Read – Background To The Book Of Psalms

The Psalms have a wonderful capacity to capture the reality of our human experience. They express the emotions, personal feelings, attitudes, gratitude, and interests of the average individual. One reason people love the Psalms is that we can each usually identify the Psalms with our own experiences. “In every experience of our own, no matter how deep the pain or how great the frustration or how exhilarating the joy, we can find psalms which echo our inmost being, psalms which God uses to bring comfort or to confirm release.”
Hebrew Poetry

The Psalms, like the other wisdom literature of the Old Testament (Job, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes), is Hebrew poetry. Unlike English poetry, which emphasizes rhyme and meter, Hebrew poetry relies on other characteristics for its impact like parallelism and figures of speech.
Parallelism

English verse manipulates sound, and emphasizes rhyme and meter. Hebrew poetry repeats and rearranges thoughts rather than sounds. There are several types of parallel arrangement of thoughts, with the first three listed below being the most basic.

(1) Synonymous—the same thought of the first line is basically repeated in different words in the second line (2:4; 3:1; 7:17).

(2) Antithetical—the thought of the first line is emphasized by a contrasting thought in the second line (1:6; 34:10). They are often identified with “but.”

(3) Synthetic—the second line explains or further develops the idea of the first line (1:3; 95:3).

(4) Climactic—The second line repeats with the exception of the last terms (29:1).

(5) Emblematic—One line conveys the main point, the second line illuminates it by an image (42:1; 23:1).
Figures of Speech

Like the Hebrew language itself, Hebrew poetry uses vivid images, similes, and metaphors to communicate thoughts and feelings.
Types of Psalms

While praise and prayer characterize the Psalms as a whole, they may be categorized as: Praise (33, 103, 139), Historical (68, 78, 105, 106), Relational (8, 16, 20, 23, 55), Imprecatory (35, 69, 109, 137), Penitential (6, 32, 51, 102, 130, 143), and Messianic (2, 8, 16, 22, 40, 45, 69, 72, 89, 102, 109-110).