It has been recommended to me by a friend and fellow PW to read and study through the Psalms. Today as I am taking the first step on my journey through this book, I thought, while I’m reading and studying through them, I might as well share some of what I am learning in the Scripture Spotlight blog segment. Today I started in Psalms 1, but here in this article, I will give some background and an overview of the book.
From the Grace To You website:
The entire collection of Psalms is entitled “Praises” in the Hebrew text. Later, rabbis often designated it “The Book of Praises.” (I love this title!) …The Greek verb from which the noun “psalms” comes basically denotes the “plucking or twanging of strings,” so that an association with musical accompaniment is implied.
Also from Grace to You:
The basic theme of Psalms is living real life in the real world, where two dimensions operate simultaneously: 1) a horizontal or temporal reality, and 2) a vertical or transcendent reality. Without denying the pain of the earthly dimension, the people of God are to live joyfully and dependently on the Person and promises standing behind the heavenly/eternal dimension. All cycles of human troubles and triumphs provide occasions for expressing human complaints, confidence, prayers, or praise, to Israel’s sovereign Lord.
I don’t know about you, but I LOVE this concept which I had never considered. It gives me great comfort and peace to know that we as believers are basically operating in two different dimensions of existence. This makes it possible for us to function as people of joy, even though we may be walking through a dark season of life and as difficult as it may be. Yes. I like this.
Authorship and Date
Of course, knowing God is the author of all scripture, the human writers of the Psalms are many. More than any other book of poetry or wisdom literature in the biblical text. We can point to 7 human authors, plus other anonymous writers. David wrote at least 75 of the 150 psalms; the sons of Korah accounted for 10 (Pss. 42, 44–49,84, 85, 87); and Asaph contributed 12 (Pss. 50, 73–83). Other penmen included Solomon (Pss. 72, 127), Moses (Ps. 90), Heman (Ps. 88), and Ethan (Ps. 89). The remaining 48 psalms remain anonymous in their authorship, although Ezra is thought to be the author of some. The time range of the Psalms extends from Moses, ca. 1410 B.C. (Ps. 90), to the late sixth or early fifth century B.C. post-Exilic period (Ps. 126), which spans about 900 years of Jewish history. The Psalms were written during the reigns of King Saul, King David, King Solomon, and into the fall of Judah.
Types of Psalms
The Psalms can be identified according to some basic categories: Laments, Hymns of Praise, Hymns of Thanksgiving, Hymns celebrating God’s law, Wisdom psalms, Songs of confidence, Royal psalms, Historical psalms, and Prophetic hymns.
While there are 150 chapters in the book, the Hebrew text divides the book into 5 distinct “books within the book”. Perhaps to mimic the 5 books of the Pentateuch. They are as follows:
Book 1: Psalms 1-41
Book 2: Psalms 42-72
Book 3: Psalms 73-89
Book 4: Psalms 90-106
Book 5: Psalms 107-150
I’d like to thank E. for encouraging me to study the Psalms as our family has been walking through a time of crisis. She has shared how she went through the book while she and her family were enduring a trial and how she thinks it can also help me. She told me:
This is the kind of wisdom we all need and the kind of wisdom we should all strive to give others. I am thankful for such a friend, who points to scripture and not self-help books or popular trends of sociological philosophies. And who messages me to check on me often. Thanks E.! I love you and appreciate how you’ve ministered to me!
So today is the first step into the “Book of Praises”. I am looking forward to diving into this reading and study of the Psalms. My intention is not to write a blog on every single chapter. But who knows where this may lead? For me, working through the Psalms isn’t just for the benefit of study, although I am looking forward to learning and growing in scriptural knowledge. I’m hoping it will be the start of a healing process for me. And if I feel it is right, I may bring you along for part of that journey. Coming soon: Chapter 1.