Some Notes on the Psalms

Since we are working through some Psalms on Sunday nights over the summer, I thought it would be nice to share some basic notes on this sweet book of the Bible.

· The Book of Psalms served as text for worship in the Hebrew culture.

· While in our culture, worship songs tend to focus only on the positive elements of the Christian life, the Psalms focus on every possible level of emotion. From joy to rage, celebration to utter distress, the Psalms cover everything we may feel or go through.

From Dr. Daniel I. Block’s Old Testament notes on Psalms: But unlike much of contemporary worship (which is concerned primarily to get people to praise God), the Psalter is much more realistic and contains songs and poems reflecting every conceivable human emotion: grief and delight, anxiety and hope, doubt and trust, anger and joy. For this reason most believers find it the most precious book of the Old Testament, if not the entire Bible. We can identify with the psalmist when he is on the top of the mountain, but we also relate when he walks through the darkest valley.

· Psalms are independent poetic compositions, and should therefore not be referred to as chapters. You read Psalm 1 or Psalm 145, but you do not read Psalms, chapter 1 or Psalms, chapter 145.

· The Psalter, collection of Psalms, were divided by the Hebrews up into five major books:

o Book 1: Psalms 1-41

o Book 2: Psalms 42-72

o Book 3: Psalms 73-89

o Book 4: Psalms 90-106

o Book 5: Psalms 107-150

· While some psalms can be grouped together based on their subject matter, for the most part, the order and organization of the psalms is mysterious. We do not know why they are in the order they are.

· Many psalms have a title or other notation made in the original language. Sometimes that title gives information about the author, the purpose, the type, or the music to be used for a particular psalm. But we must be careful. Simply because a Psalm’s title tells us that it is “A Psalm of David” does not necessarily mean that David wrote it. “Of David” could mean that the psalm was written by David, for David, in memory of David, about David, or simply like the kind of thing David would have written. Thus, the titles may be helpful, but we ought not spend too much focus on them.