The Berean Expositor
Volume 50 - Page 17 of 185
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pp. 66 - 72
One of the things that the diligent student of the Psalms discovers is their amazing
range of feeling and expression. It has been said there is no human experience that is
missing from this part of the O.T. We give some indication of the wide range covered by
various Psalms.
Prayers for blessing and protection (86:, 102:).
Psalms of praise for special mercies, the wonders of creation, the majesty of God
(47:, 68:, 104:).
Psalms asking for divine intervention and deliverance from danger, calamity,
enemies and sickness (38:, 88:).
Confession of faith that God is Creator, King over the earth, Judge and moral Ruler
of the universe (32:, 94:, 97:, 114:, 136:).
Psalms of penitence for sin of which there are seven (6:, 31:, 38:, 51:, 102:,
130:, 143:).
Intercession for the king, the people, the house of David, and Jerusalem (21:, 47:,
89:, 122:).
Imprecatory Psalms (35:, 49:, 109:).
Psalm of wisdom and religious instruction (37:, 49:, 122:, etc.).
Experimental Psalms which deal with the strange experiences that befall God's
people and the puzzling prosperity of the wicked (16:, 49:, 94:, etc.).
Psalms which praise the greatness of the Torah (the Law) and the Word of God
generally (119:).
With this great variety and coverage it is no wonder that believers of all ages have
been attracted to the Psalms.
The Psalm Titles.
The meaning of these titles has been obscure since ancient times and it is apparent that
the key to their understanding had been lost very early. Bible students of all schools have
acknowledged this. In his work on the Psalms, Bishop Jebb stated that "so great are the
difficulties attending this enquiry, that, in many instances, little more than conjectures
can be offered" (vol.2 p.133). Delitzsch declared that "the Septuagint found them already
in existence and did not understand them . . . . . the key to their comprehension must have
been lost very early" (Commentary on the Psalms).
And yet there is general agreement that these titles form a part of the primitive sacred
text and are connected in some way with the Temple worship.
Early in this century, however, the key was discovered by Dr. J. W. Thirtle who was
editor of The Christian at this time. He noticed that the third chapter of Habakkuk was a
typical Psalm with a superscription and subscription. The superscription was "A prayer
of Habakkuk the prophet upon Shigionoth" (verse 1). Verses 2-19 give the Psalm proper.
At the end we have the well-known phrase "To the chief Musician" (upon Neginoth). If