Psalms Bible Study Lessons
The Book of Psalms is perhaps the most widely used book in the Bible. It explores the full range of human experience in a very personal and practical way. Its 150 songs run in theme from the creation through the patriarchal, theocratic, monarchical, exilic, and postexilic periods.
The tremendous breadth of subject matter in the Psalms includes diverse topics such as jubilation, war, peace, worship, judgment, messianic prophecy, praise, and lament. In ancient Israel the psalms were set to the accompaniment of stringed instruments and served as the temple hymnal and devotional guide for the Jewish people, especially after the construction of the second temple following the Babylonian exile.
Individual psalms were collected over time and eventually became the Book of Psalms. In the beginning, the book had no name, perhaps due to its great variety of material.
In Hebrew the book came to be known as Sepher Tehillim—Book of Praises—because almost every psalm contains some note of praise to God. The Septuagint uses the Greek word Psalmoi as its title for this book, meaning “Poems Sung to the Accompaniment of Musical Instruments.” It also calls it the Psalterium (“A Collection of Songs”), and this word is the basis for the English term Psalter.
Outside of Isaiah, the Psalms are the most-quoted Old Testament writings in the New Testament. Many of the most important and famous prophecies regarding the coming Messiah are found in the Psalms (for example, Ps. 2:7–9; 8:4–6; 9:8; 16:10; 22:1, 22; 40:6–8; 45:6–7; 68:18; 110:1, 4; 118:22; 130:8).
Themes: The Book of Psalms features a wide variety of themes, but the predominant ones emphasize prayer, praise, and worship.
Authors: The authorship of many of the Psalms is in doubt or unknown. Seventy-three Psalms are attributed to David. Other named writers include the sons of Korah (11 Psalms), Asaph (12), Heman (1), Ethan (1), Solomon (2), Moses (1), Haggai (1), Zechariah (1), and Ezra (1).
Time: The Psalms were written over a long period in Israelite history, ranging from the time of Moses through the end of the Babylonian captivity.
Structure: Each of the psalms is a “stand-alone” work emphasizing a particular topic. The psalms do not appear to be arranged in any discernible order or according to any particular “timeline.
Charles F. Stanley, The Charles F. Stanley Life Principles Bible: New King James Version (Nashville, TN: Nelson Bibles, 2005), Ps.