The Psalms are Such Great Reading, Eh Saints? I love it, they are the best.
The Psalms were written over a thousand-year period across the whole range of Old Testament history. We find prayers to God by individuals as well as prayers designed for corporate use. Some arise out of historical or personal circumstances, while others address particular liturgical contexts.
Psalms, however, is not just a collection, it is a book. Though the psalms were often intended for prayer, we should not think of the book of Psalms being compiled as a hymnal or a book of model prayers. Not all psalms are prayers (for example, wisdom psalms are addressed to people, not to God). Even those that are prayers are not necessarily ones we can comfortably or appropriately pray (Pss. 59:10-11; 109:6-15; 137:8-9). It should also be noted that when Jesus offers his model prayer, he does not offer a psalm or point to Psalms. Though many of the psalms can be beneficially used as model prayers, either in private devotion or corporate worship, we would be mistaken to think that that is why they are in the Bible. They illustrate what Israelites prayed, but there is no biblical mandate for us to go and do likewise.
To understand the purpose of the book, we have to move beyond the reasons that motivated the composers to those that motivated the compilers, those who took 150 individual compositions and gathered them together. One suggestion is that in the book of Psalms, musical and poetic compositions have been brought together to offer an appreciation of the history of God’s kingship as expressed in the Davidic covenant. This is similar to the story told in the narratives of Samuel and Kings, but there are many ways to tell a story. Some are told through narrative, others through song.
The 150 psalms are arranged in five “books” that are marked in most English translations (1-41, 42-72, 73-89, 90-106, 107-150), each ending with a benediction. The theme of the book is introduced in Psalms 1-2, carried forward step by step in psalms joining the books together (41, 72,89,106, and 145), and then climaxed by praise conclusion in Psalms 146-150.
Simply put, the message is, “God reigns.” God is worthy of praise and is receptive to the petitions and laments of the righteous. The wise will trust in him. This is how God is revealed in the psalms. The psalms are Scripture because they portray God accurately. The reason why so many of the psalms are repeatable is because they give voice to the picture of God.
I hope that today is your favorite day. Enjoy life, love people, and love Father. Keep it up. Thanks for your words regarding how this material is working in your life.
(Material above found in Walton, Strauss, Cooper. The Essential Bible Companion. (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2006), p. 43.)