Experiencing the Psalms
a 12-week Bible study exploring the richness of the Psalter

by Dr. Ralph F. Wilson
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Marc Chagall, David with His Harp (1956), lithograph
Marc Chagall, "David with His Harp" (1956) Color lithograph.
The Book of Psalms represents a rich tapestry of prayer and praise. Some psalms reflect a texture of deep despair, other glow with a deep peace in the Lord's strength, still others bubble with an exuberant exaltation of the Most High God. They cover the range of human emotion and experience. What they all have in common is prayer, a reaching out to God from every imaginable experience.

In this 12-week study we'll attempt to enter into the experience of the psalms. Yes, we'll explore the meanings of words and learn to appreciate the high art of these poetic masterpieces. We will study thoughtfully, carefully. But more than that we will find out how to pray. We will know how to find peace in the midst of turmoil. We will learn to be thankful. We will begin to follow the pattern of the psalmists as we begin to praise. In short, with the psalms that we study as our guide, we will grow deeper in our walk with the Lord and more able to offer worthy praise to the King. We will experience the Psalms.

I must say that narrowing down the psalms we'll study to just a few has been difficult. For more than forty years I have been reading the Psalms through at least twice a year. So many of the psalms have become my friends, my companions. When I come to them in my reading I am delighted to read their faith-filled words once again. As I surveyed the Psalms in preparation for this study I listed 70 psalms as my "favorites," and even that list of nearly half of the total of 150 psalms had to leave out some that I loved. But how can I narrow down the number to perhaps three dozen without leaving out some of the gems of the Psalter? I can't. At best the 12 lessons in this study can serve only as an introduction to the rich collection of psalms that speak to us so profoundly.

Some videos on Psalms you might enjoy:

The longest book in the Bible (0:58)

Saying the 23rd Psalm (1:54)

What is a Psalm? (1:07)

Why do you like the Psalms? (1:33)

Little Girl and Psalm 23 (1:21)

Would you please create a YouTube account and rate each video after you view it? Thank you.

My prayer is that you will purpose in this study to grow in your heart even more than you grow in your mind. That you will embrace these psalms and make them your own. That as you journey through this life you walk with these psalms as your guides and companions as you travel to your final destination -- an eternity in fellowship with the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.

  1. Psalms: Marveling at God's Majesty in Creation (Psalms 8, 19, and 139)
    These are three psalms that marvel at the wonder of God's creation, but in the meditation go three different directions in applying that knowledge. Full of awe in God's greatness and minuteness of care.
  2. Psalms: Thirsting for God (Psalms 27, 42-43, and 63)
    Some of the psalms are intensely intimate. They express the personal longing of the soul for God. These psalms are models of personal devotion and prayer to God from a hungering heart.
  3. Psalms: Choosing the Right Path (Psalms 1, 15, 133)
    A theme of several psalms is the blessing of a life well lived, exhortations to faithful and righteous living. These are Wisdom Psalms with similarities to Proverbs and Ecclesiastes. (Psalms 1, 15, and 133)
  4. Psalms: Offering High Praises to God (Psalms 95, 98, and 150)
    There's a place for quiet appreciation of God's love. But these psalms shout the praises of God to the highest heavens. "Let everything that has breath praise the Lord!"
  5. Psalms: Crying Out for Rescue (Psalms 40, 69, and 80)
    Many of the psalms come out of times of great distress and trouble. They are cries for help, for salvation, for rescue. When we are tested, we come to know and rely on God in ways that we can't experience when all is going well.
  6. Psalms: Trusting in God's Protection (Psalms 61, 91, and 121)
    When trouble is all around we can either panic or find strength in faith. In these psalms the writer sees God as his ultimate Protector.
  7. Experiencing the Psalms, by Dr. Ralph F. Wilson, a Bible study on Psalms in 12 lessons
    Now all the lessons are available together in e-book and paperback formats.
    Psalms: Resting in God's Care (Psalms 16, 23, 131, 3, 31, and 46)
    There is a place of quiet rest, near to the heart of God." These are psalms of abiding, resting in God even though the storms of life are raging outside this quiet place.
  8. Psalms: Exulting in God (Psalms 57, 96, 126, and 24)
    Life is difficult during the trial, but even during the test there is a place for praise and exultation in the God who has saves us. These are psalms of confidence
  9. Psalms: Rejoicing in God's Character (Psalms 103, 145, and 117)
    One of the joys of the believer is to revel in the strong, solid character of our unchanging Father. These psalms explore the nature and attributes of our God.
  10. Psalms: Looking Forward to the Messiah (Psalms 2, 110, and 22)
    An expectancy of God's deliverance through the coming Messiah is interwoven through a number of psalms. These psalms in particular find their ultimate fulfillment in Christ Jesus our Savior.
  11. Psalms: Finding Forgiveness and Restoration (Psalms 32 and 51).
    We can come away from the defeat and shame of sin feeling like a prizefighter who has been battered and humiliated. These psalms deal with repentance and God's forgiveness and restoration.
  12. Psalms: Giving Thanks to Our Faithful God (Psalms 100, 107, 118 and 34)
    There is a joy to be found in thanksgiving, offering songs of appreciation to our God who stands by us without wavering.
    Psalms: Epilogue (Psalms 46 and 119)
Dr. Ralph F. Wilson
This is our 25th online Bible study since 1996. If you've participated in one before, you know how God can use them in your life. If not, then you have a treat in store for you. I am an ordained American Baptist pastor, currently ministering in a Covenant congregation. I'm here to serve you as your guide to the book of Psalms. --. Dr. Ralph F. Wilson. About the leader.

I invite you to journey with me and thousands of brothers and sisters world-wide through a study of the Book of Psalms. Here's how we'll study together.

  • Each Saturday I'll e-mail you the lesson for the week. Then you'll read the Bible passage and use my notes to help you understand it better.
  • On Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday you'll receive a question from that week's lesson to think about and answer. This is designed as a "total immersion" approach to Bible study, since I believe God wants to use it to work real and permanent change in your life. (You can opt out of the daily questions if you like, however, and just receive the weekly lessons.) You'll be thinking about these passages constantly over these weeks -- long enough for God to work his Word into your life and lifestyle.
  • Each week you'll have an exercise to complete that will help you experience the Psalms for yourself.
  • Of course, you can skip this, but you'll find it will stretch you spiritually in some very healthy ways.
  • You can respond to the questions and exercises using the Joyful Heart Bible Study Forum -- and read others' answers to reinforce your own understanding.
  • With each lesson you'll receive a link to a 20- to 30-minute audio teaching that sums up the passage you've been studying that week. Some who learn better from hearing than from reading really appreciate this.
  • Then on Saturday, I'll send you the next week's lesson.
Flags of many nationsAs of November 17, 2007, we've had more than 3,982 sign-ups from more than 117 countries, including: United Arab Emirates, Afghanistan, Antigua and Barbuda, Albania, Netherlands Antilles, Angola, Argentina, American Samoa, Austria, Australia, Aruba, Barbados, Belgium, Bulgaria, Bahrain, Bermuda, Bolivia, Brazil, Bahamas, Botswana, Canada, Switzerland, Chile, Cameroon, China, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cape Verde, Cyprus, Germany, Denmark, Algeria, Estonia, Egypt, Eritrea, Spain, Ethiopia, Fiji, Micronesia (Federal States of), Ghana, Greece, Guatemala, HongKong, Croatia/Hrvatska, Haiti, Hungary, Indonesia, Ireland, Israel, India, Iraq, Italy, Jersey, Jamaica, Jordan, Japan, Kenya, Cambodia, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Korea (Republic of), Kuwait, Cayman Islands, Lao (People's Democratic Republic of), Lebanon, Saint Lucia, Sri Lanka, Liberia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Madagascar, Mauritania, Malta, Mauritius, Maldives, Malawi, Mexico, Malaysia, Namibia, Nigeria, Netherlands, Norway, Nepal, New Zealand, Panama, Peru, Philippines, Pakistan, Poland, Pitcairn, Puerto Rico, Portugal, Qatar, Romania, Russian Federation, Rwanda, Saudi Arabia, Sweden, Singapore, Sierra Leone, Suriname, Swaziland, Turks and Ciacos Islands, Thailand, Trinidad and Tobago, Taiwan, Tanzania, Uganda, United Kingdom, U.S. Minor Outlying Islands, United States, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Vietnam, Yemen, Yugoslavia, South Africa, Zambia, and Zimbabwe. 16% specify text format, 84% HTML format. 27% selected the weekly format, 73% the daily format.

Why don't you sign up today -- and then encourage some of your friends to sign up and study along with you.

Sign up now!

To sign up, start by clicking on your e-mail frequency preference:

You'll receive your first lesson the Friday after you sign up. There is no cost to participate in the study, though donations are encouraged so we can create more studies and reach more people.

We respect your privacy and never sell, rent, or loan our lists. Please don't subscribe your friends; let them decide for themselves.

Please don't sign up for more than one of my Bible studies at one time. There's no penalty, but each of them is pretty intensive. If you try to do too many studies at the same time without adequate reflection, you'll miss out on God speaking to you.

One big favor you can do for me: Please link to this Bible study in your online bookmarks, blog, personal webpage, ministry or church website, as follows: Psalms Bible Study www.jesuswalk.com/psalms/  The number of people who will find this on the Internet is directly related to the number of links you and other place. If you can't link, that's okay, too. I understand. It would be a big help if you would place a bookmark on your favorite online system. Please do this right now before you forget. Thanks. Pastor Ralph

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