“Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth. Worship the Lord with gladness; come before Him with joyful songs. Know that the Lord is God. It is He who made us, and we are His; we are His people, the sheep of His pasture. Enter His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise; give thanks to Him and praise His name. For the Lord is good and His love endures forever; His faithfulness continues through all generations.” Psalm 100 (NIV)
What’s Going On?
The Book of the Psalms is the second of the Literature books, or The Writings, and contain some of the most beautiful and familiar passages in the Bible. The book is a collection of 150 “Psalms” or Songs; timeless prayers, devotions, pleas, praises, instructions, laments, celebrations, and expressions of every emotion imaginable. The Psalms are timeless and can be read in any order. Some Psalms express joy, some sorrow. Some are about victory, and others failure. Many of them start out expressing deep fears and sorrow, but throughout the Psalm, you see how the author almost talks himself into praise. This above all else can be our example. In good times and in bad – Praise Him.
There are five sections, each ending with its own doxology. The last psalm in each of the five sections are Psalm 41, 72, 89, 106 and the Grand Doxology 150.
Book I, or section 1, contains mostly personal psalms. Books II and III are mainly National psalms, and Books IV and V are Psalms for public worship.
Some of the Psalms are deeply personal and others were used in corporate, public worship. Many would have been set to music, but not all. You often see notes or titles –‘For the director of music’ and ‘For harp, lyre, and flute.’
The Psalms titled “song of ascent” were likely sung by the Jews as they literally climbed the mountains to get to the Temple Mount.
There are many Messianic prophesies mentioned throughout the Psalms.
Together they are The Psalms – plural. When you are referring to one of them, the singular word Psalm is used. You say Psalm 100, not Psalms 100. Sorry – personal pet peeve.
“Psalms” might be translated as “Praise Songs.” Early Christians called it the “Psalter.” In Hebrew, the word for Psalm is Tehillim which might be pronounced like “Te-hi-leem” or tehleem or Tell Him!
Psalm 118:8 is the very center of the Bible. I can’t think of a more fitting verse: “It is better to trust in the Lord than to put confidence in man.” (KVJ)
When and Where Are We?
The completed version of the Psalms was probably compiled during the era of The Return and used as a worship guide, a prayer book, a hymnal, and a response book for the Jews at the Temple built by Zerubbabel and later at the Temple of Herod. The early Psalms of David were likely already grouped together in an early collection and then added to later. Psalm 90, a psalm of Moses, would have been written about 1500 BC, the Psalms of David about 1,000 BC, and the psalms written during the era of The Return around 500 BC covering a total of about 1,000 years.
Most of the Psalms are attributed to David, but you’ll also see some by others as well. Psalm 90 was written by Moses and is probably the oldest in the collection. Solomon is the author of Psalm 72 and 127. Some are attributed to Asaph, the sons of Korah, Ethan, Hemen, who were probably Temple priests and/or musicians, and many are anonymous.
(Shhhhh. Be still. Let that sink in. Meditate on it. Find Peace with it. Forever may it be so)
Weekly Reading Assignment:
There are no assigned readings this week! I did not schedule the Psalms into our yearly reading schedule. I believe it is best to read the Psalms slowly so I recommend that if you haven’t already been, start adding a Psalm or two into your weekly schedule so that you can still read them all by the end of the year. You can enjoy taking a week off, use this week to go back and catch up where you may have gotten behind, or use the week to read some of the Psalms.