Study of the Psalms


I have a family member who has recommended Charles Speer’s commentary/study on the Psalms. Does anyone know if this is good scholarship? I know we have differences in how to interpret many things in the NT but don’t know if that extends to the Old. If it isn’t a good study, does anyone know of a good Catholic one?


I haven’t heard of the commentary you mentioned. The Navarre Bible has a 10-volume commentary on the books of the bible. I bought the entire set and find it very informative. One of these books is devoted to the book of Psalms and the book of Songs of Solomon. It is information packed and received many high ratings. Here’s the link; however, you can get it at many different book stores:


Yes, Protestants tend to interpret the OT in a primarily literal fashion and Catholics look more towards its typological or moral significance. A lot of modern commentators also spend so much time exploring the historical context in which the Psalms were written that they forget that their main purpose is as the prayer of the Church.

I haven’t read the Navarre commentary on Psalms but I have read other books in the series so it I would guess it to be very good.

Depending on how challenging you like your reading to be you might like the classic commentaries by St Augustine, St Thomas Aquinas or St Alphonsus Liguori. The last named is the shortest and easiest of the three I think.


I am getting older and running out of time. I’d like to make a good pass on understanding the psalms.

I just picked up The Orthodox Study Bible. I am not surprised opening that book that I was stepping back in time. It’s not a high level study bible, although it should be at over 1800 pages.

The sparse footnotes have occasional citations from the early Greek church fathers. I’ve seen Augustine mentioned in there once.

What’s refreshing is the bishop’s teaching that Christ is on every page of the Bible. Like, Psalm 1 is about Christ. I thought it was about me, or Christians, anyway. So, in a few pages I’ve skimmed so far, that approach is carried through.

But, there are not extensive comments, cross references, or supplementary essays (just a couple).

This wouldn’t be a cornerstone for reading the Psalms.

I bought it expressly because the Old Testament is an English translation of the Septuagint. And, the Orthodox have a couple extra books more than Roman Catholics.


With permission of the publisher of The Orthodox Study Bible, here is the Psalm 151.

Psalm 151 does not exist because of the different numbering system of the Psalms that occurs in the Septuagint. It occurs because it an added Psalm.

Psalm 151

1 This is a psalm written with David’s own hand, although outside the number, when he fought in single combat with Goliath

**I was small among my brothers
And the youngest in my father’s house;
I tended my father’s sheep.

2 My hands built a musical instrument;
My fingers turned a lyre.

3 And who shall tell my Lord?
The Lord Himself, He Himself hears.

4 He sent forth His Angel
And took me from my father’s sheep;
And he anointed me with his
anointing oil.

5 My brothers were handsome and tall,
But the Lord took no pleasure in them.

6 I went out to meet the foreigner,
And he cursed me with his idols;

7 But I drew his own sword and
beheaded him,
And removed disgrace from the
children of Israel.**

[And the footnote commentary;]

151 **Ps 151 is outside the number of the Psalter, but written in David’s own hand (v.1). It concerns the slaying of the giant Goliath. Historically, David slew him as recorded in 1Kg17 [which may be 1Sam outside the septuagint] . He slew him through humility. (I was small, v.1) and through the Lord (v. 3).

From a spiritual standpoint, Goliath stands for the sinful passions of arrogance and vainglory (see also Ps 143 [which is Ps 144 outside the Septuagint]). Thus, with the Lord’s help, we slay these giants with humili**ty.

Note that the spelling of “Lord” does not follow the western convention of using all capital letters as LORD. ]


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