Our practice this year has been to read the Psalms, which contain 5 books, book by book. Now we return to Book V (Psalms 107-150) . The first series of psalms 111-118 are the “Hallelujah Psalms”. The “Egyptian Hallel (ps 113-118) was sung for the three great pilgrimage festivals, Passover, Weeks, and Tabernacles. The “Psalms of Ascent” (ps 120-134) were used by pilgrims to or from Jerusalem. Psalm 136 is the “Great Hallel” for Sabbath services. Psalm 146-150 end the book with “Praise the Lord”. Psalms 107 and 119 may be introductory psalms. 107 introduces the fifth book and 119 introduces the psalms of ascent. Psalm 137 is untitled and unclassified. There are psalms of David in this book, 108-110 and 138-145.
You will find an introduction to the Psalms, here.
Here is a prayer from Gregory of Nazianus (329-389) who was an early Church father.
Lord, as I read the psalms let me hear you singing. As I read your words, let me hear you speaking. As I reflect on each page, let me see your image. And as I seek to put your precepts into practice, let my heart be filled with joy. Amen.
Psalm 145: A hymn of praise. This is the last psalm of the Davidic collection (138-145) and is an acrostic. However the 14th letter “nun” is missing. The psalmist’s praise is part of the praise of generations. What does this psalm tell us about God?
Psalm 146: A hymn of praise. Psalms 146-150 close the book of Psalms with hymns of praise. Each psalm begins and ends with “Praise the Lord”. Verses 1-2 are the psalmist’s call to praise. Verse 3 begins the psalmist’s address to the community. What attributes of God does this psalm focus on?
Psalm 147: A hymn of praise. Each of the three parts(v 1,7,11) of the psalm begin with a call to praise God. This psalm focuses on God’s care for people and the earth.
Psalm 148: A hymn of praise. This psalm calls for all creation to praise God. The first verses, 1-6 focus on the heavens and verses 7-12 the earth.
Psalm 149: A hymn of praise. God’s goodness to Israel is the focus of this psalm. Commentators suggest that the military imagery may be a way of speaking metaphorically about God’s sovereignty over the nations. In verse 6 the conjunction “and” make a comparison between praise and swords; praising God is like having a sword in hand.
Psalm 150: A hymn of praise. All the verses except the final one begin with the same imperative- Praise. Each of the previous four books of the Psalms ended with a one or two verse doxology. The end of the entire book has this entire psalm as doxology.
Here are several good sources to aid your reading of the Psalms
Anderson, Bernhard W., Katheryn Pfister Darr, Understanding the Old Testament Abridged fourth Edition. (Upper Saddle River,New Jersey: Prentice Hall) 1998.
Clifford, Richard, “Psalms” in The New Oxford Annotated Bible with Apocrypha: New Revised Standard Version.Coogan, Michael D.; Brettler, Marc Z.; Perkins, Pheme; Newsom, Carol A. (2010-01-20) Oxford University Press. Kindle Edition.
Stuhlmueller, Carroll, “Psalms” in HarperCollins Bible Commentary Mays, James L. ed.(San Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco) 2000.
McCann,Jr, J. Clifton “Psalms”,in The New Interpreter’s Bible Vol 3, Keck, Leander E. ed. (Nashville: Abingdon Press) 1996.