A close-up shot of an old, worn Bible, opened to the Book of Psalms, showcasing the pages filled with ancient verses, evoking a sense of the countless psalms contained within.

How Many Psalms Are In The Bible? A Detailed Look At The Book Of Psalms

The Book of Psalms, commonly referred to simply as Psalms, is one of the most beloved books of the Bible. For thousands of years, readers have turned to the heartfelt prayers and praise songs found in Psalms for comfort, joy, and inspiration.

If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer to your question: there are 150 psalms in the Bible.

In this comprehensive article, we’ll take an in-depth look at the overall structure of the Book of Psalms, investigate how many psalms there are according to scholars and Bible versions, examine the various types and groupings of psalms, and highlight some of the most popular and well-known psalms.

The Structure and Content of the Book of Psalms

The Psalms as a Collection of Poetic Prayers and Songs

The Book of Psalms contains 150 psalms, making it the longest book in the Bible. The psalms are a collection of poetic hymns, laments, thanksgiving songs, royal psalms, wisdom psalms, and other forms of Hebrew poetry and song.

Though traditionally ascribed to King David, the psalms had multiple human authors and the collection was compiled over an extended period of time. The psalms served as songs and prayers in both private and corporate worship in ancient Israel.

Their themes are universal in nature, expressing the full range of human emotion from cries of despair to exultant praise. The psalmists grappled with existential questions, sought comfort in times of pain, offered heartfelt repentance for sin, extolled the greatness and goodness of God, and looked expectantly towards divine salvation.

Some of the most well-known psalms include Psalm 23 (“The Lord is my shepherd…”) and Psalm 51 (David’s prayer of repentance after his adultery with Bathsheba). Other notable psalms include the Messianic psalms that prophesy Christ’s coming, like Psalm 22 and Psalm 110, as well as the poetic descriptions of God’s work in creation (Psalm 104) and his blessing upon Zion (Psalm 128).

Though ancient in origin, the emotive power and spiritual depth of the psalms ensure their ongoing relevance for people of faith today.

Main Themes and Subject Matter Covered in Psalms

The psalms cover a wide range of theological themes and life experiences. God’s sovereignty, righteousness, hesed (steadfast love), and holiness are extolled repeatedly (Ps 47:2,7-8; 103:6). Many psalms reflect on God’s work in creation (Ps 8; 104) and his choice of Israel as his covenant people (Ps 105; 106).

Pain, enemies, sin, and divine judgment are lamented, while God’s salvation and blessings are joyfully praised. Some of the major themes and subjects include:

  • Praise and thanksgiving for God’s mighty acts in history, nature, and personal experience (Ps 30:4; 100:1-5)
  • Cries for help and deliverance from distress, enemies, sin, or divine wrath (Ps 13:1-2; 22:1-2; 51:1-2)
  • Illness, old age, and the brevity of human life (Ps 39:4-6; 90:3-6, 12)
  • Meditations on God’s law and wisdom (Ps 1:2; 19:7-11; 119)
  • God as a stronghold, refuge, good shepherd, and loving father (Ps 18:2; 23:1-3; 103:13)
  • Joyful worship in God’s house and longing to dwell there (Ps 122:1; 84:1-4, 10)
  • Royal psalms celebrating the Davidic king as God’s anointed (Ps 2:6-7; 110:1-2)
  • Prophecies of Christ’s suffering, death, resurrection, and reign (Ps 16:10; 110:1; 118:22-23)

This spiritual poetry covers the complexities of the human condition with remarkable artistry. The psalmists boldly pour out their hearts to God and explore questions of justice, doubt, sin, hope, trust, salvation, worship, and the meaning of life itself.

Across the centuries, these timeless hymns, laments, and thanksgivings remain an invaluable resource for individual and corporate worship.

The Total Number of Psalms in the Bible

The book of Psalms contains 150 individual psalms, making it the longest book in the Bible. The exact number of psalms is clearly stated in Psalm 150: “Praise the LORD! Praise God in his sanctuary; praise him in his mighty heaven! Praise him for his mighty works; praise his unequaled greatness!

Praise him with a blast of the ram’s horn; praise him with the lyre and harp! Praise him with the tambourine and dancing; praise him with strings and flutes! Praise him with a clash of cymbals; praise him with loud clanging cymbals. Let everything that breathes sing praises to the LORD!

Praise the LORD! “ (Psalm 150:1-6). So the book of Psalms contains exactly 150 psalms according to the Bible itself.

Evidence Supporting 150 Psalms

There is strong evidence from ancient manuscripts and church tradition to support the fact that the Book of Psalms contains 150 individual psalms:

  • All major manuscripts of the Old Testament in Hebrew and Greek contain 150 psalms, including the Dead Sea Scrolls, the Septuagint (Greek translation of the OT), and the Masoretic Text.
  • Early church fathers like Jerome, Athanasius and Augustine all affirmed there were 150 psalms.
  • Ancient rabbinic sources also refer to the 150 psalms of David.

So there is solid agreement across thousands of years of history that the canon of the Book of Psalms contains exactly 150 individual psalms.

The Division of Psalms into Five Books

The 150 psalms are divided into 5 “books” or collections:

  • Book 1: Psalms 1-41
  • Book 2: Psalms 42-72
  • Book 3: Psalms 73-89
  • Book 4: Psalms 90-106
  • Book 5: Psalms 107-150

This five-fold division of the psalms is an ancient tradition, and some sources posit they mirror the first five books of the Torah (Genesis to Deuteronomy). Each of the 5 divisions ends with a doxology or psalm of praise to God (41:13, 72:18-19, 89:52, 106:48, 150:6).

Types and Groupings of Psalms

Categories Based on Content and Theme

The Book of Psalms contains 150 individual psalms that vary widely in subject matter, tone, and purpose. Scholars have identified several major categories or types of psalms based on their content and themes:

  • Psalms of lament – These psalms express sorrow, grief, or despair and plead with God for mercy and deliverance from troubles. Examples include Psalms 13, 22, and 137.
  • Psalms of thanksgiving – Psalms that joyfully thank God for blessings received or deliverance granted. For instance, Psalms 30, 103, and 138.
  • Psalms of trust – Psalms affirming trust and confidence in God’s power and care. Some examples are Psalms 23, 62, and 131.
  • Psalms of praise – Psalms glorifying God’s greatness and mighty works. Psalms 96, 100, and 150 are praise psalms.
  • Psalms of wisdom and teaching – Psalms imparting moral wisdom and instruction. See Psalms 1, 37, and 119.
  • Royal psalms – Psalms concerning the Davidic monarchy and kingship. Like Psalms 2, 18, and 20.

Identifying types of psalms provides useful context about their original purpose, themes, and literary forms.

Psalms of Ascent (Psalms 120-134)

The Psalms of Ascent comprise 15 consecutive psalms (Psalms 120-134) that likely functioned as a collection sung by pilgrims journeying “up” or ascending to Jerusalem for the annual festivals. Their shared themes and literary form suggest they were composed and compiled for this liturgical purpose.

Key subjects include longing for Jerusalem, trust in God’s protection, and anticipation of joyfully worshipping in God’s house.

Hallel Psalms (Psalms 113-118)

The six psalms from 113-118 comprise the Jewish festival liturgy known as the “Egyptian Hallel.” These psalms were sung during major Jewish feasts like Passover to commemorate God’s faithfulness and salvation. “Hallel” means “praise” in Hebrew.

The Hallel psalms revel in God’s steadfast love, majesty, and redemption of Israel from bondage.

Acrostic Psalms

Acrostic psalms have verses beginning with successive letters of the Hebrew alphabet. Examples include Psalms 119 (22 stanzas for the 22 Hebrew letters) and Psalms 145 (one verse per letter). Forming acrostics demonstrated poetic skill and aided memorization.

The themes of acrostic psalms vary, but often involve praise of God’s Word.

Well-Known and Beloved Psalms

Psalm 23

Psalm 23 is undoubtedly one of the most well-known and beloved psalms. This psalm, attributed to King David, uses pastoral imagery to depict God as a loving shepherd who cares for, protects, and guides his people.

The comforting words of Psalm 23:4 – “Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me” – have provided encouragement to countless believers throughout the ages.

Psalm 51

Psalm 51 is often called the “Psalm of Repentance.” Written by David after his adultery with Bathsheba, it is a heartfelt confession and plea for God’s forgiveness and mercy. David admits his sinfulness and seeks spiritual cleansing and renewal from God.

Key verses include Psalm 51:1-2 – “Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love; according to your great compassion blot out my transgressions. Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin” – and Psalm 51:10 – “Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.”

Psalm 103

Psalm 103 is a psalm of praise focused on God’s goodness and compassion. It opens with the line, “Praise the Lord, my soul; all my inmost being, praise his holy name” (Psalm 103:1). The psalm goes on to meditate on God’s love, forgiveness, healing power, redemption of his people, and justice.

Key verses include Psalm 103:8 – “The Lord is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love” – and Psalm 103:11-12 – “For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.”

Psalm 137

Psalm 137 is a lament reflecting the sorrows of the Israelites during their Babylonian captivity in the 6th century BC. The opening lines vividly capture the people’s grief as they weep by the rivers of Babylon.

Verses 7-9 present one of the harsher imprecatory prayers for God’s vengeance against the Edomites and Babylonians who destroyed Jerusalem. Despite its difficult subject matter, Psalm 137 illustrates how the Israelites clung to their identity and traditions even in exile, memorably declaring “If I forget you, Jerusalem, may my right hand forget its skill” (Psalm 137:5).


For thousands of years, the Book of Psalms has provided comfort, joy, and inspiration to readers around the world. This collection contains 150 poetic prayers and songs that cover the full range of human emotion and experience, from cries of despair to shouts of praise.

By taking a close look at the origins, structure, contents, and major themes of the Book of Psalms, we gain a deeper appreciation for these timeless ancient texts that continue to speak powerfully to the human condition.

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