Psalms vs. Proverbs

Updated on March 23, 2018
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Rev. Margaret Minnicks is an ordained Bible teacher. She posts many articles online that are really Bible lessons.

Psalms and Proverbs

The Psalms and Proverbs are very different. The Psalms are vertical to God while the Proverbs are horizontal about people. The Psalms are divine counsel from God whereas the Proverbs are practical advice to people. The Psalms include a collection of prayers and hymns, while the Proverbs are wise sayings.

If you want to know more about God and to feel His presence, then read the Psalms. If you want to know yourself better and have a better relationship with other people, then read the Book of Proverbs.

The Book of Psalms

The Book of Psalms, also referred to simply as the Psalms, is in the Bible in the Writings or Poetic Literature section of the Old Testament.

Many people credit all or most of the Psalms to David, but David wrote only 73 of the 150 psalms. There were six other writers. If you are speaking and do not know who wrote the particular psalm you are talking about, then say "the psalmist."

The Book of Psalms is a collection of prayers, poems, and hymns. Most of them include praise to God.

There are some corporate psalms, and some are individual. They include worship and adoration to God for who He is, for His creation, and for His deliverance and care for Israel.

5 Divisions of the Psalms

The Book of Psalms is divided into five sections that are paralleled to the Pentateuch. Each section ends with a doxology. A doxology is a hymn with five characteristics.

  1. About God
  2. Includes praise
  3. Has creation language
  4. Has eternal language (forever, forevermore, etc.)
  5. Ends in "Amen"

Psalm 1 is the introduction to the psalms. Psalm 150 is the conclusion to all of them

Book
Psalms
Doxology
Pentateuch
1
1-41
41:13
Genesis
2
42-72
72:18-19
Exodus
3
73-89
89:52
Leviticus
4
90-106
106:48
Numbers
5
107-150
the entire Psalm 150 is a doxology
Deuteronomy

Writers of the Psalms

Writer
Number of Psalms
David
73
Asaph
12
Sons of Korah
11
Solomon
2
Moses
1
Ethan the Ezrahite
1
Heman the Ezrahite
1
Anonymous
50

Popular Psalms

While all the Psalms are important, some of them are more popular than others that are almost never mentioned in sermons or during Bible study. Some of the popular psalms are listed below with their first verse.

  1. Psalm 23
    The LORD is my shepherd. I shall not want.
  2. Psalm 27
    The LORD is my light and my salvation, whom shall I fear?
  3. Psalm 91
    He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High shall abide in the shadow of the Almighty.
  4. Psalm 100
    Make a joyful noise to the LORD, all ye lands, serve the LORD with gladness.
  5. Psalm 103
    Bless the Lord, O my soul and all that is within me.

It is no surprise that Psalm 23 is at the top of the list. It is a favorite that is read at funerals. Most of the popular psalms contain familiar and quotable verses.

Psalms
Proverbs
7 different authors
only one author
David wrote 73 of the psalms.
David's son Solomon wrote 3,000 proverbs, but only 800 are in the Book of Proverbs
vertical to God
horizontal about 180 different types of people.
doesn't have to be read chapter by chapter
doesn't have to be read chapter by chapter
150 chapters
31 chapters
hymns to God; hymns about God
advice to peope
prayers, poems, and hymns
collection of wise saying
Include divine counsel
Include practical advice
Include God's commands
Include human opinions
5 divisions
no division
Hymns to be sung
Not to be sung

Interesting Facts about the Psalms

The psalms were composed over a period of approximately 1,000 years. It is the most quoted book of the Bible. Jesus quoted more from it than from any other book. It is sometimes called the Bible within the Bible.

Psalm 117 is the shortest psalm with only two verses.

Psalm 118.8 is the center of the Bible with 594 chapters before Psalm 118 and 594 chapters after that chapter. If you multiply 594 x 594 you will get 1188. When you insert a colon, you will get 118.8 that reads, "It is better to trust in the LORD than to put confidence in man."

Psalm 119 is the longest psalm with 176 verses. All except three verses have "word" or a synonym for "word" such as ordinance, statue, law, commandment, etc.

"Selah" appears 71 times in the psalms. It means a musical pause. Do not read it out loud if you read the psalm in corporate worship.

The psalm without a known author is called an orphan.

Superscript is the term used to show the author and some brief information about the psalm at the top of it.

Fifteen of the psalms (120-134) are designated Songs of Ascents and were sung by Jewish pilgrims as they went “up” to Jerusalem for the annual feasts.

Psalms 146-150 are called Praise Psalms because they all begin and end with "Praise the Lord."

The key word in the Psalms is praise” and it appears 211 times. It appears only 129 times in the rest of the Bible.

Psalm 88 is the only psalm that ends without praise or hope in God.

Psalm 90 is believed to be the oldest psalm that is Moses' prayer to God before he was called to deliver the slaves out of Egypt.

The Book of Proverbs

Proverbs is listed after Psalms in the Bible in the Writings or Poetic Literature section of the Old Testament.

Proverbs has 31 chapters. Unlike the Book of Psalms, the Book of Proverbs has only one writer. Solomon wrote 3,000 proverbs, but only 800 of them are included in the book. Instead of Proverbs containing praise and worship to God, Solomon mentions 180 different types of people. If you read all 31 chapters, surely you will find in one of them.

Common Scriptures from Proverbs

Some of the popular scriptures from Proverbs include the following ones.

  1. Proverbs 3:5-6
    Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all thy ways, acknowledge him and he shall direct thy paths.
  2. Proverbs 1:7
    The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge.
  3. Proverbs 4:7
    And with all thy getting get understanding.
  4. Proverbs 18:21
    Death and life are in the power of the tongue.
  5. Proverbs 27:17
    As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.

Interesting Facts about Proverbs

It is easy to understand that "wisdom" is the key word in Proverbs. Solomon was the wisest man who lived. His proverbs give instructions about the following:

  • How to relate to God
  • How to relate to others
  • How to relate to parents
  • How to relate to children
  • How to relate to the government
  • How to find a virtuous woman

Because there are 31 days in most months and 31 chapters in Proverbs, some people try to read a chapter every day of the month.

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