Types of Psalms

By Matt Baker email   Updated 8 Jan 2013

There are many different types of psalms, the two main types being laments (prayers in times of need) and songs of praise (worship in times of joy). However, there are also: songs of thanksgiving (for specific instances when God answered prayer), wisdom psalms (designed for teaching), royal psalms (written for the king), confessions of trust (used when facing a specific trial), temple entry liturgies (sung together before entering the temple) and pilgrim songs (sung together on a pilgrimage).

Psalm:

Genre:

Attributed to:

Notes:

BOOK I - Mostly Davidic psalms with psalms 1 & 2 perhaps being an introduction to the entire collection
1 Wisdom psalm anonymous
2 Royal psalm anonymous includes the phrase, "You are my Son; today I have become your Father," (v7) which is quoted several times in the NT in reference to Christ
3 Prayer of Lament David written when David fled from his son Absalom
4 Prayer of Lament David
5 Prayer of Lament David
6 Prayer of Lament /
Penitential prayer
David the first of the seven penitential psalms
7 Prayer of Lament David psalm of the falsely accused
8 Song of Praise David begins with, "O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!" (v1) and includes the phrase, "what is man that you are mindful of him?" (v4)
9 Prayer of Lament David originally one psalm
10 Prayer of Lament
11 Confession of Trust David
12 Prayer of Lament David
13 Prayer of Lament David the model lament -- includes a complaint (v1-2), a call to God for help (v3-4), and a confession of trust in God's love (v5-6)
14 Prayer of Lament David same as psalm 53; includes the phrase, "The fool says in his heart, 'There is no God'" (v1)
15 Temple Entry Liturgy David starts with the questions, "Lord, who may dwell in your sanctuary? Who may live on your holy hill?" (v1)
16 Confession of Trust David
17 Prayer of Lament David
18 Royal psalm David written when David was delivered from the hand of Saul; also recorded in 2 Samuel 22; includes the phrase, "The Lord is my rock, my fortress, and my deliverer" (v2)
19 Song of Praise (:1-6)
Wisdom psalm (:7-14)
David has two main parts; the first speaks of God's revelation in nature and the second speaks of God's revelation through scripture; includes the phrase, "May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer." (v14)
20 Royal psalm David
21 Royal psalm David
22 Prayer of Lament David starts with the phrase, "My God, my God, why have thou forsaken me?" (v1) which was quoted by Jesus on the cross; Christians see many connections between this psalm and the crucifiction
23 Confession of Trust David The most famous psalm; starts with, "The Lord is my shephard, I shall not want..." (v1)
24 Temple Entry Liturgy David Begins with the phrase, "The earth is the Lord's, and everything in it" (v1)
25 Prayer of Lament David an acrostic
26 Prayer of Lament David
27 Prayer of Lament David
28 Prayer of Lament David
29 Song of Praise David
30 Song of Thanksgiving David written for the dedication of the temple
31 Prayer of Lament David
32 Song of Thanksgiving /
Penitential prayer
David
33 Song of Praise anonymous
34 Song of Thanksgiving David an acrostic; written after David pretended to be insane before Abimelech
35 Prayer of Lament David
36 Prayer of Lament David
37 Wisdom psalm David an acrostic; includes the phrase, "Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart" (v4)
38 Prayer of Lament /
Penitential prayer
David
39 Prayer of Lament David
40 Song of Thanksgiving David v13-17 repeated in psalm 70
41 Prayer of Lament David a psalm about illness; v14 is a doxology (ending) to Book I

BOOK II - Start of the Elohistic psalms (which continue until psalm 83); these psalms tend to use the word Elohim for God
instead of Yahweh; most are atrributed to the Korahites or David
42 Prayer of Lament The Korahites originally one psalm; begins with, "As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, O God" (v1)
43 Prayer of Lament
44 Prayer of Lament The Korahites
45 Royal psalm The Korahites a wedding song
46 Song of Praise
(Song of Zion)
The Korahites includes the phrase, "Be still and know that I am God" (v10)
47 Song of Praise
(Song of Yahweh's kingship)
The Korahites begins with the phrase, "Clap your hands, all you nations..." (v1)
48 Song of Praise
(Song of Zion)
The Korahites
49 Wisdom psalm The Korahites
50 Prophetic oracle Asaph
51 Prayer of Lament David written after the prophet Nathan came to David after David had committed adultery with Bathsheba
52 Prayer of Lament David written after the high priest Ahimelech had been executed by Saul for helping David (see 1 Samuel 22)
53 Prayer of Lament David a repeat of psalm 14; includes the phrase, "The fool says in his heart, 'There is no God'" (v1)
54 Prayer of Lament David written when David was hiding from Saul
55 Prayer of Lament David
56 Prayer of Lament David written when David was captured by the Philistines
57 Prayer of Lament David written when David was hiding from Saul in a cave
58 Prayer of Lament David
59 Prayer of Lament David written when Saul had sent men to watch David's house in order to kill him
60 Prayer of Lament David written after a major military defeat
61 Prayer of Lament David
62 Confession of Trust David
63 Confession of Trust David
64 Prayer of Lament David
65 Song of Praise David
66 Song of Praise anonymous
67 Song of Praise anonymous
68 Song of Praise David
69 Song of Praise David
70 Prayer of Lament David a repeat of psalm 40:13-17
71 Prayer of Lament anonymous
72 Royal psalm Solomon one of only two psalms attributed to King Solomon; v18-19 is a doxology (ending) to Book II
BOOK III - a collection of psalms, most of which are attributed to Asaph or the Korahites
73 Wisdom psalm Asaph
74 Prayer of Lament Asaph
75 Song of Thanksgiving Asaph
76 Song of Praise
(Song of Zion)
Asaph
77 Prayer of Lament Asaph
78 Wisdom psalm Asaph
79 Prayer of Lament Asaph
80 Prayer of Lament Asaph
81 Song of Praise Asaph
82 Prayer of Lament Asaph
83 Prayer of Lament Asaph
84 Song of Praise
(Song of Zion)
The Korahites
85 Prayer of Lament The Korahites
86 Prayer of Lament David
87 Song of Praise
(Song of Zion)
The Korahites
88 Prayer of Lament The Korahites / Heman the Ezrahite
89 Royal psalm Ethan the Ezrahite v53 is a doxology (ending) to Book III
BOOK IV - a collection of mostly anonymous psalms
90 Prayer of Lament Moses The only psalm attributed to Moses
91 Confession of Trust anonymous
92 Song of Praise anonymous
93 Song of Praise
(Song of Yahweh's kingship)
anonymous
94 Prayer of Lament anonymous
95 Song of Praise anonymous
96 Song of Praise
(Song of Yahweh's kingship)
anonymous
97 Song of Praise
(Song of Yahweh's kingship)
anonymous
98 Song of Praise
(Song of Yahweh's kingship)
anonymous
99 Song of Praise
(Song of Yahweh's kingship)
anonymous
100 Song of Praise anonymous
101 Royal psalm David
102 Prayer of Lament /
Penitential prayer
David
103 Song of Praise anonymous
104 Song of Praise anonymous
105 Song of Praise anonymous
106 Song of Praise anonymous v48 is a doxology (ending) to Book IV
BOOK V - a collection of mostly anonymous psalms with 146-150 being a conclusion to the whole collection
107 Song of Thanksgiving anonymous
108 Song of Praise David
109 Prayer of Lament David
110 Royal psalm David
111 Song of Praise anonymous
112 Wisdom psalm anonymous
113 Song of Praise anonymous The Egyptian Hallel - sung during Passover season
114 Song of Praise anonymous
115 Song of Praise anonymous
116 Song of Thanksgiving anonymous
117 Song of Praise anonymous The shortest psalm and shortest chapter in the Bible (only two verses)
118 Song of Thanksgiving anonymous includes the phrase, "This is the day the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it." (v24)
119 Wisdom psalm anonymous an acrostic; the longest psalm and longest chapter in the Bible (176 verses)
120 Pilgrim song anonymous Songs of Ascent - sung during the journey to Jerusalem for the major festivals
121 Pilgrim song anonymous beings with the phrase, "I lift up my eyes to the hills -- where does my help come from?" (v1)
122 Pilgrim song David
123 Pilgrim song anonymous
124 Pilgrim song David
125 Pilgrim song anonymous
126 Pilgrim song anonymous
127 Pilgrim song Solomon the second of only two psalms attribited to King Solomon; beings with the phrase, "Unless the Lord builds the house, its builders labor in vain." (v1)
128 Pilgrim song anonymous
129 Pilgrim song anonymous
130 Pilgrim song /
Penitential prayer
anonymous
131 Pilgrim song David
132 Pilgrim song
(Song of Zion)
anonymous
133 Pilgrim song David begins with the phrase, "How good and pleasant it is when brothers live together in unity!" (v1)
134 Pilgrim song anonymous
135 Song of Praise anonymous
136 Song of Praise anonymous known as "The Great Hallel"; has 26 lines, each of which ends with the phrase, "for his mercy endureth for ever"
137 Prayer of Lament anonymous The basis for the Boney M song "By the Rivers of Babylon"
138 Song of Praise David
139 Prayer of Lament David
140 Prayer of Lament David
141 Prayer of Lament David
142 Prayer of Lament David
143 Prayer of Lament /
Penitential prayer
David
144 Royal psalm David
145 Song of Praise David
146 Song of Praise anonymous
147 Song of Praise anonymous
148 Song of Praise anonymous
149 Song of Praise anonymous
150 Song of Praise anonymous a doxology (ending) to Book V

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