Did You Know Who wrote the book of Psalms?
Your children will quickly answer that question
with one word: "David." True, but that
answer is only partly correct. The Psalms are
closely related to King David for many reasons.
He was known as "the sweet singer of songs."
Some of the events referred to in the psalms were
a part of his life. And, Josephus, an early historian
wrote that David composed "songs and hymns
to God in various meters."
But, sorry, that doesn't mean David wrote them
all! However, he gets credit for collecting many
of them. Note that Psalm 90 is attributed to Moses
in the subtitle. Researchers believe that many
came down in the oral tradition, written earlier
by Moses, Abraham, and some of the prophets. Since
the oral tradition can change the text with each
retelling, we should thank David for seeing that
they were finally put in written form. The final
compilation was made in about 200 A.D.
These 150 songs were written for several different
purposes: hymns used in temple ceremonies (Psalm
8), laments commemorating national calamities
(Psalm 44), royal psalms connected with reigning
kings (Psalm 2), individual petitions for God's
help (Psalm 30), thanksgiving (Psalm 34), historical
events (Psalm 78), wisdom songs related to good
living (Psalm 37), and songs of ascent or degrees.
This last category contains marching songs sung
while ascending the hill of Jerusalem or another
holy destination. Psalms in the 120's are in this
Looking at your Bible, you will find interesting
sub-titles on many of the psalms. Some refer to
an actual event while others are dedicated to
the chief musician in various places. Most every
village had one person, often unskilled, in charge
of songs and instruments for services. It is believed
that David rewarded some of these people with
an original song of his own. Still others are
sub-titled as David's prayer and a few are written
for large choral groups. You'll note in some sub-titles
the word Asaph. This is thought to be David's
personal musician and the founder of the musicians
guild. It might also refer to that group of singers.
David's son Solomon also wrote some of the psalms.
As you know, he was charged with building the
temple, a glorious task denied David because of
some of the unsavory events in his earlier life.
Many of the psalms for temple worship are attributed
It's interesting to note that some were added
long after David's time during the captivity.
Psalm 137 is one of these, and it eloquently describes
this sad time as the captives long for their homeland.
Reading this, one can appreciate the great sacrifices
made and the strong love for their homeland.
So there appear to be at least two dozen different
writers, making this book a true collection. At
least twenty are ascribed to David himself. These
include the beloved Psalm 23 that ties in with
David's years of shepherding, Psalm 91 which has
a reference to a disease
virulent in David's time, and Psalm 139, which
is very personal in nature.
Today, these songs are considered canon - canonical
writings, books approved by Bible scholars and
theologians centuries ago. They are beloved for
their many memorable lines that speak to the heart,
words such as: "Be still and know that I
am God" (Psalm 89).
When you read The Book of Psalms (its official
title), think of what these songs meant to the
people at that time. They sang as they walked,
they sang as they worked, they sang in their grief,
they sang with thanksgiving. You can do the same.