Read the Bible in a Year
This week, read: Psalms 76-100
At Least Know This
The Book of Psalms is the beautiful poetry of the Jews. Some psalms were sung in public services. Some psalms were sung for private edification. Some follow the rules of various kinds of Hebrew poetry. All Psalms proclaim the greatness of God.
Author and Date
The date of the psalms probably stretches the whole length of Jewish history. Some psalms are easy to date; for example, Psalm 137 dates from the time of the Babylonian Exile (587-538 BC). Others are not easily dated.
Many of the psalms have a superscription (an explanatory note at the beginning of the psalm). Some of the superscriptions are “A Psalm of David.” This does not mean that David wrote the Psalm. It can also be translated “A Psalm about David,” or “A Psalm Dedicated to David.” Probably, many people wrote psalms that were dedicated to the king or describe events in David’s life.
There are also superscriptions such as “To the Choirmaster.” Sometimes there are musical terms, like “Selah”; it is unclear what these terms mean—possibly something like “Now there will be a musical interlude.”
Many of the psalms are written about famous events in the history of the Jews. Some are more personal. Sometimes the psalms are called the “prayer book of the Bible.”
All the psalms are beautiful, and will speak to you differently depending on your life situation.
Some Psalms of note:
· Psalm 88 is a song of lament—a raw anger at God for the circumstances of the author.
· Psalm 89 is a post-exilic writing. The author wonders when God will restore the dynasty of David to rule the land.
· Psalm 91 is a beautiful song testifying that God always rescues his people.
· Psalm 96 is a joyous song of praise.
It is tough to find a psalm that isn’t meaningful in one way or another. Although every psalm is different, and each are beautiful and insightful in their own way.
Life throws a lot of obstacles and challenges our way. Sometimes those challenges are small, and leave us annoyed or exasperated. Other times, those challenges are seismic, and leave us broken or devastated. Whatever our situation, there’s a psalm for that.
Psalm 86 is a good example of an author who calls to God when life is difficult. The psalmist’s confidence is remarkable… Hear my prayer, O Lord; listen to my cry for mercy. In the day of trouble I will call to you, for you will answer me… (86:6-7)
Life throws us a lot of curve balls. But the psalms are anchors of confidence and hope in God’s mercy and majesty.
If you run across a passage that you have questions about, feel free to email the question to me.