This guide to the book of Psalms helps womenunderstand the original context of each psalm and see theirlives as part of theunfolding plan of God.
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About the Author
Lydia Brownback(MAR, Westminster Theological Seminary) is the author of several books and a speaker at women’s conferences around the world. Her books include the On-the-Go Devotionals for women;Finding God in My Loneliness;andSing a New Song.
Read an Excerpt
A Blessed Life
Pursuing God's path leads to flourishing, but following the way of the wicked leads only to destruction.
Psalm 1 has lots of similarity to the teaching and wording of the Bible's Wisdom Literature, primarily the book of Proverbs. The psalms that mirror the wisdom teaching found in Scripture are called "wisdom psalms."
SINGING IN TUNE
Blessed. The very first word of the very first psalm reveals what God wants for his people — blessing. Nothing compares to the reward of living out a close walk with him. Such a walk entails a continual rejection of one way and a wholehearted embracing of another. Truly blessed people are those who guard their hearts from the allure of the world (v. 1) and fixate on the ways of God (v. 2). Turning from worldliness isn't a onetime choice; it's constant — every moment of every day. Whose counsel will guide us? What will fill our time, and with whom will we fill it? The psalmist makes it seem so simple, and it actually is that simple — it's just not easy. But by fixating on God's Word, it gets easier. That's because we're changed in the process. Over time, the pull of worldly power is weakened, and our delight in God's ways grows stronger (v. 2). So does our wisdom, for we realize that delighting in God's ways isn't something to do as a way to get more blessing — the delight is the blessing. Even so, as we drink in the water of God's Word and ways, we become like a well-watered, fruit-producing tree, and we find that every part of our lives and work and and relationships prospers in practical, tangible ways (v. 3). To know this blessing for ourselves, it helps to see the world as it really is. The promises of easy pleasure and avoidance of pain inevitably evaporate into nothing (v. 4), and those who choose that path, rejecting God and those who love him, will be gone (v. 5). In the meantime, the Lord intimately "knows" his own, which means we aren't left to ourselves as we seek to walk with him (v. 6).
It's a struggle at times to fixate on God's Word and avoid falling into worldly temptation. There is only one person who ever did — Jesus. He is the only One who has ever lived out Psalm 1 as God intends. But in union with him, we can become the flourishing tree we find in this psalm, because in him are the streams of water that well up to eternal life (John 4:14).
SING THE SONG
Read Proverbs 1–2. What similarities to Psalm 1 do you find in those chapters?
Kiss the King
The king of God's choosing is celebrated because he is a channel of blessing for God's people.
God appointed a line of kings, beginning with David, to lead God's people in his ways. And God promised that through this kingly line would come his greatest blessings (see 2 Sam. 7:12–17). Sure enough, when the kings served faithfully, all the people were blessed. But ultimately they were all failures in faithfulness — every last one — and all God's people suffered for it. Even so, some of the psalms, like Psalm 2, are songs of rejoicing about the king, which can mean only one thing — despite the royal failures, there was still hope. Humans — even kings — fail, but God does not. He always keeps his promises. The ideal King was still to come. Psalms that rejoice in the king are called "royal psalms."
SINGING IN TUNE
Psalm 2 was written in a time much like ours — morally corrupt and politically unstable — yet a note of confidence runs all through it. Threats loom and evil leaders rise, but no plot or plan devised against God and God's people will ultimately succeed (vv. 1–3). In every age, the desire to "cast away" God's authority is lodged in the hearts of some who abuse their power, and underneath their politically correct lingo, they harbor a special hatred for God's people. There is no need for fear, however, because God can break any power in an instant. Evil authorities may strut around with delusions of control, but God isn't wringing his hands with worry about how to uphold his honor. In fact, he laughs at their attempts to be rid of him (v. 4). Lasting security comes not from a strong economy or military might or even from a morally upright society. It comes from taking refuge in God's anointed King, the Son (v. 12). We need not fear who sits on any earthly throne, because Jesus sits enthroned in heaven.
Even good leaders fail to live up to their promises, so we cannot rely on them to keep us safe. This was true in the psalmist's day, when even King David (the man anointed by God to lead his people) broke God's law and violated the people's trust. And so did all the kings who came after him. From ancient days up to the present, it's clear that broken human beings are incapable of providing all we hope for in a leader. Only a divine ruler can provide the safety and security we so desperately need and conquer every evil power that threatens (vv. 7–9). King Jesus is that ruler. He is everything that Israelite kings failed to be and that our modern leaders pretend to be. King Jesus will never fail, and his rule will never end. Every other governing authority is temporary, and they possess wisdom to govern only to the degree that they bow before the ultimate authority of King Jesus (vv. 10–12).
SING THE SONG
Describe how Acts 4:24–28; 13:32–39; Hebrews 1:5–8; and Revelation 19:15–16 reveal Jesus as the fulfillment of Psalm 2 and the underlying reason for the victorious confidence so evident among those who sang it.
Nothing to Fear
God helps and strengthens his people when they are troubled.
Psalm 3 is a lament composed by David. These prayerful songs express perplexity, anguish, and even discouragement during times of overwhelming circumstances. Yet they also reflect the confident hope of those who trust their compassionate and faithful God. The psalms of lament teach us that God welcomes boldness and honesty when we cry out to him, and we need not fear that he won't hear, because he has promised never to turn away from those who truly seek him. The particular crisis in view here is recounted in 2 Samuel 15–16.
SINGING IN TUNE
Hated and hunted — that was the plight of King David, and he was at a loss as to how to cope with it. Worst of all, it was his own son who sought to harm him. So real was the threat to his life that David had to flee his home and hide (v. 1). His enemies seemed greater and more numerous than his friends — and what about God? He heard the taunts: "There is no salvation for him in God" (v. 2). But the taunts weren't true. God was his protector. God had promised to be faithful no matter what, and his promise included not only protection but also restoration (vv. 3–4). Most of us have never been in David's shoes — hated and hunted by a family member — but no doubt we've been on the receiving end of anger, whether justified or not. At such times, nothing we say or do works to calm the situation and restore reason, and we feel utterly helpless. But we don't have to wait to get to that point to do what David did. He cried aloud to God (v. 4). He poured out his heart, and because God had faithfully answered him in the past, David knew God wouldn't leave him without help in the present (v. 5).
After pouring out his heart, so confident was David of God's involvement in his trouble that he was able to get a good night's sleep (v. 5). That's what casting our cares on God really looks like. When evening anxieties are raging, do we hand them over to our heavenly Father? If so — if we have really entrusted our cares to God — we won't lie awake all night with worry. Real trust banishes fear (v. 6), and it inspires even bolder prayer (vv. 7–8).
SING THE SONG
Explain how John 14:1, 27 and Romans 8:14-17 can help you sing Psalm 3.
A Cry for Help
Those who trust God during difficult seasons are able to wait for his deliverance.
Psalm 4 is a lament, but it is also characterized by restful confidence. This type of psalm reflects the hope of those who trust their compassionate and faithful God. Fear is overruled by faith in the One who has promised never to turn away from his people. Here in Psalm 4, David shows confidence by leaning on the Lord at the end of the day. In this evening prayer he models the security of those who trust.
SINGING IN TUNE
In the midst of difficulty, David cries for God's help, and he remembers how God has relieved him from past distress (v. 1). It seems evident that his distress was prolonged, as ours sometimes is. "How long?" he asks. How long will he have to bear with people who challenge his commitment to the Lord? Despite these pressures, he knows he's safe, because the Lord has claimed him as his own and hears all his prayers (vv. 2–3). David's confidence in God enables him to encourage others to persevere and to resist the desire to retaliate. It's right to be angry when evil gets a foothold, but all too easily, our anger against sin turns into sin because we take it personally. Keeping anger in a righteous place requires humility (v. 4). It also requires a trusting heart and a surrendered life (v. 5). Temptation to doubt God's care assails God's people, but they can escape the temptation by asking God for a fresh glimpse of his goodness (v. 6). David well understood what stress is all about. Yet because his confidence rested in God rather than in people or his self-made solutions, he was able to live in peace both day and night (v. 7). We are never more out of control than when we attempt to be in control. If a man like David, a king with vast responsibilities, could simply go to bed and fall asleep, then so can we, if we but trust in the Lord.
Secure children talk to their parents. They say what they think and express what they feel. And when they want something, they just ask. They don't stop to ponder how to package their words or manage impressions. One reason is that they lack the sophistication to communicate any other way; more importantly, they trust. Whatever they ask and whatever the answer, they know they are loved and cared for. God welcomes the same candor from all those he has set apart for himself in Christ.
SING THE SONG
Sanctify is another word in the Bible for "set apart" (v. 3). From 1 Corinthians 1:2; 6:9–11; Ephesians 5:25-27; and 1 Thessalonians 5:16–24, explain how God sets apart his people.
A Morning Prayer
Focusing on God changes our perspective on our troubles.
As the king of Israel, David was called to lead God's people in God's ways and to model a godly life of faith. Here in Psalm 5, he leads them in a prayer for the destruction of wicked people. This was no personal vendetta on David's part; he desired the triumph of righteousness over evil. For that reason, psalms that include prayers for destruction are called "imprecatory psalms." In praying this way, David is upholding God's just and holy character. And since the psalm was sung in public, the evildoers might hear of it, be warned, and turn to God themselves.
SINGING IN TUNE
The morning routine. Getting up and ready for the day ahead consumes an hour or two, even when all the details come together like clockwork. It's likely, however, that King David had more on his plate than the busiest among us. We have meetings to lead and homework to check, shirts to iron and lunches to pack, but David had a nation to run. Yet his morning routine included the Lord — not a pass through the verse of the day and a prayer for the hours ahead but an orienting of himself and his life and his troubles upward to God (vv. 1–3). Spending time in God's presence shaped his thoughts and prepared him to view the day ahead from God's perspective. In keeping, as we listen to God in his Word, we are freshly-sensitized to the evil of sin (v. 4) and reminded that God's righteousness will prevail in the long run (vv. 5–6). The majority of our waking hours are spent out in the world, not in a quiet room with an open Bible, which is another reason why morning time with the Lord is a precious gift, not a burdensome obligation. Through it we are gifted with the discernment we need to distinguish between truth and error, good and evil, and to pray that God will not allow evildoers to succeed in their sin (vv. 9-10). The Lord, our righteous guide and merciful protector, is always waiting to meet us in the morning.
God is so holy that evil cannot dwell with him (v. 4). Because that's true, only his grace enables us to pray with confidence. David knew this, so he took refuge in that grace (v. 11), as we must. As we do, God covers us (v. 12) with the shield provided by Jesus's payment for our sins on the cross. Even the worst evildoer will be spared from God's righteous wrath if she turns to Jesus in faith.
SING THE SONG
Read Jesus's parables of the ten virgins (Matt. 25:1–13) and his teaching that follows in Matthew 25:31–46. Where do you find both warning and hope in his words, and where in the teaching is God's mercy revealed?
Excerpted from "Sing a New Song"
Copyright © 2017 Lydia Brownback.
Excerpted by permission of Good News Publishers.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
The Psalter, Book 1
Psalm 1 A Blessed Life 20
Psalm 2 Kiss the King 22
Psalm 3 Nothing to Fear 24
Psalm 4 A Cry for Help 26
Psalm 5 A Morning Prayer 28
Psalm 6 In Need of Mercy 30
Psalm 7 Safe in God 32
Psalm 8 Majesty 34
Psalm 9 Our Stronghold 36
Psalm 10 Asking God Why 38
Psalm 11 Secure Foundations 40
Psalm 12 Our Only Refuge 42
Psalm 13 Waiting 44
Psalm 14 The Heart of a Fool 46
Psalm 15 Portrait of a Disciple 48
Psalm 16 A Rich Inheritance 50
Psalm 17 The Apple of God's Eye 52
Psalm 18 Our Great Deliverer 54
Psalm 19 God Wants to Be Known 56
Psalm 20 How Blessings Come 58
Psalm 21 God Answers Prayer 60
Psalm 22 Never Forsaken 62
Psalm 23 Our Shepherd 64
Psalm 24 Our Creator King 66
Psalm 25 Our Teacher 68
Psalm 26 Walking with the Lord 70
Psalm 27 The Lord Our Light 72
Psalm 28 Strength, Shield, and Shepherd 74
Psalm 29 Lord of the Storm 76
Psalm 30 Joy Comes with the Morning 78
Psalm 31 Abundant Goodness 80
Psalm 32 Set Free and Forgiven 82
Psalm 33 The Unfailing Love of God 84
Psalm 34 Taste and See 86
Psalm 35 A Prayer for Justice 88
Psalm 36 Love-Rejected or Embraced 90
Psalm 37 Fulfilled in God 92
Psalm 38 The Consequences of Sin 94
Psalm 39 Humility in Hard Times 96
Psalm 40 Wait for the Lord 98
Psalm 41 In Need of Healing 100
The Psalter, Book 2
Psalm 42 Longing for the Lord 104
Psalm 43 A Cry for Hope 106
Psalm 44 A Cry for Help 108
Psalm 45 A Love Song 110
Psalm 46 Mighty Fortress 112
Psalm 47 King of Joy 114
Psalm 48 City of God 116
Psalm 49 Fear Not! 118
Psalm 50 Pleasing God 120
Psalm 51 What True Repentance Looks Like 122
Psalm 52 Safe in God's Care 124
Psalm 53 The Fate of Fools 126
Psalm 54 Delivered from Every Trouble 128
Psalm 55 Betrayal 130
Psalm 56 If God Is for Us… 132
Psalm 57 The Blessing of Caves 134
Psalm 58 Evil Judged 136
Psalm 59 A Path through Injustice 138
Psalm 60 God's Plans Will Prevail 140
Psalm 61 Safe in Our King 142
Psalm 62 Wail for the Lord 144
Psalm 63 Longing for God 146
Psalm 64 The Terrifying Tongue 148
Psalm 65 Irresistibly Drawn 150
Psalm 66 God's Wondrous Works 152
Psalm 67 To Know God Is to Praise Him 154
Psalm 68 The Lord Triumphant 156
Psalm 69 Suffering Redeemed 158
Psalm 70 An Urgent Prayer 160
Psalm 71 Secure Forever 162
Psalm 72 A Good King 164
The Psalter, Book 3
Psalm 73 Where Contentment Is Found 168
Psalm 74 Never Forsaken 170
Psalm 75 Judgment Is Coming 172
Psalm 76 Mercy or Judgment 174
Psalm 77 Remember the Lord 176
Psalm 78 Our Faithful God 178
Psalm 79 How Long, O Lord? 180
Psalm 80 God's Vine 182
Psalm 81 Listen and Love 184
Psalm 82 Justice Matters 186
Psalm 83 The God Who Conquers 188
Psalm 84 Longing for the Lord 190
Psalm 85 The Mercy of God 192
Psalm 86 God's Unfailing Love 194
Psalm 87 Gathering In 196
Psalm 88 When the Way Is Dark 198
Psalm 89 A Royal Blessing 200
The Psalter, Book 4
Psalm 90 Redeeming the Time 204
Psalm 91 Shadow of the Almighty 206
Psalm 92 A Joyful Day 208
Psalm 93 The King of Creation 210
Psalm 94 Kept from All Evil 212
Psalm 95 Blessed Rest 214
Psalm 96 Come and Worship! 216
Psalm 97 God Most High 218
Psalm 98 Joy to the World 220
Psalm 99 Holy Is He! 222
Psalm 100 Come into His Presence 224
Psalm 101 Walking with God 226
Psalm 102 God Hears 228
Psalm 103 Remember God's Benefits 230
Psalm 104 Majesty Made Known 232
Psalm 105 Remembering 234
Psalm 106 The Inexhaustible Goodness of God 236
The Psalter, Book 5
Psalm 107 God's Steadfast Love 240
Psalm 108 Our Victory in God's Hands 242
Psalm 109 Vindicated 244
Psalm 110 King of Kings 246
Psalm 111 Holy and Awesome Is His Name 248
Psalm 112 Well-Being for the Godly 250
Psalm 113 Out of the Ash Heap 252
Psalm 114 Tremble, O Earth! 254
Psalm 115 God Alone Is Lord 256
Psalm 116 The Love of God 258
Psalm 117 God's Enduring Faithfulness 260
Psalm 118 God's Enduring Love 262
Psalm 119 The Gift of God's Word 264
Psalm 120 A Song for the Lonely 266
Psalm 121 God Our Helper 268
Psalm 122 Gathered Together 270
Psalm 123 Watching for Mercy 272
Psalm 124 God Sides with His People 274
Psalm 125 Surrounded by God 276
Psalm 126 Reaping Joy 278
Psalm 127 Prosperity Depends on the Lord 280
Psalm 128 Walking the Path of Blessing 282
Psalm 129 Righteousness Prevails 284
Psalm 130 Mercy 286
Psalm 131 A Picture of Humility 288
Psalm 132 God Fulfills His Promises 290
Psalm 133 A Shared Life 292
Psalm 134 In God's House 294
Psalm 135 Bless the Lord! 296
Psalm 136 God's Steadfast Love 298
Psalm 137 When Singing Hurts 300
Psalm 138 God Fulfills His Purposes for His People 302
Psalm 139 Known and Loved 304
Psalm 140 Delivered from Evil 306
Psalm 141 Love God and Hate Evil 308
Psalm 142 Known, Loved, and Delivered 310
Psalm 143 Safe on Level Ground 312
Psalm 144 Finishing Well 314
Psalm 145 Our Generous God 316
Psalm 146 Be Still and Know 318
Psalm 147 Our Great King 320
Psalm 148 Let Heaven and Nature Sing 322
Psalm 149 Sing a New Song 324
Psalm 150 Praise the Lord! 326
Appendix 1 Preparing a Group Study of Psalms 329
Appendix 2 Getting Real and Drawing Near 335
Appendix 3 Types and Categories 339
For Further Study 343
What People are Saying About This
“What an exceptional book! First, its scope is different from other books in that it focuses exclusively on the psalmsall 150 of them. Second, its format is unique because the author presents each divinely inspired song with creative divisions such as ‘Musical Notes’ (how the psalm reveals God and his grace) and ‘Sing the Song’ (suggestions for personal application). If you’re a woman looking for a fresh approach to your reading of Scripture, you’ll find it in Lydia Brownback’s Sing a New Song.”
Donald S. Whitney, Associate Dean of the School of Theology and Professor of Biblical Spirituality, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary; author, Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life and Praying the Bible
“I'm grateful for this call to read the book of Psalms straight through! Lydia Brownback has distilled the various themes and offers great encouragement for readers to delve into the prayers and praises of God’s people given in his Word. How good to be reminded that the psalms speak into all the moments of our lives, giving us a song for each one.”
Kathleen Nielson,author; speaker; senior adviser, The Gospel Coalition
“Not only do we need to embrace our emotional side as humans, but as Christians we want to learn a vocabulary that can make our feelings for God be contagious to others. Enter the psalms. God not only gave us a whole book of Scripture for learning the language of the heart, he also made it the longest book of all. Join me in making it a daily habit to open your Bible first to Psalms each morning, and let Lydia Brownback help your reading and meditation stay true and go deep. Sing a New Song is a valuable companion for a lifelong journey through the ups and downs, joys and griefs, praises and laments of God’s own inspired book for the Christian’s heart.”
David Mathis, Executive Editor, desiringGod.org; Pastor, Cities Church, Minneapolis/St. Paul; author, Habits of Grace
“Lydia Brownback brings ‘the heart of the Old Testament’the book of Psalmsto the hearts of her readers. If you desire to deepen your walk with the triune God of the Psalter, Brownback’s brilliant book will shed light on the brilliance of our Lord’s providential purposes for his people. It will inspire you to read and reread the psalms. To use them devotionally. Pray them. Sing them! See them as a mirror to your soul and a reflection of the greatness of our God.”
Douglas Sean O'Donnell, Senior Pastor, Westminster Presbyterian Church, Elgin, Illinois; author, The Beginning and End of Wisdom; editor, The Pastor's Book
“Sisters in Christ, come journey through the book of Psalms and gaze afresh at our God of steadfast love and covenantal faithfulness. Lydia Brownback has given us an instructive, strengthening gift for heart and mind. Study the biblical text; discover the fulfillment of promises in the New Testament; bring your praise, laments, joys, and fears; pour out your heart, trusting his care and grace for us.”
Jane Patete,Former Coordinator of Women’s Ministry, The Presbyterian Church of America