My Top Six OT Commentaries: Psalms (Guest Writer: Dr. Elizabeth H.P. Backfish)

My Top Six OT Commentaries: Psalms (Guest Writer: Dr. Elizabeth H.P. Backfish) December 13, 2022

(Wanna get caught up on all our previous guest posts and their commentary recommendations? Here is the index link to this series.)

Today, we are fortunate to have a guest expert on the Psalms, Dr. Elizabeth (Libby) Backfish, Associate Professor of Hebrew Bible at William Jessup University in Rocklin, CA; and Resident Theologian at Granite Springs Church in Lincoln, CA.

She is currently writing a Psalms commentary with Andy Abernethy for Lexham Press to add to this list.




DeClaissé-Walford, Nancy, Rolf A. Jacobson, and Beth LaNeel Tanner. The Book of Psalms. NICOT. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2014.

This single-volume commentary, for me, packs the biggest punch and includes all of the essentials for serious textual analysis: textual-critical notes, careful exegesis, including attention to poetic features, and keen insights into intertextuality and theology.



Goldingay, John. Psalms (3 volumes). Baker Commentary on the Old Testament Wisdom and Psalms. Edited by Tremper Longman III. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2006, 2007, 2008.

As one would expect from a three-volume commentary, and from the inimitable John Goldingay, this set is thorough in its exegetical breadth and rich in its theological depth.

Hossfeld, Frank-Lothar, and Erich Zenger. Psalms 2 and Psalms 3. Hermeneia. Edited by Klaus Baltzer. Translated by Linda M. Maloney. Minneapolis: Fortress, 2005, 2011.

Although this set is incomplete (both authors passed before the first volume could be completed), it offers unique contributions. First, in its careful attention to historical-critical issues, and second in its extended purview. Each psalm’s relationship to adjacent psalms and to major translations (LXX, Targum) and New Testament use are given thoughtful consideration.


VanGemeren, Willem A. Psalms. The Expositor’s Bible Commentary. Revised Edition. Volume 5. Edited by Tremper Longman III and David E. Garland. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2008.

This commentary is streamlined and accessible, but written with the serious student or pastor in mind. Its introduction and topical essays scattered throughout (but helpfully listed in the introduction) are alone worth the price of the commentary.



Villanueva, Federico. Psalms 1-72: A Pastoral and Contextual Commentary. Asia Bible Commentary. Edited by Federico Villanueva. Carlisle, UK: Langham, 2016.

In this first volume, Villanueva writes from a Filipino-Asian context and invites readers to consider the enduring message of the psalms. He is a master of careful listening, both to the biblical text and to his own context, modeling how to bring the spiritual heart of the psalms to God’s people.


Longman, Tremper III. Psalms: An Introduction and Commentary. TOTC. Volumes 15-16. Edited by David G. Firth. Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic, 2014.

Longman has faithfully upheld the reputation of the TOTC on Psalms by updating Derek Kidner’s classic commentary. True to form, Longman distills expert analysis in a readable form. I recommend it as a resource for pastors and teachers, as a textbook for students, and even for devotional reading.




Thank you, Dr. Backfish! If you want to get technical on the Psalms, check out her monograph!

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