Old Testament: poetic books
About this book
The book of Psalms is the longest book in the Bible. Psalms are poems that can either be sung as songs or spoken as prayers by individuals or groups. There are 150 psalms in this book, and many of them list King David as their author. They were collected over a long period of time and became a very important part of the worship of the people of Israel.
Some of the psalms tell the music leader what instruments should be used and what tunes should be followed. For example, look at Psalm 4 and Psalm 45.
Many of the Bible's main ideas are echoed in the Psalms: praise, thankfulness, faith, hope, sorrow for sin, God's loyalty and help. And at the heart of all the psalms there is a deep trust in God. The writers of the psalms always express their true feelings, whether they are praising God for his blessings or complaining in times of trouble.
In ancient Israel the psalms were used in several different ways: (1) to praise God, as in Psalm 105; (2) to express sorrow, as in Psalm 13; (3) to teach, as in Psalm 1; (4) to honour Israel's king and pray for fairness in his rule, as in Psalm 72; (5) to tell of God's power over all creation, as in Psalm 47; (6) to show love for Jerusalem, as in Psalm 122; and (7) to celebrate festivals, as in Psalm 126. Of course, many of the psalms could be used for more than one purpose.
Jesus used the psalms when he preached and taught, and they were often quoted by the writers of the New Testament. The earliest Christians also used the psalms in worship, teaching, and telling others the good news about what God has done through Jesus Christ. A verse from Psalm 118, for example, is directly referred to six times in the New Testament:
The stone that the builders
has now become
the most important stone.
A quick look at this book
The book of Psalms is divided into five sections or “books”. Most of the psalms in Books 1 and 2 were written by David, while many in Book 3 were written by either Asaph or the people of Korah. Psalms 120-134 are all “celebration psalms”. The five sections of the book of Psalms are:
Book 1 (1—41)
Book 2 (42—72)
Book 3 (73—89)
Book 4 (90—106)
Book 5 (107—150)
Contemporary English Version (CEV) is copyright © American Bible Society. Psalms and Proverbs © 1991, 1992; New Testament © 1991, 1992, 1995; Old Testament © 1995; translation notes, subject headings for text © 1995; Anglicisations © The British and Foreign Bible Society 1997, 2012.