O.T. Handout 25: Psalms, doxology, themes, Messianic, Categories, Tehillim, specific psalms July 2014

Psalms are poems intended to be sung – words to a song. Many psalms prophesy of Christ’s mission as Messiah. The psalms in Hebrew are called Tehillim, from Hebrew halal, “to praise, glorify”. The same root forms the word hallelujah, meaning “praise to Yah” (Jehovah). The psalms have the power to lift one toward God. They are a collection of some of the very finest of the world’s inspirational literature. They constitute the major portion of the Writings in Torah.

Called a “psalter” in English. Estimated that these poems were written from about 1400 b.c. – a.d. 600, from the time the Israelites entered Canaan until the first return of exiles to Jerusalem following the fall of Jerusalem in 586. b.c.

Ancient Israel sang these at festivals and while traveling to Temple, at home, in their fields. They are used in public and private worship and we draw on them as a source of strength.

Themes:
1) Lord should be the center of our lives.
2)They reflect great trust in Him
3) Foreshadow the great events of mission of Jesus.
There are 150 psalms – five separate books that included, in today’s Bible, Psalms 1 through 41, 42 through 72, 73 through 89, 90 through 106, and 107 through 150. At the end of each division, the break is marked with a doxology, a formal declaration of God’s power and glory (see Psalms 41:13; 72:19; 89:52; 106:48). Psalms 150 is itself a doxology, using the Hebrew Hallelujah, “praise ye the Lord,” at its beginning and end, as well as the word praise eleven other times. Psalms are a very early form of Israelite literature.

No authorship, explanation 18
Attributed to David 73
Attributed to Solomon 2
To Asaph (musician-David’s court 12
To sons of Korah (Levites) 11
With song titles 4
Hallelujah praise psalms 18

There is ample internal evidence that David, the great poet and musician of Israel, was the principal author of the Psalter. This position, despite the contention of negative criticism, is indicated by the following reasons: (1) David’s name is famous in the O. T. period for music and song and is closely associated with holy liturgy (II Sam. 6:5–15; I Chron. 16:4; II Chron. 7:6; 29:30).

(2) David was especially endowed by the Holy Spirit (I Sam. 23:1, 2; Mark 12:36; Acts 2:25–31; 4:25, 26).

(3) David’s music and poetical gifts appear indelibly interwoven on the pages of O. T. history. Called ‘the sweet psalmist of Israel’ (II Sam. 23:1). Skilled performer on lyre (I Sam. 16:16–18). author of the masterful elegy written upon the death of Saul and Jonathan (II Sam. 1:19–27). Referred to as a model poet-musician by the prophet Amos
(Amos 6:5).

(4) Much internal evidence in the psalms themselves point to David’s authorship. Reflect some period of his life, such as Psa. 23, 51 and 57. In line with this evidence of Scripture, a number of the psalms indicate Davidic authorship.

(5) Certain psalms are cited as Davidic in Scripture in general. Acts 4:25, 26 so cites Psalm 2. Acts 2:25–28 so cites Psalm 16. Romans 4:6–8 cites Psalm 32. Acts 1:16–20 thus refers to Psalm 69. Also, Rom. 11:9, 10. [See also] Acts 1:20 with Psalm 109; Matt. 22:44; Mark 12:36, 37; Luke 20:42–44; Acts 2:34 with Psalm 110.”

Examples: Messianic Prophecy/Fulfillment
69:20: Reproach hath broken my heart; and I am full of heaviness: and I looked for some to take pity, but there was none; and for comforters, but I found none. Look up Mark 14:32-41

22:7-8: All they that see me laugh me to scorn: they shoot out the lip, they shake the head, saying,
8 He trusted on the LORD that he would deliver him: let him deliver him, seeing he delighted in him. Look up Matt 27:39-43

22:16: For dogs have compassed me: the assembly of the wicked have inclosed me: they pierced my hands and my feet.
Look up Mark 15:25

Psalms about Temple:
5:7, 15:1-3, 24; 27:4; 65:4, 84:1-2, 4, 10-12; 122; 134, and 24, which provides an example of main themes: creation, kingship of god, and temple invite, worthiness questions. These are answered in Psalm 15:2-5: He that walketh uprightly, and worketh righteousness, and speaketh the truth in his heart.

He that backbiteth not with his tongue, nor doeth evil to his neighbour, nor taketh up a reproach against his neighbour.
In whose eyes a vile person is contemned; but he honoureth them that fear the LORD. He that sweareth to his own hurt, and changeth not.
He that putteth not out his money to usury, nor taketh reward against the innocent. He that doeth these things shall never be moved.

Psalm 119 is the longest. Referred to in Hebrew by opening words: “happy are those whose way is perfect.”
This psalm is one of about a dozen alphabetic acrostic poems in the Bible. Its 176 verses are divided into twenty-two stanzas, one stanza for each letter of the Hebrew alphabet; within each stanza, each of the eight verses begins (in Hebrew) with that letter. The name of God (Yahweh/Jehovah) appears twenty-four times. Each Hebrew letter’s symbolic value is the subject matter of each portion of the psalm.

The composition of the psalms spans at least five centuries, from Psalm 29, which is adapted from early Canaanite worship, to others which are clearly from the post-Exilic period. The majority originated in the southern kingdom of Judah and were associated with the Temple in Jerusalem, where they probably functioned as libretto during the Temple worship.

Categories of Psalms

1. Hymns, songs of praise for God’s work in creation or in history. Open with a call to praise, describe the motivation for praise, conclude with a repetition of the call. Two sub-categories are “enthronement psalms,” celebrating the enthronement of Yahweh as king, and Zion psalms, glorifying Mount Zion, God’s dwelling-place in Jerusalem. Also a special subset of “eschatological hymns” which includes themes of future restoration (Psalm 126) or of judgment (Psalm 82).

2. Communal laments, in which the nation laments some communal disaster. Both communal and individual laments typically but not always include the following elements:
1) address to God,
2) description of suffering,
3) cursing of the party responsible for suffering,
4) protestation of innocence or admission of guilt,
5) petition for divine assistance,
6) faith in God’s receipt of prayer,
7) anticipation of divine response, and
8) a song of thanksgiving

3. Royal Psalms, dealing with such matters as the king’s coronation, marriage and battles. None mentions any specific king by name, their origin and use remain obscure several psalms, especially ps.93–99, concern the kingship of God.

4. Individual laments lamenting the fate of the particular individual who utters them. They are by far the most common type of psalm. They typically open with an invocation of Yahweh, followed by the lament itself and pleas for help, and often ending with an expression of confidence. A subset is the psalm of confidence, in which the psalmist expresses confidence that God will deliver him from evils and enemies.

5. Individual thanksgiving psalms, the obverse of individual laments, in which the psalmist thanks God for deliverance from personal distress. There are also a number of minor psalm-types, including: communal thanksgiving psalms, in which the whole nation thanks God for deliverance; wisdom psalms, reflecting the Old Testament wisdom literature; pilgrimage psalms, sung by pilgrims on their way to Jerusalem; prophetic inspiration. liturgies; and a group of mixed psalms which could not be assigned to any category.

When a Jew dies, a watch is kept over the body. Tehillim are recited constantly by sun or candlelight, until the burial service. New Testament references show that the earliest Christians used the Psalms in worship. The Psalms have remained an important part of worship in most Christian Churches. The Eastern Orthodox, Catholic, Presbyterian, Lutheran and Anglican Churches have always made systematic use of the Psalms, with a cycle for the recitation of all or most of them over the course of one or more weeks. In the early centuries of the Church, it was expected that any candidate for bishop would be able to recite the entire Psalter from memory, something they often learned automatically[during their time as monks.

Paul the Apostle quotes psalms (specifically Psalms 14 and 53, which are nearly identical) as the basis for his theory of original sin, and includes the scripture in the Epistle to the Romans, chapter 3.

Some Psalms are among the best-known and best-loved passages of Scripture, with a popularity extending well beyond regular church-goers

•Psalm 22 is of particular importance during the season of Lent as a Psalm of continued faith during severe testing.
•Psalm 23, The LORD is My Shepherd, offers an immediately appealing message of comfort and is widely chosen for church funeral services, either as a reading or in one of several popular hymn settings;
•Psalm 51, Have mercy on me O God, called the Miserere from the first word in its Latin version, is by far the most sung Psalm of Orthodoxy, in both Divine Liturgy and Hours, in the sacrament of repentance or confession, and in other settings;
•Psalm 82 is found in the Book of Common Prayer as a funeral recitation.
•Psalm 103, Bless the Lord, O my soul, is one of the best-known prayers of praise. The psalm was adapted for the musical Godspell;
•Psalm 119, used in Jewish liturgy. Acrostic- Hebrew alphabet contains symbols used in worship and psalm.
•Psalm 137, By the rivers of Babylon, there we sat down and wept, is a moody meditation upon living in slavery, and has been used in at least one spiritual, as well as one well-known reggae song, Protestant churches often use this hymn during Lent.

• Introduction To The Psalms
• Psalm 1 – The Truly Happy Man
• Psalm 2 – The Ultimate Victory Of The Messiah
• Psalm 3 – A Morning Prayer For God’s Protection
• Psalm 8 – The Song Of The Astronomer
• Psalm 15 – The Marks Of A True Worshiper
• Psalm 16 – David’s Golden Secret
• Psalm 19 – God’s Two Books
• Psalm 22 – The Victorious Sufferer
• Psalm 23 – The Shepherd Psalm
• Psalm 27 – Light And Salvation In Dark Times
• Psalm 32 – The Blessedness Of Confessing Sin
• Psalm 37 – The Meek Shall Inherit The Earth
• Psalm 38 – The Penitent Plea Of A Sick Man
• Psalm 51 – The Penitent’s Prayer
• Psalms For Living And Worship

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