Some TIPS on How To Read
The Chronicles of God and His People OST
If the biblical story of God’s people was a movie, the Psalms would be its soundtrack. Songs often express our emotions best. The psalms are songs that capture the innermost thoughts and prayers of the Old Testament people. These same songs can still speak directly to us today as long as we’re willing to plunge deep enough into this rich and diverse book. We will not find grand narratives or detailed arguments. Instead, we find songs and poetry that arise out of the experiences and circumstances of Israel (or the Psalmist) with God.
The book of Psalms are divided into five books.
Book 1: Psalm 1-41
Book 2: Psalm 42-72
Book 3: Psalm 73-89
Book 4: Psalm 90-106
Book 5: Psalm 107-150
Welcome to the Advanced School of Prayer
Psalms are our responses to God. This book has served as both a prayer as well as a praise book for Christians throughout the centuries. If we desire to develop our faith, to grow in maturity, and to glorify God with our entire heart, mind, soul and strength, then the book of Psalms is a useful tool for us. It is a God-given aid which can be used to train ourselves to say prayers that are not only comprehensive, but also honest.
These psalms were originally written to be sung. Thus, this indicates to us how they are meant to be read: as songs. At the end of each book, you will find choruses of praise (for example, in Psalms 41:13; 72:18-19; 89:52; 106:48; 150)
The best way to read the book of Psalms is to make these ancient prayers your own by speaking them directly to God. You may want to follow these basic steps:
- Read and re-read them, then read them again
- Clarify the meanings in the text wherever there are words or phrases that seem puzzling to you
- Analyse the structure of each psalm – for example, the flow or change in emotions
- For Hebrew poetry, the rhyming are the sentences rather than words. (e.g. Ps 103:10 – he does not treat us as our sin deserves or repay us according to our iniquities)
- Develop a sense of the psalmist’s complex and changing relationship with God (e.g.: calm, turbulent, angry, sad, etc)
- Use the psalms as your own prayer
“We recite this prayer of Psalm in Him and He recites it in us.”
– Augustine –
Finding Words, Finding Voice
Don’t worry about those unfamiliar names of people and places. Briefly look them up in your study Bible if you’d like.
Most know first-hand what torture it is to keep things in the heart with no words to express them. So find your voice in the book of Psalms.
As you read and reflect, learn the words to express your heart to God. Give voice to your heart’s silent cries. It’s really about learning how to pray and talk to God.
|Reading plan – Book 1 (1st month)|
|Day 1: Ps 1-2Day 2: Ps 3-4Day 3: Ps 5-6Day 4: Ps 7-8
Day 5: Ps 9
Day 6: Ps 10
Day 7: Ps 11-12
Day 8: Ps 13-14
Day 9: Ps 15-16
Day 10: Ps 17
Day 11: Ps 18
Day 12: Ps 19
Day 13: Ps 20-21
Day 14: Ps 22
Day 15: Ps 23
| Day 16: Ps 24Day 17: Ps 25Day 18: Ps 26-27
Day 19: Ps 28-29
Day 20: Ps 30
Day 21: Ps 31
Day 22: Ps 32
Day 23: Ps 33
Day 24: Ps 34
Day 25: Ps 35
Day 26: Ps 36
Day 27: Ps 37
Day 28: Ps 38
Day 29: Ps 39
Day 30: Ps 40
Day 31: Ps 41
|*Adapted from Learning to Pray Through the Psalms, James W. Sire|
|Reading plan – Book 2 & 3 (2nd month)|
| Day 1 : Ps 42-43Day 2: Ps 44Day 3: Ps 45
Day 4: Ps 46-47
Day 5: Ps 48-49
Day 6: Ps 50
Day 7: Ps 51
Day 8: Ps 52-54
Day 9: Ps 55
Day 10: Ps 56-57
Day 11: Ps 58-59
Day 12: Ps 60-61
Day 13: Ps 62-63
Day 14: Ps 64-65
Day 15: Ps 66-67
| Day 16: Ps 68Day 17: Ps 69Day 18: Ps 70-71
Day 19: Ps 72
Day 20: Ps 73
Day 21: Ps 74
Day 22: Ps 75-76
Day 23: Ps 77
Day 24: Ps 78
Day 25: Ps 79-80
Day 26: Ps 81-82
Day 27: Ps 83-84
Day 28: Ps 85-86
Day 29: Ps 87-88
Day 30: Ps 89
|Reading plan – Book 4 & 5 (3rd month)|
| Day 1: Ps 90-91Day 2: Ps 92-94Day 3: Ps 95-97
Day 4: Ps 98-101
Day 5: Ps 102
Day 6: Ps 103
Day 7: Ps 104
Day 8: Ps 105
Day 9: Ps 106
Day 10: Ps 107
Day 11: Ps 108-109
Day 12: Ps 110-113
Day 13: Ps 114-116
Day 14: Ps 117-118
Day 15: Ps 119:1-32
| Day 16: Ps 119:33-56Day 17: Ps 119:57-80Day 18: Ps 119:81-104
Day 19: Ps 119:105-128
Day 20: Ps 119:129-152
Day 21: Ps 119:153-176
Day 22: Ps 120-124
Day 23: Ps 125-130
Day 24: Ps 131-135
Day 25: Ps 136-137
Day 26: Ps 138-139
Day 27: Ps 140-142
Day 28: Ps 143-144
Day 29: Ps 145-146
Day 30: Ps 147
Day 31: Ps 148-150
We see psalms of praise and lament; based on psalmist own experience and the people relationship with God. Stories about David give us an understanding of his life from an external point of view, whereas the prayers of David provide us with an insider’s view of what goes on in David’s private life: a window from which we can see clearly what is going on within his soul. We look at one such example from Psalm 32.
Prayer of one who is imperfect…Psalm 32
Denial. Among the many sins we commit, the denial of sin is probably the most grievous. It opens the door to other sins: lies, cover-ups, pride, pretence, self-righteousness, etc. This allows the devil to have a foothold in our lives.
If we are honest with ourselves, we would admit that we still sin and often times, we even sin grievously. However, it becomes worse whenever we deny it. We only have to review our own lives to see how easily our sins and fallen nature rear their ugly heads. When we are in denial, we waste away; in refusing to acknowledge our sins, we become miserable and the weight of sin and guilt begins to gnaw at our insides. We know are not right internally.
When I refused to confess my sin,
my body wasted away,
and I groaned all day long.
Day and night your hand of discipline was heavy on me.
My strength evaporated like water in the summer heat. (32:3-4)
Yet, the remedy for sin is not found from undergoing training for sin prevention nor is it achieved by singlehandedly attempting to exterminate sin from our lives.
The solution for sin lies in forgiveness and only God can forgive sin. If we refuse to deal with God, we will end up failing invariably in our attempts to overcome sin. The only way we can be rid of sin is to seek God’s forgiveness through heartfelt confession. There should be no excuses or rationalization: just a sincere acknowledgment of our sins.
Finally, I confessed all my sins to you
and stopped trying to hide my guilt
I said to myself, “I will confess my rebellion to the LORD.”
And you forgave me! All my guilt is gone. (32:5)
Here’s the ONLY WAY we can deal with sin:
“I am sorry, Lord. Forgive me…
Deal with my sin as I deal with You honestly.
Forgive me as I confess my sins in repentance.”
Confession to God is the only way to deal with denial, self deception and our misplaced trust in our own abilities to manage sin. It is a doorway through which we can enter into forgiveness, healing and deliverance through receiving God’s love and grace.
Blessed is he whose sin is forgiven…
This is the joy of sin forgiven: the opportunity to discover and experience the mercy of God. Too often, we miss the blessing of God’s forgiveness because we do not stay long enough in His presence to receive it. We are too caught up in our sins; we may not even believe in His forgiveness.
The psalmist teaches us to pray with confidence and all the more so since we know that we have a HIGH PRIEST who is able to deal gently with those who are ignorant and are going astray (Heb. 5:2) David’s prayer shows us what it means to be forgiven. Verses 6-7 depict the image of one who had been set free and who, in turn, calls other to also come before the Lord to affirm and praise Him who is our hiding place. What a safe place this is for us to be found in when we are in trouble and in distress (v7). In God, the glad cries of deliverance become real. This births true exuberance, praise from a happy soul. Praise and worship can only spring forth from those who have truly tasted the joy of God’s forgiveness.
Ps. 6, 32, 38 (of Book 1) along with Ps. 51, 102, 130 and 143 are psalms of penitence. These are prayers prayed out of a sense of sin and guilt, failure or trouble, need and inadequacy.
The penitential psalms guard us against self-sufficiency and self deceit. These psalms show us what an authentic relationship with God looks like. This kind of relationship can be ours too if we take heed of the steps highlighted here regarding how we can get our relationship right with God.
Will you learn to pray and foster a right relationship with God of your own too?