The Book of Tehilim or “praises” or more commonly called Psalms is the first book of the third section of the Hebrew Bible, called the Ketuvim or “writings.” We get our word for Psalm from the Greek word “psalmoi” referring to “instrumental music.” The book is a collection of 150 psalms, most of whom are traditionally attributed to David. We imagine the songs of joy to originate in the days before Jerusalem was besieged by the Babylonians in 587 BC, and likewise we envision the songs of lament to have found inspiration during the Babylonian exile period.
While perhaps little can be said of the Psalms, and it is better to read, memorize, and meditate on them. What did these songs mean to the exiled Israelites? Here are several key passages taken from the King James translation of the Bible:
1 The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
2 He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.
3 He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.
4 Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.
1 The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? the Lord is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?
1 I waited patiently for the Lord; and he inclined unto me, and heard my cry.
2 He brought me up also out of an horrible pit, out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon a rock, and established my goings.
3 And he hath put a new song in my mouth, even praise unto our God: many shall see it, and fear, and shall trust in the Lord…