A. Abe Abrams once shared that there is an arrogance to believe current praise and worship songs were more spiritual than earlier songs. The same Holy Spirit has directed song writers through the ages whether it be classical music, hymns, contemporary praise. We should see the evidence found with Psalms.
B. The word Psalms is from the Greek translation of the Hebrew word ‘mizmor,’ which orignally meant to recite along with plucking of string(s). This led to the idea of words being spoken with change in pitch and rhythm or in melodic voice. Thus, mizmor became a word for song or melody.
C. The Hebrew book of mizmor (psalms) is entitled ‘tehillim,’ meaning book of praise.
D. Unlike the other books in the Bible, Psalms is not divided into chapters. It is, rather, divided by songs (mizmors or psalms) and is indicated as such.
E. There is a collection of 150 psalms, written by 7 known authors, with 50 songs with unknown authors. David wrote over 70 of the Psalms. Moses wrote one (90).
F. Since we will sing in this teaching, we’ll start our praise and worship with recitation and enactment of Psalms 100…make a joyful noise.
II. Evidence Pslams are Songs to be sung
A. Psalms are formated in lyrica and poetic fashion
B. Many of the psalms are obviously rhythmical when recited.
C. There are musical terms included in many of the psalms
1. To the music or choir director – a phrase used in superscript of many psalms
2. Shaggaion – Psalms 7 (also found in Habakkuk) instructs that lyrics are to be sung or spoken with impassionate style
3. Gittith or of Gath – Pslams 8 for example; an instrument or a style associated with Gath. Not unlike the idea of Latin music or sounds of the orient
4. Haggaion – Psalms 9: 16 or 92: 4, for example. An instrumental or humming interlude, solemn sounding
5. Maschil – Psalms 32, for example. an understanding or receiving of message necessary to recite
6. Alamoth – Psalms 46, implying for high voices, i.e. women’s or children’s choir
7. Selah – uncertain what it means but understood to be a common musical directive…some thought to mean to pause, meditate or reflect over what has been said before proceeding.
8. Michtam – Psalms 16, 50-60. Only in these Psalms by David. Unknown meaning. Possible root words could suggest it refers to a writing or an engraving.
D. Some superscripts direct the leader to a melody known by other title (Psalms 9, 22)
E. Some superscripts identify instruments to be played with Psalms (Psalms 4, 5, 6)
F. Sadly, the original melody used in the Psalms were lost to us.
G. We have many songs written from verses in Psalms sung today to our melodies
A. Most but not all the Psalms have superscripts
B. Some give musical direction and are directed at the music director as noted above. Includes identifying another song for the melody.
C. Some identify authorship (Psalm 15)
D. Some give historical information or explanation for when Psalm written (Psalm 7, 18)
IV. Psalms is really 5 books
A. There is nearly 1000 years between the earliest psalm and the last psalm.
B. At sometime in the last half of that interval, psalms were collated into a group. This was not done by date, author, topic, or any known criteria. It is speculated that this occurred shortly after King David’s reign (book 1) and between Hezekiah’s and Josiah’s reigns (book 2 and maybe book 3).
C. The latter two books appear to have been organized during or after the return of the exiles in Babylon, during or after the time of Ezra and Nehemiah.
D. All end with a doxology
V. Book 1 (Psalms 1-41)
A. These Psalms are mostly David’s, speaking of his interactions with God.
B. Sort of a collection of songs dealing God’s relationship as individuals.
C. Some Hebrew scholars believe these songs go along stories of Genesis as God relates to individuals.
D. Interesting to note that most places refer to God as Jehovah (YWHW)
E. Singing Psalms 18: 3, 8 – The Lord Liveth
F. Doxology Psalms 41: 13
VI. Book 2 (Psalms 42-72)
A. Mostly authored by sons of Korah
B. God interaction with people through eyes of 2nd and 3rd person.
C. Thought to been assembled into book during Hezekiah or his sons reign
D. Some believe it corresponds to Book of Exodus
E. Singing Psalms 46: 1-3 – God is my Refuge and God is my Strength
F. Doxology Psalms 72: 18-19. Verse 20, an interesting statement to close Book 2
VII. Book 3 (Psalms 73-89)
A. A variety of authors, including David
B. God’s desire for peoples and their shortcomings
C. Thought that these 17 books put together in latter years of Judah Kingdom
D. Associated with Leviticus because worship (expectations & failures) often addressed
E. Singing Psalms 4 – How Lovely is Your Dwelling Place
F. Doxology Psalms 89: 62
VIII. Book 4 (Psalms 90-106)
A. A variety of authors; Moses wrote Psalms 90, the oldest Psalms in the Book of Psalms.
B. God is put forth as the King, Judge, Priest for His people
C. It is thought that these psalms were collated after Babylonian exile…perhas beginning during time of Ezra and Nehemiah.
D. Historically associated with Book of Numbers of the Torah
E. Singing Psalms 97: 1,3,5,6 – The Lord Reigns
F. Doxology Psalms 106: 48 It is worth noting that though the word Hallelujah has become an accepted expression of praise, . . here in this doxology, it is intended to be an imperative (command) to go forth and praise God.
IX. Book 5 (Psalms 107-150)
A. Contains the shortest (117) and longest (119) ‘chapters’ of the Bible as measured by verses (2) and (176), respectively
B. Theme could be God is with us, as been with us, and will be with us.
C. Put together after Babylonian exile
D. Tradition associates this book of psalms with Deuteronomy
E. Singing Psalms 147: 2-3 – The Lord is building Jerusalem
F. Doxology is thought by some to be the last 5 psalms (146-150) or all of Psalms 150 or Psalms 150: 6 Againg we end the Book with the imperative “Hallelujah”
X. In Conclusion
A. You will find Psalms to be lyrical, poetic, full of praise and worship
B. Also it gives history, wisdom, and understanding
C. It is prophetic
D. It is messianic
E. You may have also discovered that it is strategic and weaponary for spiritual warfare
F. It is also imprecatory – Invoking God to act against enemy (e.g. Psalms 35: 4-8)
G. Most believers can give a testimony based on a psalm.