What does Psalms, Book Of mean in the Bible?

Dictionary

Holman Bible Dictionary - Psalms, Book of
A collection of songs of praise that are theological statements and poetically represent human dialogue with God. The Psalms is the most complete collection of Hebrew poetry and worship material in the Hebrew Bible. The Psalms give clues for understanding Israelite worship on both a corporate and individual level. The psalms typify different responses to God's actions and word.
The Psalms as a collection is found in the third division of the Hebrew canon known as the Writings (Hebrew, ketubim ). In its present canonical form, the Psalter has five divisions in the current Hebrew text. These divisions have been compared with the division of the Pentateuch into five books. Each book concludes with a doxology or closing formula. The books follow this division: (1) Psalm 1-41 ; (Psalm 2:1 ) 42–71 ; (3) 73–89; (4) 90–106; and (5) 107–150. Psalm 150:1 closes off both book five and concludes the collection of psalms; just as Psalm 1:1 serves as an introduction to the psalter. Other divisions or collections appear in the Psalms. The Elohistic Psalter ( Psalm 42-83 ) regularly uses the Hebrew elohim for the divine name (compare Psalm 14:1 ; Psalm 53:1 ). The Songs of Ascent or pilgrimage psalms (Psalm 120-134 ) make a collection. Two different guild collections are included in the Psalms of the sons of Korah (Psalm 42-49 ) and the Psalms of Asaph (Psalm 73-83 ). Psalms has been understood as both the “hymnal” and prayerbook of the postexilic congregation of Israel with its final compilation and its inclusion within the canon.
An important key for reading and interpreting different psalms is to understand the nature of Hebrew poetry. Psalms are poetic in contrast to being narrative. See Poetry .
As the twentieth century began, Hermann Gunkel brought a new approach to the Psalms, seeking to discover the type or form of literary material in each Psalm and the worship situation behind each. Gunkel categorized several main types of psalms and understood that not all psalms fit neatly into one category. They might be a combination of types and thus belong to a category of mixed psalms. Following Gunkel, scholars have proposed several systems to categorize the Psalms. Most include the different types: (1) the hymn; (2) songs of thanksgiving; (3) the community laments; (4) the individual laments; (5) the individual songs of thanksgiving; (6) the royal psalms; and (7) wisdom psalms.
Clear-cut categorization is not possible for every psalm, nor does every psalm fit a particular category. Also, every cultic or original life situation is not discernible. The issue for the reader and interpreter of the psalms is to appreciate the artistry of a poet which created and crafted timeless poetic expressions which fit into many contexts of worship or an individual's life situation in different cultures and traditions.
A reader of the Psalms will find that different psalms can be grouped by similarities of form, content, and pattern. Yet, variations do occur, and each psalm is unique in both message and content. The following is descriptive of the various psalm types.
A lament is expressed both by the community (for example, 44; 74; 79) and by the individual (22; 38; 39; 41; 54). Both types of laments are prayers or cries to God on the occasion of distressful situations. Of the two forms, differences are related to the types of trouble and the experiences of salvation. For the community the trouble may be an enemy; with an individual it may be an illness. The basic pattern includes an invocation of God, a description of the petitioner's complaint(s), a recalling of past salvation experiences (usually community laments), petitions, a divine response (or oracle), and a concluding vow of praise.
The thanksgiving or psalms of narrative praise are also spoken by the community (see 106; 124; 129) and the individual (see 9; 18; 30). These psalms are related to the laments as they are responses to liberation occurring after distress. They are expressions of joy and are fuller forms of the lament's vow of praise.
The hymn (see 8; 19; 29) is closest in form to a song of praise as sung in modern forms of worship. These psalms are uniquely liturgical and could be sung antiphonally, some have repeating refrains (see Psalm 8:1 ). The hymn normally includes a call to praise. Then the psalm describes the reasons for praising God. The structure is not as clear-cut as other types of psalms. Creation psalms (usually reflecting a mixed form) include Psalm 8:1 ; Psalm 19:1 ; Psalm 104:1 ; and Psalm 139:1 . These psalms are concerned with praising God and describe Him as Creator. Emphasis may be placed on God as Creator of heaven and earth, as Creator of humanity, or as the Creator of different elements of creation. The psalms affirm God who is Creator as the Lord of history.
Some psalms reflect more specific liturgical events. The liturgical psalms may include antiphonal responses or dialogue. There may be exhortations to listeners to prostrate themselves or to walk in a procession. These psalms include instructions for sacrifice, worship, processionals, or may invoke blessings on the worshipers. These are usually regarded as psalms of mixed type as they share similarities with the hymns. This designation includes those psalms which may have been sung by pilgrims on their way to the sanctuary (see the songs of ascents, 120–134). Songs of Zion (such as 46) call for God's protection of the city of God. Some psalms are considered royal psalms (see 2; 18; 20). These psalms are concerned with the earthly king of Israel. Again, these are usually understood as mixed psalms. They were used to celebrate the king's enthronement. They may have included an oracle for the king. In some cases (such as Psalm 72:1 ), prayers were made to intercede on behalf of the king. Another mixed type are the enthronement psalms which celebrate Yahweh's kingship (see Psalm 96-99 ). They are closely related to the hymns and to the creation psalms. However, the main difference is a celebration of Yahweh as king over all creation.
A final type of psalm (see Psalm 1:1 ) is the wisdom psalm . They have poetic form and style but are distinguished because of content and a tendency toward the proverbial. These psalms contemplate questions of theodicy (73), or celebrate God's Word (the Torah, Psalm 119:1 ), or deal with two different ways of living—that of the godly person or the evil person (Psalm 1:1 ). The psalms are not neatly or easily categorized, as the mixed psalms indicate. However, such identification helps the reader to know that type of psalm is being read, with a possible original context or a fitting present context in worship.
Outline The Book of Psalms is divided into five sections just as the Pentateuch has five books. Each section of the Book of Psalms concludes with a doxology. See Psalm 41:13 ; Psalm 72:18-19 ; Psalm 89:52 ; Psalm 106:48 ; Psalm 150:1 . Psalm 1:1 introduces the book by dividing people into two categories and describing the fate of each. Psalm 150:1 closes Psalms with a symphony of praise. Otherwise, a way to describe a theological structure for the book as a whole has not been found. What devoted students of God's Word have discovered is the limited number of types of prayer represented in the Psalms. A look at the major types helps us understand how many different functions prayer and praise can serve as we communicate with and worship God.
1. Psalms of lamentation or complaint cry out for help in a situation of distress or frustration. Psalmists protest their innocence or confess their sins. They vow to praise God and give thanks for deliverance. Such psalms show prayer as an honest communication with God in life's worst situations. The following psalms are laments: 3,4, 6,7, 12,13, 17,22, 25,26, 28,35, 38,39, 40,41, 42–43,44, 51,54, 55,56, 57,59,60,61, 63,64, 69,70, 71,74, 77,79, 80,83, 85,86, 88,90, 94,102, 109,123, 126,130, 134,137, 140,141, 142,143, 144.
2. Psalms of thanksgiving describe a situation of distress and how God delivered the psalmist. The psalmist promises to fulfill vows made to God during the distress and invites the congregation to join in thanksgiving and praise to God. These psalms show us our need to acknowledge God's work in our times of trouble and to witness to others of what God has done for us. Thanksgiving psalms are 9–10,18, 30,31, 32,34, 66,92, 107,116, 118,120, 124,129, 138,139.
3. Hymns lift the congregation's praise to God, describing God's greatness and majesty. In the hymn, worshipers invite one another to praise God and to provide reasons for such praise. These psalms are hymns: 8,19, 29,33, 65,100, 103,104, 105,111; 113,114, 117,135, 136,145, 146,147, 148,149, 150.
4. Wisdom psalms probe life's mysteries to teach the congregation about itself and God. These include Psalm 1:1 , Psalm 14:1 , Psalm 36:1 , Psalm 37:1 , Psalm 49:1 , Psalm 53:1 , Psalm 73:1 , Psalm 78:1 , Psalm 112:1 , Psalm 119:1 , Psalm 127:1 , Psalm 128:1 , Psalm 133:1 .
5. Kingship psalms detail the role of the human king in God's rule over His people. They also point ahead to the Messiah, who would inaugurate God's kingdom. From them we learn to pray for and respect the role of government officials as well as praise God's Messiah. These include Psalm 2:1 , Psalm 18:1 , Psalm 20:1 , Psalm 21:1 , Psalm 28:1 , Psalm 45:1 , Psalm 61:1 , Psalm 63:1 , Psalm 72:1 , Psalm 89:1 , Psalm 101:1 , Psalm 110:1 , Psalm 132:1 .
6. Entrance ceremonies provide questions and answers to teach the expectations God has of His worshipers. Psalm 15:1 and Psalm 24:1 are entrance ceremonies.
7. Enthronement psalms praise Yahweh as the King enthroned over His universe. They include Psalm 47:1 , Psalm 93:1 , Psalm 96:1 , Psalm 97:1 , Psalm 98:1 , Psalm 99:1 .
8. Songs of Zion praise God indirectly by describing the Holy City where He has chosen to live among His people and be worshiped. They show God lives among His people to protect and direct their lives. These are Psalm 46:1 , Psalm 48:1 , Psalm 76:1 , Psalm 84:1 , Psalm 87:1 , Psalm 122:1 , Psalm 132:1 .
9. Psalms of confidence express trust in God's care for and leadership of His people. These appear in Psalm 4:1 , Psalm 11:1 , Psalm 16:1 , Psalm 23:1 , Psalm 27:1 , Psalm 62:1 , Psalm 125:1 , Psalm 131:1 .
10. Prophetic psalms announce God's will to His worshiping people. These are 50,52, 58,81, 82,91, 95.
11. Liturgical psalms describe activities and responses of God's worshiping congregation. These appear in Psalm 67:1 , Psalm 68:1 , Psalm 75:1 , Psalm 106:1 , Psalm 108:1 , Psalm 115:1 , Psalm 121:1 .
David M. Fleming
Morrish Bible Dictionary - Psalms, Book of
This book has been called the heart of the Bible. It expresses sentiments produced by the Spirit of Christ, whether of prayer, sorrow, confession, or praise, in the hearts of God's people, in which the ways of God are developed, and become known, with their blessed issue, to the faithful. The book is distinctly prophetic in character, the period covered by the language of the Psalms extending from the rejection of Christ (Psalm 2 ; Acts 4:25-28 ) to the Hallelujahs consequent on the establishment of the kingdom. The writers do not merely relate what others did and felt, but expressed what was passing through their own souls. And yet their language is not simply what they felt, but that of the Spirit of Christ that spoke in them, as taking part in the afflictions, the griefs, and the joys of God's people in every phase of their experience. This accounts for Christ being found throughout the Psalms: some refer exclusively to Him, as Psalm 22 ; in others (though the language is that of the remnant of His people), Christ takes His place with them, making their sufferings His sufferings, and their sorrows His sorrows. In no part of scripture is the inner life of the Lord Jesus disclosed as in the Psalms. The Psalms may be called 'the manual of the earthly choir.' They commence with "Blessed is the man ," and end with "Praise ye Jehovah." Man is blessed on earth, and Jehovah is praised from earth.
1 Chronicles 16 and 2 Samuel 22 are examples of the immediate occasions on which psalms were composed, and in the headings of the psalms other instances are mentioned; yet these things in no way hinder the Spirit of God from leading the psalmist to utter things that would be fully accomplished in Christ alone. David said, "The Spirit of Jehovah spake by me, and his word was in my tongue." 2 Samuel 23:1,2 . Great pains have been taken sometimes to arrange the psalms in a supposed chronological order, but the effect of this is to spoil the whole, for God has Himself ordered their arrangement, and in many places the beauty of the order can be seen.
It must not be forgotten that the O.T. prophets did not grasp what "the Spirit of Christ which was in them did signify." 1 Peter 1:11 . David's experience could not have caused him to indite Psalm 22 . But being a prophet, it was clearly the Spirit of Christ that was in him that furnished words which would be uttered by Christ on the cross. We have in it a plain instance of a prophetic psalm, and doubtless the spirit of prophecy runs through all.
If this is the main characteristic of the Psalms, they have an aspect entirely different from that in which the book is regarded by many, namely, as a book of Christian experience. The piety that the Psalms breathe is always edifying, and the deep confidence in God expressed in them under trial and sorrow has cheered the heart of God's saints at all times. These holy experiences are to be preserved and cherished; but who has not felt the difficulty of calling on God to destroy his enemies? What Christian can take up as his own language such a sentence as "Happy shall he be that taketh and dasheth thy little ones against the stones." Psalm 137:9 . And how can such a sentence be spiritualised? But such appeals are intelligible in regard to a future day, when, apostasy being universal and opposition to God open and avowed, the destruction of His enemies is the only way of deliverance for His people.
Unless the difference of the spirit of the Psalms from that of Christianity be observed, the full light of redemption and of the place of the Christian in Christ is not seen, and the reader is apt to be detained in a legal state. His progress is hindered, and he does not understand the Psalms, nor enter into the gracious sympathies of Christ in their true application. When the attitude of the Jews at the time the Lord was here is remembered, and their bitter opposition to their Messiah, which exists to this day, light is thrown upon their feelings when, under tribulation, their eyes will be opened to see that it was indeed their Messiah that they crucified. Great too will be their persecution from without, from which God will deliver a remnant and bring them into blessing. Into all their sorrows Christ enters, and He suffers in sympathy with them. All these things, and the experiences through which they will pass, are found in the Psalms. But these experiences are not properly those of the Christian.
As the Psalms form a part of holy scripture, their true place and bearing must be seen before they can be rightly interpreted. The writers were not Christians, and could not express christian experience; though their piety, their confidence in God , and the spirit of praise may often be the language of a Christian, and even put a Christian to shame. Christ must be looked for everywhere, either in what He personally passed through, or in His sympathy with His people Israel, which can only end in His bringing them into full blessing on earth, when He will be hailed as "Wonderful, Counsellor, Mighty God, Father of Eternity, Prince of Peace."
The Book of Psalms is in the Hebrew divided into five books, each of which has its own prophetic characteristics. The more these are grasped, the clearer it becomes that God has watched over the order of the psalms. Each book ends with an ascription of praise or doxology.
BOOK 1 extends to the end of Psalm 41 , and is occupied with the state of the Jewish remnant of the future (Judah), before they are driven out of Jerusalem: cf. Matthew 24:16 . Christ is largely identified with this. The book recalls much of the personal history of the Lord, when He was here, though the bearing of it is future. The light of resurrection dawns for the faithful in this book, Christ having gone through death into fulness of joy at God's right hand: compare Revelation 6:11 .
In Psalm 2 (and Psalm 1 and Psalm 2 may be said to be introductory to the whole) we have Christ rejected by Jew and Gentile, yet set as King in Zion, and declared to be the Son of God, having the earth for His possession, and judging His enemies, the nations. In a wider sense Psalm 1 to 8 are introductory; from Psalm 3 to Psalm 7 giving the principles that follow on the rejection of Christ in Psalm 1 and Psalm 2 , and Psalm 8 giving His exaltation as Son of man , ending with "O Jehovah our Lord, how excellent is thy name in all the earth." Psalm 16 brings in the personal excellence of Christ and His association with the 'excellent in the earth.'
In some places the appropriateness of the sequence of the psalms, as already remarked, is very apparent, as for instance Psalm 22,23,24 . Psalm 22 pictures the sufferings of Christ in the accomplishing of redemption. In Psalm 23 in consequence of redemption being accomplished, the Lord becomes the Shepherd and takes care of the sheep. In Psalm 24 is celebrated the entry of the King of glory through the everlasting gates. In Psalm 40 there comes forth from God One divinely perfect — the true ark of the covenant — who was competent to bring into effect the will of God in all its extent; and at the same time able (by the offering of Himself) to take away the whole system of sacrifices, in which God had found no pleasure.
BOOK 2 embraces Psalm 42 to the end of Psalm 72 . The remnant are here viewed as outside Jerusalem, and the city given up to wickedness; but Israel has to be brought back. In Book 1 the name of Jehovah is used all through, but now God is addressed as such: the faithful are cast more entirely on what God is in His own nature and character, when they can no longer approach where Jehovah has put His name: Antichrist prevails there. In Psalm 45 Messiah is introduced, and the remnant celebrate with gladness what God is for His people. Though resurrection may be dimly seen by the faithful in the circumstances of this book, yet what is before them is the restoration of Zion ( Psalm 45 — Psalm 48 and Psalm 69:35 ). God shines out of Zion (Psalm 50:2 ). Psalm 69 , Psalm 70 , and Psalm 71 speak of the humiliation of the remnant, and Christ with them: some of the verses clearly point to Christ personally, as in the reference to the gall and the vinegar. Psalm 69:21 . At the close of this book the Psalmist in the doxology arrives at, "Let the whole earth be filled with his glory. Amen and Amen." To which he adds, "The prayers of David, the son of Jesse, are ended."
Psalm 68 shows that God's strength and excellency for Israel was of old in the heavens. The heavens are the seat both of blessing ( Psalm 68:9,18 ) and of rule (Psalm 68:4,32-35 ). Hence Christ is seen as ascended up on high.
BOOK 3 contains Psalm 73 to the end of Psalm 89 . It widens out to the restoration of Israel as a nation, whose general interests are in view. The sanctuary is prominent. The thought is not so much limited, as the previous books, to the Jewish remnant, though faithful ones are spoken of. In this book we have but one psalm with David's name as writer. They are mostly 'for, or of ' Asaph and the sons of Korah — Levites. In Psalm 88 is the bitter cry of a soul expressive of being subject under a broken law to the wrath of God; and in Psalm 89 praise is rendered for Jehovah's unchangeable covenant with David, extending to the Holy One of Israel as their King. It celebrates the sure mercies of David, though David's house had utterly failed and was cast down.
BOOK 4 embraces Psalm 90 to the end of Psalm 106 . It begins with a psalm of Moses. In this section the eternity of Elohim, Israel's Adonai, is seen to have been at all times their dwelling place, as declared in the first verse. It is the answer to the end of Psalm 89 : comp. also Psalm 102:23-28 with Psalm 89:44,45 . In Ps. 91Messiah takes His place with Israel; and in Psalm 94 to Psalm 100 Jehovah comes into the world to establish the kingdom in glory and divine order. It is the introduction of the First-begotten into the earth, announced by the cry of the remnant.
BOOK 5 contains Psalm 107 to the end of Psalm 150 . This book gives the general results of the government of God. The restoration of Israel amid dangers and difficulties is alluded to; the exaltation of Messiah to God's right hand till His enemies are made His footstool; God's ways with Israel; their whole condition, and the principles on which they stand with God, His law being written in their hearts; ending with full and continued praise after the destruction of their enemies, in which they have part with God. For Songs of Degrees, see DEGREES.
Smith's Bible Dictionary - Psalms, Book of,
The present Hebrew name of the book is Tehill'im , "Praises;" but in the actual superscriptions of the psalms the word Tehillah is applied only to one, ( Psalm 145:1 ) ... which is indeed emphatically a praise-hymn. The LXX. entitled them psalmoi or "psalms," i.e., lyrical pieces to be sung to a musical instrument. The Christian Church obviously received the Psalter from the Jews not only as a constituent portion of the sacred volume of Holy Scripture, but also as the liturgical hymn-book which the Jewish Church had regularly used in the temple. Division of the Psalms . --The book contains 150 psalms, and may be divided into five great divisions or books, which must have been originally formed at different periods. Book I. is, by the superscriptions, entirely Davidic nor do we find in it a trace of any but David's authorship. We may well believe that the compilation of the book was also David's work. Book II. appears by the date of its latest psalm, ( Psalm 46:1 ) ... to have been compiled in the reign of King Hezekiah. It would naturally comprise, 1st, several or most of the Levitical psalms anterior to that date; and 2d, the remainder of the psalms of David previously uncompiled. To these latter the collector after properly appending the single psalm of Solomon has affixed the notice that "the prayers of David the son of Jesse are ended." (Psalm 72:20 ) Book III., the interest of which centers in the times of Hezekiah stretches out, by its last two psalms, to the reign of Manasseh: it was probably compiled in the reign of Josiah. It contains seventeen psalms, from Psal 73-89 eleven by Asaph, four by the sons of Horah, one (86) by David, and one by Ethan. Book IV. contains the remainder of the psalms up to the date of the captivity, There are seventeen, from Psal 90-106 --one by Moses, two by David, and the rest anonymous. Book V., the psalms of the return, contains forty-four, from Psal 107-180 --fifteen by David, one by Solomon and the rest anonymous. There is nothing to distinguish these two books from each other in respect of outward decoration or arrangement and they may have been compiled together in the days of Nehemiah. Connection of the Psalms with Israelitish history . --The psalm of Moses Psal 90, which is in point of actual date the earliest, faithfully reflects the long, weary wanderings, the multiplied provocations and the consequent punishments of the wilderness. It is, however, with David that Israelitish psalmody may be said virtually to commence. Previous mastery over his harp had probably already prepared the way for his future strains, when the anointing oil of Samuel descended upon him, and he began to drink in special measure, from that day forward, of the Spirit of the Lord. It was then that, victorious at home over the mysterious melancholy of Saul and in the held over the vaunting champion of the Philistine hosts, he sang how from even babes and sucklings God had ordained strength because of his enemies. Psal 8. His next psalms are of a different character; his persecutions at the hands of Saul had commenced. When David's reign has begun, it is still with the most exciting incidents of his history, private or public, that his psalms are mainly associated. There are none to which the period of his reign at Hebron can lay exclusive claim. But after the conquest of Jerusalem his psalmody opened afresh with the solemn removal of the ark to Mount Zion; and in Psal 24-29 which belong together, we have the earliest definite instance of David's systematic composition or arrangement of psalms for public use. Even of those psalms which cannot be referred to any definite occasion, several reflect the general historical circumstances of the times. Thus Psal 9 is a thanksgiving for the deliverance of the land of Israel from its former heathen oppressors. Psal 10 is a prayer for the deliverance of the Church from the highhanded oppression exercised from within. The succeeding psalms dwell on the same theme, the virtual internal heathenism by which the Church of God was weighed clown. So that there remain very few e.g. Psal 15-17,19,32 (with its choral appendage, 23), 37 of which some historical account may not be given. A season of repose near the close of his reign induced David to compose his grand personal thanksgiving for the deliverances of his whole life, Psal 18 the date of which is approximately determined by the place at which it ia inserted in the history. ( 2 Samuel 22:1 ) ... It was probably at this period that he finally arranged for the sanctuary service that collection of his psalms which now constitutes the first book of the Psalter. The course of David's reign was not, however, as yet complete. The solemn assembly convened by him for the dedication of the materials of the future temple, 1 Chronicles 28,29 , would naturally call forth a renewal of his best efforts to glorify the God of Israel in psalms; and to this occasion we doubtless owe the great festal hymns, Psal 65-68, containing a large review of the past history, present position and prospective glories of God's chosen people. The supplications of Psal 69, suit best with the renewed distress occasioned by the sedition of Adonijah. Psal 71 to which Psal 70 a fragment of a former psalm, is introductory, forms David's parting strain. Yet that the psalmody of Israel may not seem finally to terminate with hint, the glories of the future are forthwith anticipated by his son in Psal 72. The great prophetical ode, Psal 45, connects itself most readily with the splendors of Jehoshaphat's reign. Psal 42-44,74 are best assigned to the reign of Ahaz. The reign of Hezekiah is naturally rich in psalmody, Psal 46,73,75,76 connect themselves with the resistance to the supremacy of the Assyrians and the divine destruction of their host. We are now brought to a series of psalms of peculiar interest, springing out of the political and religious history of the,separated ten tribes. In date of actual composition they commence before the times of Hezekiah. The earliest is probably Psal 80 A supplication for the Israelitish people at the time of the Syrian oppression. All these psalms --80-83-- are referred by their superscriptions to the Levite singers, and thus beer witness to the efforts of the Levites to reconcile the two branches of the chosen nation. The captivity of Manasseh himself proved to be but temporary; but the sentence which his sins had provoked upon Judah and Jerusalem still remained to be executed, and precluded the hope that God's salvation could be revealed till after such an outpouring of his judgments as the nation had never yet known. Labor and sorrow must be the lot of the present generation; through these mercy might occasionally gleam, but the glory which was eventually to be manifested must be for posterity alone. The psalms of Book IV. --bear generally the impress of this feeling. We pass to Book V. Psal 107 is the opening psalm of the return, sung probably at the first feast of tabernacles. Ezra 3 A directly historical character belongs to Psal 120-134, styled in our Authorized Version "Songs of Degrees." Internal evidence refers these to the period when the Jews under Nehemiah were, in the very face of the enemy, repairing the walls of Jerusalem and the title may well signify "songs of goings up upon the walls," the psalms being from their brevity, well adapted to be sung by the workmen and guards while engaged in their respective duties. Psal 139 is a psalm of the new birth of Israel from the womb of the Babylonish captivity, to a life of righteousness; Psal 140-143 may be a picture of the trials to which the unrestored exiles were still exposed in the realms of the Gentiles. Henceforward, as we approach the close of the Psalter, its strains rise in cheerfulness; and it fittingly terminates with Psal 147-150 which were probably sung on the occasion of the thanksgiving procession of Nehe 12, after the rebuilding of the walls of Jerusalem had been completed. Moral characteristics of the Psalms . --Foremost among these meets us, undoubtedly, the universal recourse to communion with God. Connected with this is the faith by which the psalmist everywhere lives in God rather than in himself. It is of the essence of such faith that his view of the perfections of God should be true and vivid. The Psalter describes God as he is: it glows with testimonies to his power and providence, his love and faithfulness, his holiness and righteousness. The Psalms not only set forth the perfections of God; they proclaim also the duty of worshipping him by the acknowledgment and adoration of his perfections. They encourage all outward rites and means of worship. Among these they recognize the ordinance of sacrifice as in expression of the worshipper's consecration of himself to God's service. But not the less do they repudiate the outward rite when separated from that which it was designed to express. Similar depth is observable in the view taken by the psalmists of human sin. In regard to the law, the psalmist, while warmly acknowledging its excellence, feels yet that it cannot so effectually guide his own unassisted exertions as to preserve him from error Psal 19. The Psalms bear repeated testimony to the duty of instructing other in the ways of holiness. Psal 32,34,51 This brings us to notice, lastly, the faith of the psalmists in righteous recompense to all men according to their deeds. Psal 37, etc. Prophetical character of the Psalms . --The moral struggle between godliness and ungodliness, so vividly depicted in the Psalms, culminates in Holy Scripture, in the life of the Incarnate Son of God upon earth. It only remains to show that the Psalms themselves definitely anticipated this culmination. Now there are in the Psalter at least three psalms of which the interest evidently centers in a person distinct from the speaker, and which, since they cannot without violence to the language be interpreted of any but the Messiah, may be termed directly and exclusively Messianic. We refer to Psal 2,45,110, to which may perhaps be added, Psal 72. It would be strange if these few psalms stood, in their prophetical significance absolutely alone among the rest. And hence the impossibility of viewing the psalms generally, notwithstanding the drapery in which they are outwardly clothed, as simply the past devotions of the historical David or the historical Israel. The national hymns of Israel are indeed also prospective; but in general they anticipate rather the struggles and the triumphs of the Christian Church than those of Christ himself.

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Singing - The psalms that these singers sang were sometimes divided into parts that individuals or sections of the choir sang in turn (Ezra 3:11; Psalms 118; see Psalms, Book of)
David - In these writings David gives his personal views of many of the incidents that another writer records in the books of 1 and 2 Samuel (see Psalms, Book of)