Westminster Seminary California
Building the Minister’s Library: Commentaries on the Psalms
John G. Bales


John Calvin, in his commentary on Psalm 20 said, “But the design of the Holy Spirit, in my judgment, was to deliver to the Church a common form of prayer, which, as we may gather from the words, was to be used whenever she was threatened with any danger.” Calvin, of course, was not alone in this judgment of the psalms as the prayer book of the bible. He was merely following an exegetical tradition which reached back into the early church and continued on into the medieval period (not to mention the worship of Israel!) Origen, Basil of Caesarea, Gregory of Nyssa, Ambrose, Diodore of Tarsus, Jerome, Theodoret of Tarsus, John Chrysostom, Theodore of Mopsuestia, John Cassian, Athanasius of Alexandria, Augustine, Cassiodorus, Gilbert of Poitiers, Hugh and Richard of Saint Victor, Peter Lombard, Thomas Aquinas, and Nicholas of Lyra, to name only a few, regarded the psalter as one of the most important and beneficial books of the bible. The “daily bread” of the psalms could be read, memorized, prayed, and sung for great edification.

Since the minister will spend much time studying, praying, teaching and preaching from the psalms, I would like to recommend ten Psalms commentaries. They are representative of the history of exegesis and will include “pre-critical” commentaries.

Theodore of Mopsuestia: Commentary on Psalms 1-81. ET by R. C. Hill in WGRW 5, 2006.

Augustine. Expositions of the Psalms. The Works of Saint Augustine ; a translation for the 21st century, Book 3, vs. 15-20. Hyde Park, N.Y.: New City Press, 2000.

Luther's Works: Ed. by Jaroslav Pelikan [Vol. 1-30 and Helmut T. Lehmann [Vol. 31-55]), Vols. 11-14 Saint Louis, Mo: Concordia Publ. House.

John Calvin. Commentary on the Book of Psalms. Ed. James Anderson. Grand Rapids, Mich: W.B. Eerdmans Pub. Co, 1949.

Dickson, David. A Commentary on the Psalms; Two Volumes in One. London: Banner of Truth Trust, 1965.

A. F. Kirkpatrick. The Book of Psalms. London: Cambridge University Press, 1902.

Derek Kidner.Psalms. 2 vols. Tyndale Old Testament Commentaries, ed. D. J. Wiseman. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1975. 

Peter C. Craigie, Psalms 1–50. Word Biblical Commentary, ed. David A. Hubbard and Glenn W. Barker, vol. 19. Waco, TX: Word Books, 1983. 

Hans-Joachim Kraus. Psalms, 2 vols. Minneapolis: Augsburg Publishing House, c. 1988.

Walter Brueggemann.The Message of the Psalms: A Theological Commentary. Minneapolis: Augsburg Publishing House, 1984.