The Book of Psalms (the Psalter) is a rich collection of 150 songs. They range from songs of praise to deep lament. There is great thanksgiving and tremendous struggle. The title of the book in Hebrew means “Book of Praises.” However, there are several types of Psalms. The three major categories are hymns, laments and songs of thanksgiving. A helpful way to categorize this would be as psalms of Orientation (hymns—when all seems to be well), Disorientation (laments—when perhaps you have fallen into sin or are being persecuted), and Reorientation (thanksgiving—when you are set aright again and give thanks to the One who accomplished it for you).
Amazingly in a book called the “Book of Praises” the most common psalm is one of lament. Yet in all but one they end in praise. In fact the entire book pushes towards a climax of praise in Psalms 145-150. This gives great hope as we not only realize, but also are encouraged, that we don’t stay in a bad place but move forward in God’s strength as we take refuge in Him. That is the theme of the entire book—“Blessed are all who take refuge in the King.” And that King is none other than Jesus Christ. Each of these Psalms points us to Him—either in His person or His work of saving sinners from an eternity separated from Him. It is here that we are instructed how to pour out our emotions in both the good and the bad to the One who can truly make a difference. It is here that we learn how to praise and pray. It is here that we learn who we are in relation to a perfect and holy God.