Basic Types of Psalms

When I was teaching 5th grade I had them compose a psalm of lament and a Psalm of praise.  It was really a lot of fun, but the subject matter that they put in was quite revealing.  The psalm of lament that they wrote complained to God about the arguments that their parents were having, or the fights they had with their siblings.

When I was not sure whether our foster son would be removed from our care, I composed a psalm of lament in all sincerity.  If we understand how they work we can compose our own.

Laments are psalms that complain to God about the injustice and pain in the world. They lay out the complaint in full and then cry out to God to do something.  They usually end with a statement of endurance or hope.

Praise psalms are psalms which look at what God has done in the world and respond in a positive way of ascribing worth to the Creator.

Psalms of ascent were probably composed for processions that would accompany a king (royal psalms) or a congregation of God’s people to the temple complex.

Thanksgiving psalms talk to God about the difficulties and trials of life, but they express gratitude that God is with the author in such times.


  1. What categories of psalm are you aware of?
  2. How do psalms differ?  What unifies them?
  3. Why has God given us different types of psalm?
  4. On what different occasions do we use psalms?
  5. Have you composed a psalm?  What did it say?

Going Deeper

As an act of worship compose a psalm about your present circumstances.h

About Plymothian

I teach at Moody Bible Institute in Chicago. My interests include education, biblical studies, and spiritual formation. I have been married to Kelli since 1998 and we have two children, Daryl and Amelia. For recreation I like to run, play soccer, play board games, read and travel.
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