Many of the psalms lack the internal evidence required to pinpoint their historical context. Therefore, the editors of the One Year Chronological Bible lump most of these psalms together. They all, however, do share the common thread of David’s psalms, that of a Sovereign God who acts with justice and mercy.
Throughout these psalms both David and the anonymous writers identify God as the LORD. This designation reveals the God of Israel as the God of history, the God who owns and reigns over all of His creation.
History cannot be understood or correctly interpreted without seeing it through the lens of God’s sovereign reign—through God’s revelation of Himself through Israel. God limits the revelation of Himself to Israel’s inception and history and fully reveals Himself through Jesus, Israel’s Messiah.
Understanding that God in His sovereignty is just and good in all of His ways deposits life-altering truths that warm the reader’s heart and calm his anxious mind. Though recorded during the specific temporal and cultural milieu of middle-eastern Israel, they embody timeless truths for all ages and cultures. Therefore, knowing and depending upon God as LORD prompts a right response to fickle and fleeting emotions:
1 – The psalms of David
Produce joy and rejoicing in seasons of injustice. Psalm 68 highlights this joy when the LORD is exalted above injustice, “Sing to the God, sing praises to His name; Extol Him who rides on the clouds, By His name YAH and rejoice before Him” (4). The LORD looms much larger than the number of His enemies, “Sing to God . . . Sing to the Lord, to Him who rides on the heavens of heavens, which were of old” (32-33)! It is this God who “gives strength and power to His people” (35).
Energize trust in times of depression and hopelessness. Psalm 69 demonstrates the appropriation of God’s steadfastness to those, “weary of crying” whose “throat is dry” and whose “eyes fail” while “waiting upon God” (3); “But as for me, my prayer is to You, O LORD, in the acceptable time; O God, in the multitude of Your mercy” (13); “I will praise the name of God with a song, and will magnify Him with thanksgiving.”
2 – The psalms of the the named and the anonymous
Proclaim peace during self-inflicted suffering. Psalm 89 captures this peace even in the midst of chastisement: “But You have cast off and abhorred, You have been furious with Your anointed. You have renounced the covenant of Your servant” (38); “The heavens are Yours, the earth also is Yours; the world and all its fullness, You have founded them” (11;) “Righteousness and justice are the foundation of Your throne; mercy and truth go before Your face” (14); “Nevertheless My lovingkindness I will not utterly take from him, nor allow My faithfulness to fail. My covenant I will not break nor alter the word that has gone out of My lips” (32-24).
Assure forgiveness to the repentant who understand justification. Psalm 50 depicts this assurance, “Gather My saints together to Me, those who have made a covenant with Me by sacrifice” (5); “Whoever offers praise glorifies Me; and to him who orders his conduct aright I will show the salvation of God” (23).
Instill calmness to the anxious one who looks around instead of looking up. Psalm 73 exposes the wrong focus of the anxious, “For I was envious of the boastful, when I saw the prosperity of the wicked” (3); “Their eyes bulge with abundance; they have more than the heart could wish; “When I thought how to understand this, it was too painful for me—Until I went into the sanctuary of God; then I understood their end” (16-17); “Whom have I in heaven but You? And there is none upon the earth that I desire besides You. My flesh and my heart fail; but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever” (25-26).
Grant insight and stimulate hope in seasons of despair. Psalm 74 illustrate God’s constant care, “O God, why have You cast us off forever? Why does Your anger smoke against the sheep of Your pasture? (1); “For God is my King from of old, working salvation in the midst of the earth” (12); “The day is Yours, the night also is Yours; You have prepared the light and the sun; You have set all the borders of the earth” (16); “Oh, do not let the oppressed return ashamed! Let the poor and needy praise Your name” (21).
These and the other psalms view all of life through the lens of God’s sovereignty, His justice and mercy, and His covenant faithfulness. Truly, God has made Himself known through Israel, “In Judah God is known; His name is great in Israel” (Psalm 76:1).