Author: David, Solomon, Asaph, others and many unknown authors
Date Written: 1400-450 BC
Psalms is not really a book. It is a collection of 150 songs, prayers, poems and hymns gathered over a very long period of time. There are different types of psalms. Some tell stories. Some are songs of praise. Some are prayers of repentence. Each psalm has its own unique character but they are all deeply emotional and profoundly spiritual. The Psalms are not meant to be simply read, but to be prayed. They encompass the whole range of human emotions from sorrow, lament and depression to joy, praise and celebration. The whole collection of psalms is often referred to as The Psalter.
The compilers of the Psalms divided them into five books: 1-41, 42-72, 73-89, 90-106 and 107-150. The ancient Greek translation of the Bible, the Septuagint (LXX), numbered the Psalms differently than the Hebrew.
The ancient Israelites prayed the Psalms in the tabernacle and then in the
The Levites sung psalms in the
The Psalms express the delight of the Lord in his people and their delight in him. They show the deep love which exists between the two. The Psalms are both personal and communal. Their varied themes and concerns require us to change our attitudes of prayer to correspond with the particular psalm.
Some of the Psalms are prophetic and find their fulfillment in the life of Christ. For example, Ps 22 speaks of his Passion. The New Testament specifically links a few psalms to Christ (e.g. Acts 1:20, 13:33-35). The Psalms' Hebrew poetry does not contain rhyme and meter like English poetry. Rather, the poetry is built on parallelism in which a phrase is paired with a similar or contrasting idea for emphasis. Some psalms have an acrostic structure meaning that the words or phrases are in alphabetical order according to the Hebrew alphabet (e.g. Ps 119).
The Psalms are the key to the spirituality of the Old Testament and they are an essential and permanent part of Christian prayer (CCC 2597).
By Mark Giszczak