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A Library of Inspired Songs

The Psalms constitute one of the high points of the revelation of God and His character in the Old Testament. It preserves for us the ancient prayers and the praises of the people of God, the deepest expressions of hearts reflecting the Lord. This library of inspired songs was used as the temple songbook of the Kingdom Period, and stands as the longest, most oft-quoted, most diverse book of the Old Testament. The Greek title for the book is Psalmoi, which denotes songs accompanied by the plucking of strings. But the original Hebrew title is Tehillim, which simply means ‘praises’. Whatever label we assign to it, the book contains divinely inspired songs supremely purposed to worship God. The Hebrew title more appropriately draws attention to the content and purpose of the songs, which is precisely where our focus ought to be since only the lyrics are preserved as Scripture and not any musical notation. They are songs of praise to God, sometimes expressed in the form of prayers. The types of expressions vary and include remembrance, acknowledgement, lamentation, petition, confessions of trust, and declarations of praise. Subcategories include songs or ‘hymns’ to God (Ps 24; 29; 33; 100; 103; 105; 111; 113-4; 117; 135-6; 145-50), enthronement songs (Ps 47; 93; 95-9), and royal songs (Ps 2; 20-1; 45; 72; 89; 101; 110; 132; 144).

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