A Look at the Book of Psalms: Does It Still Apply Today?

Do you enjoy reading the book of Psalms but wonder how it applies to your life? Does it continue to have significance?

There are three main theological themes in the Psalms which make them significant for Christians today. These are: salvation, faith, and wisdom. Even as new covenant believers, we can use the themes in this Old Testament book to teach us how to live and lead for Christ. As 2 Timothy 3:16-17 states, “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work.”

Salvation in the Messianic Psalms

Through the Psalms we see that Jesus was destined to be our Messiah. - Lisa South Click To Tweet

Themes of salvation run throughout the messianic Psalms. In Encountering the Old Testament: A Christian Survey, authors Arnold and Beyer state these Psalms reveal various characteristics of Christ as Messiah 1. For instance, “… the Messiah, the anointed one, would one day restore Israel and establish everlasting salvation.” Psalm 2:7b conveys the image of the king as the messiah, “He said to Me, ‘You are My Son, Today I have begotten You.’” The New Testament writers cite this Scripture to show that Jesus is God’s Son, the Messiah (309). Others like this are found in chapters 16, 22, 45, and 110. The messianic Psalms point to the salvation of the coming Christ, and through meditating on these scriptures, we understand that, even in Old Testament times, Jesus was destined to be our Messiah.

Faith in the Lament Psalms

One characteristic of the lament psalms is the writer’s trust in God’s salvation. That “somehow God will bring him through his trials” (Arnold and Beyer 311). David writes in Psalm 3:3, “But You, O Lord, are a shield about me, My glory, and the One who lifts my head.” After crying out to God about the number of his enemies, David remembers in verse 8 that the Lord is his salvation. In Psalm 4:8, David claims God as his salvation from evil, saying, “In peace I will both lie down and sleep, For You alone, O Lord, make me to dwell in safety.” David also cries out to the Lord in times of trouble. He ends Psalm 142 knowing that the Lord will save, or “deal bountifully with,” him. The lament Psalms direct Christians to the fact that God can save those who follow and trust in Him.

In addition to salvation, these laments exemplify a faith in God which we can apply to our own lives. Trials and tribulations continue to exist today. In whatever form they pertain to us, the lament Psalms give us excellent examples to follow, prayers to pray, and hymns to sing. I especially love singing songs that are passages from the Psalms put to music. I have also discovered that singing them helps me to memorize them.

Wisdom Psalms

Another theme that the Psalms depict is the theme of wisdom. These give us “general observations about life” (Arnold and Beyer 308). Several may be classified as wisdom psalms, including chapters 1, 36, 49, 73, 101, 119, and 139. The psalmists describe the way life should be, and presents one or more aspects of our relationship with God (308). Psalm 1 contrasts the behavior of the righteous and the wicked by pointing out that the righteous “does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, Nor stand in the path of sinners, Nor sit in the seat of scoffers! But his delight is in the law of the Lord, And in His law he meditates day and night” (vv. 1-2). These wisdom Psalms teach us what kind of relationship we should have with God, and that by giving proper respect and authority to the Lord, we gain wisdom.

This is one area that I feel the need to constantly work on in my own life. I have grown up in a time and culture where informality is not only common but championed. Everybody is on the same level no matter position or age. The young are given a pass if they disrespect the old. Yet, I feel that we have lost something in being so informal. God is so much more awesome and holy and powerful than I currently comprehend. We should strive to grow in our knowledge of our Father, learning to respect Him as a child of God should.

Psalms: Insight for Everyday Christian Leaders

The message of the Psalms remains constant & useful for us today. - Lisa South Click To Tweet

Salvation, faith, and wisdom are three major themes found in the Psalms. These themes continue to teach us how to live our lives and influence others for Christ. They show us the importance of giving the proper respect to God, of believing in God’s power and salvation, and how to walk daily with our Lord. The message of the Psalms remains constant and useful for us today.

So, enjoy reading the Psalms! Memorize them! Put them into your hearts to teach you about the salvation offered to you. Let them show you how to pray. Let them teach you how to grow in faith and wisdom. Sing them out loud! Use them as a tool in leading others to encounter Jesus. Join me in applying the book of Psalms in our lives today.


The Psalms, though composed by 8 authors over a span of nearly 1,000 years, remain timeless even to 21st century readers 2. As with all of Scripture, its collection of ever relatable prayers, praise, laments, and wisdom are inspired by God. As followers of Christ, re-created by Him to lead on His behalf in our daily arenas of influence, this particular book of the Bible is not simply historical literature. Much more, it is a priceless tool at our disposal! These ancient songs reveal that those who led on God’s behalf thousands of years ago dealt with the same sin issues, questions, heart aches, and victories that we still experience today. It is evident that the Psalms still apply. The question is, as everyday Christian leaders, will we apply them as a tool in our own lives?  – Artios Magazine Editors


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Notes:

  1. Arnold, Bill T. and Bryan E. Beyer. Encountering the Old Testament. Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2008.
  2. https://www.gotquestions.org/Psalms-authors.html

About Lisa South

Lisa South
Lisa South grew up in an “ours” family (as in “his, hers, and ours”), the second family for both parents –and the oldest of two in the “ours” family. She doesn’t remember attending any church until she was about 8, and then the family attended several different denominations sporadically, as her dad was searching. When she was 15, she and her sister made their own decisions to become members of a small church, and within a year or two, their parents began attending that same small congregation of 120. This small but loving church became Lisa’s true family, although she didn’t always realize this fact, and sometimes resented the “family interference” in her life. She left the church for a number of years but returned sometime after marrying outside the church. As the spouse of a military veteran, Lisa has lived in several parts of the USA, and has been active in 3 other small congregations, sometimes singing in choirs, sometimes solos or duets or trios. She enjoys being part of the prayer ministry, teaching Bible classes for children or youth, and even helping out at the larger conference level. Lisa has a Certificate of Biblical Studies, a B.A. in English and History, and an M.A. in History, and teaches History courses for several colleges as an adjunct instructor.