Who wrote the book of Psalms?

The Psalms, the greatest collections of songs, prayers and poetry even put together, is one of the most fascinating and powerful sections of God's word. It is the largest book in the entire Bible. The New Testament quotes it more than 75 times. The epistle to the Romans, written by the Apostle Paul, quotes or references it more than fourteen times. The book of Psalms not only contains the shortest and longest chapters of Scripture, but also the very CENTER of the Bible. This verse offers a concise but profound bit of wisdom that should be the hallmark of a true Christian's life.

"It is better to trust in the LORD than to put confidence in man." (Psalm 118:8, Holy Bible in Its Original Order - A Faithful Version)

150 songs comprise this book. Many of these are prophetic in nature. Jesus told his disciples after his resurrection that what happened to him MUST have occurred, in part, because of what was written in the Psalms (Luke 24:44).

Psalm writers

Did King David write all of the Psalms? No. He is, however, the most prolific writer of songs found in the Bible. David, who lived from 1040 to 970 B.C., wrote roughly 80 songs in this Biblical section. Other writers include Moses, Heman the Ezrahite, Ethan the Ezrahite, Solomon, Asaph, and the sons of Korah. Several of them do not come with any credit.

The original structure

No overt structure of the Psalms, other than numbering them, exists in almost all modern Bible translations. In the original Hebrew manuscripts, however, there are five major sections of the book. Section (or book) 1 contains Psalm 1 to 41, Section 2 has songs 42 to 72, Section 3 has songs 73 to 89, Section 4 contains songs 90 to 106 and Section 5 has 107 to 150.

 
 
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Overview

Understanding the overall characteristics of this section of the Bible can help us fully appreciate what they say and teach.

  • The purpose of many of the songs is public worship in Israel's temple, although some are more suited for private devotion. They all, however, ultimately lead people to worship the true God.
  • They were a part of Israel's daily life. The Bible records a number of times when the people spontaneously responded to God with a Psalm of praise.

  • They passionately record a person's response to God given their situation and circumstances at the time. Some songs cry out to God during a trial and others seek his intervention in their (and others) affairs. Some focus on God's blessings or curses, while others sing his praises and thank him for what he has done.

Prophecy division

A prophetic theme exists within the five-folder original structure of the Psalms.

  1. Section 1 (1 to 41) refers to the Passover, the beginning of Israel as a nation, and the start of the New Testament plan of salvation centering around Jesus

  2. Section 2 (42 to 72) shows Israel as a single body in the land of Israel and pictures the creation of the New Testament Church

  3. Section 3 (73 to 89) describes the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple. In many ways, this section parallels the prophecies of the coming Great Tribulation.

  4. Section 4 (90 to 106) revolves around the Millennial reign of Christ and shows Israel re-gathered after their ruin

  5. Section 5 (107 to 150) pictures a time when Judah (all Israel) shall again be delivered as they were in the time of Esther

The Psalms also offer prophecies centered on Jesus Christ. They predict his birth (104:4), Deity (45:6), ministry (69:9), rejection (118:22), betrayal (41:9), his crucifixion and the words he would speak (22), resurrection (2 and 16), ascension into heaven (68:18) and everlasting reign (102:26).

Categories of Songs

There are numerous ways in which to divide the book of Psalms other than by section. An example of one such division is below.

ROYAL songs concern the spiritual role of kings in the worship of God. They emphasize his role as Creator, Savior, etc. Psalm 20 and 21 are in this category.

REPENTANT songs are those in which the composer confesses their sins to the Lord and asks for forgiveness. Psalm 51 is a very good example of this type of song.

Songs of WISDOM or TEACHING focus on the contrast between both the righteous and the wicked and God's blessings and curses. Psalm 1 is in this category.

PRAISE songs center on worshipping and thanking God for all He is and does. Psalm 19, 29, 33, 146 to 150, and others are in this category.

Songs of ASCENTS or DEGREES are for those approaching the Temple in Jerusalem. Psalm 120 to 134 are of this type.

LAMENTING songs, the largest category, complain or plea to God for help in times of distress. Psalm 3 to 5, 22, 79, 80, and others are of this type.

Those who wrote the book of Psalms created songs that run the gamut of human emotion from cries for help while suffering in a severe trial to exalting God's name and praising him for his many wonderful works. It is a part of the Bible worthy to be read, studied and sung again and again.

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