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What are the Psalms?


The Psalms are a treasure of poetry for reading and meditation that are loved by both Jews and Christians. Since many of the Psalms were written for public and private worship, the Hebrew title is “Praises,” a word referring to the poetic composition accompanied by string instruments.

Careful reading of the Psalms will serve to revitalize a believer’s prayers and devotions. The Psalms record deep devotion and intense feelings including great joy and deep dejection. The Psalms illustrate the range of human emotions.

There are 150 Psalms. Many writers contributed one or more Psalms. King David wrote 73 Psalms. Asaph wrote 12. Korah wrote 11. King Hezekiah wrote 10. Other writers include Moses (1), Solomon (2), sons of Korah (11), Heman (1), Ethan (1). 39 Psalms have nonspecific authors. However, King David is thought to have written some of these.

Christ is prominent throughout the Psalms. There are 16 messianic Psalms or Psalms that specifically apply to Jesus Christ. These are prophetic and display His emotions.

The Gospel books of the Bible, Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, tell us what Jesus did. The messianic Psalms describe His emotions during those events. For example, the Gospels tell us that Jesus went to the mountain to pray. The Psalms give us his prayer. The Gospels tell us that Jesus was crucified. The Psalms tell us what went on in his heart during the crucifixion.

The Psalms have blessed the hearts of many people throughout the ages. They provide comfort for those going through hardships. And they give people hope for better times. Ambrose, one of the great saints of the church said, “The Psalms are the voice of the church.” Augustine said, “They are the epitome of the whole Scripture.” Martin Luther said, “They are the anatomy of all parts of the soul.”

Reading the Psalms will benefit each person who reads them. Becoming familiar with the Psalms will provide ready access to medicine that will heal the soul.