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The book of Psalms is a collection of songs. These are the songs the people of Israel used to worship God. When Israel returned from exile in Babylon, many of the songs were collected. This is how the book of Psalms came to be. The songs are about many different things. Some are for praising God. Some are asking God for help when there is trouble. Some are about telling people that God is King.
The book is divided into five parts. Each part ends with “Give praise to the Lord” and “Amen and Amen.” The five parts are called Books. This reminds us of the first five books of the Bible. They are often called the Books of the Law. The words of the Psalms can be used like the law. They can be read and studied for instruction.
The five Books of Psalms also tell a story about Israel. That story has three parts. The first part of Israel’s story is found in Books 1 and 2 of the Psalms. Most of the psalms in these books were written by King David. The second part of Israel’s story is found in Books 3 and 4. They tell about Israel being defeated and taken away as prisoners and slaves. These Psalms ask God to bring Israel back home. Book 5 states that God has brought his people back home. This book ends with a group of praise psalms. God has been faithful. He judged his people by allowing them to be taken away as prisoners. But now God has allowed his people to return home again.
Each Psalm tells how people respond to God in different ways. We can read them to help us as we respond to God ourselves. We can also look at the way the whole book is put together. This helps us learn the story of Israel. It shows us that God keeps his promises to his people.