ETL.022: What You Don’t Know About the Most Beloved Book of the Bible: Psalms


In our “Ordinary People, Extraordinary Faith” interviews the truth has been borne out that Scripture has played a vital role in handling not only the hardships and constant struggles of life, but the bombshells sometimes dropped on us.  That fact, coupled with a class that I recently began teaching brought my attention to a particular book of the Bible, the Old Testament book of Psalms.

The book is unique in the Bible in that its made up entirely of poetic material, the words of songs (roughly speaking), that were collected over long period of time in Israel’s history.  The fact that the content of this book are of this nature (as opposed to history or laws or doctrine) have led some to have an attitude that views the Psalms as somehow less valuable or less important.  What a mistake!


The Incomparable Value of Psalms

We most of think of things like poetry and praise and songs when we think about the book of Psalms; and that’s with good reason.  But there are some things about Psalms we may not know.

For instance that the book of Psalms is actually a collection of five smaller books.  Notice in your Bible before the title for Psalms 1, 42, 73, 90, and 107.  You’ll probably see the words Book 1, Book 2, and so on.  What is more each of these books ends with a “doxology” ( a word of praise). Notice Psalms 41:13 and 72:18-19 as examples.  We also discuss some other “collections” within the book as well.

Another feature of the book you may not know—I failed to cover this in the podcast, so this is bonus material in the show notes!—is that though the book is attributed to David, there are many other authors covering a very long time span.  The earliest Psalm was apparently written by Moses (see the heading for Psalm 90).  The latest that can be identified is Psalm 137 which obviously comes from the time of Babylonian captivity.


Historically valuable

• In the Bible itself—it’s the most quoted Old Testament book in the New Testament
• In the history of Christianity it has been cherished and valued
• Today as evidenced in it’s influence in our hymns (look at the Scripture index of a hymn book.


Teach us how to praise God

• Modern worshipers sometimes make a false distinction between worship and praise. They designate a certain worship assembly as a “praise service.”  All worship is praise, all praise is worship.
• We learn the language of praise from the Psalms. The very vocabulary and expressions we use to praise God ought to be heavily influenced by the Psalms.
• A common failing of modern praise songs is the lack reasons why God is to be praised.  The Psalms not only praise, but tell why God is to be praised.


Expressions of faith and praise from all perspectives of life

Perhaps one of the greatest reasons we love the Psalms is that they are expressions of faith and praise from all perspectives of life; even when things are difficult and we may be struggling.  In this way the Psalms can speak not only to us but for us as we go through all the highs and lows of life.


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