May 3 - Nº 123 [The Psalms – see selected Psalms below]
David loved music. He sang and wrote songs throughout his entire life: no doubt he sang and played the lyre as he watched over sheep in the fields near his home; he sang in the palace to soothe King Saul (see 1 Samuel 16:14-23); he sang when Saul became angry and wanted to kill him (see Psalm 57); he sang when his enemies surrounded him and threatened his life (see Psalm 56); he sang when he was lonely (see Psalm 63) and when he was filled with remorse (see Psalm 51); he sang when he was overwhelmed with God’s goodness for allowing him to become the king of Israel (see Psalm 18). Seventy-three of David’s songs are recorded for us in the book of Psalms, along with twelve by Asaph, ten written by the descendants of Korah, and two by King Solomon. Two other men named Ethan and Heman each wrote a psalm, but the authors of the remaining 51 psalms are not identified. The original title for this collection of poems was Tehillim, which means “praise songs” in Hebrew. The English title comes from the Greek Psalmoi, which also means “songs of praise.” But not all the Psalms can be considered “praise” psalms. They express a variety of emotions just as our music does today. When David brought the Ark of God to Jerusalem for the first time, he appointed Levites to minister before it with music (see 1 Chronicles 16:4-36). He instructed them to play musical instruments and sing regularly. He divided the songs they should sing into three categories. First, they were to praise the Lord, the God of Israel, and make His name known among the nations by singing click of His greatness. They were also to thank Him by expressing all the wonders and miracles He had performed for them and all the promises He had kept. Then He told them to cry out to God (or lament) and remind Him to deliver them when they found themselves discouraged or in trouble. The Psalms can be divided into these same three categories as well:
Many of them are hymns filled with admiration for God’s character and greatness. These are called the Praise Psalms. They are filled with joy and revolve around the word “praise.” The command “hallelujah” (which means “praise the Lord”) is found in the first and last lines of them all.
Thanks Psalms publicly acknowledge specific things that God has done for the author (or nation), or they express confidence in what He is about to do. They make others aware of how good God really is.
Lament Psalms are cries for help. They are filled with anguish and pain and express how desperate the author is as he calls out to God. These psalms are easily identified because they directly confront God, describe the desperate situation the writer is in, and remind God of His promises. They usually incorporate the phrase “Oh God” or “My God” in the first verse of the song. Although they begin on a negative note, they never end without hopeful praise.
Does it encourage you that David felt many of the same emotions you do? Although he sometimes found himself frightened, overwhelmed and questioning God, he always ended up trusting Him. The Psalms are filled with hope for every situation.