Value of the Psalms

Fee and Stuart (How To Read The Bible For All Its Worth) outline three benefits of the Psalms for both their ancient and modern readers:-

1. ‘The psalms can serve as a guide to worship. By this we mean that the worshiper who seeks to praise God or to appeal to God or to remember God’s benefits can use the psalms as a formal means of expression of his or her thoughts and feelings. A psalm is a carefully composed literary preservation of words designed to be spoken. When a psalm touches on a topic or a theme that we wish to express to the Lord, it can help us express our concerns in spite of our own lack of skill to find the right words.

2. ‘The psalms demonstrate to us how we can relate honestly to God—how to be honest and open in expressing joy, disappointment, anger, or other emotions. On this point they do not so much provide doctrinal instruction as they give, by example, instruction in the godly articulation of even our strongest feelings.

3.  ‘The psalms demonstrate the importance of reflection and meditation on that which God has done for us. They invite us to prayer, to controlled thinking on and discussion of God’s Word (that is what meditation is), and to reflective fellowship with other believers. Such actions help shape in us a life of purity and charity. The Psalms, like no other literature, lift us to a position where we can commune with God, capturing a sense of the greatness of his kingdom and a sense of what living with our heavenly Father for eternity will be like. Even in our darkest moments, when life has become so painful as to seem unendurable, God is with us. “Out of the depths” (Ps 130:1) we wait and watch for the Lord’s deliverance, knowing we can trust God in spite of our feelings. To cry to God for help is not a judgment on God’s faithfulness but an affirmation of it.’

Laments

The lament is the most common type of psalm. More than sixty laments are found in the psalter. These include both individual (such as Ps 3; 5-7; 13; 17; 22; 25-28; 31; 38-40; 42-43; 51; 54-57; 69-71; 120; 139; 142) and corporate (such as Ps 9; 12; 44; 58; 60; 74; 79-80; 94; 137) laments in which the person or nation cries out its anguish to God. David uttered two outside the psalms, for Saul and Jonathan (2 Sam 1:17-27) and for Abner (2 Sam 3:33-34). Such hymns both agonize over the situation and petition God for help. (Osborne, The Hermeneutical Spiral)

Christ in the Psalms

The primary meaning of the psalms is always to be sought first of all in their immediate, historical context. But this does not exhaust their significance.  No one can read the psalms without becoming aware that certain psalms and individual verses have a deeper, future significance beyond the simple meaning of the words. The Messiah is not mentioned by name, but his figure is foreshadowed, as later generations of Jews came to realize. And the New Testament writers are quick to apply these verses to Jesus as the prophesied Messiah.

Some psalms, particularly the `royal psalms’ (of which Psa 2, 72, 110 are the most striking) picture an ideal divine king/priest/judge never fully realized in any actual king of Israel. Only the Messiah combines these roles in the endless, universal reign of peace and justice envisaged by the psalmists.

Other psalms depict human suffering in terms which seem far-fetched in relation to ordinary experience, but which proved an extraordinarily accurate description of the actual sufferings of Christ. Under God’s inspiration, the psalmists chose words and pictures which were to take on a significance they can hardly have dreamed of. Psalm 22, the psalm Jesus quoted as he hung on the cross (verse 1, Matthew 27:46), is the most amazing example. Compare verse 16 with John 20:25; verse 18 with Mark 15:24. (See also Psalm 69:21 and Matthew 27:34, 48).

There are also many other verses in the psalms which New Testament writers apply to Jesus as the Christ:

Psalm 2:7, `You are my son’: Acts 13:33;

Psalm 8:6, `everything under his feet’: Hebrews 2:6-10;

Psalm 16:10, `not give me up to Sheol . . .’: Acts 2:27; 13:35

Psalm 22:8, `let him deliver him’: Matthew 27:43; Psalm 40:7-8, `I delight to do your will’: Hebrews 10:7;

Psalm 41:9, `my close friend . . . has lifted his heel against me’: John 13:18

Psalm 45:6, `your throne endures for ever’: Hebrews 1:8;

Psalm 69:9, `zeal for your house has consumed me’: John 2:17

Psalm 110:4, `a priest for ever after the order of Melchizedek’: Hebrews 7:17;

Psalm 118:22, `the stone which the builders rejected . . .’: Matthew 21:42;

Psalm 118:26, `blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord’: Matthew 21:9.

More fully:

Psa 2:1, 2 Acts 4:25, 26
Psa 2:7 Acts 13:33; Hebrews 1:5; 5:5
Psa 2:8, 9 Revelation 2:26, 27; 12:5; 19:15
Psa 4:4 Ephesians 4:26
Psa 5:9 Romans 3:13
Psa 6:3a John 12:27
Psa 6:8 Matthew 7:23; Luke 13:27
Psa 8:2 Matthew 21:16
Psa 8:4-6 Hebrews 2:6-8
Psa 8:6 1 Corinthians 15:27; Ephesians 1:22
Psa 10:7 Romans 3:14
Psa 14:1c, 2b, 3 Romans 3:10-12
Psa 16:8.-11 Acts 2:25-28
Psa 16:10b Acts 13:35
Psa 18:2b Hebrews 2:13
Psa 18:49 Romans 15:9
Psa 19:4 Romans 10:18
Psa 22:1 Matthew 27:46; Mark 15:34
Psa 22:7 Matthew 27:39; Mark 15:29; Luke 23:35
Psa 22:8 Matthew 27:43
Psa 22:18 John 19:24; compare Matthew 27:35; Mark 15:24; Luke 23:34
Psa 22:22 Hebrews 2:12
Psa 24:1 1 Corinthians 10:26 [28]
Psa 31:5a Luke 23:46
Psa 32:1, 2 Romans 4:7, 8
Psa 34:8 1 Peter 2:3
Psa 34:12-16 1 Peter 3:10-12
Psa 34:20 John 19:36
Psa 35:19b John 15:25
Psa 36:1b Romans 3:18
Psa 37:11a Matthew 5:5
Psa 38:11 Luke 23:49
Psa 40:6-8 Hebrews 10:5-7
Psa 41:9 John 13:18
Psa 41:13 Luke 1:68
Psa 42:5 Matthew 26:38; Mark 14:34
Psa 44:22 Romans 8:36
Psa 45:6, 7 Hebrews 1:8, 9
Psa 48:2 Matthew 5:35
Psa 51:4 Romans 3:4
Psa 53:1-3 Romans 3:10-12
Psa 55:22 1 Peter 5:7
Psa 62:12 Matthew 16:27; Romans 2:6
Psa 68:18 Ephesians 4:8
Psa 69:4 John 15:25
Psa 69:9a John 2:17
Psa 69:9b Romans 15:3
Psa 69:21 Matthew 27:34, 48; Mark 15:36; Luke 23:36; John 19:28, 29
Psa 69:22, 23 Romans 11:9, 10
Psa 69:25 Acts 1:20
Psa 72:18 Luke 1:68
Psa 78:2 Matthew 13:35
Psa 78:24 John 6:31
Psa 82:6 John 10:34
Psa 86:9 Revelation 15:4
Psa 88:8 Luke 23:49
Psa 89:10 Luke 1:51
Psa 89:20 Acts 13:22
Psa 90:4 2 Peter 3:8
Psa 91:11, 12 Matthew 4:6; Luke 4:10, 11
Psa 91:13 Luke 10:19
Psa 94:11 1 Corinthians 3:20
Psa 94:14 Romans 11:1, 2
Psa 95:7-11 Hebrews 3:7-11, 15, 18; 4:1, 3, 5, 7
Psa 97:7 Hebrews 1:6
Psa 98:3 Luke 1:54
Psa 102:25-27 Hebrews 1:10-12
Psa 103:17 Luke 1:50
Psa 104:4 Hebrews 1:7
Psa 105:8, 9 Luke 1:72, 73
Psa 106:10 Luke 1:71
Psa 106:45 Luke 1:72
Psa 106:48 Luke 1:68
Psa 107:9 Luke 1:53
Psa 109:8 Acts 1:20
Psa 109:25 Matthew 27:39
Psa 110:1 Matthew 22:44; Mark 12:36; Luke 20:42, 43; Acts 2:34, 35; Hebrews 1:13. Compare. Matthew 26:64; Mark 14:62; 16:19; Luke 22:69; 1 Corinthians 15:25; Ephesians 1:20; Colossians 3:1; Hebrews 1:3; 8:1; 10:12, 13; 12:2; 1 Peter 3:22
Psa 110:4 Hebrews 5:6; 6:20; 7:17, 21
Psa 111:9a Luke 1:68
Psa 111:9c Luke 1:49
Psa 112:9 2 Corinthians 9:9
Psa 116:10 2 Corinthians 4:13
Psa 117:1 Romans 15:11
Psa 118:6 Hebrews 13:6
Psa 118:22, 23 Matthew 21:42; Mark 12:10, 11; Luke 20:17; Acts 4:11; 1 Peter 2:4, 7
Psa 118:25, 26 Matthew 21:9; 23:39; Mark 11:9; Luke 13:35; 19:38; John 12:13
Psa 132:5 Acts 7:46
Psa 132:11 Acts 2:30
Psa 132:17 Luke 1:69
Psa 135:14a Hebrews 10:30
Psa 140:3b Romans 3:13
Psa 143:2b Romans 3:20
Psa 146:6 Acts 4:24; 14:15

 

A. F. Kirkpatrick, The Book of Psalms (The Cambridge Bible; Cambridge University Press, 1902), as reproduced here.

Bibliography

Commentaries by Kidner, Plumer, Spurgeon (Treasury of David), Wilcock, Barnes, Calvin, Broyles, Mays, Williams, Grogan, Boice, Craigie/Tait/Allen, Longman.