Let’s go a little deeper into the makeup of this wonderful portion of the Bible known as the Psalms.
The following info is gathered from Holman Old Testament Commentary: Psalms 1-75.
Here are 10 things you might not know about the Psalms:
- The Book of Psalms is the original hymnbook. Psalm comes from a Greek word meaning “the plucking of strings” indicating that this Scripture was originally accompanied by stringed instruments for the purpose of worship (2).
- The Book of Psalms is the largest book in the Bible. At 150 chapters, it is by far the longest with Isaiah’s 66 chapters holding the 2nd place for the longest book (1).
- The Book of Psalms contains the longest chapter in the Bible. Psalm 119 contains 176 verses which is longer than many of the shorter books contained in the Bible (1).
- The Book of Psalms contains the shortest chapter in the Bible. While Psalm 119 is the longest, Psalm 117 is the shortest chapter in the Bible containing only two verses (2).
- The Book of Psalms contains the middle chapter in the Bible. Not only is Psalm 117 the shortest chapter, but it is also the middle chapter in the 1,189 chapters contained within the Bible (2).
- The Book of Psalms contains the middle verse in the Bible. With 31,173 verses in the entire canon of Scripture, Psalm 118:8 is the exact middle verse of the Bible: “It is better to take refuge in the LORD than to trust in man” (2).
- The Book of Psalms is a multi-author book. Most books in the Bible are attributed to one author, but Psalms has many authors. The author of exactly half of them (75) is King David (2-9; 11-32; 34-41; 51-65; 68-70; 86; 95; 101; 103; 108-110; 122; 124; 131; 133; and 138-145). Other authors include Asaph (50; 73-83), the sons of Korah (42; 44-49; 84-84; 87), Solomon (72; 127); Moses (90), Heman (88), Ethan (89). The remaining 48 psalms are attributed to anonymous authors and many believe that Ezra wrote some of them (3).
- The Book of Psalms was written over a long period of time. The earliest psalm recorded is most likely Psalm 90 written by Moses after the exodus during the wandering period (1445-1405 B.C.). The latest psalm recorded is most likely Psalm 126 as the Israelites are returning to their land after the Babylonian exile (500-430 B.C.) (3-4). This expansive collection of songs from Israel’s history makes this book a unique contribution.
- Many Psalms are alphabetical acrostics. The Hebrew alphabet has 22 letters and a way to memorize the music was to make the stanzas match a certain progression. These psalms have some type of alphabetical acrostic: 25; 34; 9; 10; 111; 112; 145; 119 (10).
- Psalms are Hebrew poetry. While our English translations are great reads, we miss certain rhythms and parallel words and phrases that are contained in the original Hebrew manuscripts (7).