Question: Can you give me some information and guidelines in studying the Psalms. Also, what do the names in the titles mean?
Answer: The Hebrew title is “Tehilim”, meaning “praises or hymns.” It occurs only in the title of Psalms 145. The Greek title is “Psalomi, from which we get our word “Psalm.”
- The Psalms contain 150 independent compositions. The Jews divided them into five books corresponding to the Five Books of Moses.
- Psalms 1-42 correspond to Genesis, subject: man and creation. Psalms 43-72 correspond to Exodus (about Israel and redemption). Psalms 73-89 correspond to Leviticus (about worship and the temple). Psalms 90-106 correspond to Numbers (about our sojourn on the earth). Psalms 107-150 correspond to Deuteronomy (about praise and the word of God).
- The Psalms are all lyrical, or songs adapted to musical instruments, and were all religious lyrics designed to be used in the sanctuary worship. Musical instruments accompanied the singing of the Psalms; such as the harp, psaltery, flute, pipe, horn, trumpet, timbrel and cymbal. Remember, King David had an orchestra of 4,000. (1 Chronicles 23:5).
- The Psalms were written to be sung. Moses sang and taught the people to sing. (Exodus 15:1-21 and Deuteronomy 32:1-44). Israel sang. (Numbers 21:17).Deborah and Barak sang. (Judges 5). David sang. (2 Samuel 6:5,14,16). Hezekiah’s singers sang the Psalms with trumpets sounding (2 Chronicles 29:28-30). Nehemiah had singers at the dedication of the wall. (Nehemiah 12:42). When we study Psalms with an open heart and allow them to direct our lives, we will also sing with joy.
- The Psalms are the only book that contains every psychological experience of a human being. The Psalms are the anatomy of all parts of the soul. They will touch every feeling or thought that anyone has ever had. For the Christian who needs comfort, understanding, compassion, direction, inspiration and hope, the Psalms are the answer. It has been called the Masterpiece of Psychology!
- Of the 283 New Testament quotations from the Old Testament, 116 are from Psalms.
- Psalm 119 is the longest Psalm and the longest chapter in the Bible. Psalm 117 is the shortest, being the middle chapter of the Bible. Psalm 118:8 is the middle verse of the Bible.
If a person would only apply God’s principles for a happy life, as found in the Psalms, the need for psychologists and psychiatrists would vanish.
“It is better to trust in the Lord than to put confidence in man.” (Psalm 118:8).