Complete Study Of The Book Of Psalms


The book Psalms is a collection of inspired Hebrew poems, prayers and songs. There can be problems in interpreting them because they are expressions from man’s heart. The Psalms are words from men to God or about God.

The language the writer’s used is a universal language, they are Hebrew poetry but they express how people felt at the time of writing, which in turn helps us express ourselves to God.

It’s important to remember that the Psalms don’t teach doctrine but do support doctrine and they can be highly figurative. They are prayers and hymns, which express truth about God and to God in a poetic fashion.

The Jews knew these Psalms really well, and when anyone read out the first line of any Psalm, the Jews would recognise it and be able to recite the whole Psalm in their minds.


When we go through the Book of Psalms we notice that there are actually many authors of the book. Moses is accredited with one psalm, Psalm 90, and David is accredited with 73 psalms, although some accredit him with 77, Psalm 2, quoted in Acts 4:25 / Psalms 3-9 / Psalms 11-32 / Psalms 34-41 / Psalms 51-65 / Psalms 68-70 / Psalm 86 / Psalm 95, quoted in Hebrews 4:7 / Psalm 96, quoted in 1 Chronicles 16:23-33 / Psalm 101 / Psalm 103 / Psalm 105:1-15, quoted in 1 Chronicles 16:7-22 / Psalm 108-110 / Psalm 122 / Psalm 124 / Psalm 131 / Psalm 133 / Psalms 138-145.

Solomon is accredited with two psalms, Psalms 72 and Psalm 127, and Asaph is accredited with 12 psalms, Psalm 50 / Psalms 73-83. Heman is accredited with one psalm, Psalm 88, Ethan is accredited with one psalm, Psalm 89, Hezekiah is accredited with 10 psalms and the sons of Korah are accredited with 11 psalms, although some accredit him with only 12, Psalm 42 / Psalms 44-45 / Psalms 47-49 / Psalms 84-85 / Psalm 87.

Many believe because David was a psalmist, 2 Samuel 23:1-2, a singer of Israel and a skilled musician, that he was responsible for putting them together, 1 Samuel 16:16 / 1 Samuel 16:18 / 2 Samuel 6:5 / 1 Chronicles 16:4-6.

We also know that David was a poet of Israel, 2 Samuel 1:19-27, and he was certainly familiar with music and musical instruments with which many of the psalms were sung, Amos 6:5.


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. Though collated into five books, there is no chronological order to the Psalms, either by content or date of writing.

The Book

The Hebrew word for Psalms is ‘tehillim’, which means ‘praises’ and the English word ‘psalm’ comes from the Greek word ‘psalmoi’, which means ‘songs,’ or ‘sacred songs’.

There are in the New Testament 116 direct quotations from the Psalms, it’s quoted by every New Testament writer except James and Jude.

Jesus, Himself said that there were prophecies of Himself in the Psalms, Luke 24:44 / Matthew 22:41-46 / Matthew 27:46, which tells us that some of the psalms were prophetic in nature concerning the Messiah.

Nine of the Psalms form eight acrostic units based on the Hebrew alphabet, Psalms 9-10 / Psalm 25 / Psalm 34 / Psalm 37 / Psalm 111 / Psalm 112 / Psalm 119 / Psalm 145. Five of these address the fear of the LORD, Psalm 25 / Psalm 34 / Psalm 111 / Psalm 112 / Psalm 145.

There are a few headings found with some of the psalms, they are usually found in the small print under the Psalm number. The LXX of the book of psalms has 14 more headings than the original Hebrew text.

50 Psalms have a heading, which are called orphan Psalms and there are two types of heading.

1. Authorship headings.
2. Historical occasion headings.

Although the headings aren’t inspired by God, they are important because they give us some understanding of the Psalm and they help us to see why it was written. The headings usually tell us four things.

1. Who wrote them, probably wrote them or possibly wrote them.

2. Information about the historical background to the Psalm. Why it was written.

3. They tell us of the tune the Psalm was written to.

4. How it was used.

Throughout the psalms, the word ‘selah’ is often used and included in some translations. Although no one really knows what this word means, it likely means to pause. It’s a time to stop and reflect upon what has just been said.

The book of Psalms is divided into five books. Each of the five books concludes with a doxology, that is the last verse of the last book is the same and each of the five books shows a particular reference to God.

In Book 1 the name ‘Yahweh’ is found 273 times. In Book 2 the name ‘Yahweh’ is found 74 times. In Book 3 the name ‘Yahweh’ is found 13 times and finally, in Books 4 and 5, the name ‘Yahweh’ is found 339 times. As you can see the name ‘Yahweh’ is more popular in Book 1.

In Book 1 the name ‘Elohim’ is found 15 times. In Book 2 the name ‘Elohim’ is found 207 times. In Book 3 the name, ‘Elohim’ is found 36 times and finally, in Books 4 and 5, the name ‘Elohim’ is found 7 times. As you can see, the name ‘Elohim’ is more popular in Book 2.

These are 5 books of Psalms have been put together as follows.

Book 1. Psalms 1-41

All of which are ascribed to David except Psalm 1 / Psalm 2 / Psalm 10 / Psalm 33 which, though anonymous, may also be ascribed to him.

Book 2. Psalms 42-72

18 of which are ascribed to David and 1 to Solomon, Psalm 72. The rest are anonymous.

Book 3. Psalms 73-89

Psalm 86 is ascribed to David, Psalm 88 is ascribed to Heman the Ezrahite, and Psalm 89 is ascribed to Ethan the Ezrahite.

Book 4. Psalms 90-106

Psalm 90 is ascribed to Moses, and Psalm 101 and Psalm 103 are ascribed to David.

Book 5. Psalms 107-150

Of these, 15 are ascribed to David and 127 to Solomon. Psalm 136 is generally called ‘the great Hallel.’ These would be the hymns Jesus sang with His disciples in Matthew 26:30. But the Talmud also includes Psalms 120-135.

Psalm 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.


Blessings, fall, and redemption. Psalms 1-41
Ruin, and rescue by God. Psalms 42-72
God’s temple. Psalms 73-89
God’s kingdom compared to neighbouring nations. Psalms 90-106
Praise for God and His Word. Psalms 107-150

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Complete Study Of The Book Of Psalms