63. THE BOOK OF PSALMS.
I. THE TITLE OF THE BOOK.
The name given to the Book of Psalms as a whole by the Jews is Tehillim;
but it is not recognized by this name in the Book itself.
Our English name "Psalms" is a transliteration of the Greek Title of
the Septuagint, "Psalmoi" (*1), which means "songs"; while the word
"Psalter" is from the Greek Psalterion, a harp, or other stringed
instrument. There is no correspondence between the Greek and the Hebrew in these
cases. Only once does a Psalm bear this word in its title, and that
is Ps. 145 (sing. Tehillah).
Tehillim is invariably rendered "praises". It is a verbal
noun from the root halal, to make a jubilant sound.
To make ellell means to rejoice. Cp. German
hallen and English halloo, yell.
Tehillim has, therefore, a wide meaning, and includes all that
is worthy of praise or celebration; and, especially the works and ways
Hence, in this book, we have these Divine works and ways set forth as
they relate to the Divine counsels of God (1) as to Man, (2) as
to Israel, (3) as to the Sanctuary, (4) as to the Earth,
and (5) as to the Word of Jehovah. See the Structure of the
separate Books of the Psalms, p. 720. In those Structures light is
thrown upon the "ways" of God. The need for this instruction is seen
from the meaning of halal, which in the Hithpael and Hithpolel means
to praise of boast of one's self, hence to be foolish. Cp.
1Kings 20:11; Job 12:17; Isa. 44:25 (mad); Prov. 20:14 (*2). This
instruction is given concerning God's ways and works exhibited in the Word
of God from the beginning to the end.
(*1) The word occurs seven times in the N.T. (Luke 20:42;
24:44. Acts 1:20; 13:33. 1Cor. 14:26. Eph. 5:19.
Col. 3:16), four referring to the Book of Psalms, and the last
to Psalms in general.
II. THE QUOTATIONS FROM THE PSALMS IN THE
(*2) As it is foolish to the glory in any object except in Jehovah
(Jer. 4:2; 9:23, 24), so to boast of oneself is to be foolish in
this case (Ps. 49:6. Prov. 27:1. See Pss. 5:5; 73:3; 75:4;
and cp. 44:8).
(i) THE FORMULAS USED IN DIRECT QUOTATIONS.
"As it is written"; or "It is written" : Matt. 4:6 (*1) (91:11).
John 2:17 (69:9); 6:31 (78:24, 25). Acts 13:33 (2:7). Rom.
3:4 (51:4). 2Cor. 4:13 (116:10).
"David", or "in David" (*2) : Matt. 21:43 (110:1). Acts
2:25 (16:8), 34 (110:1). Rom. 4:6 (32:1, 2); 11:9, 10 (69:22, 23).
Heb. 4:7 (95:7).
"He (God) saith", "said", or "spake" : Acts 13:35 (16:10).
Eph. 4:8 (68:18). Heb. 1:10-12 (102:25-27); 4:3 (95:11); 5:5 (2:4);
"He (God) limiteth" : Heb. 4:7 (95:7).
"He (God) testifieth" : Heb. 7:17 (110:4).
"In the Scriptures" : Matt. 21:42 (118:2, 3).
"In their law" (*3) : John 15:25 (35:10; 69:4).
"In your law" (*3) : John 10:34 (82:6).
"One in a certain place testified" : Heb. 2:6 (8:4; 144:3).
"Spoken by (or through) the prophet" : Matt. 13:35 (78:2).
"The Book of Psalms" : Acts 1:20 (69:25).
"The mouth of David" (*4) : Acts 1:16 (41:9); 4:25, 26 (2:1, 2).
"The scripture" : John 7:42 (132:11); 13:18 (41:9); 19:24 (22:18),
28 (69:21), 36 (34:20), 37 (22:16, 17).
"The second Psalm" : Acts 13:33 (2:7).
(*1) This (with Ps. 91:13) was Satan's quotation, mutilated by
significant suppression and omission.
(*2) In David. The Fig. Ellipsis (Ap. 6), i.e. "in
[the Psalm] of David"; or "in [the person] of David".
(*3) "Law" is used by Fig. Metonymy (of the Part) for
the whole of the O.T.
(*4) David's "mouth", but not David's words.
(ii) THE ADAPTATION OF WORDS OF THE PSALMS, WITHOUT
A SPECIFIC QUOTATION, OR REFERENCE TO FULFILLMENT.
|2:7 (Heb. 1:5).
||40:6-8 (Heb. 10:5-7).
||106:20 (Rom. 1:23).
|2:9 (Rev. 2:27).
||41:9 (Mark 14:18). (*1)
||110:1 (Mark 16:19. 1Cor. 15:25, 27. Col. 3:1. Eph.
|4:4 (Eph. 4:26).
||48:2 (Matt. 5:35).
||110:4 (Heb. 5:10).
|6:8 (Matt. 7:32).
||50:14 (Heb. 13:15).
||116:10 (2Cor. 4:13).
|8:2 (Matt. 21:16).
||55:22 (1Pet. 5:7).
||116:11 (Rom. 3:4).
|8:6 (1Cor. 15:25, 27. Eph. 1:20, 22).
||56:4, 11 (Heb. 13:6).
||118:6 (Heb. 13:6). See 27:1, above.
|9:8 (Acts 17:31).
||69:9 (John 2:17).
||118:22 (Acts 4:11. Matt. 21:42. 1Pet. 2:4, 7).
|19:4 (Rom. 10:18).
||69:21, 27 (Matt. 27:34, 38. Mark 15:36).
||118:26 (Matt. 21:9).
|22:1 (Matt. 27:46. Mark 15:34).
||74:2 (Acts 20:28).
||125:5 (Gal. 6:16).
|22:8 (Matt. 27:43). The chief priests.
||78:24, 25 (John 6:31).
||143:2 (Gal. 2:16).
|22:21 (2Tim. 4:17).
||79:6 (2Thess. 1:8).
||146:6 (Acts 14:15).
|24:1 (1Cor. 10:26, 28).
||89:27, 37 (Rev. 1:5; 3:14).
|27:1 (Heb. 13:6). See 118:6, below.
||91:13 (Luke 10:19).
|34:8 (1Pet. 2:3).
||102:25-27 (Heb. 1:10-12).
(*1) John (13:18; 19:28, 29) uses the formula "that it might be
fulfilled" because of the object of his Gospel (20:31).
III. QUOTATIONS AS BEING THE DIRECT FULFILLMENT OF PROPHECIES IN THE PSALMS.
|22:18 (John 19:23, 24).
||41:9 (John 13:18. Acts 1:16).
||97:7 (Heb. 1:6).
|34:20 (John 19:36).
||69:4 (John 15:25).
||109:3 (John 15:25).
|35:19 (John 15:25).
||78:2 (Matt. 13:35).
||119:161 (John 15:25).
IV. QUOTATIONS AS BEING THE DIRECT UTTERANCES
OF THE FATHER, THE SON, AND THE HOLY SPIRIT, RESPECTIVELY.
||THE HOLY SPIRIT.
|2:7 (Heb. 1:5, 6. Acts 13:33).
||18:2 (Heb. 2:13).
||41:9 (Acts 1:16).
|45:6, 7 (Heb. 1:8, 9).
||22:1 (Matt. 27:46. Mark 15:34).
||95:7-11 (Heb. 3:7-11).
|89:26, 27 (Heb. 1:5).
||22:22, 25 (Heb. 2:12).
|97:7 (Heb. 1:6).
||40:6-8 (Heb. 10:5-7, 8, 9).
|102:25-27 (Heb. 1:10-12).
||45:6 (Heb. 1:8).
|104:4 (Heb. 1:7).
|110:1 (Heb. 1:13).
V. DIVINE TITLES APPLIED DIRECTLY TO CHRIST
IN THE NEW TESTAMENT.
|9:8 (Acts 17:31).
||45:6 (Heb. 1:8).
||97:7 (Heb. 1:6).
|96:13 (Acts 17:31).
||62:12 (Matt. 16:27).
||102:25-27 (Heb. 1:10-12).
|98:9 (Acts 17:31).
||74:2 (1Pet. 1:19).
||104:4 (Heb. 1:7).
|34:8 (1Pet. 2:3).
VI. THE BEATITUDES IN THE PSALMS.
The word rendered "blessed" in the "Beatitudes" is not always "barak,"
to bless; but 'ashrey, happinesses. Its first occurrence is
Deut. 33:29. It is the plural of majesty or accumulation, and means
"O the happinesses", or, "O the great happiness", or "O How happy".
'Ashrey occurs twenty-six times in the book of Psalms.
It is translated "blessed" nineteen times, and "happy" seven times.
In the list below, these latter are marked with an asterisk (*).
The following is the complete list :
Pss. 1:1, 2:12; 32:1, 2; 33:12; 34:8; 40:4; 41:1; 65:4; 84:4, 5, 12;
89:15; 94:12; 106:3; 112:1; 119:1, 2; 127:5*; 128:1, 2*; 127:8*, 9*; 144:15*,
The word is distributed in the five books of the Psalms as follows :
Book I, eight times; Book II, once; Book III, four times; Book IV, twice;
Book V, eleven times; making twenty-six in all.
VII. THE ACROSTIC PSALMS.
There are nine examples of Acrostics in the Book of Psalms, while eleven
other Acrostic Scriptures are found in the Old Testament (*1).
- Psalms 9 and 10 are linked together by an Acrostic which, like
"the times of trouble" (the great tribulation), of which the two Psalms
treat, is purposely broken, and is irregular and out of joint. This
Acrostic tells us that the subject of the two Psalms is one, and that they
are to be connected together. See notes there on the many expressions
common to both.
- Psalm 25. Here, again, the Acrostic is designedly incomplete,
a proof of its genuineness instead of its "corruption". No writer
would or could omit a letter from carelessness. The Psalm has the
same phenomena as Psalm 34, where the same letter w
= V) is omitted, and the same letter p
= P) is duplicated, in the word Padah, "redeem:. The last
verse is thus, in each case, made to stand out prominently by itself.
- Psalm 34. See under ii, above.
- Psalm 37. In this Psalm the series is perfect and complete.
Every letter has two verses of two lines each, except three : vv.
7 (d, Daleth = D), 20 (k,
Kaph = K), and 34 (q, Koph = K).
- Psalm 111. In this Psalm the series is complete.
The Psalm has twenty-two lines, each line commencing with the successive
letters of the alphabet.
- Psalm 112 is formed on the model of Psalm 111, the two Psalms
forming a pair (*2); Psalm 111 being occupied with Jehovah, and Psalm 112
with the man that revereth Jehovah. See the notes there.
- Psalm 119. This Psalm consists of twenty-two groups,
consisting of eight verses each. The eight verses in each group begin
with the same letter. For example : the first eight verses
begin with a (Aleph = A, the eight verses
of the second group with b (Beth = B),
and so through the whole Psalm of 176 verses (8 x 22. See Ap. 10).
It is impossible to reproduce this (or any of the other alphabetical
Acrostics), seeing that the Hebrew and English alphabets do not correspond,
either in equivalents, order, or number of the letters.
It so happens that in the group beginning with T (vv. 65-72),
each verse in the A.V. does begin with T, except vv. 67 and 71.
These can be readily conformed by changing "Before" to "Till" in v.
67; and "It is" to "Tis" in v. 71.
The first two letters being the same in both alphabets can be thus presented
Ah! the happinesses of the perfect in the way,
Such as walk by the Law
Ah! the happinesses of the keepers of His testimonies,
Who seek Him with their
Assuredly they have not worked iniquity :
In His ways they have ever
As to Thy commandments -- Thou hast commanded us,
That we should diligently
Ah Lord, that my ways were prepared
To keep Thy statutes;
Ashamed, then, should I never be,
While I have respect unto
all Thy commandments.
All my heart shall praise Thee in uprightness,
While I learn the judgments
of Thy righteousness.
All Thy statutes also I will keep :
Leave me not utterly.
By what means shall a young man cleanse his way?
By taking heed thereto according
to Thy word.
By every means my heart hath sought Thee :
Let me not err from Thy
Besides, I have laid up Thy Word in my heart,
That I might not sin against
Blessed are Thou, O Jehovah :
Teach me Thy statutes.
By my lips have I recounted
All the judgments of Thy
By walking in Thy mandates' way,
I found joy beyond all wealth.
By Thy precepts shall I guide my musings,
And shall pore over Thy
By Thy statutes shall I be delighted :
Thy Word I shall not forget.
- Psalm 145. In this Psalm the Acrostic is perfect,
with the exception of the letter n (Nun
= N), which should come between vv. 13 and 14. See note there.
Through the infirmity of some transcriber, the verse was probably omitted
by him. It must have been in the more ancient manuscripts, because
it is preserved in the ancient Versions : viz. the Sept., Syr., Arabic,
Ethiopic, and Vulgate. One Heb. Codex is know with contains it, as
"The LORD is faithful in all His words,
And holy in all His works."
Moreover, the Structure of the Psalm shows that it originally had its
proper place in the Psalm. See the notes on Ps. 145:13, 14.
- For the other Acrostic in the Psalms, see the note on Ps.
(*1) There are five in the Book of Esther, each giving the Divine
names in the form of an Acrostic. (See Ap. 60.)
VIII. THE AUTHORS NAMED IN THE PSALMS.
One other Divine name in Ps. 96:11. See note
One perfect Acrostic in Prov. 31:10-31. See
In the Book of Lamentations, each of the first four
chapters is characterized by an Acrostic. See notes there.
(*2) With the further peculiarity that the first three verses
in each Psalm consist of two portions : the last two, of three portions.
- The Psalms bearing the name of "DAVID" are seventy-three in
all : thirty-seven in Book I (3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 11, 12, 13, 14,
15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32,
34, 35, 36, 37, 38, 39, 40, 41); eighteen Psalms in Book II (51, 52, 53,
54, 55, 56, 57, 58, 59, 60, 61, 62, 63, 64, 65, 68, 69, 70); one in Book
III (Ps. 86); two in Book IV (101 and 103); and fifteen in Book V (108,
109, 110, 122, 124, 131, 133, 138, 139, 140, 141, 142, 143, 144, 145).
- By "Asaph", twelve Psalms : one being in Book II (Ps.
50), and eleven in Book III (73, 74, 75, 76, 77, 78, 79, 80, 81, 82, 83).
- By "the sons of Korah", eleven Psalms : seven being in
Book II (42, 44, 45, 46, 47, 48, 49); and four in Book III (84, 85, 87,
88), as set out in The Companion Bible. In Pss. 46 and 88
it is repeated as the sub-scription of Pss. 45 and 87, and is not
the super-scription of 46 and 88 as in all the Versions.
- For, or of "Solomon", two Psalms : one in Book II (Ps.
72), and one in Book V (Ps. 127).
- "By Heman the Ezrahite", one in Book III (Ps. 88).
- By "Ethan the Ezrahite", one in Book III (Ps. 89).
- By "Moses the man of God", one in Book IV (Ps. 90).
IX. THE DISPENSATIONAL CHARACTER OF THE
In reading the Book of Psalms, we must constantly bear in mind the character
of the Dispensation to which they belong. The word "Dispensation"
means "administration" : and God's principles of administration varied
according as man was in a Dispensation of innocence, or mankind was "without
Law", or Israel was "under Law", or as we are under grace in this present
God's principles of administration have varied with each of these :
and in the future they will vary yet more : in the coming Dispensation
of judgment, and in the Dispensation of millennial glory by which it will
If we read what pertains to one Dispensation into another which is administered
on different lines, we shall have only confusion. Unless they be
rightly divided, we shall not find "the truth" (2Tim. 2:15).
Much of what we read in the Psalms is truth for all time :
but, some things are peculiar to that Dispensation of Law, and are
neither suitable nor appropriate for the present Dispensation of grace.
That is why many readers stumble when they judge "the imprecatory Psalms"
from the standpoint of grace. Those Psalms were appropriate for the
past Dispensation of works, as they will be for the coming Dispensation
of judgment; but they are not appropriate for the present Dispensation,
in which God's administration is on the principles of grace (according
to Matt. 5:44-48). It was true, in the former Dispensation of Law,
that "when the wicked man turneth away from his wickedness, and doeth that
which is lawful and right, he shall save his soul alive" (Ezek. 18:27).
But that is not the way of salvation now. The Scriptures for this
present Dispensation are written and contained in the Pauline Epistles
(fulfilling the promise of the Lord in John 16:13(; and these declare with
one voice that we are not saved by works, but by grave (Rom. 3:23, 24;
11:6. Eph. 2:3-9. Titus 3:5-8).
Even so with the "imprecatory Psalms", and similar expressions in other
Psalms : they were true and appropriate for that Dispensation,
but are equally inappropriate for this.
X. THE DISTRIBUTION OF THE DIVINE TITLES
IN THE FIVE BOOKS.
It may conduce to the completeness of the study of the usage of the
Divine Titles, in relation to the Dispensational character of the five
Books of the Psalms, if we give a connected list. They are given
under the Structure of each Book separately.
A comparison of these numbers will show that they correspond with the
subject of each Book as exhibited in the Structure prefixed to each Book.
When "God" is used, the thought is of the Creator and His creatures.
When "Jehovah" is used, it speaks of a Covenant God, in covenant relation
with His own People.
- THE GENESIS BOOK. (Psalms 1-41), p. 720.
Jehovah occurs 279 times, Elohim only forty-eight
(nine of them connected with Jehovah).
- THE EXODUS BOOK. (Psalms 42-72), p. 720.
Jehovah occurs only thirty-seven times, Elohim occurs
262 times (twice in connection with Jehovah). El occurs fourteen
times, and Jah once.
- THE LEVITICUS BOOK. (Psalms 73-89), p. 720.
In the First Selection (A1) Jehovah
occurs only fifteen times, while Elohim occurs sixty-five times (twice
In the Second Selection (A2) Jehovah
occurs fifty times, while Elohim occurs only 28 times (four of which are
connected with Jehovah). El occurs five times.
- THE NUMBERS BOOK. (Psalms 90-106), p. 720.
Jehovah occurs 126 times, and Elohim only thirty-one
times (in ten of which it is combined with Jehovah). El occurs six
- THE DEUTERONOMY BOOK. (Psalms 107-150), p. 720.
Jehovah occurs 293 times, while Elohim occurs only
forty-one times (in four of which it is combined with Jehovah). Jah
occurs thirteen times. El occurs ten times. Eloah twice.
XI. THE PRAYER BOOK VERSION OF THE PSALMS.
The Authorized Version of the Bible of 1611 was preceded by several
other Versions made into the English tongue.
- The earliest was that by John Wycliffe, about A.D. 1380.
This existed only in MS. until 1831, when the N.T. was printed for the
first time, followed by the O.T. in 1848. The complete Bible was
not published till 1850.
- Tyndale's Version. The N.T. was published in 1525, and
the Pentateuch in 1530.
- Coverdale's Version followed in 1535, and was the first complete
printed English Bible.
- Matthew's Bible (largely based on Tyndale) was published under
this assumed name in 1537 by John Rogers.
- The Great Bible followed in 1539. It was Coverdale's
Version revised by himself, and was in large folio, which gave it its name.
In 1540 Cranmer wrote a preface; and hence this and subsequent editions
(*1) became known as "Cranmer's Bible". It was from this Version
that the Psalms and other portions of Scripture were taken, and used in
the Prayer Book, from the edition of 1552 to the last revision in 1662.
When the A.V. was published in 1611, it was "authorized (or appointed)
to be read in churches" (hence its name), instead of the Versions which
had preceded it, and which were thenceforth superseded. Extracts
from it, such as the opening sentences, and the Epistles and Gospels, were
at the same time substituted for those previously in use (*2).
But it was found that, from the use of the Psalms in Public Worship,
people had become so accustomed to the older Version (many being able to
sing or say them from memory), that when the last revision of the Prayer
Book was made in 1662 the Psalter was retained, it being deemed unwise
to make a change which would be so revolutionary.
This is why the Prayer Book Version differs from the Bible Version.
This is also the reason why a change in "the names and order" of the
Books of the Bible to the order of the Hebrew Canon is likewise now impossible.
The translators of the Septuagint arbitrarily adopted a different order,
and gave the books different names. This was followed by the Vulgate
and all subsequent Versions (*1). No change in these respects would
now be tolerated.
In comparing the two Versions, regard must be had :
- To the NUMBERS OF THE VERSES, as these
are not the same in each, and differ sometimes in the numeration.
For example, Ps. 19:14 in A.V. is 19:14, 15 in the Prayer Book Version;
and Ps. 18:1, 2 in A.V. is 18:1 in the Prayer Book Version. The reference
to the Psalms in The Companion Bible and its Appendixes is always
to the A.V., not to the Prayer Book Version.
- As to OBSOLETE WORDS in the Prayer Book
Version, the following is a list of the more important, which will show
the extent of the changes made in 1611 :
Abjects, worthless persons, 35:15.
after (prep), according to, 90:15.
apace, swiftly, 58:6.
at large, loose, without restraint, 118:5.
brawn, muscle, boar's flesh, 119:70.
cast their heads, consult, conspire, 83:5.
certify, to make certain, 39:5 (v. 4 in A.V.); to show
comfortable, consoling, 54:6.
conversation, mode of life, 50:23.
darling, favorite, A.S. dear-ling, 22:20; 35:17.
discovereth, strippeth of leaves, 29:8 (v. 9 in A.V.).
dragons, serpents, 74:14 (v. 13 in A.V.).
due, appointed, 9:9.
ensue, pursue, 34:14.
eschew, avoid, shun, 34:14.
fain, glad, 71:21 (v. 23 in A.V.).
fie, Lat. phy, an expression of disgust, 35:21; 40:18.
flittings, wanderings, 56:8.
froward, perverse, 18:26; 58:3; 64:2.
glory, tongue (which gives glory), 16:10.
graven, dig, digged, 7:16.
ground, bottom, 68:26.
harnessed, armed, root = made of iron, 78:10.
health, salvation, 51:14; 67:2; 119:123.
hell, grave, 49:14, 15.
hold of, hold to, 31:7.
holpen, helped, 22:5; 86:17.
horn, head, 75:5, 6, 12; 89:18.
inditing, dictating, 45:1.
inquisition, search, inquiry, 9:12.
knappeth, snappeth, 46:9.
laud (Lat.), praise, 135:1.
lay to, apply, 119:126.
learn, teach, 25:4, 8; 119:66.
leasing, falsehood, 4:2; 5:6.
lien, lain, 68:13.
lighten, enlighten, 13:3; 34:5.
make thou all his bed, nurse, 41:3.
minished, lessened, 12:1; 107:39.
mistake, take wrongly, 56:5.
nethermost, lowest, 86:13.
noisome, noxious, 91:3.
ordereth, arrangeth, 40:6.
pate, crown of the head, 7:17.
pit, grave, 6:5; 9:15; 69:16.
poor, oppressed, 34:6; 69:30.
ports, gates, 9:14.
potsherd, broken pottery, 22:15.
prevent, precede, anticipate, 18:18; 21:3; 119:148, &c.
quick, living, alive, 55:16.
quicken, make alive, 119:25, &c.
refrain, restrain, 76:12.
reins, kidneys, 7:10, &c.
require, ask, 27:4; 38:16.
room, place, 18:36; 31:9.
runagates, rebels, 68:6.
set by, esteem highly, 15:4.
set in, put in the way of, 38:17.
shawms, wind instruments, 98:7.
simple, undesigning, artless, 72:4, 13.
simpleness, artlessness, guilelessness, 69:5.
still, silent, 62:1.
stomach, pride, 101:7.
stool, seat, 94:20.
strange, foreign, 18:45; 114:1.
tell, count, 22:17; 56:8.
thereafter, according, 90:11.
thievish, given to theft, 10:8.
treadings, footsteps, 73:2.
tush, an expression of impatience, like pish, or tut, 10:6,
unto, in comparison with, 16:2.
vengeance, vindication or avengement, 79:11.
water-pipes, cataracts or torrents, 42:9.
weights (upon the), scales; i.e. when weighed, 62:9.
whet, sharpen, 7:13.
wholesome, saving, 20:6; 28:9.
within, within doors, 45:14.
wont, accustomed, 119:156.
worship, worthy of honor, 3:3.
(*1) The other Versions published between this and the A.V. were
Geneva Bible in 1557-60; and Archbishop Parker's in 1568, known as
the Bishops' Bible; the Rhemish N.T. in 1582; and the
Bible in 1610, both the latter being of Roman Catholic origin.
(*2) Except the "comfortable words" in the Communion Service,
which appear to be original translations and not wholly from any preceding
Version, and have never been changed.
Home | About LW | Site Map | LW Publications | Search
Developed by ©
Levend Water All rights reserved