The Psalms are incredibly broad and deep.  Though David wrote more of them than anyone else, there are a variety of authors who wrote over about a 1400 year period. When reading the Psalms it is helpful to understand that there are different types of Psalms, and that some Psalms are more or less appropriate for the situation you are currently in than others.  When the information is available it is also a great blessing to know the context of when and why the Psalm was written. How to classify the Psalms is in large part a personal preference.  It can be a useful tool to keep a chart for yourself or put notes by different Psalms in your Bible.  I’m looking forward to making my own chart as I read through the Psalms.  In the meantime I can share some categories from  The Believer’s Bible Commentary by William MacDonald.  I’ve added a couple of categories and given examples for each.

1. Worship and Thanksgiving – Psalm 93 (probably the greatest number of Psalms fall into this category for the purpose of enhancing our fellowship with God.)

2. Messianic (Prophetic Psalms that specifically speak of Jesus Christ).  It is important to remember that sometimes part of the Psalm has to do with Jesus while other parts refer to someone else.  – Psalm 22

3. Confession and forgiveness – Psalm 32,51

4. Petitions – Psalm 17

5. The righteous and wicked contrasted – Psalm 1

6. Historical – Psalm 78

7. Prophetic but not Messianic – Psalm 14

(Note:  It is also important to note that some of the Psalms in the petition category are not appropriate for us to use in prayer today.  The author was writing in the context of the Old Testament law of an eye for an eye.  Jesus calls us to a higher standard of loving our neighbors – whether friend or enemy.