Faith Chapel

Introduction To Psalms

Three Angels Broadcasting Network

Program transcript

Participants: William Shea


Series Code: FC

Program Code: FC000379

00:29 My name is William Shea, I'm a retired seminary professor.
00:33 Welcome to Faith Chapel.
00:36 I'm going to study an introduction to the Psalms with
00:40 today, lets pray as we begin.
00:42 Loving heavenly Father we thank you for the wisdom that you have
00:47 given your servants of old to compile and bring together in
00:51 these beautiful texts and as we struggle to understand how
00:55 these texts have been put together and used through the
00:59 centuries we ask the blessing of Your Holy Spirit to lead us
01:02 and guide us. In Jesus name. Amen.
01:07 I want to introduce the subject of the Psalms to you by
01:13 referring to a modern church hymnal.
01:16 The hymnal in the church I worship in has the fifth
01:21 addition of the hymnals that my church has had.
01:26 That over a period of 160 years. Five hymnals in 160 years.
01:33 What we have in the Psalms is the hymnal of ancient Israel.
01:38 The hymnal of the temple and it went through a number of
01:43 additions and we want to look at those individually.
01:49 Now its true as you study the Psalms you will get the best
01:53 spiritual value out of the individual Psalms themselves
01:57 but sometimes its helpful to see how all this was but together
02:01 how God guided His word through the ages, and what we have here
02:07 is a hymn book that was put together over more than
02:10 5 centuries.
02:12 If you think of the time of David about 1,000 B.C. and the
02:16 time of Ezra probably the last one adding to the Psalms, he
02:22 lived about 450 B.C., you have a period of about 5 and a half
02:27 centuries and that's they way in which this hymnal for the temple
02:31 grew, actually what we have in the Psalms is not one book
02:36 of Psalms but five books of Psalms and the text itself
02:40 actually divided its different sections up by use of a doxology
02:46 A doxology, a closing benediction for each one of the
02:50 books of the Psalms so we're going to look at those first
02:53 and then when we get these five sections of the Psalms
02:56 outlined then we can think a little bit more about what went
03:00 into each one of these books.
03:02 The first book of the Psalms ends with Psalms 41.
03:05 So I'm going to turn to Psalm 41 and read the doxology.
03:09 Blessed be the Lord God of Israel from everlasting to
03:16 everlasting amen and amen. Sounds a little bit like a
03:20 doxology that we might use in church today and some of you
03:24 may have an English Bible which says immediately after that
03:27 Book 2, and so this doxology in Psalm 41:13 is a signal that
03:36 this is the end of one section of the sulter or we can refer to
03:40 it as Book 1. Book 2 goes over to Psalm 72.
04:10 You may notice something a little unusual here, it says the
04:15 prayers of David the son of Jesse are ended but lets go
04:19 for example to Psalms 86 which is in this section and in Psalm
04:23 86 the label at the top calls it a prayer of David and if we
04:28 had time we could go through many more texts which have in
04:33 the titles to the Psalms attributed them to David
04:37 So this shows that the book 2 of the Psalms was closed
04:42 to the particular time and at that time they remarked that
04:47 they had concluded the Psalms of David the son of Jesse at that
04:52 point in time but lets go on to Psalm 89 and we have another one
05:00 of these doxologies, it's very brief Psalm 89:52,
05:06 Blessed be the Lord forever amen and amen.
05:10 You may notice the similarity between
05:12 the doxology at the end of Book 1 we found at the end of Psalm
05:17 41, the next section of the book Book 4 as it reads many English
05:22 Bibles have beginning with Psalm 90, above Psalm 90 it'll read
05:26 Book 4 and then we go over to Psalm 106 and at Psalm 106
05:32 we read another doxology verse 48 of Psalm 106 Blessed be the
05:41 Lord the God of Israel from everlasting even to everlasting
05:45 and let all the people say amen praise the Lord. And then
05:49 the beginning of Psalm 107 we not only have the designation
05:54 Psalm 107 but we have up above it says Book 5, so we have 5
06:00 books of Psalms. Now why would we have 5 books of Psalms?
06:04 Well because at different times different sections were added
06:10 successively and we may identify some of those periods of time
06:15 in which these additions were made. Now the first 32 Psalms
06:20 first 41 Psalms I should say Book 2 starts Psalm 42
06:25 in the title to the Psalms and we'll talk a little about the
06:29 title to the Psalms virtually all of those first 41 Psalms
06:35 are attributed to David and they're attributed in this way
06:39 they use the Hebrew preposition el which means according to
06:43 in other words its an indication of authorship. Now in the titles
06:48 to the Psalms there are also references not only to the
06:52 author but to the musical instruments that were played
06:55 in accompanying them to the pieces of music to with they
06:59 were chanted or sung, to the experience of a person in
07:05 particular David there are a number of Psalms that have a
07:08 particular reference to an experience of David that we can
07:11 find in the historical books of Samuel and then it has a
07:18 reference commonly to the type of Psalm and so there are
07:23 different classifications of Psalms for instance I'll just
07:26 give you a couple of words a maskil is the word used for a
07:29 wisdom Psalm or a michtam is a Psalm of atonement and so
07:36 we have these bits of information in the titles to the
07:40 Psalms now the question would be how accurate historically are
07:44 they. Obviously when David wrote a Psalm he didn't put up at the
07:49 beginning and say I David wrote this Psalm but apparently
07:55 the attribution to David is found early enough that they
08:00 knew who wrote the Psalm it was specified in the titles.
08:05 Now since Book 1 has the attribution of all these Psalms
08:10 to David you may say that they were composed by David collected
08:15 in the time of David and so Book 1 would end perhaps with
08:19 death of David. He lived until about 970 according to the dates
08:24 for the Hebrew kings and so from there Solomon took over and we
08:29 would expect since Solomon was the great temple builder that
08:32 he would have needed or wanted a hymnal, an expanded hymnal
08:38 so Book 2 we might attribute to Solomon in fact its interesting
08:42 to see that the nature of the Psalms changes. Book 1 the
08:48 Psalms of David are basically an individual type of Psalm.
08:52 Were David is reflecting upon an experience of his either good
08:57 or bad sometimes his enemies are chasing him sometimes he's
09:01 praising God for something good that's happened to him
09:03 There basically four types of Psalms. Now there are exceptions
09:08 there are special Psalms we might mention, 4 types of Psalms
09:12 They're easy to classify. They're either individual
09:16 like David's or congregational like we now read in Book 2
09:20 and I'll discus those a little bit more and then they come in
09:24 two different types either its good or its bad either its a
09:28 lament or mourning for something bad that has happened or it a
09:33 praise and you might know that the word for halleluiah that we
09:39 so commonly use comes from the root hallel from Hebrew which
09:45 means praise and so the name for Psalms in Hebrew is
09:49 atahila is the singular or tehillim is the plural.
09:53 And so this word for praise is the title to these books
09:57 of praises and its rather interesting to see that today we
10:00 have traditional hymns and praise songs the Hebrews didn't
10:04 make that distinction. They were all praise songs all 150 of them
10:09 were all praise songs. So when we move into Book 2 we run into
10:15 something different, we run into congregational songs and they
10:19 are congregational songs that are written by a particular
10:22 groups of people and I'm looking at the title
10:25 for Psalm 42.
10:27 Directions to the choir director a maskil or a wisdom Psalm
10:32 of the sons of Korah. Now who were the sons of Korah?
10:35 They're listed in 1 Chronicles 6 as the temple singers.
10:40 And so as we continue as I just scan through Psalm 44 songs of
10:46 Korah Psalm 45 sons of Korah, and it goes all the way to Psalm
10:52 49 so here's a block of hymns written by the sons of Korah
10:56 written by the temple singers from Psalm 42-49 this group
11:02 that the temple singers as the temple is now being used in the
11:08 temple which Solomon has constructed the temple singers
11:11 now come into play and bring to for their hymns now there's a
11:17 another interesting one here Psalm 50 and this is not a Psalm
11:22 by the sons of Korah but a song by the sons of Asaph and who
11:28 were the sons of Asaph? They too were temple singers in fact if
11:33 anything they were more prenominate temple singers
11:35 then the sons of Korah. The sons of Asaph and Asaph are mentioned
11:42 four times in the historical books 1 Chronicles 6, 15, 16,
11:49 and Ezra 2. You may remember that Ezra 2 gives a list of the
11:54 people who came back from the Babylonian exile and their on
11:57 the list as the ones who came back and continued their
12:04 occupation of temple singers in the second temple that was built
12:08 by Zerubbabel and Joshua the high priest according
12:11 to the book of Zechariah.
12:12 So now we have these congregational type hymns and so
12:18 Book 2 continues with these and then come another collection of
12:23 Psalms of David and its interesting to see the last book
12:27 we said Psalm 72 divides of this section of Psalms
12:34 We have the long doxology which we already read but you'll
12:42 notice at the beginning in the title of Psalms 72 its a Psalm
12:47 of Solomon. Solomon of course was also known for his literary
12:51 activity and so here's a Psalm of Solomon which ends the second
12:57 book which probably was collected in the time of Solomon
13:02 for use in the temple. Now when we come to Book 3 we have more
13:07 of these congregational type hymns written by the sons of
13:11 Asaph, and there are more than ten of them, they run from
13:16 Psalms 73 to 83. And so the sons of Asaph are mentioned in the
13:23 title of the rest of these Psalms and so these were
13:26 congregational hymns used in the temple. Its also interesting to
13:31 notice that occasionally we will run into Psalms that have
13:37 the names of the hymn tunes. You know in our hymnal
13:41 We can use a poem, you can take that poem and use it to sever
13:48 different kinds of music if the meter is correct.
13:50 If the meter of the poem and the meter of the music match
13:53 you can make them interchange so we have some songs that are
13:57 sung to different pieces of music or a piece of music that
14:01 maybe used for several songs and they did the same thing in
14:07 ancient Israel so let me just take one example if we look at
14:12 Psalm 57, 58, and 59 the reason these 3 Psalms are of interest
14:18 is because they were all sung to the same song the same music
14:22 and let me read an introduction here. The title of Psalm 57
14:31 For the choir director set to Altaschith a Michtam of David
14:37 when he fled from Saul to the cave. Notice the historical
14:40 reference there in the title. There are only historical
14:44 references to the experiences of David nobody else's historical
14:48 experiences are found in the titles. Now we know these Psalm
14:52 titles were old because when they came to translate the old
14:57 testament into Greek in the 3 B.C. a knowledge of what some
15:02 of these musical terms meant had already been lost so this
15:06 shows that these are quite old and therefore probably go back
15:10 to times shortly after the original composition alright so
15:14 here's Altaschith for the music of Psalm 57 then Psalm 58 to the
15:22 choir directors set to Altaschith a Michtam of David
15:26 a Psalm of atonement and Psalm 59 for the choir director set to
15:31 Altaschith a Michtam of David when Saul sent his men and they
15:35 watched the house in order to kill him. So here we
15:39 have three Psalms and right in a row that were set to the same
15:43 music. So we have the names of the hymn tunes let me take one
15:49 interesting Psalm which is one of these exceptional Psalms
15:53 It doesn't fall into the usual four categories which I
15:58 mentioned. The label in English is the song celebrating the
16:03 king's marriage specifically the marriage of Solomon.
16:06 And it says for the choir director according to Shoshonean
16:11 that's the Hebrew word for lilies that was the name of the
16:16 tune a maskil of the sons of Korah a song of love, well
16:20 here's a wedding song and here's their wedding march and so
16:24 what I want you to notice in particular about this is the
16:28 same music was used for Psalm 69 and Psalm 80 so lets just turn
16:33 to those two quickly. Psalm 69, and it says for the choir
16:44 director according to Shoshonean a psalm of David. So here's the
16:48 musical piece which the gave the label of lilies. You know we
16:52 have titles for our music too. Even when we use it with
16:59 different poems for instance a famous hymn tune in the English
17:03 hymnal is Old Hundred and so you can use that to several
17:07 different poems. Now there are some interesting indications
17:13 of how these collections were done and I want to go back to
17:17 Book 1 and I want to go to Psalm 9 and Psalm 10 because
17:21 originally these two Psalms were all one Psalm. How do we know
17:29 that? We can only see this in Hebrew because there is
17:34 something in Hebrew called an acrostic which is the
17:37 use of the successive letters of the Hebrew alphabet.
17:42 And to make it simple in Psalm 9 the verses start with the letter
17:47 Alph or 'A' and they go to Kaph or 'K' in Psalm 10 they
17:52 begin with 'L' or Lamed and they go to Tow or'T' so half of
17:57 the Hebrew alphabet is in Psalm 9 and half more is found in
18:02 Psalm 10 so obviously to have this anacrustic or alphabetic
18:06 Psalm it would have originally belonged together. Another
18:11 interesting aspect in the use of the divine names.
18:16 The divine name that is common as God's personal name is,
18:22 we would say Jehovah or perhaps a better pronunciation would be
18:25 Yahweh and its interesting to note that in the first 40 Psalms
18:29 that were written by David, he very prone to use that personal
18:33 name of God. In Book 2 in which we now have the congregational
18:38 hymns for the temple by the temple singers its much more
18:45 common to use Elohim which is generic word of God. And outside
18:50 of ancient Israel anybody in any country would understand
18:54 Elohim as a word for god. But Yahweh was the name of the God
18:58 of Israel only. Its His personal name. Just as Kimosh was
19:01 the god of the Moabites and Marduk was the god of Babylon
19:04 and so on and so forth each country and city had there own
19:09 god and there were names and Yahweh or Jehovah was the name
19:13 of the God of Israel and now another aspect of the Psalms is
19:21 the reuse so I wanted to give you an example of that,
19:26 This is Psalm 14 let me read a little bit of that. The fool
19:32 has said in his heart, there is no God, they are corrupt, they
19:35 have committed a abominable deeds.
19:37 There is no one who does good
19:39 watch carefully now, The Lord has looked down from heaven
19:44 upon the sons of men to see if there are any who understand who
19:48 seek after God, they have all turned aside together they have
19:52 all become corrupt. There's is none that does good not even one
19:56 Alright now lets turn to Psalm 53 and you may notice something
20:06 similar and then you may notice something different.
20:12 The fool hath said in his heart there is no God they are corrupt
20:17 they have committed abominable injustice there is no one who
20:20 does good. God has looked down from heaven upon the sons of men
20:25 to see if there's anyone who understands anyone who seeks
20:28 after God. Everyone of them has turned aside together they have
20:32 become corrupt. There is no one who does good not even one.
20:35 If you listen carefully you may have noticed that those verses
20:40 from Psalm 14 are repeated in Psalm 53 but there was one
20:46 tiny little difference and I don't know if a careful listener
20:49 caught it. In Psalm 14 it uses the name of the Lord or the
20:56 Hebrew word behind this is Yahweh. Yahweh looks down from
21:00 heaven to see if there's anyone righteous and Psalm 53
21:04 it uses the term God or Elohim so its the same Psalm reused in
21:11 Book 2 but now with a different name for God.
21:16 And so people have said well the reason David uses this personal
21:21 name of God is because of his close personal association with
21:26 God and because of the individual nature of the Psalms
21:30 speaking out of his experience whether it was mournful
21:33 or whether it was praise speaking to God as a friend
21:36 which is what these Psalms are just to do, where as in worship
21:41 in the temple its a more transcended or a more
21:45 over arching experience and so they used the name for God
21:49 that was used for example in Genesis one, so here we have
21:53 the same Psalm repeated now we have some other cases of this
21:58 which I wont bother you with but I want to notice some
22:05 special collections. Lets go to Psalm 120 this now would be in
22:11 in Book 4. Psalm 120 which is right after the longest Psalm of
22:17 all Psalm 119 which is an acrostic incidentally the
22:21 letters of the Hebrew alphabet are used all the way through
22:24 in order in Psalm 119.
22:27 This Psalm and praise of the law a wisdom Psalm
22:30 but starting with Psalm 120 if you look at the title it says
22:36 Song of a sense. Psalm 121 a song of a sense, Psalm 122 a
22:42 a song of a sense of David, Psalm 123 a song of a sense and
22:47 that goes on until Psalm 134. So here's a collection. You know
22:53 we have collections in our hymnal. We have songs about
22:54 Christ songs about His suffering songs about His birth Christmas
22:59 songs, we have songs about God songs about the church
23:02 and we collect those in different sections so they did
23:05 that here. Now what were songs of the sense?
23:06 Songs of a sense were songs which people sang or chanted
23:14 as they ascended to Jerusalem to go to the festivals
23:18 you may remember the 6 festivals of the Jewish calendar
23:21 three of which at Pentecost, Passovers, and tabernacles
23:25 all the males of Israel were required to attend and since
23:31 it was a fairly long walk or a fairly long donkey ride
23:34 they needed something to pass the time of day so they would
23:38 sing and they would chant with these Psalms and you can
23:43 see this quite clearly in Psalm 122 I was glad when they
23:48 said to me let us go to the house of the Lord our feet are
23:53 standing in are gates oh Jerusalem and so forth.
23:59 The tribes go up even the tribes of the Lord so here we have
24:04 a psalm of a sense that speaks rather clearly to the idea of
24:10 these marching people going to these festivals. Now there's
24:16 another section here if we go back to Psalm 11 that uses a
24:22 word with which you are very familiar even if you don't know
24:25 Hebrew and the word is halleluiah and halleluiah
24:29 is the word to praise in the imperative form and the 'iah'
24:36 is a short form of the name of God so basically when you say
24:38 halleluiah your saying praise Jehovah or praise Yahweh.
24:42 And you may notice that Psalm 11 begins with praise the Lord
24:47 Psalm 112 begins with praise the Lord, Psalm 113 begins with
24:53 praise the Lord and ends with praise the Lord.
24:56 And Psalm 115 ends with praise the Lord and so forth.
25:01 So here's a little book, a little collection of Psalms that
25:06 were collected around the word halleluiah. Halleluiah at the
25:10 beginning or halleluiah at the end or halleluiah at the both.
25:14 And so this is called the hallel this is a collection known as
25:18 the praise of the praises. Now we have late Psalms and you
25:27 might expect them to occur in Book 5 and sure enough we'll
25:31 turn to one that very characteristic Psalm 137.
25:35 This is a tragic Psalm but its very well known and here we have
25:42 the experience of the exiles. By the rivers of Babylon there
25:46 we sat down and wept. When we remembered Zion upon the
25:52 willows we hung our harps for there our captors demanded of
25:57 us songs and our tormentors murth saying sing us one of
26:02 the songs of Zion. How can we sing the Lords song in a foreign
26:07 land if I forget you oh Jerusalem may my right hand
26:10 forget her skill, may my tongue cling to the roof of my mouth
26:14 if I do not remember you, if I do not exalt Jerusalem above my
26:19 chief joy. So here are the people in exile bemoaning
26:25 their fate and bemoaning the fate of Jerusalem with now lay
26:30 in ruins and destruction and they are reflecting back
26:33 and so here is a Psalm which could only have been written
26:36 during the Babylonian exile and so it was collected let us say
26:41 later after they got back to their homeland after they were
26:44 sent back by Siris and it makes to Book 5 we have a Psalm
26:50 And so we come to the final section of the Psalms and we
26:57 might say that Book 3 was probably collected in the time
26:59 of Hezekiah. There was much literary activity going on
27:03 in the time of king Hezekiah. Proverbs 25 refers to the
27:08 collection of Proverbs made in the time of king Hezekiah
27:11 Book 4 probably collected just before the Babylonian conquest
27:16 and Book 5 at the end of the exile and so we come to the
27:22 last five psalms and you may remember them cause they're all
27:25 very musical psalms that once again use the word halleluiah
27:28 halleluiah at the beginning halleluiah at the end over and
27:32 over again and you may remember Psalm 150 which is the praise
27:33 of God on all the instruments that have been mentioned
27:40 in the titles of the Psalms that have gone before. Let me close
27:44 by reading that Praise the Lord praise God in the sanctuary
27:48 praise Him in His mighty expanses praise Him for His
27:51 mighty deeds praise Him according to His
27:53 excellent greatness.


Revised 2014-12-17