all that, Israel and God’s word shall remain forever and ever.
138) Praise for the LORD’s Salvation (David)
He praises the LORD for His lovingkindness and truth and for making him bold and strong. The LORD regards the lowly, revives them, saves them, and perfects what concerns them.
139) A Confession of God’s Perfect Knowledge of Man (David)
The LORD knows us and our ways. We cannot hide from His Spirit. He leads us and holds us. He formed us in our mother’s womb, skillfully wrought. His thoughts of us are precious, innumerable. He prays for vengeance against the LORD’s enemies. He hates them. He prays for God’s examination of his life and for God’s leading.
140) Prayer for Deliverance from Evil Men (David)
The evil hurt with hands and tongues. They lay snares. He prays for their destruction. The LORD will maintain the cause of the afflicted.
141) Prayer for Safekeeping from Wickedness (David)
My prayer is like incense. Guard the door of my mouth. Do not incline my heart to wickedness. Let the wicked fall into their own nets while I escape.
142) Prayer for Relief from Persecutors (David)
I cried out to You, O LORD: I said “You are my refuge.” Bring my soul out of prison, that I may praise Your name…
Luther: For among the people of Israel it was a constant, commonplace occurrence, that the true prophets were persecuted and condemned… Therefore it is no wonder that so many psalms are written against false prophets and teachers, since it so commonly happened. It has happened in the church also since the beginning and always happens, so that one may well indeed pray to God, that He would deliver us from false teachers and from error.
143) Prayer for Guidance and Deliverance (David)
The enemy has crushed my life. My spirit is overwhelmed. Cause me to hear lovingkindness. Teach me to do Your will. Lead me. Revive me.
144) Praise to God Who Delivers from Enemies (David)
Stretch out Your hand. Rescue and Deliver. I will sing a new song. The barns will be full.
145) A Psalm of Praise for God’s Mercy (David)
Praise God for His awesome works - especially His mercy and compassion. He upholds those who fall. He provides food. He is near to those who call and will save them.
146) Praise to God for His Help (Anonymous)
Do not trust in princes. The God of Jacob, the Creator, the one who brings justice and healing, He is your help.
147) Praise to the Creator Who Helps the Humble (Anonymous)
Many weather/creation images… He heals the broken hearted; the One who counts the stars, prepares rain, gives snow, etc.
148) Creation Praises the LORD (Anonymous)
Sun, moon and heavens, fire and hail, snow and clouds, mountains and hills, creeping things and flying fowl, kinds and peoples… These all praise the LORD.
149) Praise to the LORD and Vengeance on the Nations (Anonymous)
“Let the high praises of God be in their mouth, and a two-edged sword in their hand to execute vengeance on the nations…”
150) Let Everything Praise the LORD (Anonymous)
Praise the LORD with different instruments. “Let everything that has breath praise the LORD.”
Luther: If anyone is pleased with my poor assistance by these summaries, I ask that he not insert them into the Psalter between the psalms. For I prefer to see the text stand alone by itself, unmixed with anything else. Some of these summaries are really a brief commentary, and it would not be proper if, placed in the middle of the text, these summaries would loom larger than the psalms themselves. With this, may God bless you. Amen.