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The Blue Letter Bible

Dr. J. Vernon McGee :: Notes for Psalms

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The Book of Worship
The Hymn Book of the Temple

TITLE: The title in Hebrew means Praises or Book of Praises. The title in the Greek suggests the idea of an instrumental accompaniment. Our title comes from the Greek psalmos.

WRITERS: Many writers contributed one or more psalms. They are as follows: David, 73; Moses, 1 (90th); Solomon, 2; Sons of Korah, 11; Asaph, 12; Heman, 1 (88th); Ethan, 1 (89th); Hezekiah, 10; “Orphanic,” 39.
David, “the sweet psalmist of Israel” (2 Samuel 23:1), has 73 psalms assigned to him (Psalm 2 is ascribed to him in Acts 4:25; Psalm 95 in Hebrews 4:7). Also, he could be the author of some of the “Orphanic” psalms. He had a special aptitude for and was peculiarly endowed to write these songs from experience. He arranged those in existence in his day for temple use.

THEME: Christ (the Messiah) is prominent throughout (Luke 24:44). The King and the kingdom are the theme songs of the Psalms.

KEY WORD: Hallelujah

KEY PSALM: Psalm 150. “Hallelujah” occurs 13 times in 6 verses.

FEATURES: The Psalms record deep devotion, intense feeling, exalted emotion, and dark dejection. The Psalms play with all the stops pulled out upon the keyboard of the human soul.
They run the psychological gamut. This book has been called the epitome and anatomy of the soul and designated as the garden of the Scriptures. The place Psalms have held in the lives of God’s people testifies to their universality, although they have a peculiar Jewish application. They express the deep feelings of all believing hearts in all generations.
The Psalms are full of Christ. There is a more complete picture of Him in Psalms than in the Gospels. The Gospels tell us that He went to the mountain to pray, but the Psalms give us His prayer. The Gospels tell us that He was crucified, but the Psalms tell us what went on in His own heart during the crucifixion. The Gospels tell us He went back to heaven, but the Psalms begin where the Gospels leave off and show us Christ seated in heaven.
There are many types of psalms. Although all of them have Christ as the object of worship, some are technically called messianic psalms. These record the birth, life, death, resurrection, glory, priesthood, kingship, and return of Christ. The imprecatory psalms have caused the most criticism because of their vindictiveness and prayers for judgment. (Christians are told to love their enemies.) These psalms come from a time of war and from a people who, under law, were looking for justice and peace on the earth. They look to a time coming on the earth when the Antichrist will be in power. We have no reasonable basis to say how people should act and what they should say under those circumstances. Other types of psalms include penitential, historic, nature, pilgrim, Hallel, missionary, puritan, acrostic, and praise of God’s Word.

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Outline for Psalms Next Section →
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