Approaching a Psalm

Two charts cover both the study approach in general (setting, meaning, and significance) and the specific task of classification (typical structure and themes of three kinds of psalms: Laments, Thanksgivings, and Hymns)

Approaching the Study of a Psalm

  • Setting
    1. Original: Pre-temple, First Temple, or Second Temple Period
    2. Compositional: Instruments, tunes, and other musical directions
    3. Anthological: Place within Psalter as a whole, five Books, smaller collections
    4. Ritual/Occasional Liturgical use: festivals, offerings, Sabbaths, coronations, weddings
  • Meaning
    1. Form and structure: Classification by form, its typical elements; variations of theme; actual structure by stanzas
    2. Poetry: Use of parallelism, words, images to evoke emotion, engage psyche; deeper studies of Hebrew words
  • Significance for Jesus and the Church: The reading and explanation of the psalm by Jesus as well as the early and late Church

Approaching the Classification of a Psalm

  • Laments
    • Typical structure
      • Cry of desperation
      • Trust
      • Petition
      • Vow to praise
    • Themes
      • Imprecatory Psalm
      • Confidence Lament
      • Plea of Innocence (justice)
      • Penitential Lament
      • Petitionary Lament
      • Wisdom Lament
  • Thanksgivings (Declarative/Narrative psalms of praise)
    • Typical structure
      • Call to praise
      • Story of deliverance
      • Concluding praise
    • Themes
      • Deliverance Psalm
      • Victory Song (after battle)
      • Wisdom Thanksgiving
  • Hymns (Descriptive psalms of praise)
    • Typical structure
      • General call to praise
      • Praise itself
      • Final call to praise
    • Themes
      • Hymn of Sovereign Majesty (God’s rule; God as Creator)
      • Enthronement Hymn (king/Messiah placed on throne)
      • Hymn of National Deliverance (faithfulness to covenant; realized when Messiah comes — but distinguish from the enthronement hymn)
      • War Song (before battle)
      • Pilgrim Hymn (Zion — as city or king, Ascent)
      • Wisdom Hymn

PDF ver. 2014-03-01
2 pp. 4.67 x 7.08″ .05 mb

PDF version history:
2014-03-01: Updated SKU; combined into set
2009-10-05: New individual releases

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