Psalms: The psalms are the production of various authors. "Only a portion of
the Book of Psalms claims David as its author. Other inspired poets
in successive generations added now one now another contribution to
the sacred collection, and thus in the wisdom of Providence it more
completely reflects every phase of human emotion and circumstances
than it otherwise could." But it is specially to David and his
contemporaries that we owe this precious book. In the "titles" of the
psalms, the genuineness of which there is no sufficient reason to
doubt, 73 are ascribed to David. Peter and John
(Acts 4:25) ascribe
to him also the second psalm, which is one of the 48 that are
anonymous. About two-thirds of the whole collection have been
ascribed to David. Psalms 39, 62 and 77 are addressed to Jeduthun, to
be sung after his manner or in his choir. Psalms 50 and 73 are
addressed to Asaph, as the master of his choir, to be sung in the
worship of God. The "sons of Korah," who formed a leading part of the
(2 Chronicles 20:19) were intrusted with the arranging and
singing of Psalms 27,244 and 88. In
(Luke 24:44) the word "psalms" means
the Hagiographa, i.e., the holy writings, one of the sections into
which the Jews divided the Old Testament.
None of the psalms can be proved to have been of a later date than the
time of Ezra and Nehemiah, hence the whole collection extends over a
period of about 1,000 years. There are in the New Testament 116 direct
quotations from the Psalter. The Psalter is divided, after the analogy
of the Pentateuch, into five books, each closing with a doxology or
1. The first book comprises the first 41 psalms, all of which
are ascribed to David except 1, 2, 10, and 33 which, though
anonymous, may also be ascribed to him.
2. Book second consists of the next 31 psalms (42-72) 18 of which
are ascribed to David and 1 to Solomon (the 72nd). The rest are
3. The third book contains 17 psalms (73-89) of which the 86th is
ascribed to David, the 88th to Heman the Ezrahite, and the 89th
to Ethan the Ezrahite.
4. The fourth book also contains 17 psalms (90-106) of which the
90th is ascribed to Moses, and the 101 and 103 to David.
5. The fifth book contains the remaining psalms, 44 in number.
Of these, 15 are ascribed to David, and the 127 to Solomon.
Psalms 136 is generally called "the great hallel." But the Talmud
includes also Psalms 120-135. Psalms 113-118 inclusive, constitute the
"hallel" recited at the three great feasts, at the new moon, and
on the eight days of the feast of dedication.
"It is presumed that these several collections were made at times of
high religious life: the first, probably, near the close of David's
life; the second in the days of Solomon; the third by the singers of
(2 Chronicles 20:19) the fourth by the men of Hezekiah
(2 Chronicles 20:29,30,31) and the fifth in the days of Ezra." The Mosaic
ritual makes no provision for the service of song in the worship of
God. David first taught the Church to sing the praises of the Lord.
He first introduced into the ritual of the tabernacle music and song.
Divers names are given to the psalms.
1. Some bear the Hebrew designation shir (Gr. ode, a song).
Thirteen have this title. It means the flow of speech, as it
were, in a straight line or in a regular strain. This title
includes secular as well as sacred song.
2. Fifty-eight psalms bear the designation (Heb.) mitsmor (Gr.
psalmos, a psalm), a lyric ode, or a song set to music; a sacred
song accompanied with a musical instrument.
3. Psalms 145 and many others, have the designation (Heb.) tehillah
(Gr. hymnos, a hymn), meaning a song of praise; a song the
prominent thought of which is the praise of God.
4. Six psalms (16, 56-60) have the title (Heb.) michtam (q.v.).
5. Psalms 7 and Habakkuk 3 bear the title (Heb.) shiggaion (q.v.).