~by Randy Bushey
Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked
or stand in the way of sinners or
sit in the seat of mockers.
But his delight is in the law of the LORD,
and on his law he meditates day and night (Psalm 1:1,2)
For many people, the Psalms – also referred to as the Psalter – is the best loved book of the Hebrew Bible (our Old Testament). Some read it through every month, 5 Psalms per day.
The name of the book – a collection of 150 pieces of Hebrew poetry – comes from the Greek word psalmoi meaning “words accompanying instrumental music”.
So, from the beginning, the Psalms were intended to be sung. And that continues to this day, being incorporated into music by composers as diverse as Bach and Leonard Bernstein, to Duke Ellington, U2 and The Guess Who.
The Psalms were collected over a period of 5 centuries, from the era of David (1000 BC) to at least that of Ezra & Nehemiah (500 BC); they were then arranged into 5 books (1-41, 42-72, 73-89, 90-106, 107-150), each ending with a verse or 2 or doxology.
The writers are diverse. Of the 90 Psalms that are attributed to a writer, David wrote 73 and Asaph (a singer, musician, and Levitical chief) composed 12. Other biblical characters also contributed: Solomon (Psalms 72 and 127) and Moses (Psalm 90).
The Psalms are the most quoted Old Testament book in the New Testament.
Reformer Martin Luther called the Psalter the “little Bible” as every major biblical theme is represented therein, including a vivid portrait of Christ. Biographer Steven Lawson commented, “Romans gave Luther his theology, but it was the Psalms that gave him his thunder.”
Some other commentary on the Psalms:
R.C. Sproul: “If you really want to learn to pray, immerse yourself in the Psalms.”
Dietrich Bonhoeffer “The Psalter is the prayer book of Jesus Christ in the truest sense of the word. He prayed the Psalter and now it has become his prayer for all time.”
Charles H. Spurgeon: “The delightful study of the Psalms has yielded me boundless profit and ever-growing pleasure.”
C.S. Lewis: of the Psalms in the life of Christ, “our Lord, soaked in the poetic tradition of His country, delighted to use it.”
Takeaway: as we study the Psalms over the next 2 months, may these ancient Hebrew poems influence our thinking, our prayer-life, and ultimately our worship of God.
May David’s – and the other ancient Psalmists’ – insatiable hunger to cry out to God influence us to do the same today as we follow Christ.
~this post appeared previously in May 2018 and September 2019.