Book of Psalms
The Book of Psalms is a rather complicated, but very beautiful collection of poetry, literature, and songs. They contain stories that tell of David’s journey and others’ journeys as well. David, along with several other people, wrote the psalms contained in this collection. The date range is quite large, because of how it all was compiled, and comprises the dates from tenth century to fifth century BC. Psalms are usually meant to be hymns of praise, but this collection also involves other elements. The psalms in this collection are usually divided into five groups, and should be summarized in their own group, as the meaning behind that group was specific to a person or group of people in a specific situation, and during a specific period. The entirety of the psalms is a journey of praise, despair, brokenness, revelation of God (in provision, joy, peace, love, and happiness), and worship unto God. Most of the psalms have a name with them of who had written it, though; David is author of seventy-three out of the one-hundred fifty psalms. David was a gifted musician and a poet, who outlined nearly his entire journey with God in his ruling of Israel. Most of all, the psalms are a symbol that God is always faithfully with His People, even through tough times.
Now, Hebrew poetry is quite different from our style of poetry here in The Americas. The Hebrews preferred a balanced arrangement of words and sentences, to rhythm or meters like Americans practice. Most of the time, psalms were meant to be accompanied by instruments, usually string. Parallel thoughts seemed to be the factor of how the psalms were written. Keeping in mind that the psalms were largely a part of people’s daily lives (and still are), these psalms are meant to help people in their journey of spirituality and help people learn about God and His faithfulness. It is difficult to fully summarize every single psalm in a concise statement, because a thesis could be written about each individual psalm or group of psalms. Therefore, covering the basics is the best thing to do in this summary, in hopes that it can be outlined in an understandable way.
Book One of the psalms was written mainly by David, and comprises chapters 1-41. God was frequently declared as “Yahweh” – which is translated as “Lord.” Frequently, we see the discussion about God’s creation and about humans in general, because there are a lot of references and resemblances to Genesis. In Psalm 1, for example, it shows the life of the godly and the rewards that it brings – and then talks of the ungodly, and the judgments they receive. It’s a psalm that promotes that God is in control and that He determines the rewards and punishments for how humans live. We see in Psalms 14-17 the discussion of godly people being in an ungodly society. People have rejected God, and those who have loved or accepted God are like diamonds in the rough. Through this, David outlines requirements for getting into the presence of God, giving thanksgiving to God for rescuing him from certain death, and finally talking about his innocence in the situation with Saul. In Psalm 18 then, we see David’s song of victory, which is an outpouring of praise unto God. We see David being blessed with good health and strength, and that God had shown him through the tough times that He was with him and would still strengthen him and build him up. Many other core topics discussed in this first book of psalms involved living uprightly before God, being who you were created to be, forgiveness, and deliverance.
As we progress to Book Two, we see 31 psalms, chapters 42-72 that is, which were written mainly by David and the sons of Korah. God is commonly declared as “El Elohim,” which means, “God the creator, our mighty and strong one.” Deliverance and redemption were talked about strongly in this set, and a lot of the text reflects the Book of Exodus in some of its dealings. People were starting to long for the Temple, and needed to become settled in their minds and settled physically with a place to worship their Creator. We see in Psalms 46-48 for example, that God saved Jerusalem. No matter what trouble came, the Israelites were able to overcome because they trusted in God. The psalmist calls people of all nations to worship God, revere His name, and have joy in victory. Through a longing for God and hymns of praise, we see revelations of The God of Israel, one that is powerful and strong, who fights for His People – as we see in Psalm 68. In the final psalm of the Book Two, Solomon writes about God’s desire for the dynasty of David to be established permanently. It’s also a psalm that outlines God’s provision and strength that He provides for the kingdom of Israel. He urges everyone everywhere to praise God.
Then, we see Book Three, which comprises only 17 psalms, from chapter 73-89. Asaph was the main writer for most of these psalms, and he too declared God as El Elohim. Asaph was very concerned about worship and being able to do it in a sanctuary. His writings reference similarly to Leviticus in many dealings. In Asaph’s first psalm, he had a problem: why do the wicked prosper? He couldn’t believe that wicked people would enjoy their lives of ease and then die peacefully with no sufferings. However, Asaph realizes later that he was foolish for doubting God, and that God, the Everlasting One, had not left him. He realizes that he doesn’t need to envy the wicked, because he can find his full satisfaction in God! Throughout the remainder of his psalms, Asaph talks about core things such as the exaltation of God, the favor of God, the joy in God’s house, the steadfast love of God, and then ending with a remembrance of the covenant with David.
As we move on, we see Book Four, which is comprised of Psalms 90-106 – yet another 17 psalms, except this time, there weren’t many known or recognizable writers. Throughout the remainder of the collections of psalms, people declared God as Yahweh. These psalms were focused upon God’s ways, and how He does things. The period and references point to the Book of Numbers. It starts out talking about making the most of our lives, even though our lives are short, we can use it to please God and not ourselves. We need to move away from being spoiled by sin, and start being blessed by God’s wisdom, joy, and love. Throughout Book Four, we see elements of God our protector, His supreme rule in the evil world, God the Creator of the universe and the King over all, the God who never changes, the God who’s faithful & loving, the God who’s true and righteous, and ending with talking about Israel’s faithfulness to God. God had saved His People from Egypt by His mighty power, Elohim was found to be exalted because of His faithfulness and mercy. However, people had been stubborn to God about going on to Canaan, and God had to punish them to the wilderness for forty years. People were distressed and called on God to save them.
In Book Five, the final book in the collection of psalms, forty-four chapters were covered, that is Psalms 107-150. David was mainly the writer among other unknown writers, who wrote lots of praise for God and exalting the Word of God (the Word of God being God’s Law probably). The period and influence was in Deuteronomy, it seems. Book Five starts out with psalms of thanksgiving, because people were saved from affliction and danger. We see David complain to God in Psalm 109 about the foul attacks of Israel’s opponents and about them talking falsely of him. Although he didn’t want revenge, he pleaded God for justice. Other than speaking about how good God is after this, we see in Psalm 119 the love for God’s Word. This is a psalm of meditation and has many parts to it. It is an acrostic style and divided into twenty-two sections, which correspond to the twenty-two letters of the Hebrew alphabet. Each of these sections has eight verses, and all eight of these verses begin with the same letter. This is one of the only similarities of poetry that Hebrews had with Americans.
Psalm 119 starts out with the expression of happiness, which is enjoyed by people who live according to His Word. For, a good knowledge of God’s Word is safeguard against sin. We must find pleasure in God’s Word, and have a desire to know and practice it. Because of God’s Word, our lives will be guided by God, our lives will be filled with purpose and meaning, and we will have the strength and confidence to trust in God in all things, even in distress. God’s Word brings comfort, especially in times of suffering, temptation, and trial. We also learn that studying and meditating on God’s Word brings true, godly wisdom. We have joy of God’s Word, and that we can understand God’s justice, righteousness, and faithfulness. God’s Word is reliable and true, and that it brings steadfastness and confidence in prayer. It ends noting God’s wonderful ways of keeping us on the right path with His correcting hand.
The psalm that follow that have different core elements, which include, (overall) praise, wisdom given in battle and situations of Israel, and outlines for worshiping in Jerusalem. Otherwise, the collection of psalms and Book Five ends with a grand psalm of praise unto the Lord. God’s People should praise Him constantly because of His steadfast love, care, and faithfulness in hard times. All creation shows the wonders of God, and this brings praise unto Him! Worshippers in the temple join with angels in the Heavens in harmony to praise God for the greatness He displays and the deeds He has done. Everyone everywhere should praise God, the psalmist declares, because God is mighty and excellent!