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Some of the most universally loved of all scripture can be found in the Psalms. Reflecting the full range of human emotions, the Psalms have helped people find their way through varying experiences of life for centuries. They serve as expressions of human feeling in sorrow or joy, in depression or jubilation, in darkness or light.

Name - Psalms
    1. The word "psalm" literally means praise
    2. The Hebrew title for this collection is "Songs of Praise".
Authors - According to superscriptions given to various psalms, the authorship of several of them can be traced.
    1. Seventy-three are known to be composed by David.
    2. Solomon wrote two. (72; 127)
    3. Heman penned one. (88)
    4. Ethan composed another. (89)
    5. One was written by Moses. (90)
    6. Asaph, one of David's court musicians, wrote twelve. (50, 73-83)
    7. Ten psalms were authored by the "sons of Korah." (42-49; 84; 85; 87)
    8. The others are anonymous.
Purpose - The psalms were collected and preserved primarily to form a song book or hymnal of praise and worship.
    1. The book is made up of poems designed for singing.
    2. It came to be used as a hymnal for temple and synagogue wor-ship.
    3. The psalms were used by the early church (cf. Ephesians 5:19) and are the source of lyrics used in some songs we sing today.
    4. In addition to their use as songs, the Psalms have provided de-votional reflection, comfort, encouragement, and conviction to God's people for centuries.
I. Background to the book.
A. With the identification of certain authors we know the psalms were written over a thousand years. (1500-500 BC)
    1. It is clear that most were composed during the time of the united monarchy. (1 Samuel -1 Kings)
    2. The vast majority were written during the hundred-year period from 1030-930 BC.
B. The book is divided into five separate groupings.
    1. Psalms 1-41.
    2. Psalms 41-72.
    3. Psalms 73-89.
    4. Psalms 90-106.
    5. Psalms 107-150.
C. We do not know who collected and arranged the psalms in their current order.

D. The superscriptions (or headings) of several of the psalms not only indicate authorship, but several other things were added by the King James translators.
    1. Circumstances surrounding their composition, (34; 51; 102)
    2. The intended function or use of the psalm. (4; 30; 92)
    3. A tune or melody to accompany the psalm. (45; 56; 57; 69; 75)
E. Musical notations (e.g., "selah"; "gittith"; "maskit") of uncertain meaning are also provided.

F. The most important literary feature of the Psalms is parallelism
    1. Hebrew poetry balances thought rather than sound.
    2. Using parallelism, the poet makes a statement on one line and parallels it with a complementary statement on the next line.
    3. Some of the basic types of parallelism found in the Psalms in-clude:
      a. Synonymous parallelism - In this form, the thought stated in the-first lines reinforced by the second line (e.g. 10:1; 18:2; 19:1; 114)
      b. Synthetic parallelism - In this parallel form, the second lines completes the thought of the first. (e.g., 8:2; 12-1; 33:1)
      c. Climatic parallelism - Part of the first line is repeated and a new thought is added in the second line. (e.g. 29:1-2: 32:1-2; 77:1)
      d. Antithetical parallelism - The second line offers a contrast-ing thought that emphasizes the first line. (e.g., 1:6; 18:27; 34:10)
G. In Hebrew, some of the psalms form acrostics. (e.g. 9, 10, 25, 34; 37; 111 and 112)

II. Main Message of the book.
A. The main message of the Psalms is the expression of adoration and dependence on the love, mercy, and power of our great God!

B. Three key elements expressed in the Psalms are praise, petition and penitence.

III. Outline of the book.
A. Though the Psalms are subdivided into five groupings (cf. I .B.), it is virtually impossible to outline the psalms by style or content.
    1. Prayers, petitions, praise, prophecies, etc. are mixed indis-criminately among the five groupings of the book.
    2. Some psalms combine more than one theme in a single poem.
B. Scholars vary in their methods of classifying the psalms. Here is one sample:
    1. Messianic psalms - These prophetically speak of the person and work of the Messiah. (e.g. 2, 8, 22, 69, 110)
    2. Lament psalms - In these psalms, there is a cry to God for help in time of trouble. (e.g., 7, 26, and 60)
    3. Testimonial psalms - The essential feature of these psalms is the declaration by the writer of what God has done for him. (e.g., 30; 34)
    4. Pilgrim psalms - Also known as "psalms of ascent", these psalms have to do with pilgrimages to the holy city of Jerusa-lem. These songs were apparently sung as the Israelites as-cended to Jerusalem for annual feasts. (e.g., 120-134)
    5. Imprecatory psalms - These are psalms that ask for judgment on wicked men. (58,109) 6. Penitential psalms - Mostly written by David, these psalms re-veal the heart of a penitent individual sorrowing over his sin. (32, 51)
    7. Wisdom psalms - These psalms give counsel to godly people living in an ungodly world, (e.g., 37, 73)
    8. Historical psalms - In the historical psalms, the writer looks back on God's dealing with the nation of Israel. (e.g., 78, 105, 106)
IV. Key Themes of the book.
A. The presentation of God in the Psalms.
    1. More than any other book of the Old Testament, the Psalms share with us the major aspects of God's personality and nature.
      a. It is readily apparent that the psalmists saw God as personal and caring, as well as all-powerful and just.
      b. They constantly praised Him as Creator, Sustainer, Sover-eign, and Judge.
    2. Some of the particular characteristics of God stressed in the Psalms include:
      a. His infinity. (cf. Psalms 139)
        [1] He is omniscient, (v. 1-6)
        [2] He is omnipresent, (v.7-12)
        [3] He is omnipotent, (v. 13-18)
        [4] He is all holy and righteous, (v. 19-24)
      b. His goodness. (Psalms 25:8-10; 33:5; 34:8; 52:1,9; 73:1; 86:5; 100:5; 106:1)
      c. His power. (Psalms 21:13; 46:1-7; 62:11; 65:6, 7; 77:14-18)
      d. His righteousness. (Psalms 7:9; 48:10; 50:6; 71:15,19; 89:16; 97:2; 111:3; 1119:142-144)
      e. His faithfulness. (Psalms 18:30:25:10; 36:5; 40:10; 89:1-34; 92:1, 2, 15; 111:5-9)
      f. His love. (Psalms 42:8; 47:4; 63:3; 78:68; 89:33)
      g. His mercy. (Psalms 18:50; 32:1-5; 57:10; 62:12; 65:3; 69:16; 78:38-39; 85:2-3); 103:3-17)
B. The Messianic Psalms.
    1. Several of the psalms have been interpreted in the New Tes-tament as speaking of the Christ.
      a. Psalms 2; cf. Acts 4:25-26; 13:33; Hebrews 1:5; 5:5
      b. Psalms 16; cf. Acts 2:24-31; 13:35-37
      c. Psalms 22; cf. Matthew 27:35-46; John 19:23-25
      d. Psalms 45; cf. Hebrews 1:8-9
      e. Psalms 89; Acts 2:30
      f. Psalms 110; Matthew 22:43-45; Acts 2:33-35; 5:6-10:6:20; 7:24
    2. The way in which these psalms are referenced in the New Tes-tament makes it clear that references to the Davidic throne are a foreshadowing of Christ.
    3. Jesus claimed that the psalms spoke of him. "Everything must be fulfilled that is written about me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms." (Luke 24:44)
C. A dependence on God. - Psalms 23
    1. If the Psalms make anything clear, it is that our entire liveli-hood and future is built on God.
    2. He provides:
      a. Our guidance. (23:1)
      b. Our protection. (23:4-5)
      c. Our nourishment. (23:2)
      d. Our courage. (23:4b)
      e. Our discipline. (23:4b)
      f. Our blessings. (23:6a)
      g. Our sense of worth. (23:5b)
      h. Our eternal destiny. (23:6b)
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