The Book of Psalms is intended to help each of us see how to praise God and pray to him… For each emotional need expressed by the worshipper, Psalms points us to an attribute of the Lord. He is an anchor when we are buffeted, a comfort when we feel abandoned, and an encouragement when support is desperately required.
The Book of Praises
The Hebrews called this collection of 150 Psalms the “book of praises” It is the second of the three OT books designated as poetical: Job, Psalms, and Proverbs. These three were also called “books of truth.”
Hebrew poetry. English poetry relies on rhyme and rhythm for its impact. Thus it is difficult to translate into another language. But Hebrew poetry can be easily translated, for its major feature is not rhyme but parallelism. The balance of thought is vital to Hebrew poetry, not the balance of sounds or rhythm. The basic unit of Hebrew poetry is the verse, in which the first line states a theme, and one or more following lines in some way develop that thought. This is what is meant by “parallelism”: the balancing of thoughts by following lines. It is important to keep this parallelism in mind when reading or trying to interpret the Psalms and other OT poetry.
Every book of the Bible deepens our understanding o four relationship with God. But the Psalms uniquely enrich our experience of that relationship. This book, containing 150 lyric poems (73 of which was written by king David), has shaped the liturgy of every Christian tradition and become an integral part of public worship. It has also shaped the prayer and worship of the saints of every age.
Individual believers have turned to the psalms for comfort and for inspiration and have found in them models for personal praise and prayer. Every human emotion has its echo in the Book of Psalms. And the wonderful message of Psalms is that God cares – not only about the external circumstances of our lives, but about our every reaction to life’s varied experiences.
Psalms is undoubtedly the most subjective of the Bible’s books. These poems express the inner reality experienced by those who love God. Their writers openly share doubts and fears, joy and trimphs. They express a deep sense of sin, an overwhelming relief for forgiveness, and the confidence and praise common in human beings who are united by faith to the Lord. John Calvin rightly called Psalms, “An anatomy of all the parts of the soul; for no one will find in himself a single feeling of which the image is not reflected in this mirror.”
Date, structure, and authorship. The Psalms were written over an extended period of time (probably 1000-400 B.C.) by different authors, and several times new groups of Psalms were added to the basic collection.
73 of the Psalms were written by David. A number were contributed by the Levitical singing clans of Asaph and Korah. 49 are anonymous.
Distinctive values and uses of Psalms. Though used in public worship, this collection of prayer and praises is essentially a model for every believer’s devotional life. While some Psalms instruct, as a whole the psalter (Psalter definition is – a collection of Psalms for liturgical or devotional use.) is intended to help each of us see how to praise God and pray to him. Of particular note are the ways the inner life and emotions of the psalmists are shared freely and completely with God. Thus Psalms is one of the most intimate and relational books of the Bible. And for each emotional need expressed by the worshipper, Psalms points us to an attribute of the Lord. He is an anchor when we are buffeted, a comfort when we feel abandoned, and an encouragement when support is desperately required.