Read the book of Psalms from start to finish in this six-month Bible reading series. Commentary is provided for each psalm from sources like The People’s Bible, A Commentary on Psalms, and Luther’s Works.

Also, don’t miss our six-month Bible study series by Richard Lauersdorf, which highlights specific psalms and their messages for your life today:

Bible reading plan tree in four seasons Psalms

As you read through the Psalms each day, you may wish to choose a verse that resonates with you and memorize it. Scripture memorization helps to keep our hearts and eyes focused on the Lord. Then as we walk through seasons of celebration, hardship, uncertainty, or joy, those memorized truths of God's Word can offer enlightenment and encouragement.

References used below: PBP 1 = People’s Bible Psalms 1-72; PBP 2 = People’s Bible Psalms 73-150; COP 1 = A Commentary on Psalms 1-72; COP 2 = A Commentary on Psalms 73-150; LW = Luther’s Works. 

Current readings

Psalms for the seasons of life: June

June 4–10

Psalm 129: “Psalm 129 contrasts with Psalm 128, which speaks of the blessing of the godly. The ungodly, who oppress the godly, will experience no blessing. . . . Whoever they may be, in whatever time of history they may exist, the oppressors of God’s people will be uprooted. In Psalm 128 the righteous are compared to fruitful trees and productive vines, but the ungodly are uprooted weeds, which shrivel up and have no value” (PBP 2, pages 229,230).

Psalm 130: (A Penitential Psalm) “ 'Lord, hear my voice.’ . . . This is the expression of the soul when it feels that no creature will give heed to its distress, yes, that even God and all creatures seem to be striving against it. . . . Those who wait for the Lord, however, ask for mercy; but they leave it to God’s gracious will when, how, where, and by what means He helps them. . . . [The believer’s] soul always has its face directed straight toward God and confidently awaits his coming and his help, no matter how it may be delayed. . . . To know God aright is to recognize that with him there is nothing but kindness and mercy” (LW Vol. 14, pages 190,192-194).

Consider Richard Lauersdorf’s January article, "Psalm 130: When rocks fall."

Psalm 131: “Instead of fretting and striving over things that are beyond our ability and beyond our control, we should rest quietly, like a young child with his mother. . . . [The child] has learned to trust his mother to provide [and] waits quietly for his needs to be fulfilled. God’s people are still children who depend on their Father’s care and provision, but they are not spiritual babies who demand satisfaction according to their timetable. Like respectful, trusting children, they wait on the Lord” (PBP 2, page 234).

Psalm 132: “[David desired to build the temple, but he was not allowed to build it. Solomon built it. Yet] in 2 Samuel 7 the Lord promised David that he would have a descendant who would rule on his throne forever. . . . The royal line of David was preserved until Jesus was born as the son of Mary and the heir of Joseph. . . . Jesus is the Son of David who fulfills the promise of an eternal kingdom. He provides peace and justice to the Israel of faith, and he builds God’s true Israel, the church of all believers. Entering into his glorious kingdom is the goal of every pilgrim on this earth” (COP 2, page 426).

Psalm 133: “The unity of God’s people is an occasion for joy. Anointing with oil was a symbol of joyful celebration and rich blessing from God. . . . The pleasant unity of God’s people is not mere organizational unity. It is not a unity based on political compromise. It is a unity based on shared loyalty to God and his Word. . . . It is based on agreement in the truth” (PBP 2, page 239).

Psalm 134: “Psalm 134 is a closing benediction to the songs of ascents [Psalms 120-134]. This benediction brings this collection of psalms to a fitting conclusion. Zion, the place of God’s presence, is the source of all blessing. Since the Lord is the maker of heaven and earth, he can provide every blessing for his people” (PBP 2, pages 239,240)

June 1117

Psalm 135: “The Lord cannot be contained in the universe, yet he chose to dwell in a special way in the temple of Jerusalem. It was to Zion that he sent his Son. It was from Zion that the gospel went out to the world. The Lord is the God of Israel, but he is the God of the whole earth. There is no place that his people can go where they will be out of his sight or out of his care. Praise the Lord!” (COP 2, page 438).

Psalm 136: “The refrain, ‘His love endures forever,’ expresses the theme of the psalm. . . . [‘Love’] is a word that has the connotation of undeserved love and mercy. . . . The story of creation is a story of God’s love. . . . The Lord redeemed his people from slavery in Egypt. . . . The conclusion of the psalm restates the Lord’s redeeming and creating love in general terms. The redeeming love of the Lord reached its high point when Christ redeemed us from our enemies—sin, death, and Satan—and secured our eternal inheritance” (PBP 2, pages 243,244,246).

Psalm 137: “This psalm is a sad counterpart to the many psalms which speak of the joy the Israelites experienced during the festivals at God’s house in Jerusalem. . . . The psalmist describes the grief of the exiles as they sat along the rivers and canals of the land of Babylon. . . . [The Edomites and Babylonians] were enemies of Israel and opposed the Lord and his promises. [Both] were foreshadows of judgment day. . . . There will be no happy ending for the impenitent enemies of God. [The last verses] stand as a warning of the severity of God’s judgment against sin” (COP 2, pages 448,449).

Psalm 138: “[This psalm] calls upon all kings to join David in acknowledging the Lord. . . . David supports his invitation by his testimony concerning the blessings the Lord has given to him. David briefly catalogs these blessings. The Lord’s love and faithfulness are revealed in his promises and his actions. Nothing surpasses the greatness of the reputation God has established by his Word and his actions. . . . One of the ways the Lord helps us overcome adversity is by giving us the necessary courage and decisiveness to deal with it” (PBP 2, pages 250,252).

Psalm 139: “Psalm 139 is a practical discussion of God’s attributes, a doctrinal and devotional classic. . . . In the Bible there are no abstract, philosophical discussions of God’s nature and attributes. We always see God in action, working to uphold good and to oppose evil. . . . God knows our every move, our every thought. He even knows what we will say and what we will do in the future. Such knowledge is incomprehensible to creatures who are limited by time and space. Such knowledge is threatening to sinners. . . . But to those who are at peace with God through forgiveness of sins, God’s total knowledge is a comfort. . . . [God] uses his power, his presence, his knowledge, and all his other attributes to provide blessings which are too numerous to count” (COP 2, pages 454,456,461).

June 1824

Psalm 140: “[The psalm] calls upon the Lord to rescue David and to judge his enemies. . . . David realizes that his only hope is in the Lord, so he turns to him. David’s call for judgment upon his enemies is motivated by three concerns: that God’s promises come true so that God’s honor may be upheld, that David be protected, and that the enemies be turned from their arrogant pride. David concludes with an expression of confidence in the Lord’s help” (PBP 2, pages 259,260).

Psalm 141: “David’s prayers would ascend to the Lord as the expression of a devoted heart. Our prayers too are like sacrifices and incense that are pleasing to God. As long as we remain in faith in Christ, we have continual peace with God. Christ’s righteousness is like a cloud of incense that hides our sins from God’s sight. . . . David prays that he will be kept free from sins of thought, word, and deed. . . . David is determined to practice and to encourage what is good. He is equally determined to oppose evil and evildoers relentlessly” (COP 2, pages 472,473).

Psalm 142: “Although this psalm was written for a specific trial in David’s life, it speaks in such general terms that it would be appropriate in almost any persecution which a Christian might suffer. The psalm begins and ends with appeals to the Lord for help and with expressions of confidence that such help will be provided. . . . When we are weary and confused, God knows our way. He understands our problems better than we do and knows what will be best for us. . . . When the battle is wearing us down, he is the source of our strength” (COP 2, page 476).

Psalm 143: (Note: This is the seventh penitential psalm.) “Every psalm, all Scripture, calls to grace, extols grace, searches for Christ, and praises only God’s work, while rejecting all the works of man. . . . The life of a saint is more a taking from God than a giving. . . . Since everything depends on [God’s] work and grace, [we] justly seek only grace and never feel secure in [our] own efforts. . . . The disconsolate soul which finds nothing in itself is God’s most cherished sacrifice, especially when it cries for his grace. God hears nothing more gladly than crying and thirsting for his mercy. . . . Christ is God's grace, mercy, righteousness, truth, wisdom, power, comfort and salvation, given to us by God without any merit on our part” (LW Vol. 14, pages 196,200,204).

Psalm 144: “This psalm serves as a transition between the urgent appeals for help in the preceding psalms and the joyful praise in the following psalms. . . . This psalm has a strong military tone. . . . Governments may wage war to protect their citizens. . . . God himself is often compared to a soldier. . . . David, therefore, recognizes that his military abilities are a gift of God to be used for good, not for evil purposes. When Christ returns, he will return as a warrior who subdues his enemies” (COP 2, pages 482,485).

June 2530

Psalm 145: “Much of this psalm consists of common phrases that occur in other psalms. . . . The whole universe is summoned to praise the Lord. . . . The sections which proclaim the Lord’s greatness are overwhelmingly positive. There is only one brief mention of his judgment against his enemies. The emphasis is upon the Lord’s mercy, which moves him to provide for his whole creation. . . . A second emphasis is the Lord’s special love and care for his people. . . . A new element here is an emphasis on God’s kingdom, that is, his ruling power. His rule of all things reaches its culmination in Christ, who has all things under his feet” (COP 2, pages 488,492,494,495).

Psalm 146: “The main focus of this psalm is on the protecting power of the Lord. . . . We think of the dramatic way the Lord did this through the ministry of Jesus. His ministry reminds us that the greatest gifts are not natural food, physical healing, and political freedom, but spiritual food, which gives eternal life; healing that frees us from sin and death; and freedom that will endure forever” (PBP 2, pages 275,276).

Psalm 147: “The greatness of God’s power is shown by his knowledge and control of the stars [and by] his management of the waters of the earth. . . . God’s Word by which he commands nature and his Word by which he communicates with human beings are set side by side in the last portions of the psalm. Although nature gives abundant testimony to the Lord’s goodness, we need the revelation of his Word to reach a full and clear understanding of God’s goodness in providing for us. We need such revelation for a clear knowledge of who our Creator and provider is. Israel had such knowledge. We do too” (PBP 2, page 278).

Psalm 148: “All creation, visible and invisible, animate and inanimate, is called to praise the Lord . . . . In the full sense, [the horn] refers to the King of kings, Jesus the Messiah. . . . It is fitting that as the book of Psalms draws to an end, our praise is directed to the Messiah. His rule has been the theme around which the book of Psalms revolves. He is the praise of God’s people” (PBP 2, pages 280-282).

Psalm 149: “Celebrating salvation requires ‘a new song’ because we are rejoicing in God’s new covenant that was established by Christ’s blood which was given and shed for us. The old way of trying to achieve salvation by works must be cast aside. The heathen must give up their futile, self-invented efforts to find God and sing a new song to the Lord. This song remains ever new because we never outgrow our need for it, nor should we ever grow tired of it. When Christ returns in judgment, everything will be made new. We will then have new cause for celebration. Even in eternity this song will never grow old” (COP 2, page 511).

Psalm 150: “The book of Psalms is a miniature Bible, a miniature history of God’s people. It expresses all the feelings and experience they will ever have. It is fitting that this book ends where our history and our experience will end—in the sanctuary of our God, singing joyful hallelujahs forever. For this we gladly shout, ‘Praise the Lord’ ” (PBP 2, page 285).


Want to dig in more? Read The People’s Bible: Psalms 1-72 and The People’s Bible: Psalms 73-150.

Psalms for the seasons of life: May

April 30–May 6

Psalm 103: “Psalm 103 is one of the most beautiful psalms of comfort. It is especially appropriate during sickness or hospitalization. . . . We can say with certainty that no sickness of a Christian is punishment for sin in the strict sense. Christ has already been punished for our sins so no further punishment is necessary. . . . The Lord has not dealt with us as our sins deserve. He has forgiven our sins for Christ’s sake. . . . The psalm concludes with an invitation for all creatures to join the multitude [of angels in heaven] in praising the Lord. Today we praise the Lord on earth as the angels do in heaven. Soon we will join together with those angels in heaven to praise the Lord” (COP 2, pages 212,215,217,221).

Psalm 104: “Psalm 103 praises the Lord for his work of redemption. Psalm 104 praises him for creation and providence. . . . The outline of Psalm 104 is based on the days of creation as reported in Genesis 1. . . . The psalmist closes with a prayer that God would continue to preserve his creation and rule it with justice. . . . Using our memories and minds to reflect on God’s work of redemption and creation should stir up our emotions and our will to praise the Lord. Motivating such praise is the goal of Psalms 103 and 104” (COP 2, pages 221,232).

Psalm 105: “Psalm 105 emphasizes God’s faithfulness to his covenant. Psalm 106 focuses on Israel’s unfaithfulness and disobedience. . . . Verse 42 is the key to the psalm. God’s remembrance of his covenant is more than a calling to mind. It is taking decisive action for the benefit of his people. God’s faithfulness was not due to Israel’s worthiness but to his own faithfulness to the promise he had made to the patriarchs. . . . The same principles set forth in this psalm apply to Christians today. God has redeemed us from sin and continues to forgive our sins, not because we are worthy but because of his faithfulness” (PBP 2, pages 130,135).

Psalm 106: “The history of Israel recorded in the Bible is unique in the literature of the ancient world. Unlike the literature of other nations, which glorifies those nations, the historical writing and poetry of Israel gives a frank account of the sins, failures, and defeats of the nation. The only unblemished hero in Israel’s literature is the Lord. The Israelites’ bad examples and the sad results which they produced should warn us against repeating their behavior. Let us be on guard lest we take God’s grace for granted and squander the blessings which he has provided” (COP 2, pages 245,258).

May 713

Psalm 107: “All who wish to be wise should apply the principles of [this] psalm to their own lives. They should take warning from the judgments that fall upon the disobedient. They should be strengthened by the love of God that is displayed in his blessings on those who remember his covenant. When injustice seems to reign, they should wait patiently for God’s justice. The wandering, hunger, confusion, and imprisonment described in this psalm are all used as pictures of man’s natural spiritual condition” (COP 2, page 270). 

Psalm 108: “ ‘Mercy and faithfulness’ is a common word pair in Psalms. ‘Mercy’ emphasizes the compassionate, gracious character of God’s love. ‘Faithfulness’ emphasizes the dependability of God’s love. . . . This psalm teaches us not to depend on human schemes and maneuvering or on human weapons—no matter how powerful—for salvation either in time or eternity. Only in the Lord will we gain the victory” (COP 2, pages 273,277). 

Psalm 109: “The curses contained in these psalms [55, 56, 58, 69, and 109] are often shocking to modern readers, but such prayers simply echo God’s curse against sin. . . . David did not take matters into his own hands or seek to avenge himself. His solution to slander was to entrust the matter to God. David was a man of prayer. . . . David’s call for punishment on his enemy is one of the most prolonged and vehement curses in the psalms. . . . God’s strongest judgment against sin is that he gives a sinful man what that man loves. The man who loves curses receives them. The man who enjoys living his life apart from God will live apart from him forever. . . . Though we are sinners, all the accusations of our enemies and of Satan against us will be thrown out of court. Satan accuses us in vain because Christ stands at our right hand as our defense attorney. For this we, with the multitude around his throne, will praise him” (COP 2, pages 277,279,282,285,286).

Note: If this psalm is disturbing, it is important to move on to Psalm 110. 

Psalm 110: “This is a true and exalted psalm, the main one to deal with our dear Lord Jesus Christ. . . . This King sits above at the right hand of God, where he is invisible, an eternal, immortal Person; but his people are here below on earth in this miserable, mortal condition, subject to death and any kind of mishap which a man may meet on earth. . . . [He reigns over] a kingdom of life, peace, joy, and redemption from all evil, not a kingdom of death, sorrow, and misery. Therefore [his believers] will not remain subject to death, anxiety, fear, spiritual conflict, and suffering. . . . [He is] the true sacrifice. Once and for all [he took] away the sins of all the world and brings an everlasting reconciliation and forgiveness. . . . On the other hand, those. . . who will not endure the gospel will be punished. . . no matter how mighty, great, and powerful they may be” (LW Vol. 13 pages 228,240,319,341). 

Psalm 111: “Such great works of God are studied with much pleasure by the upright. That is, one must meditate on the words of God and consider them well. Then one will discover how wonderful and great they are, and then the heart will find in them nothing but admiration, pleasure, and joy. . . . Whoever would thank God must sincerely realize and confess that the thing for which he offers thanks is purely God’s grace and gift. . . . We are to publish, praise, preach, and confess the indescribable wonders God has done for us through Christ. . . . Here one should contemplate, diligently regard, and consider what a glorious and beautiful work it is that Christ has delivered us from sin, death, and the devil. . . . Whoever earnestly regards God’s Word as God’s Word knows very well that he will forever remain its pupil and disciple” (LW Vol. 13 pages 358,364,372,373,386). 

May 1420

Psalm 112: “ ‘The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.’ It is really nothing else than to keep God in sight. Whoever does this has enough for time and eternity. For he keeps his Commandments, gives God his honor, and exalts God as he should be exalted. . . . The blessing of God will rest on the house of him who fears God. . . . God has always exalted those who fear him and who delight in his commandments. But there are so few of them!. . . In weariness and affliction, the sun shall rise for them. God knows the art of making his own have pleasure in weariness, and comfort and joy in affliction. . . . A righteous and pious man is also merciful, like his God” (LW Vol. 13, pages 396,399,400,403,406). 

Psalm 113: “Psalms 113-118 became a standard part of the Passover celebrations. Psalms 113 and 114 were used before the meal, and Psalms 116-118 were used after the meal. These psalms are often called the Passover hallel [praise]. . . . The Lord should be praised for what he does. He is both far above us and very near to us. Although he is lofty in power and majesty, he uses that power to help his people” (PBP 2, pages 170-172). 

Psalm 114: “Psalm 114 makes the specific application to the exodus. . . . The skipping of the mountains and fearful flight of the sea are poetic ways of describing the awesome power of God, which makes the whole earth tremble. . . . This psalm expresses the awe that even the inanimate creation experiences in the presence of its Creator. . . . If even the universe stands in awe before its Creator and preserver, how much more so should man” (PBP 2, pages 172-174). 

Psalm 115: “What a beautiful temple [Israel] built! The opening verse of this psalm put a damper on such pride. Not to us, not to us, but to your name be the glory! . . . The one and only God made them what they were. He alone deserved the praise. . . the idols of the nations are simply lifeless creations of their worshipers. This is true whether they are carved images or idols of human philosophy, human achievements, and earthly wealth. None of these will be able to give life to those who serve them. . . . But those who trust in the Lord will be blessed. . . .  We are to make full use of the time he has given us on this earth to spread the glory of his name before our opportunity to do so is ended by death. But even when death ends our opportunity to serve God on this earth, we will continue to praise him forever” (PBP 2, pages 75,176,178). 

Psalm 116: “The first two verses already tell the story of the psalm. The psalmist was in great danger of death; he prayed to the Lord; the Lord saved him. . . . We ‘repay’ God when we joyfully celebrate the salvation which he has given to us. . . . God cares about the life and death of each sparrow in his creation. How much more then he watches over the lives of his saints. He controls the life of each one of us so that its length, whether long or short, best serves his glory and our good. He will be with us to help us cross the boundary of death, which is still fearsome to us. Our times are in his hands. Let us use the time he allots us wisely. Let us be ready to entrust ourselves to his hands when he calls us” (COP 2, pages 317,321,322). 

Psalm 117: “This is the littlest psalm of them all, but it is gigantic in its theme. This little gem sweeps across space and time. It echoes from one end of the world to the other. It embraces all the peoples and brings hallelujahs to the heathen. It celebrates love and mercy that stretch beyond time into eternity. . . . [The Lord] is the one and only God for all people. All people can come to him. . . . There can be a diversity of cultures and languages among those who serve the Lord, but there can be no diversity of gods. There is only one Creator and one Redeemer” (COP 2, pages 323,324). 

Psalm 118: “Psalm 118 is one of the foremost messianic psalms. . . . It falls into two main parts: the Messiah’s expression of trust during his suffering and his joy when God delivers him. Both of these experiences are shared with Christ by the believers who preceded him during the Old Testament era and by those who follow him during the New Testament era. This psalm is fulfilled in Christ’s passion. The anguish of the psalm is expressed in Jesus’ prayer in Gethsemane. . . [and when] the leaders of Israel rejected him as the Messiah, even though he was the foundation on which God would build the church. . . . [Christ is] the stone over whom some stumble and the rock who is a sure foundation for others” (PBP 2, pages 185,186,189). 

May 2127

Psalm 119:1-8: “Psalm 119 is the longest chapter in the Bible and the longest psalm by far. . . . This great song of praise for God’s Word is a celebration of praise to the Lord himself, who gave that Word. We cannot separate loyalty to God from loyalty to his Word. . . . Each of the 22 letters of the Hebrew alphabet is represented by an eight-verse stanza. All eight verses of each stanza begin with the appropriate sequential [Hebrew] letter. . . . The psalmist pledges that he will be devoted to God’s Word. . . . The primary reason to keep God’s commands is obedience to God motivated by love. A secondary reason is the Lord’s promise of blessing” (COP 1, pages 333,334,341). 

Psalm 119:9-16: “Though this psalm has the form of a prayer, it is also a meditation on true wisdom that could be used for training the young. . . . God’s Word should be read, studied, meditated upon, and memorized so that it is hidden in our hearts to be used whenever we need it. One way of hiding God’s Word in our hearts is to memorize key verses of the Bible that will be sources of strength in times of trial and testing. Such memorization is an important part of Christian training, but keeping God’s Word in our hearts means more than knowing what is says. It means believing it and doing it” (COP 1, page 343). 

Psalm 119:17-24:Often we are more ready to learn in adversity than in prosperity. Troubles drive us to the Word for understanding and strength. The Lord strengthens the psalmist through his Word and will vindicate him in his judgment” (COP 2, page 346). 

Psalm 119:25-32: “[Verse 32 states] a truth which will be repeated throughout the psalm: only the Lord can give us the understanding of his Word and the ability to believe it and obey it. God must set our hearts free with the gospel before we can keep his commandments for the only right reason: the love of God, who has set us free from sin. The plea ‘Teach me’ is a thread running throughout the psalm” (COP 2, page 346). 

Psalm 119:33-40: “God’s Word should be read, studied, meditated upon, and memorized, so that it is hidden in our hearts for use whenever we need it” (PBP 2, page 197). “Verses 36 and 37 are noteworthy as a prayer for God-pleasing values and priorities in life. In God’s Word we find true riches. We will make it our top priority to get these riches. We will not place our hope in earthly things that have no power to save us” (COP 2, page 348). 

Psalm 119:41-48: “Verse 46 of this psalm must have been very comforting to the early Christians during those days of persecution when they often had to appear before rulers. This verse was also very meaningful to Luther and the reformers when they were summoned to appear before the emperor and princes. This verse is printed at the beginning of the Augsburg Confession as the motto of the confessors” (COP 2, page 350). 

Psalm 119:49-56: “ ‘Remembrance’ is a key theme [in these verses]. We ask God to remember his promises to us. We will remember his Word so we can put it into practice. We should be angry and offended when we observe people ignoring God’s law. The indifference to sin and blasphemy which is characteristic of our society cannot be justified as ‘tolerance’ or ‘open-mindedness’ ” (COP 2, page 352). 

Psalm 119:57-64: “Verse 57 reminds us of our confirmation pledge of faithfulness. . . . [This section] is a very intense expression of the psalmist’s determination to serve the Lord. . . . God is his chief possession, his teacher, and his merciful Savior. And this mercy of God is not limited to a few people in a little corner of the world. It is for the whole earth. Verse 63 reminds us of the importance of strengthening one another through the practice of Christian fellowship” (COP 2, page 352). 

Psalm 119:65-72: “[This section] emphasizes the disciplinary value which suffering may have for a Christian if it pushes him or her closer to God and his Word. See Hebrews 12 on the value of chastisement as discipline. We should be grateful for the bitter medicine and for the hard exercise that make us healthy. Even God’s discipline is good, though it may be painful for the present. God’s discipline is worth more than silver or gold” (COP 2, page 354). 

Psalm 119:73-80: “[This section] emphasizes the solidarity between the psalmist and all others who fear the Lord (verses 74,79). The psalmist hopes that his example will encourage them and that they will help and support him in his trials. This stanza echoes many topics discussed in earlier stanzas: the benefits of affliction, delight in the law, comfort in mercy, not being put to shame, and aversion from evil” (COP 2, page 355).  

Psalm 119:81-88: “Any Christian may grow weary when suffering a long illness. Like a wineskin hanging in the smoke and heat of the fire, the psalmist feels dried out, shriveled up, cracked, and useless. In our idiom he might say, ‘I feel like I’ve been put through the wringer.’ He longs for his salvation. In spite of his exhaustion, the psalmist clings to his trust in the Lord” (COP 2, page 357). 

Psalm 119:89-96: “God’s Word is not limited by time or space. His law and gospel are for all people throughout all time. Even when heaven and earth pass away, God’s Word will remain. . . . God’s Word is not limited by any defect or flaw. All purely human work is subject to error, but the inspired Word is free from such limitations. . . . In the new heavens and the new earth, all of God’s plans will be accomplished, and they will stand forever” (COP 2, pages 358,359).  

Psalm 119:97-104: “This is one of the most noteworthy stanzas of the psalm. It is pure praise with no petitions. It expresses both the psalmist’s love for the Word and the pleasures he finds in it (sweeter than honey).  It is a mixture of affection and reflection. The person who follows the simple truths of the Word is wiser and has more insight and understanding than the person who follows the most sophisticated theories of men” (COP 2, pages 360,361). 

Psalm 119:105-112: “Verse 105 is the most famous verse of this lengthy psalm. Many of us memorized it in catechism class as a statement of the value of God’s Word. . . . At our confirmations we promised to ‘take our life into our hands’ rather than to deny God’s Word. The psalmist gladly undertakes the same risk. Whether the snares of the wicked are attacks or temptations, the Word of the Lord strengthens us to endure them or to escape them” (COP 2, page 362). 

Psalm 119:113-120: “This stanza is one of the strongest denunciations of the wicked in this psalm. Because the Lord rejects and discards the wicked, we must shun their ways and close our ears to the smooth-sounding double-talk of those who have a form of godliness but deny God’s power” (COP 2, page 364). 

Psalm 119:121-128: “Most of the points in this stanza are repeated from earlier stanzas: the psalmist’s integrity, his rejection of evil, his weariness from distress, his determination to grow in his knowledge and obedience to God’s Word, and the superiority of the Word to worldly riches” (COP 2, page 366). 

Psalm 119:129-136: “The psalmist expresses both his sorrow and indignation because of the negligence and scorn which many people show toward the Word. They do not respect the Lord’s authority and power as the psalmist does” (COP 1, page 369). 

Psalm 119:137-144: “[The psalmist] prays that God will take action against those who scorn his Word and that he will preserve the psalmist in his loyalty to the Word. In times when we are surrounded by apostasy and persecution, it is harder to stand fast in the Word, but it is in these times, in these hours of trial, that the need for a clear, bold confession is most critical” (COP 2, page 369). 

Psalm 119:145-152: “[This stanza with the remaining stanzas] emphasizes the commitment of the psalmist to obedience. . . . Watching day and night is the special focus of this stanza. The psalmist prays without ceasing. . . . The wicked are always near with their schemes, but God is even nearer with his help” (COP 2, pages 369,370).  

Psalm 119:153-160: “There is quite a focus on the wicked and the suffering that they cause in this stanza. . . . We must loathe what is loathsome to God. ‘Salvation is far from the wicked’ is an understatement. Terrible judgment is near for them" (COP 2, page 372). 

Psalm 119:161-168: “Though the psalmist loves and cherishes the Word, he never loses sight of the purpose of the Word. The Word is not an end in itself, like a great piece of literature. Its purpose is to put us into contact with the living God. The law shows us that our sins have made us guilty before God. The gospel shows us that God has removed the guilt of our sins. The gospel changes our hearts so that we love the Lord and begin to serve him gladly. We have come into fellowship with our Savior-God through the Word” (COP 2, page 374). 

Psalm 119:169-176: “The psalmist strongly emphasizes his determination to remain faithful to God’s Word in spite of the opposition of the enemies of the Word. . . . He confesses his own sin but also his eager expectation of God’s salvation. The emphatic position of the confession in verse 176 shows that the psalmist does not pray with the self-righteous attitude of the Pharisee but with the humble heart of the tax collector” (COP 2, page 374). 

May 28June 3

Psalm 120: “[Psalms 120-134 are ‘songs of ascents,’ literally songs of goings up.] The collection . . . appears to be a group of hymns selected for use during the pilgrim festivals. . . . Like the psalmist, the pilgrims who sang this psalm expressed their longing for the peace and harmony that exists among God’s people in the courts of his temple in heaven. God’s people cannot have peace when they live among God’s enemies, since their two ways of life are incompatible” (COP 2, pages 375,377,381).  

Psalm 121: “[The pilgrim’s] help and security do not come from the hills but from the Lord, who made the hills and everything else in the universe. The rest of the psalm is an ascending promise of help. Each verse adds to the blessing. The Lord keeps the pilgrim safe from every type of danger in every time. The Lord is not a god who is on duty only at certain times. He is the untiring God who is watching over his people at all times. He will keep the pilgrims safe both as they come to Jerusalem and as they leave it again” (PBP 2, page 216). 

Psalm 122: “This psalm contains two main elements: joy in the beauty of Jerusalem and a prayer for its blessing. . . . However, like the other psalms about Jerusalem, this psalm points beyond the earthly city in the land of Israel. That city was glorious for the things which Christ accomplished there for our salvation. . . . [Yet] Jerusalem will reach its full glory only with the arrival of the New Jerusalem described in Revelation 21 and 22. There God’s people will live in complete safety. There great David’s greater Son will rule them with justice forever. For this city our prayers ascend. To this city we are journeying. There, at last, will be peace” (COP 2, pages 387,388).  

Psalm 123: “In Scripture the contrast between the humble and the proud is synonymous with the contrast between believers and unbelievers. The humble place God’s wisdom ahead of the world’s. They place God’s honor ahead of their own. They look to him for vindication and wait patiently for his mercy, remembering that Christ bore the contempt of the world for us and that it is an honor to suffer for his name” (PBP 2, page 219). 

Psalm 124: “This psalm speaks of the enemies’ acts of persecution and oppression. But the psalm also states that delivery from the threat has already arrived. . . . We can also apply this psalm to the traps the devil still lays for the church and to the raging floods he still unleashes against it through his henchmen, the enemies of the church. . . . Time after time God’s people have escaped destruction. Our final escape is the escape to heaven. ‘If God is for us, who can be against us?’ ” (Romans 8:31) (COP 2, page 394). 

Psalm 125: “The first section provides a general statement about the Lord’s protection of his people. . . . The remainder of the psalm speaks of one means which the Lord uses to provide security for his people: he gives them good leaders. . . . We should pray that the Lord will continue to provide us with leaders who are sound in doctrine and in their way of life. Both the church and the nation need leaders who will oppose evil and support good. We should support, encourage, and defend such leaders. . . . The hymn ends with a beautiful benediction prayer, ‘Peace [Shalom] be upon Israel’ ” (COP 2, pages 396,397). 

Psalm 126: “Psalm 126 reaches the pinnacle of the Old Testament pilgrim’s experience: the return to Jerusalem by the people. . . . The psalm is general enough to include every deliverance experienced by God’s people including the final delivery into eternal life. . . . During the hot, rainless summer, the streams [in the dry Negev] are empty and the land desolate. The swelling of the streams from the winter rains restores the beautiful flowers of spring to the land” (PBP 2, pages 222,224). 

Psalm 127: “To thank God for the blessings enumerated in this psalm was one of the main reasons the pilgrims came to Jerusalem. . . . Children are a blessing of the Lord. This message needs to be proclaimed strongly in our day when self-fulfillment and materialism seem to have drastically changed people’s attitudes toward children. . . . Many see children as more of a burden than a blessing. In God’s view, passing on the heritage of faith is the most important goal of each generation. It is doubtful if many in our society, including many in the church, would list this as the first priority of life” (COP 2, pages 404,407). 

Psalm 128: “Psalm 128 repeats the theme of the preceding psalm:  a contented enjoyment of the possessions and the family, which the Lord gives, is true happiness. . . . From solid families strength flows to the nation. From solid, godly families come workers who will build up the nation, parents who will raise godly children, and children who are our hope for the future. Without such families the future is dark. From such families the nation and the church will find strength” (PBP 2, pages 228,229). 

Want to dig in more? Read The People’s Bible: Psalms 1-72 and The People’s Bible: Psalms 73-150.

Psalms for the seasons of life: April

April 28

Psalm 78: “The introduction stresses the depth and the permanent relevance of God’s revelation. . . . The permanent and enduring relevance of God’s word is shown by the emphasis on passing it from one generation to another. . . . The psalm contrast[s] the repeated rebellion of Israel with the enduring grace of God. . . . The goodness of God in leading Israel from Zoan (their dwelling place in Egypt) to Zion (the permanent home of the temple) is contrasted with Israel’s persistent ingratitude. . . . The sad cycle would continue. . . . How sad that history repeats itself, but how wonderful that throughout history God’s grace never fails” (PBP 2, pages 28,29,32,36). 

Psalm 79: “The calloused cruelty of the enemies and their scorn of the Lord cry out for divine judgment. . . . Above all, it is the insult to God’s honor that must be avenged. . . . In response to the destruction of the temple and to the cruel treatment of the people of Jerusalem, the psalmist has three prayers: that God’s honor be upheld, that his people be forgiven, and that his enemies be punished. . . . His ‘vengeance’ is just repayment for sin. The plea for sevenfold vengeance on enemies is not a plea for disproportionate punishment but for full justice. The enemies’ sin is not just against Jerusalem but against the holy, infinite God” (COP 2, pages 67,70). 

Psalm 80: “Psalm 80 continues the general theme of the preceding psalms. . . . [It] has three main sections. The first describes the growth of Israel under such kings as David and Solomon. . . . The second section describes the present desolation of the once powerful kingdom. . . . In the third section of the body of the psalm, the people pray for the preservation of a godly king. . . . Now a greater king would be needed. . . . Because of him [Christ our King] we can pray, ‘Restore us, O Lord God Almighty; make your face shine upon us, that we may be saved’ (PBP 2, pages 38,40,42). 

Psalm 81: “If only Israel had obeyed the Lord, how different its history would have been! . . . At the same time that Israel was invited to worship God, the people were also warned of the consequences of disobedience. . . . The Israelites’ main motive for obeying God’s command to worship only him was to be the love they had for him because of what he had done for them. However, God also encouraged them with promises of continued blessings. . . . The sad history of Israel is a warning to us. If God sent terrible judgments against his chosen people when they became unfaithful, can we expect to be let off more leniently if we follow their example of ingratitude?” (PBP 2, pages 43-45). 

Psalm 82: “Corrupt rulers. . . failed to provide good spiritual leadership for the people. They also exploited and oppressed the people in order to satisfy their own greed. . . . The rulers are called ‘gods’ because they are God’s representatives and receive their power from him. . . . When rulers ignore even the natural knowledge of God’s law and lead their people into moral darkness, they destroy the very foundations of society” (PBP 2, pages 46,48). 

April 9–15

Psalm 83: “In [the] very brief opening prayer, the psalmist calls on God to come to Israel’s rescue. . . . [He] prays that God will defeat the present and future enemies of Israel as decisively as he crushed and scattered its past enemies. . . . the glory of God and the repentance of his enemies are the psalmist’s chief concerns. The psalmist’s motivation is also brought out in verses 2 to 4. He must regard these people as his enemies because they are God’s enemies. They oppose God’s plan and try to rob his people of their inheritance” (PBP 2, pages 49,51).

Note: Opposition to these enemies is not simply so Israel can remain a nation. Opposition to Israel is a threat to the promise of the Savior who was to come from Israel and Israel’s King David, in particular, by God’s promise and plan. 

Psalm 84: “The intense longing for God’s house that is expressed in this psalm is very similar to that expressed in Psalms 42 and 43. . . . Throughout the psalm, he speaks of the joy and strength of those who worship in God’s house. . . . Our churches hold special places in our hearts. . . . We too can say, ‘How lovely is your dwelling place, O Lord Almighty.’ It is true we can worship God anywhere, but may we never, through our own negligence or indifference, deprive ourselves of the joy of joining fellow believers in God’s house” (PBP 2, pages 53-55). 

Psalm 85: “The peace and righteousness in this psalm are not political. They are the peace and righteousness won for us by Christ. The harvest of the land is not agricultural. It is the gathering of people into that Israel which is made up of all who believe in Christ. The harmony which existed between heaven and earth at creation was restored when Christ removed the barrier of sin which excluded us from paradise” (COP 2, page 108). 

Psalm 86: “The beautiful description of the Lord in verse 15 is one of Israel’s favorite descriptions of the gracious God. . . . God has compassionate feelings for his people like those a mother has for her child, in spite of her faults and weaknesses. He has generosity like that of a father who freely gives undeserved, unearned gifts to his children. He has patience like that of a parent who again and again instructs a child in the right way. God is faithful to the promises he has made in the gospel. He will never abandon them” (PBP 2, pages 61,62). 

Psalm 87: “This is a psalm of God’s grace. Because of God’s love and his choice, the Holy City becomes God’s special possession. Because of his proclamation, even his enemies are called to enter the Holy City. It is due to his grace alone that the kings of the earth enter his city and drink of the fountains of life” (Revelation 21:22-22:21) (PBP 2, page 64). 

Psalm 88: “This psalm is unique in that the only spark of hope in the entire psalm is in the first verse, which refers to the God who saves. The rest of the palm in unrelieved darkness. . . . God has allowed such dark hours of his saints to be recorded in the Scriptures for our benefit. Though their faith was hanging on by a thread, God did not allow it to be broken. God does not break the bruised reed or snuff out the smoldering wick of faith” (COP 2, pages 122,125). 

Psalm 89: “God had promised David that one of David’s heirs would remain on his throne forever. How could this promise be reconciled with [the secession of the 10 tribes, destruction of Jerusalem, and the exile into Babylon]? . . . The question ‘How long, O Lord?’ was not answered during the lifetime of the psalmist. . . . [But] we have seen how God’s eternal Son came into the world as David’s son. Like David, he was not a self-chosen king or usurper. He was chosen and anointed by God. . . . But after suffering and dying to free his people from sin, death, and the devil, he rose from the dead and was exalted to rule with power at the right hand of God. Only Christ, the Son of David who was perfectly faithful and obedient to God’s will, could fulfill this promise by ruling over the kingdom of Israel forever” (PBP 2, pages 70,76). 

April 1622

Psalm 90: “One must note in particular these two points in this psalm. First, Moses here stresses the tyranny of death and of God’s wrath, since he shows that human nature is subject to eternal death; he does this with the purpose of terrifying hardened and unbelieving despisers of God. Secondly, Moses prays for a remedy against despair, that men might not succumb to despair. Therefore Psalm 90 is an exceedingly precious psalm. In it we hear Moses perform his special office of terrifying sinners and . . . directing attention to divine redemption” (LW Vol. 13, pages 78,79). 

Psalm 91: “Each of us is a traveler in the desert of this world where we face sin, death, and the devil. The heat of trials and hardships sometimes may leave us exhausted. But we find shade in the shadow of the Almighty. The living waters of his Word and sacraments revive us and restore our strength to go on. . . . The Bible describes our struggles with Satan as [a war]. . . . We are surrounded by clouds of angels. They are God’s commandos, his special forces who are here to pummel and smash the forces of Satan” (COP 2, pages 154-156).

Consider Richard Lauersdorf’s April 2023 Forward in Christ article on Psalm 4: "When you draw nearer to the end."

Psalm 92: “The opening section of the psalm expresses the joy of praising God in public worship. . . . The psalmist declares the reasons for his joy: the greatness of God’s deeds of creation and redemption and the wonderful thoughts revealed in God’s Word. . . . The date palm is an apt picture for the fruitfulness of believers since it is a stately tree that bears hundreds of pounds of fruit a year, even in very hot, dry climates. . . . Spiritually we can keep on growing and producing our whole lives. . . . ‘Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day’” (2 Corinthians 4:16-18) (COP 2, pages 159,163). 

Psalm 93: “This psalm proclaims the Lord’s unshakable power over all creation. . . . The waves of the sea are often symbolic of the futile opposition of the nations and their leaders to the will and the plans of the Lord. . . . The Lord who rules the ocean sea also rules the restless sea of rebellious nations. In spite of mankind’s rebellion, God’s moral order (his testimonies) stands firm. Only those who are holy will be able to enter his house. Since we cannot claim such holiness on our own, we can obtain it only through Christ” (COP 2, pages 164,166,67). 

Psalm 94: “This psalm is a prayer that is common to all the pious children of God. . . . to be prayed against all their persecutors. Therefore it can be prayed from the beginning of the world to its end by all. . . devout people. . . For they all have to suffer from the two groups of persecutors about whom this psalm complained: first, the tyrants, who use force to persecute [believers] on account of the Word; secondly, the false teachers, . . . who use lies and mockery to persecute the soul. . . . Where faith and the Word of God are at stake, it is not right to love or to be patient but only to be angry, zealous, and reproving” (LW Vol. 14, pages 243-245). 

Psalm 95: “Psalm 95 sounds a joyful call to worship. . . . The first reason for praising and thanking God is his work of creation and preservation of the world. . . . The second reason for praising God is his work of redemption and sanctification by which he made us his people. . . . The ‘today’ of this psalm is this very minute. The ‘you’ addressed in this psalm is you. Today we have the promise of God’s eternal rest preached to us. Today, while there still is time, today, before it is too late, let us embrace God’s promise of rest . . . so that none of us falls short through unbelief” (PBP 2, pages 97-99). 

April 2329

Psalm 96: “Psalms 96 to 98 are very closely related. They express the joy that the Lord’s rule brings to the whole earth. . . . All the peoples of the earth are called to sing to the Lord, because he has provided salvation for the whole world. Christ won peace and forgiveness not only for Israel, but for all people. Since Christ died for all the world, God’s people are to proclaim the message of salvation to the whole world. . . . Only the Lord deserves praise. He alone is the Creator of the universe. He alone is the ruler of the universe. He alone is the Savior of the world. He alone is coming to judge the world” (PBP 2, pages 99-101). 

Psalm 97: “Clouds, darkness, lightning, and fire all represent the awesome power of God, which will be displayed on judgment day. God’s wrath against sin, which is partially hidden now, will be fully displayed then. . . . Yet for God’s people, the awesome events of that day will be a cause for joy. . . . He will bring salvation to all who have trusted in Christ for forgiveness. ‘Let those who love the Lord hate evil.’ Those who love the Lord must battle God’s enemies. This battle may be painful and costly, but we are assured of God’s protecting power. Those who love good must shun and oppose evil. . . . The solution to sin and evil is not toleration or whitewashing but forgiveness in Christ. Only then can we rejoice in Christ’s coming” (PBP 2, pages 103-105). 

Psalm 98: “This psalm is almost pure praise. . . . Although the created world does not join in man’s sin, the whole creation suffers the pain caused by man’s sin. The whole creation, therefore, rejoices when the pain caused by sin is removed. All of creation celebrates its redemption from the bondage to decay. In the new heavens and the new earth, the harmony between man and creation that was shattered by the fall will be restored once again. The waves and rivers which now batter and flood man’s dwellings will join him in praising God. A peaceful river will water the city of God” (COP 2, pages 188,189). 

Psalm 99: “God dwells in unapproachable majesty. The holiness and majesty of God terrify sinners [but] the holiness of God is a comfort to his people who are repentant. They are twice invited to come and worship the holy God. . . . The psalm, which speaks so majestically of the lofty holiness of God, ends on a note of intimacy: he is holy, but he is our God” (PBP 2, pages 107,108). 

Psalm 100: “True worship is based on knowing who God is and what he has done. We can sing a joyful song to the Lord because he has made us and redeemed us. . . . Joy and gladness, thanksgiving and praise flow naturally from hearts and lips that know the Lord’s goodness. Let us come before him with joyful songs” (PBP 2, page 110). 

Psalm 101: “David declares his devotion to serving the Lord. One way he will serve him is by singing his praises. This David did especially through the psalms he wrote. David will also serve the Lord with a godly life. He recognizes that personal piety is essential for those who wish to be spiritual leaders to others. David expresses his eagerness for fellowship with God by the question ‘When will you come to me?’ ” (PBP 2, pages 111,113). 

Psalm 102: “In my life of groaning I labor and fight against my evil nature so much that I am nothing but skin and bones, as Job says: ‘My bones cleave to my skin’ (19:20). By this groaning, therefore, not only the bodily and momentary sobbing is to be understood, but the whole repentant life and the laborious desire for grace and comfort. . . . Up to this point (verse 11) he has poured out his troubles and pressed himself upon God. Now he begins to express his desire and longing for the life that is in God, and he calls to Christ and his grace. . . . That is to say [he wants] to hear and learn the gospel” (LW Vol. 14, pages 180,182,183). 

April 30May 6

Psalm 103: “Psalm 103 is one of the most beautiful psalms of comfort. It is especially appropriate during sickness or hospitalization. . . . We can say with certainty that no sickness of a Christian is punishment for sin in the strict sense. Christ has already been punished for our sins so no further punishment is necessary. . . . The Lord has not dealt with us as our sins deserve. He has forgiven our sins for Christ’s sake. . . . The psalm concludes with an invitation for all creatures to join the multitude [of angels in heaven] in praising the Lord. Today we praise the Lord on earth as the angels do in heaven. Soon we will join together with those angels in heaven to praise the Lord” (COP 2, pages 212,215,217,221).  

Psalm 104: “Psalm 103 praises the Lord for his work of redemption. Psalm 104 praises him for creation and providence. . . . The outline of Psalm 104 is based on the days of creation as reported in Genesis 1. . . . The psalmist closes with a prayer that God would continue to preserve his creation and rule it with justice. . . . Using our memories and minds to reflect on God’s work of redemption and creation should stir up our emotions and our will to praise the Lord. Motivating such praise is the goal of Psalms 103 and 104” (COP 2, pages 221,232). 

Psalm 105: “Psalm 105 emphasizes God’s faithfulness to his covenant. Psalm 106 focuses on Israel’s unfaithfulness and disobedience. . . . Verse 42 is the key to the psalm. God’s remembrance of his covenant is more than a calling to mind. It is taking decisive action for the benefit of his people. God’s faithfulness was not due to Israel’s worthiness but to his own faithfulness to the promise he had made to the patriarchs. . . . The same principles set forth in this psalm apply to Christians today. God has redeemed us from sin and continues to forgive our sins, not because we are worthy but because of his faithfulness” (PBP 2, pages 130,135). 

Psalm 106: “The history of Israel recorded in the Bible is unique in the literature of the ancient world. Unlike the literature of other nations, which glorifies those nations, the historical writing and poetry of Israel gives a frank account of the sins, failures, and defeats of the nation. The only unblemished hero in Israel’s literature is the Lord. The Israelites’ bad examples and the sad results which they produced should warn us against repeating their behavior. Let us be on guard lest we take God’s grace for granted and squander the blessings which he has provided” (COP 2, pages 245,258). 

Want to dig in more? Read The People’s Bible: Psalms 1-72 and The People’s Bible: Psalms 73-150.