During the time of David, Jerusalem became the political and the religious center of the nation. After the temple was built by Solomon, Jerusalem became the worship center of the nation and this contributed further to the centrality of Zion as the abode of Yahweh. The Book of Psalms is a collection of hymns and prayers used in the worship of Yahweh.
The title of the book in the Septuagint, the Greek translation of the Old Testament, is Psalmoi, the word which was translated “Psalms” in our English Bibles. The Greek name of the book, Psalmoi is a translation of the Hebrew word mizmor, a word which means “songs.” In Hebrew a psalm is a mizmor, that is, a song sung to the accompaniment of a musical instrument.
The title of the book in Hebrew is Tehelim, a word that means “praises.” The word appears in Psalm 145:1 and it is translated as “a song of praise.” The Hebrew title represents the main theme of the book.
In our English Bibles, the book of Psalms is also known as “the Psalter.” This old English title for the book is derived from the Greek word Psalterion, a word that means “a stringed instrument.” The Greek word Psalterion translates the Hebrew words kinnor (“lyre”) and the word nevel (“lyre”).
The Christian church adopted the book of Psalms from the Jews. The Book of Psalms was incorporated into the Christian Bible as sacred scriptures which became a liturgical hymn book used in the worship of the church.
There are 150 psalms in the book of Psalms. These psalms present the faith of the people of Israel as they interacted with God. The psalms present several characteristics of the psalmist’s faith and of the God in whom they believed and worshiped.
1. The faith expressed in the book of Psalms is based upon the personal trust of the worshiper in the God of Israel.
2. The origin of this trust in the God of Israel lies in the mighty acts of God on behalf of his people.
3. These acts of God in the history of Israel provide the foundation for the psalmist’s faith because they were works of salvation.
4. The psalmist celebrates this historical act of God because they have given meaning to Israel’s existence
5. The psalmist also celebrates God as the creator because creation is seen as a way by which God brings into being the reality that is called Israel.
This post is not an introduction to the book of Psalms. Such an introduction would require several posts dealing with the different issues present in the Psalms.
Over the years I have written several posts on the book of Psalms. These posts deal with different topics. These posts reflect my study of the book of Psalms and my desire to explore some of the issues that affected the life of the psalmist.
Enjoy these posts.
STUDIES ON THE BOOK OF PSALMS
Other Studies on the Book of Psalms
Claude F. Mariottini
Emeritus Professor of Old Testament
Northern Baptist Seminary
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