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The Hebrew title for the Psalms is cepher tehillim, meaning "book of praises."

The name Psalms is derived from the Septuagint title for the book, Psalmoi. Psalmoi is the plural of psalmos, the Greek translation of the Hebrew word mizmor, meaning "song."

Considering the fact that more than 20 of these poems have praise for their keynote, and that there are outbursts of thanksgiving in many others, we can understand what an appropriate title Hebrew title is, dawns upon us. Psalms (Hebrew: Tehilim, תהילים, or "praises") is a book of the Hebrew Bible (the Christian Old Testament), included in the collected works known as the "Writings" or Ketuvim. The Psalms comprise a collection of songs of praise that are theological statements and poetically represent human dialogue with God.

THE DIVISION OF PSALMS INTO 5 BOOKS: In the Hebrew text as well as in the Revised Version (British and American), the Psalms are grouped into five books, as follows: Book I, Psalms 1 through 41; Book II, Psalms 42 through 72; Book III, Psalms 73 through 89; Book IV, Psalms 90 through 106; Book V, Psalms 107 through 150. It is possible that this division into five books may have been already made before the Chronicler composed his history of Judah (compare 1 Ch 16:36 with Ps 106:48). At the end of Book II appears a subscript which is significant in the history of the Psalter. It is said in Ps 72:20: "The prayers of David the son of Jesse are ended." It would seem from this note that the editor who appended it meant to say that in his collection he had included all the psalms of David known to him. Singularly enough, the subscript is attached to a psalm ascribed to Solomon. Psalms 51 through 70, however, lie near at hand, all of which are attributed to David. Ps 71 is anonymous, and Ps 72 might possibly be considered a prayer for Solomon. There is a further difficulty in the fact that the Second Book of Psalms opens with nine poems ascribed to the sons of Korah and to Asaph. It is a very natural conjecture that these nine psalms were at one time united with Psalms 73 through 83. With these removed, it would be possible to unite Psalms 51 through 70 with Book I. Then the subscript to Ps 72 would be a fitting close to a roll made up of psalms ascribed to David. It is impossible at this late date to trace fully and accurately the history of the formation of the Psalter.

The Psalms is the most complete collection of Hebrew poetry and worship material in the Hebrew Bible and are written by various writers, the oldest dating to the Patriarch Moses. (1400 B.C.)

The Psalms give clues for understanding Israelite worship on both a corporate and individual level. The psalms typify different responses to God's actions and word.

The Psalms as a collection is found in the third division of the Hebrew canon known as the Writings (Hebrew, ketubim). In its present canonical form, the Psalter has five divisions in the current Hebrew text. These divisions have been compared with the division of the Pentateuch into five books. Each book concludes with a doxology or closing formula. The books follow this division: (1) Psalms 1-41; (Psalms 2:1) 42–71; (3) 73–89; (4) 90–106; and (5) 107–150. Psalms 150:1 closes off both book five and concludes the collection of psalms; just as Psalms 1:1 serves as an introduction to the psalter. Other divisions or collections appear in the Psalms. The Elohistic Psalter (Psalms 42-83) regularly uses the Hebrew elohim for the divine name (compare Psalms 14:1; Psalms 53:1). The Songs of Ascent or pilgrimage psalms (Psalms 120-134) make a collection. Two different guild collections are included in the Psalms of the sons of Korah (Psalms 42-49) and the Psalms of Asaph (Psalms 73-83). Psalms has been understood as both the “hymnal” and prayerbook of the postexilic congregation of Israel with its final compilation and its inclusion within the canon.


Christians are commanded in God's word to make use of the Psalms:

Speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord, (Ep 5:19)

Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. (Col 3:16)

Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing psalms. (Jm 5:13)

Psalms are useful for singing praises to God. They are also useful for teaching and confirming that Yeshua/Jesus is the Christ or Messiah. See the way in which Yeshua/Jesus used them. (Lk 24:44-47), as well as Peter, who utilized them in his first gospel sermon. (Ac 2:25-28,34-35). a) Let the Psalms be a "hymnal" to assist you and your family in your praise to God. b) Utilize the Psalms as a "prayer book" and God will give you new insight into how to approach Him in prayer. c) God will use Psalms to impart revelation knowledge as to His own nature and other essential truthes to strengthen your faith in Yeshua/Jesus Christ d) The Psalms will provide a guide for holy and righteous living before the Almighty.

An important key for reading and interpreting different psalms is to understand the nature of Hebrew poetry. Psalms are poetic in contrast to being narrative. The Greek word is "psalmos", from the Hebrew word "zmr" meaning "to pluck"; i.e., taking hold of the strings of an instrument with the fingers. It implies that the psalms were originally composed to be accompanied by a stringed instrument. "Psalms are songs for the lyre, and therefore lyric poems in the strictest sense."(Delitzsch, Psalms, Vol. I, p. 7) David and others therefore originally wrote the Psalms to be sung to the accompaniment of the harp.

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