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 King David. We imagine these songs of joy to have originated 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? How tremendously have they influenced later generations who found inspiration in their words! Here are several key passages taken from the King James translation of the Bible:
“The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.
He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.
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.
Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.” (Psalm 23:-16)
For this reading I used the King James Version.