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Bible Dictionaries

People's Dictionary of the Bible

Psalms the Book of

Psalms, the Book of. The "praise" or hymn-book of Jew and Christian for thousands of years. The following description of the book is given in Rice's Our Sixty-six Sacred Books: The book of Psalms in the Hebrew Bible was the first of the third division called Kʾthubim, or "Writings." The Psalms, Proverbs, and Job were regarded as pre-eminently poetical books, and the Massoretes distinguished them by a peculiar accentuation. The Psalms were called "Sepher Tʾhellim," or "Book of Praises." The Greeks called it "Psalmos," from which the English "Psalms" is derived. The Psalms counted one book in the A. V., in the Hebrew Bible are divided into five collections, rather inaptly termed "books" in the Revised English Version. The end of each of the first four "books" is indicated by a doxology. The books are: 1. Psalms 1:1-6; Psalms 2:1-12; Psalms 3:1-8; Psalms 4:1-8; Psalms 5:1-12; Psalms 6:1-10; Psalms 7:1-17; Psalms 8:1-9; Psalms 9:1-20; Psalms 10:1-18; Psalms 11:1-7; Psalms 12:1-8; Psalms 13:1-6; Psalms 14:1-7; Psalms 15:1-5; Psalms 16:1-11; Psalms 17:1-15; Psalms 18:1-50; Psalms 19:1-14; Psalms 20:1-9; Psalms 21:1-13; Psalms 22:1-31; Psalms 23:1-6; Psalms 24:1-10; Psalms 25:1-22; Psalms 26:1-12; Psalms 27:1-14; Psalms 28:1-9; Psalms 29:1-11; Psalms 30:1-12; Psalms 31:1-24; Psalms 32:1-11; Psalms 33:1-22; Psalms 34:1-22; Psalms 35:1-28; Psalms 36:1-12; Psalms 37:1-40; Psalms 38:1-22; Psalms 39:1-13; Psalms 40:1-17; Psalms 41:1-13; Psalms 2:1-12. Psalms 42:1-11; Psalms 43:1-5; Psalms 44:1-26; Psalms 45:1-17; Psalms 46:1-11; Psalms 47:1-9; Psalms 48:1-14; Psalms 49:1-20; Psalms 50:1-23; Psalms 51:1-19; Psalms 52:1-9; Psalms 53:1-6; Psalms 54:1-7; Psalms 55:1-23; Psalms 56:1-13; Psalms 57:1-11; Psalms 58:1-11; Psalms 59:1-17; Psalms 60:1-12; Psalms 61:1-8; Psalms 62:1-12; Psalms 63:1-11; Psalms 64:1-10; Psalms 65:1-13; Psalms 66:1-20; Psalms 67:1-7; Psalms 68:1-35; Psalms 69:1-36; Psalms 70:1-5; Psalms 71:1-24; Psalms 72:1-20; Psalms 3:1-8. Psalms 73:1-28; Psalms 74:1-23; Psalms 75:1-10; Psalms 76:1-12; Psalms 77:1-20; Psalms 78:1-72; Psalms 79:1-13; Psalms 80:1-19; Psalms 81:1-16; Psalms 82:1-8; Psalms 83:1-18; Psalms 84:1-12; Psalms 85:1-13; Psalms 86:1-17; Psalms 87:1-7; Psalms 88:1-18; Psalms 89:1-52; Psalms 4:1-8. Psalms 90:1-17; Psalms 91:1-16; Psalms 92:1-15; Psalms 93:1-5; Psalms 94:1-23; Psalms 95:1-11; Psalms 96:1-13; Psalms 97:1-12; Psalms 98:1-9; Psalms 99:1-9; Psalms 100:1-5; Psalms 101:1-8; Psalms 102:1-28; Psalms 103:1-22; Psalms 104:1-35; Psalms 105:1-45; Psalms 106:1-48; Psalms 5:1-12. Psalms 107:1-43; Psalms 108:1-13; Psalms 109:1-31; Psalms 110:1-7; Psalms 111:1-10; Psalms 112:1-10; Psalms 113:1-9; Psalms 114:1-8; Psalms 115:1-18; Psalms 116:1-19; Psalms 117:1-2; Psalms 118:1-29; Psalms 119:1-176; Psalms 120:1-7; Psalms 121:1-8; Psalms 122:1-9; Psalms 123:1-4; Psalms 124:1-8; Psalms 125:1-5; Psalms 126:1-6; Psalms 127:1-5; Psalms 128:1-6; Psalms 129:1-8; Psalms 130:1-8; Psalms 131:1-3; Psalms 132:1-18; Psalms 133:1-3; Psalms 134:1-3; Psalms 135:1-21; Psalms 136:1-26; Psalms 137:1-9; Psalms 138:1-8; Psalms 139:1-24; Psalms 140:1-13; Psalms 141:1-10; Psalms 142:1-7; Psalms 143:1-12; Psalms 144:1-15; Psalms 145:1-21; Psalms 146:1-10; Psalms 147:1-20; Psalms 148:1-14; Psalms 149:1-9; Psalms 150:1-6. The topics of the Psalms have been compared to an oratorio in five parts: 1. Decline of Prayer of Manasseh 1:2. Revival; 3. Plaintive complaint; 4. Response to the complaint; 5. Final thanksgiving and triumph. This fivefold division of the Psalms is very ancient, but when or by whom it was made is uncertain. Some ascribe it to Nehemiah or his time; it certainly is two or three centuries older than the Christian era. The division appears in the Septuagint. Why it was made is not clear. Some conjecture that it was in accord with the supposed chronological order of the Psalms, or was an arrangement according to authors, topics, or for liturgical use. The collection could not have been completed before the time of Ezra. About fifty Psalms are quoted in the New Testament. The titles or inscriptions of the Psalms are not by the original authors, but belong to an early age. They are attached to 101 Psalms. The 49 not having titles, the Talmud calls "Orphan Psalms." According to these titles, 73 Psalms are ascribed to David, 12 to Asaph, one of David's singers, 12 to the sons of Korah, a priestly family of singers of David's time, 2 (72d and 127th) to Solomon, 1 (90th) to Moses, and 1 (89th) to Ethan. The other 49 are anonymous. But the Septuagint assigns 85 Psalms to David, the 127th to Jeremiah, the 146th to Haggai, and the 147th to Zechariah. The New Testament also cites Psalms 2:1-12; Psalms 95:1-11 as if David were the author. It is worthy of note that the great Hallel songs, Psalms 115:1-18; Psalms 116:1-19; Psalms 117:1-2; Psalms 118:1-29, and the famous alphabetic hymn, the 119th, are among the anonymous songs. The most ancient classification, aside from the division into five collections, is found in the titles. The meaning of these is obscure. Some are termed Shir, a solo for the voice; Mizmor, song of praise accompanied with an instrument; Maschil, ode or didactic song; Michtam, a catch-word poem (Delitzsch); Shiggaion, an excited ode; Tephillah, a prayer-song; Shir jedidoth, a song of loves; Shir hammaʾaloth, a song of ascent or pilgrim songs; Kinah, dirge or elegy. Modern groups are based upon the contents, as seven (some say eight) penitential (6th, 25th, 32d [38th], 51st, 102d, 130th, 143d), seven imprecatory psalms (35th, 52d, 58th, 59th, 69th, 109th, 137th), pilgrim songs, psalms of thanksgiving, of adoration, of faith and hope. Messianic psalms, and historic psalms. Some psalms have parallelisms or longer stanzas, each beginning with an initial letter corresponding to the twenty-two letters of the Hebrew alphabet. There are seven of these alphabetic psalms and five other alphabetic poems in the Old Testament. Some psalms are choral, as 24th, 115th, 135th; some gradational, as 121st, 124th. Of the psalms ascribed to David, several have Aramaic forms, but according to the latest linguistic researches these forms may betray an earlier rather than a later author. The psalms have suggested many of the noblest Christian hymns.

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Bibliography Information
Rice, Edwin Wilbur, DD. Entry for 'Psalms the Book of'. People's Dictionary of the Bible. https://www.studylight.org/dictionaries/eng/rpd/p/psalms-the-book-of.html. 1893.

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