Survey on the book of Psalms

About This Book:

The Book of Psalms has attracted more attention from Christians than any other Old Testament book. Many psalms are quoted in the New Testament. It is the most important book of the Old Testament. This book is easy to understand and relate to.

Each psalm is unique. Most of the Christian songs and hymns are written from the Book of Psalms. These Psalms were written by King David, Solomon, Asaph, Sons of Korah, Moses, Ethan the Hezrite, etc. Some Psalms are like making a prayer. All these people shared their heart before God out of their real situations. The Psalms contains Songs of prayer, praise, thanksgiving, expressing their hurtful situations, sorrow, pain and deliverance before God. Each one of authors of psalm had a rich relationship with God. They always looked to God and not to man. They were totally dependent on God on every situation. Whether it was a good time or a bad time, they were dependent on God. Most familiar Psalms are Psalm 23 (talks about God being our shepherd), Psalm 91 (talks about protection) and Psalm 121 (Our help comes from God). When these people were sharing their hearts, they did not know that their words will bring comfort to so many generations.

 

Historical Background:

The book was originally titled as Tehillim, which means “praise songs” in Hebrew. The English title of “Psalms” originated from the Septuagint’s Greek the Psalmoi, also meaning “songs of praise.”

The 150 psalms of the book were not written at one time, but over a long period. Psalm 90 dates as early as Moses, and Psalm 126 was written upon the return of the Israelites from Babylonian captivity. So, Book of Psalms is written over a period of 1,000 years.

The Book of Psalms is written by many authors, the prominent of whom are David, Solomon, Asaph, Sons of Korah, Moses and Ethan the Hezrite.

The Psalms comprised the ancient hymns of God’s people. The Psalms express the emotion of the individual Psalmist to God or about God. All the psalms were written to communicate their feelings and thoughts regarding a psalmist situation.

Psalms titles are found at the beginning of each psalm and give information about them. Psalms was a dynamic, growing and changing book during the canonical period. Individual psalms were always historically relevant for use in the formal worship of Israel.

Titles can provide information concerning, a variety of matters, Author’s name, its historical background, its melody and occasionally other items.

These psalms are used in Israel’s corporate and individual worship of God. These psalms are always relevant to the needs of the nations as well as to the individual Israelites.

 

Theme:

The psalms can be divided into 7 categories:

Psalms of Praise
These psalms adore God. They are sung when relationship with God is stable, calm and untroubled.

Psalms of Lament
These psalms are prayers made to God. They are sung when our relationship with God is troubled.

Psalms of Thanksgiving
Like Psalms of Praise, these psalms too celebrate God. However, they are sung when prayers are answered and deliverance and victory take place.

Psalms of Confidence
These psalms describe author’s trust and faith in God.

Psalms of Kingship
These psalms present the king as the major focus. These can be sung to a human king or God the Supreme King.

Psalms of Remembrance
These psalms retell God’s deliverances and redemptions of the past.

Psalms of Wisdom
These psalms provide instruction on how to live life and exist in a relationship with God.

 

Theological Significance:

It is difficult to discuss the theological message of the Book of Psalms. The book of psalms is not composed systematically because each psalm is unique. The psalms are prayers sung to God. Each psalm is addressed to God, rather than God speaking to the people of Israel. The psalms do not present the character of God or the nature of His relationship with human beings. Still, the psalms are a rich source for theological teaching. Not every prayer of Israel is found in the Book of Psalms. The Book of Psalms is confessional, doxological, but not abstract. The Book of Psalms is human’s encounter with the divine.

 

Bibliography:

Introduction to the Old Testament by Tremper Longman III
Psalm Categories Every Psalm

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