The Psalms

The Psalms

Leslie Rainey

The word Psalms is the Anglicized form of a Greek word meaning a poem set to music, In Hebrew, the title is “Praises, or Book of Praises,” which is the message of the whole hook. They are the divinely inspired book of worship for the nation of Israel, and the hymn book of devotion for the saints of all ages.

Key Word: Worship Key Verse : xxix:ii

Divisions

The whole collection consists, in the Hebrew Bible, of five books, clearly divided, and all ending with a doxology. (Psalms 41, 72, 89, 106 and 150). Like the Sermon on the Mount the books have a historical significance, and begin with a beatitude which majestically rises to a grand finale of praise in the group of songs known as the “Hallelujah Psalms.”

Authorship

There is no definite proof who the editor was. Unlike the other books of the Bible, Psalms was not written by one person. It is the work of more than a dozen writers. Of the 150 Psalms, 100 are, by their titles ascribed to Korah; 12, to the school of Asaph; 2, to Solomon; 1, to Ethan: 2, to Heman; 1, to Moses; and the remainder are anonymous. The Septuagint ascribes three to Isaiah, two to Jeremiah, and the final three to Haggai and Zechariah. It is also probable that Ezra wrote Psalm cxix, and that Hezekiah wrote Psalms cxx - cxxxiv (Isa. xxxvii. 20).

Date

It is impossible to fix the chronology of the Psalms. Though hoary with age they still retain the freshness of eternal youth upon their pages. The majority of the Psalms can be ascribed to the great song period in Israel’s history, from David’s time to the time of Hezekiah, three hundred years.

The Teaching of the Psalms

1. The Psalter is a marvellous record of the human heart bringing every conceivable human experience into the presence of God whether joy or sorrow, trust or anxiety, hope or despair, and pouring itself out from age to age in communion with God.

2. They set forth the attitude of the soul in the presence of God when contemplating past history, present experience, and prophetic hope.

3. Every Psalm is a direct expression of the soul’s consciousness of God.

4. The Law sets forth the figures of Christ and tells what the spiritual life of the nation ought to be. The Prophets present the fore-shadowings of Christ and reveal what religion was not. The Psalms unveil the feelings of Christ and shew what life is in communion with God.

5. The Psalms unfold truth pertaining to the Messiah, the Scriptures, and the experience of the believer. Psalms one to three are the key to the Book. (1) The Exaltation of the Law of God (Psa. 1) ; (2) the Exaltation of the Messiah (Psa. ii.); (3) the Experience of the Believer, (Psa. iii).

The Types of Psalms

1. Messianic Psalms — 2, 16, 22, 24, 40, 68, 69, 118.

2. National Psalms - 14, 44, 46, 48, 53, 66, 68, 76-79, 87, 108, 122, 124, 126, 129.

3. Historical Psalms - 78, 81, 105 106, 114.

4. Penitential Psalms - 6, 32, 38, 51, 102, 130, 143.

5. Imprecatory Psalms - 35, 69, 109, 137.

6. Prophetical Psalms - 2, 16, 22, 40, 45, 68, 69, 72, 97, 118, 110.

7. Hallelujah Psalms - 106, 111, 112, 113, 118 - Sung on special occasions, Passover, Feast of Tabernacles, Pentecost, Dedication and New Moons, etc.

8. Pilgrim Psalms - 120, 134.

9. Favorite Psalms - Devotion, 3. Morning, 5. Trouble, 11. Sorrow, 23. etc.

Testimony of the Psalms

Martin Luther called the Psalms, “The Little Bible.”

C. H. Spurgeon called them “The Christian’s Map of Experience.”

Wm. Gladstone said “All the wonders of Greek civilization heaped together are less wonderful than the Book of Psalms,” and Calvin described them as “The Anatomy of all parts of the soul.” There are five kinds of parallelism used in the writing of the Psalms (A. T. Pierson).

Apposite: Two or more parallel sentences having the same or closely related thoughts, corresponding or set in comparison. For example, “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding” (3:5). A wise man “trusts” in Jehovah positively and negatively “trusts not” in self.

Opposite: (Also called Antithetic). These contrast opposite thoughts with sharp antithesis. For example, “The memory of the just is blessed; but the name of the wicked shall rot” (10:7).

Synonymous: Same thought is repeated in this type of parallelism on equivalent terms. For example, “To give subtility to the simple: To the young man, knowledge and discretion” (1:4).

Synthetic: In some Psalms thoughts are built up into a structural form like block upon block, cumulatively and often climacterically; sometimes in successive pairs of parallels. For example, “The eye that mocketh at his father, and despiseth to obey his mother; the ravens of the valley shall pick it out, and the young eagles (vultures) shall eat it.” Here two synonomous parallels compose one synthetic (Prov. 30:7-9; 24-28, more complex).

Inverted (or introverted): The true relations are noted by beginning at the extremes and moving toward the centre. For example, Psalm 135:15-18, “The idols of the heathen are silver and gold, the work of men’s hand. They have mouths, but they speak not; Eyes they have, but they see not; They have ears, but they hear not.”

Outline:

Book I (1-41), corresponds to the Book of Genesis.

Book II (42-72), corresponds to the Book of Exodus.

Book III (73-89), corresponds to the Book of Leviticus.

Book IV (90-106), corresponds to the Book of Numbers.

Book V (107-150), corresponds to the Book of Deuteronomy.