Psalms

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Books of the Psalms
1. Psalms 1 to 41
- Most of these are attributed to David.
- The Divine Name (LORD) is used more often than El or Elohim.
Blessed be the LORD, the God of Israel,
from all eternity and forever.
Amen. Amen. (41:14)
2. Psalms 42 to 72
- 31 psalms.
- 18 attributed to David
- 1 to Solomon (72)
- 8 to sons of Korah
- 5 unattributed
- El or Elohim is used more often than the Divine Name. Psalms 42-83 are called the "Elohist Psalter" (JBC).
Blessed be the Lord God, the God of Israel,
who alone does wonderful deeds.
Blessed be his glorious name forever;
may he fill all the earth with his glory.
Amen and amen.
The end of the psalms of David, son of Jesse. (72:18-20)
3. Psalms 73 to 89
- 17 psalms.
- Most attributed to Asaph.
- Psalm 86 is attributed to David, 88 to Heman the Ezraite, and 89 to Ethan the Ezraite.
- El or Elohim is used more often than the Divine Name.
Blessed be the LORD forever! Amen and amen! (89:53)
4. Psalms 90 to 106
- 17 psalms.
- All anonymous except for Psalm 90, attributed to Moses, and Psalms 101 and 103 attributed to David.
- The Divine Name (LORD) is used more often than El or Elohim.
Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel,
from everlasting to everlasting!
Let all the people say, Amen!
Hallelujah! (106:48)
5. Psalms 107 to 150
- 44 psalms.
- The Divine Name (LORD) is used more often than El or Elohim.

I have given the titles of the Psalms as in the New American Bible Revised Edition.

1. Psalms 1 to 41

Psalm 1

TNK
True Happiness in God's Law
attributed to: n/a
date composed: Second Temple?
date of events: n/a
genres: wisdom, torah
comments: Deliberately composed as a preface to the Psalter?

Psalm 2

TNK
A Psalm for a Royal Coronation
attributed to: A king of Israel: "I will proclaim the decree of the LORD; he said to me, 'You are my son; today I have begotten you.'"
date composed: United Kingdom of Israel?
date of events: On the day of the anointing of a King? Future: when the King of Israel reigns over all kings.
genres: royal, Messianic
comments:
  • NAB: "Anointed: in Hebrew mashiah, “anointed”; in Greek christos, whence English Messiah and Christ. In Israel kings (Jgs 9:8; 1 Sm 9:16; 16:12–13) and high priests (Lv 8:12; Nm 3:3) received the power of their office through anointing."
  • "You are my son; this day I have begotten you" is interpreted as a prophecy of the Resurrection in Acts 13:33.

Psalm 3

TNK
Threatened but Trusting
attributed to: David
date composed:
date of events: war with Absalom
genres: lament
comments: "A psalm of David, when he fled from his son Absalom" (2 Samuel 15:14–16).

Psalm 4

TNK
Trust in God
attributed to: David
date composed:
date of events:
genres: individual lament emphasizing trust in God.
comments:
  • "A psalm of David."
  • "In peace I will lie down and fall asleep, for you alone, LORD, make me secure" (9).

Psalm 5

TNK
Prayer for Divine Help
attributed to: David
date composed:
date of events:
genres: lament, imprecation
comments: "A psalm of David."

Psalm 6

TNK
Prayer in Distress
attributed to: David
date composed:
date of events:
genres: penitential lament, imprecation
comments:
  • "A psalm of David."
  • "For in death there is no remembrance of you. Who praises you in Sheol?" (6).
NAB: "A motive for God to preserve the psalmist from death: in the shadowy world of the dead no one offers you praise. Sheol is the biblical term for the underworld where the insubstantial souls of dead human beings dwelt. It was similar to the Hades of Greek and Latin literature. In the second century B.C., biblical books begin to speak positively of life with God after death (Dn 12:1–3; Wis 3)."
xref: Isaiah 38:18-19, Psalm 49:14-16.
  • NAB: "The psalmist does not, as in many laments, claim to be innocent but appeals to God’s mercy (Ps 6:5)."

Psalm 7

TNK
God the Vindicator
attributed to: David
date composed:
date of events: during war with Saul?
genres: individual lament
comments:
  • "A plaintive song [shiggayon] of David, which he sang to the LORD concerning Cush, the Benjaminite."
  • Wikipedia: This Cush is mentioned only in this psalm and "is believed to be a follower of Saul."
  • "God is a just judge, powerful and patient, not exercising anger every day" (12).

Psalm 8

TNK
Divine Majesty and Human Dignity
attributed to: David
date composed:
date of events: David's reign
genres: hymn of praise, creation meditation
comments:
  • "A psalm of David."
  • On the lips of children and of babes you have found praise to foil your enemy, to silence the foe and the rebel. (3)
  • What is man that you are mindful of him, and a son of man that you care for him? Yet you have made him little less than a god, crowned him with glory and honor. (5-6)

Psalm 9

TNK
Thanksgiving for Victory and Prayer for Justice
attributed to: David
date composed:
date of events:
genres:
  • NAB: "Ps 9 and Ps 10 in the Hebrew text have been transmitted as separate poems but they actually form a single acrostic poem and are so transmitted in the Greek and Latin tradition. Each verse of the two Psalms begins with a successive letter of the Hebrew alphabet (though several letters have no corresponding stanza)."
  • Acrostic: 2 verses per consonant.
comments: "A psalm of David."

Psalm 10

TNK
Psalm 9 continued
attributed to: Should be counted as part of Psalm 9, therefore would be attributed to David.
date composed:
date of events:
genres:
  • lament
  • NAB fn to Psalm 9: Ps 9 and Ps 10 in the Hebrew text have been transmitted as separate poems but they actually form a single acrostic poem and are so transmitted in the Greek and Latin tradition. Each verse of the two Psalms begins with a successive letter of the Hebrew alphabet (though several letters have no corresponding stanza).
comments:

Psalm 11

TNK
Confidence in the Presence of God
attributed to: David
date composed:
date of events:
genres: song of trust, imprecation
comments: "Of David."

Psalm 12

TNK
Prayer against Evil Tongues
attributed to: David
date composed:
date of events:
genres: lament, imprecation
comments: "A psalm of David."

Psalm 13

TNK
Prayer for Help
attributed to: David
date composed:
date of events:
genres: NAB: A typical lament, in which the psalmist feels forgotten by God (Ps 13:2-3). ... The heartfelt prayer (Ps 13:4–5) passes on a statement of trust (Ps 13:6a), intended to reinforce the prayer, and a vow to thank God when deliverance has come (Ps 13:6b).
comments: "A psalm of David."

Psalm 14

TNK
A Lament over Widespread Corruption
attributed to: David
date composed:
date of events:
genres:
  • lament; imprecation; wisdom literature?
  • NAB: The lament (substantially duplicated in Ps 53) depicts the world as consisting of two types of people: “the fool” (equals the wicked, Ps 14:1–3) and “the company of the just” (Ps 14:4–6; also called “my people,” and “the poor”). The wicked persecute the just, but the Psalm expresses the hope that God will punish the wicked and reward the good.
comments:
  • "Of David."
All have gone astray;
all alike are perverse.
Not one does what is good,
not even one. (3)

Psalm 15

TNK
The Religious Israelite
attributed to: David
date composed:
date of events:
genres: NAB: "A liturgical scrutiny at the entrance to the Temple court."
comments: "A psalm of David."

Psalm 16

TNK
God the Supreme Good
attributed to: David
date composed:
date of events:
genres:
comments: "A miktam of David."

Psalm 17

TNK
Prayer for Rescue from Persecutors
attributed to: David
date composed:
date of events:
genres: individual lament
comments:
  • "A prayer of David."
  • "Keep me as the apple of your eye; hide me in the shadow of your wings."

Psalm 18

TNK
A King's Thanksgiving for Victory
"The Lord is My Rock"
attributed to: David
date composed:
date of events: at the end of the war with Saul?
genres: A royal thanksgiving for a military victory, duplicated in 2 Sm 22.
comments:
  • "Of David, the servant of the LORD, who sang to the LORD the words of this song after the LORD had rescued him from the clutches of all his enemies and from the hand of Saul" (1 Samuel 24:11–12).
  • I believe the opening statement, "I love you," is rare in the Scriptures. I heard this in one of my Hebrew classes, but have no other source for the claim at the moment.
LORD, my rock, my fortress, my deliverer,
My God, my rock of refuge,
my shield, my saving horn,* my stronghold! (3)
The LORD lives! Blessed be my rock!
Exalted be God, my savior! (47)

Psalm 19

TNK
God's Glory in the Heavens and in the Law
attributed to: David
date composed:
date of events:
genres: hymn of praise, creation, torah, wisdom (?)
comments:
  • "A psalm of David."
  • He has pitched in them a tent for the sun; it comes forth like a bridegroom from his canopy, and like a hero joyfully runs its course" (5-6).
  • The NAB outlines the Psalm in three parts, but says "The themes of light and speech unify the poem."
2-7: "The heavens declare the glory of God"
8-12: "The Law of the Lord is perfect, refreshing the soul."
law, decree, precepts, command, statues
13-15: "Cleanse me from my inadvertent sins."

Psalm 20

TNK
Prayer for the King in Time of War
attributed to: David
date composed:
date of events:
genres: for the king
comments: "A psalm of David."

Psalm 21

TNK
Thanksgiving and Assurances for the King
attributed to: David
date composed:
date of events:
genres: royal, thanksgiving, confidence
comments: "A psalm of David."

Psalm 22

TNK
The Prayer of an Innocent Person
attributed to: David
date composed:
date of events:
genres: lament, confidence, praise
comments:
  • "A psalm of David."
  • Applied to Jesus' suffering on the Cross (Mk 15:34, Mt 27:46): "My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?"

Psalm 23

TNK
The Lord, Shepherd and Host
attributed to: David
date composed:
date of events:
genres:
comments: "A psalm of David."

Psalm 24

TNK
The Glory of God in Procession to Zion
attributed to: David
date composed:
date of events:
genres:
comments:
  • "A psalm of David."
  • NAB: The Psalm apparently accompanied a ceremony of the entry of God (invisibly enthroned upon the ark), followed by the people, into the Temple. The Temple commemorated the creation of the world (Ps 24:1–2). The people had to affirm their fidelity before being admitted into the sanctuary (Ps 24:3–6; cf. Ps 15). A choir identifies the approaching God and invites the very Temple gates to bow down in obeisance (Ps 24:7–10).

Psalm 25

TNK
Confident Prayer for Forgiveness and Guidance
attributed to: David
date composed:
date of events:
genres:
NAB:
A lament. Each verse begins with a successive letter of the Hebrew alphabet. Such acrostic Psalms are often a series of statements only loosely connected. The psalmist mixes ardent pleas (Ps 25:1–2, 16–22) with expressions of confidence in God who forgives and guides.
A final verse beginning with the Hebrew letter pe is added to the normal 22-letter alphabet. Thus the letters aleph, lamed, and pe open the first, middle (Ps 25:11), and last lines of the Psalm. Together, they spell aleph, the first letter of the alphabet, from a Hebrew root that means “to learn.”
Acrostic: 1 verse per consonant.
comments: "Of David."

Psalm 26

TNK
Prayer of Innocence
attributed to: David
date composed:
date of events:
genres: lament; liturgical action?--washing before entering the Temple: "I will wash my hands* in innocence so that I may process around your altar, Lord" (6).
comments: "Of David."

Psalm 27

TNK
Trust in God
attributed to:
date composed:
date of events:
genres: lament
comments:
  • "Of David."
  • "One thing I ask of the LORD; this I seek: To dwell in the LORD’s house all the days of my life, To gaze on the LORD’s beauty, to visit his temple" (4).
  • NAB: Tradition has handed down the two sections of the Psalm (Ps 27:1–6; 7–14) as one Psalm, though each part could be understood as complete in itself. Asserting boundless hope that God will bring rescue (Ps 27:1–3), the psalmist longs for the presence of God in the Temple, protection from all enemies (Ps 27:4–6). In part B there is a clear shift in tone (Ps 27:7–12); the climax of the poem comes with “I believe” (Ps 27:13), echoing “I trust” (Ps 27:3).

Psalm 28

TNK
Petition and Thanksgiving
attributed to: David
date composed:
date of events:
genres: lament, thanksgiving
comments: "Of David."

Psalm 29

TNK
The Lord of Majesty Acclaimed as King of the World
attributed to: David
date composed:
date of events:
genres: hymn of praise
comments:
  • "A psalm of David."
  • "Give to the LORD, you sons of God, give to the LORD glory and might" (1).
  • Thunder: "voice of the LORD."
  • "The LORD is enthroned above the flood!" (10).
Reminds me of the Boy Scouts' "Human Rain Storm Activity." Video of same.

Psalm 30

TNK
Thanksgiving for Deliverance
attributed to: David
date composed: First or Second Temple period? The psalm itself says that it is "a song for the dedication of the Temple." Solomon's Temple (the First Temple) was built long after David's death; the Second Temple, of course, is post-exilic (sixth-century BC).
date of events: 164 BC: purification of the Temple by the Maccabees.
genres: individual thanksgiving, adapted for the cleansing of the Second Temple
comments:
  • "A psalm. A song for the dedication of the Temple. Of David."
  • "What gain is there from my lifeblood, from my going down to the grave? Does dust give you thanks or declare your faithfulness?" (10).
  • "At dusk weeping comes for the night; but at dawn there is rejoicing" (6).

Psalm 31

TNK
Prayer in Distress and Thanksgiving for Escape
attributed to: David
date composed:
date of events:
genres: lament, declaration of trust, thanksgiving
comments:
  • "A psalm of David."
  • "Into your hands I commend my spirit" (6).

Psalm 32

TNK
Remission of Sin
attributed to: David
date composed:
date of events: during David's reign
genres: penitential lament; thanksgiving
comments: Some associate this with David being forgiven for his sins against Uriah (2 Samuel 12:13–14). Nothing in the text confirms or denies that association.

Psalm 33

TNK
Praise of God's Power and Providence
attributed to:
date composed:
date of events:
genres: hymn of praise, creation (heavens, waters, earth--verses 6-9)
comments:
  • "By the word of the LORD the heavens were made; by the breath of his mouth all their host" (6).
  • "For he spoke, and it came to be, commanded, and it stood in place" (9).
"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was God, and the Word was God" (Jn 1:1).
  • "A vain hope for safety is the horse" (17).

Psalm 34

TNK
Thanksgiving to God Who Delivers the Just
attributed to: David
date composed:
date of events: during war with Saul
genres: NAB: A thanksgiving in acrostic form, each line beginning with a successive letter of the Hebrew alphabet. In this Psalm one letter is missing and two are in reverse order.
comments: "When he feigned madness before Abimelech [Achish]], who drove him out and he went away" (1 Samuel 21:13).

Psalm 35

TNK
Prayer for Help against Unjust Enemies
attributed to: David
date composed:
date of events:
genres: lament of a person betrayed by friends, imprecation
comments: "Of David."

Psalm 36

TNK
Human Wickedness and Divine Providence
attributed to: David
date composed:
date of events: post-exilic?
genres: wisdom, hymn, lament
comments: "Of David, the servant of the LORD."

Psalm 37

TNK
The Fate of Sinners and the Reward of the Just
attributed to: David
date composed:
date of events: post-exilic?
genres:
  • Acrostic: 2 verses each
  • theodicy
  • imprecation
comments: "Of David."

Psalm 38

TNK
Prayer of an Afflicted Sinner
attributed to: David
date composed:
date of events:
genres: penitential lament
comments: "A psalm of David. For remembrance."

Psalm 39

TNK
The Vanity of Life
attributed to: David
date composed:
date of events:
genres: lament of a mortally ill person
comments:
  • "For the leader, for Jeduthun.[1] A psalm of David."
  • "Turn your gaze from me, that I may smile before I depart to be no more" (14).

Psalm 40

TNK
Gratitude and Prayer for Help
attributed to: David
date composed:
date of events:
genres: thanksgiving (2-13) combined with lament (14-17) and imprecation
comments:
  • "A psalm of David."
  • "Sacrifice and offering you do not want; you opened my ears. Holocaust and sin-offering you do not request" (7).
  • NAB: Psalm 70 is "almost identical to Ps 40:14–17."

Psalm 41

TNK
Thanksgiving after Sickness
attributed to: David
date composed:
date of events:
genres: thanksgiving for rescue from illness
comments:
  • "A psalm of David."
  • "Even my trusted friend, who ate my bread, has raised his heel against me" (10).
Blessed be the LORD, the God of Israel,
from all eternity and forever.
Amen. Amen. (14)

2. Psalms 42 to 72

Psalm 42

TNK
Longing for God's Presence in the Temple
attributed to: The Korahites
date composed:
date of events:
genres: lament
comments:
  • "A maskil of the Korahites."
  • "As the deer longs for streams of water, so my soul longs for you, O God" (42).
  • NAB: Ps 42–43 form a single lament of three sections, each section ending in an identical refrain (Ps 42:6, 12; 43:5). The psalmist is far from Jerusalem, and longs for the divine presence that Israel experienced in the Temple liturgy. Despite sadness, the psalmist hopes once again to join the worshiping crowds.
My soul thirsts for God, the living God.
When can I enter and see the face of God?
Why are you downcast, my soul;
why do you groan within me?
Wait for God, for I shall again praise him,
my savior and my God.

Psalm 43

TNK
Psalm 42 continued
attributed to: If part of Ps 42, then "a maskil of the Korahites" (Ps 42).
date composed:
date of events:
genres: lament
comments: NAB: Ps 42–43 form a single lament of three sections, each section ending in an identical refrain (Ps 42:6, 12; 43:5).
Why are you downcast, my soul;
why do you groan within me?
Wait for God, for I shall again praise him,
my savior and my God.

Psalm 44

TNK
God's Past Favor and Israel's Present Need
attributed to: the Korahites
date composed: in exile or post-exilic?
date of events: 586 BC?
genres: community lament, history
comments:
  • "A maskil of the Korahites."
  • "Awake! Why do you sleep, O Lord?" (24).

Psalm 45

TNK
Song for a Royal Wedding
attributed to: the Korahites
date composed:
date of events: A song for the Davidic king’s marriage to a foreign princess from Tyre in Phoenicia.
genres: royal, Messianic
comments:
  • "For the leader; according to 'Lilies.' A maskil of the Korahites. A love song."
  • NAB commentary on verse 7, "O God": the king, in courtly language, is called “god,” i.e., more than human, representing God to the people. Heb 1:8–9 applies Ps 45:7–8 to Christ.

Psalm 46

TNK
God, the Protector of Zion
attributed to: the Korahites
date composed:
date of events:
genres:
comments:
  • "A song of the Korahites. According to alamoth."
  • NAB comment on verse 5: Jerusalem is not situated on a river. This description derives from mythological descriptions of the divine abode and symbolizes the divine presence as the source of all life (cf. Is 33:21; Ez 47:1–12; Jl 4:18; Zec 14:8; Rev 22:1–2).
Streams of the river gladden the city of God,
the holy dwelling of the Most High. (5)
"Be still and know that I am God!" (11)

Psalm 47

TNK
The Ruler of All the Nations
attributed to: the Korahites
date composed:
date of events:
genres: hymn of praise to God as King of Israel
comments: "A psalm of the Korahites."

Psalm 48

TNK
The Splendor of the Invincible City
attributed to: the Korahites
date composed:
date of events:
genres: Hymn of praise. NAB: "A song of Zion, like Psalm 46; Psalm 76; Psalm 87; Psalm 132."
comments: "A psalm of the Korahites."

Psalm 49

TNK
Confidence in God Rather than in Riches
attributed to: the Korahites
date composed: Second Temple?
date of events:
genres: confidence, wisdom
comments: "A psalm of the Korahites."

Psalm 50

TNK
The Acceptable Sacrifice
attributed to: Asaph
date composed:
date of events:
genres: covenant lawsuit
comments:
  • A psalm of Asaph.

9 I will not take a bullock from your house,
or he-goats from your folds.

10 For every animal of the forest is mine,
beasts by the thousands on my mountains.

11 I know every bird in the heights;
whatever moves in the wild is mine.

12 Were I hungry, I would not tell you,
for mine is the world and all that fills it.

13 Do I eat the flesh of bulls
or drink the blood of he-goats?

14 Offer praise as your sacrifice to God;
fulfill your vows to the Most High.

15 Then call on me on the day of distress;
I will rescue you, and you shall honor me.

Psalm 51

TNK
The Miserere
Prayer of Repentance
attributed to: David
date composed:
date of events: during David's reign
genres: penitential lament
comments: "A psalm of David, when Nathan the prophet came to him after he had gone in to Bathsheba" (2 Samuel 12:13–14).

Psalm 52

TNK
The Deceitful Tongue
attributed to: David
date composed:
date of events: during the war with Saul
genres: NAB: "A condemnation of the powerful and arrogant (Ps 52:3–6), who bring down upon themselves God’s judgment (Ps 52:7)." Imprecation.
comments: "A maskil of David, when Doeg the Edomite entered and reported to Saul, saying to him: 'David has entered the house of Ahimelech'"(1 Samuel 22:9).

Psalm 53

TNK
A Lament over Widespread Corruption
attributed to: David
date composed:
date of events:
genres:
  • individual lament; imprecatory psalm
  • NAB: A lament of an individual, duplicated in Ps 14, except that “God” is used for “the LORD,” and Ps 53:6 is different, cf. Ps 14.
comments: "For the leader; according to Mahalath. A maskil of David."
All have gone astray;
each one is altogether perverse.
There is not one who does what is good, not even one. (4)

Psalm 54

TNK
Confiden Prayer in Great Peril
attributed to: David
date composed:
date of events: during the war with Saul
genres: lament, imprecation
comments: "A maskil of David, when the Ziphites came and said to Saul, 'David is hiding among us.'" (1 Samuel 23:19).

Psalm 55

TNK
A Lament over Betrayal
attributed to: David
date composed:
date of events:
genres: individual lament
comments:
  • "For the leader. On stringed instruments. A maskil of David."
  • "I rock with grief" (3).
I say, “If only I had wings like a dove
that I might fly away and find rest.
Far away I would flee;
I would stay in the desert.
“I would soon find a shelter
from the raging wind and storm.” (7-9)
For it is not an enemy that reviled me –
that I could bear –
Not a foe who viewed me with contempt,
from that I could hide.
But it was you, my other self,
my comrade and friend,
You, whose company I enjoyed,
at whose side I walked
in the house of God. (13-15)
Cast your care upon the LORD,
who will give you support.
He will never allow
the righteous to stumble. (23)
  • NAB: The wish for a sudden death for one’s enemies (Ps 55:16) occurs elsewhere in the Psalms; an example of such a death is the earth opening under the wicked Dathan and Abiram (Nm 16:31–32). ... The Psalm is not so much for personal vengeance as for a public vindication of God’s righteousness now. There was no belief in an afterlife where such vindication could take place.

Psalm 56

TNK
Trust in God
attributed to: David
date composed:
date of events: during war with Saul
genres: lament, confidence, thanksgiving, imprecation
comments:
  • "For the director. According to Yonath elem rehoqim. A miktam of David, when the Philistines seized him at Gath" (1 Samuel 21:10).
  • NAB: "Are my tears not stored in your flask?" is a unique saying in the Old Testament. The context suggests that the tears are saved because they are precious; God puts a high value on each of the psalmist’s troubles.

Psalm 57

TNK
Confident Prayer for Deliverance
attributed to: David
date composed:
date of events: during the war with Saul
genres:
comments: "A miktam of David, when he fled from Saul into a cave" (1 Samuel 24:1).

Psalm 58

TNK
The Dethroning of Unjust Rulers
attributed to: David
date composed:
date of events:
genres: lament, confidence in God's power, imprecation
comments:
  • "For the leader. Do not destroy. A miktam of David."
O God, smash the teeth in their mouths;
break the fangs of these lions, LORD! (7)
Not in the Breviary

Psalm 59

TNK
Complaint against Bloodthirsty Enemies
attributed to: David
date composed:
date of events: during Saul's reign
genres: lament
comments: "A miktam of David, when Saul sent people to watch his house and kill him" (1 Sm 19:11).


Psalm 60

TNK
Lament after Defeat in Battle
attributed to: David
date composed: After destruction of Northern Kingdom?
date of events: During David's reign
genres: community lament
comments:
  • "For the leader; according to “The Lily of.…” A miktam of David (for teaching), when he fought against Aram-Naharaim and Aram-Zobah; and Joab, coming back, killed twelve thousand Edomites in the Valley of Salt." NAB: 2 Sm 8:2, 3, 13; 1 Chr 18:2, 3, 12.
  • NAB: [60:7–12] These verses occur again as the second half of Ps 108.

Psalm 61

TNK
Prayer of the King in Time of Danger
attributed to: David
date composed:
date of events:
genres: royal lament
comments: "For the leader; with stringed instruments. Of David."

Psalm 62

TNK
Trust in God Alone
attributed to: David
date composed:
date of events:
genres: confidence
comments: "For the leader; ‘al Jeduthun.[1] A psalm of David."
One thing God has said;
two things I have heard:
Strength belongs to God;
so too, my Lord, does mercy,
For you repay each man
according to his deeds. (12-13)
NAB: [62:12] One thing…two things: parallelism of numbers for the sake of variation, a common device in Semitic poetry. One should not literally add up the numbers, cf. Am 1:3; Prv 6:16–19; 30:15, 18, 21.

Psalm 63

TNK
Ardent Longing for God
attributed to: David
date composed:
date of events: during war with Absalom
genres:
comments: "A psalm of David, when he was in the wilderness of Judah" (2 Samuel 16:2).

Psalm 64

TNK
Treacherous Conspirators Punished by God
attributed to: David
date composed:
date of events:
genres: lament of a righteous person
comments: "A psalm of David."

Psalm 65

TNK
Thanksgiving for God's Blessings
attributed to: David
date composed: First Temple
date of events:
genres: hymn of praise; thanksgiving, creation
comments: "A psalm of David. A song."

Psalm 66

TNK
Praise of God, Israel's Deliverer
attributed to:
date composed:
date of events:
genres: hymn of praise; communal and invidual thanksgiving
comments: "A song [shiyr]; a psalm [mizmor]."
You tested us, O God,
tried us as silver tried by fire.
You led us into a snare;
you bound us at the waist as captives.
You let captors set foot on our neck;
we went through fire and water;
then you led us out to freedom. (10-12)

Psalm 67

TNK
Harvest Thanks and Petition
attributed to:
date composed:
date of events:
genres: petition for a bountiful harvest
comments: "For the leader; with stringed instruments. A psalm; a song."

Psalm 68

TNK
The Exodus and Conquest, Pledge of Future Help
attributed to: David
date composed:
date of events:
genres: hymn of praise?; thanksgiving, confidence
comments:
  • "A psalm of David; a song."
  • NAB: The translation assumes the Psalm accompanied the early autumn Feast of Tabernacles (Sukkoth), which included a procession of the tribes (Ps 68:25–28).

Psalm 69

TNK
A Cry of Anguish in Great Distress
attributed to: David
date composed:
date of events:
genres: lament, imprecation
comments:
  • "For the leader; according to 'Lilies.' Of David."
  • NAB: The Psalm prays not so much for personal vengeance as for public vindication of God’s justice. There was, at this time, no belief in an afterlife where such vindication could take place. Redress had to take place now, in the sight of all.
Insult has broken my heart, and I despair;
I looked for compassion, but there was none,
for comforters, but found none.
Instead they gave me poison for my food;
and for my thirst they gave me vinegar. (21-22)

Psalm 70

TNK
Prayer for Divine Help
attributed to: David
date composed:
date of events:
genres: lament
comments:
  • "For the leader; of David. For remembrance."
  • NAB: The Psalm is almost identical to Ps 40:14–17.

Psalm 71

TNK
Prayer in Time of Old Age
attributed to:
date composed:
date of events:
genres: "Lament of an old person whose afflictions are interpreted by enemies as divine judgment" (NAB), confidence, hope and praise
comments:
Bring to a shameful end
those who attack me;
Cover with contempt and scorn
those who seek my ruin. (13)

Psalm 72

TNK
A Prayer for the King
attributed to:
date composed:
date of events:
genres: royal psalm
comments: "Of Solomon."
May the kings of Tarshish and the islands bring tribute,
the kings of Sheba and Seba offer gifts. (10)


May his name be forever;
as long as the sun, may his name endure.
May the tribes of the earth give blessings with his name;
may all the nations regard him as favored.
Blessed be the LORD God, the God of Israel,
who alone does wonderful deeds.
Blessed be his glorious name forever;
may he fill all the earth with his glory.
Amen and amen.
The end of the psalms of David, son of Jesse. (17-20)

3. Psalms 73 to 89

Psalm 73

TNK
The Trial of the Just
attributed to: Asaph
date composed:
date of events:
genres: righteous vs. wicked (wisdom?); theodicy?
comments: "A psalm of Asaph."

Psalm 74

TNK
Prayer at the Destruction of the Temple
attributed to: Asaph
date composed: In exile?
date of events: destruction of First Temple
genres: communal lament "especially appropriate at the destruction of Jerusalem in 587 B.C."; creation
comments: "A maskil of Asaph."

Psalm 75

TNK
God the Judge of the World
attributed to: Asaph
date composed:
date of events:
genres: thanksgiving, confidence
comments: "For the leader. Do not destroy! A psalm of Asaph; a song."

Psalm 76

TNK
God Defends Zion
attributed to: Asaph
date composed:
date of events:
genres: Hymn of praise. NAB: "A song of Zion, like Psalm 46; Psalm 48; Psalm 87; Psalm 132."
comments:
  • "For the leader; a psalm with stringed instruments. A song of Asaph."
  • NAB: A song glorifying Zion, the mountain of Jerusalem where God destroyed Israel’s enemies. Zion is thus the appropriate site to celebrate the victory (Ps 76:3–4), a victory described in parallel scenes (Ps 76:5–7, 8–11). Israel is invited to worship its powerful patron deity (Ps 76:12).

Psalm 77

TNK
Confidence in God During National Distress
attributed to: Asaph
date composed: exile? post-exilic?
date of events:
genres: hymn of praise (vv. 14-21); community lament, creation, trust
comments:
  • "For the leader; According to Jeduthun.[1] A psalm of Asaph."
  • NAB: The question is thus posed to God: Will you allow the people you created to be destroyed?
I consider the days of old;
the years long past
I remember.
At night I ponder in my heart;
and as I meditate, my spirit probes:
“Will the Lord reject us forever,
never again show favor?
Has God’s mercy ceased forever?
The promise to go unfulfilled for future ages?
Has God forgotten how to show mercy,
in anger withheld his compassion?” (6-10)

Psalm 78

TNK
A New Beginning in Zion and David
attributed to: Asaph
date composed: 8th BC? 7th BC? post-exilic?
date of events: Moses to David? NAB: While the Psalm has been thought to reflect the reunification program of either King Hezekiah (late eighth century) or King Josiah (late seventh century) in that the Northern Kingdom (Ephraim, Joseph) is especially invited to accept Zion and the Davidic king, a postexilic setting is also possible. Notable is the inclusion of the David-Zion tradition into the history of Israel recounted in the sources of the Pentateuch.
genres: pondering history as a parable for the present
comments:
  • "A maskil of Asaph."
He gave up his might into captivity,
his glorious ark into the hands of the foe. (61)[2]

Psalm 79

TNK
A Prayer for Jerusalem
attributed to: Asaph
date composed: exile? post-exilic?
date of events: destruction of Temple in 587 BC
genres: communal lament, imprecation
comments: "A psalm of Asaph."

Psalm 80

TNK
Prayer to Restore God's Vineyard
attributed to: Asaph
date composed:
date of events:
genres: community lament in time of defea
comments:
  • "For the leader; according to 'Lilies.' Eduth. A psalm of Asaph."
O Shepherd of Israel, lend an ear,
you who guide Joseph like a flock! (2)
... revive us, and we will call on your name.
LORD God of hosts, restore us;
light up your face and we shall be saved. (19-20)

Psalm 81

TNK
An Admonition to Fidelity
attributed to: Asaph
date composed:
date of events:
genres: pilgrimage feast, meditation on history, call to repentance
comments: "For the leader; “upon the gittith.” Of Asaph."

Psalm 82

TNK
The Downfall of Unjust Gods
attributed to: Asaph
date composed:
date of events:
genres:
comments:
The gods neither know nor understand,
wandering about in darkness,
and all the world’s foundations shake.
I declare: “Gods though you be,
offspring of the Most High all of you,
Yet like any mortal you shall die;
like any prince you shall fall.”

Psalm 83

TNK
Prayer against a Hostile Alliance
attributed to: Asaph
date composed:
date of events: During United Kingdom of Israel?
genres: community lament, history, imprecatory psalm--"The psalmist sees all Israel's enemies throughout its history united in a conspiracy" (NAB, vv. 2-8).
comments:
  • "A song; a psalm of Asaph."
Let them know that your name is LORD,
you alone are the Most High over all the earth. (19)
Not in the Breviary

Psalm 84

TNK
Prayer of a Pilgrim to Jerusalem
attributed to: A psalm of the Korahites.
date composed:
date of events: First Temple?
genres: hymn of praise, pilgrim psalm
comments: "For the leader; “upon the gittith.” A psalm of the Korahites."
"Traduttore tradittore!"
Grail edition
They are happy, who dwell in your house,
for ever singing your praise.
They are happy, whose strength is in you,
in whose hearts are the roads to Zion.
As they go through the Bitter Valley
they make it a place of springs,
the autumn rain covers it with blessings.
They walk with ever growing strength,
they will see the God of gods in Zion.
NAB
As the sparrow finds a home
and the swallow a nest to settle her young,
My home is by your altars,
LORD of hosts, my king and my God!
Blessed are those who dwell in your house!
They never cease to praise you.
As they pass through the Baca valley,
they find spring water to drink.
The early rain covers it with blessings.
They will go from strength to strength
and see the God of gods on Zion. (4-8)
Better one day in your courts
than a thousand elsewhere.
Better the threshold of the house of my God
than a home in the tents of the wicked. (11)

Psalm 85

TNK
Prayer for Divine Favor
attributed to: The Korahites
date composed: post-exilic?
date of events: Fifth century BC? Reconstruction of Judea?
genres: national lament
comments: "A psalm of the Korahites."
Love and truth will meet;
justice and peace will kiss. (11)

Psalm 86

TNK
Prayer in Time of Distress
attributed to: David
date composed:
date of events:
genres: individual lament
comments: "A prayer of David."
Turn to me, be gracious to me;
give your strength to your servant;
save the son of your handmaid.
Give me a sign of your favor:
make my enemies see, to their confusion,
that you, LORD, help and comfort me. (16-17)

Psalm 87

TNK
Zion the True Birthplace
attributed to: The Korahites
date composed:
date of events:
genres: Hymn of praise. NAB: "A song of Zion, like Psalm 46; Psalm 48; Psalm 76; Psalm 132."
comments: "A psalm of the Korahites. A song."

Psalm 88

TNK
A Despairing Lament
attributed to: The Korahites (Heman the Ezraite?).
date composed:
date of events:
genres: NAB: "A lament in which the psalmist prays for rescue from the alienation of approaching death. Each of the three stanzas begins with a call to God (Ps 88:2, 10, 14) and complains of the death that separates one from God. The tone is persistently grim."
comments: A song; a psalm of the Korahites. For the leader; according to Mahalath. For singing; a maskil of Heman the Ezrahite."
My couch is among the dead,
like the slain who lie in the grave.
You remember them no more;
they are cut off from your influence.
You plunge me into the bottom of the pit,
into the darkness of the abyss.
Your wrath lies heavy upon me;
all your waves crash over me. (6-8)
Do you work wonders for the dead?
Do the shades arise and praise you?f
Is your mercy proclaimed in the grave,
your faithfulness among those who have perished?
Are your marvels declared in the darkness,
your righteous deeds in the land of oblivion? (11-13)

Psalm 89

TNK
A Lament over God's Promise to David
attributed to: Ethan the Ezrahite
date composed:
date of events: Destruction of Jerusalem and Temple by the Babylonians.
genres: community lament
comments:
  • "A maskil of Ethan the Ezrahite."
  • "Blessed be the LORD forever! Amen and amen!" (53).

4. Psalms 90 to 106

Psalm 90

TNK
God's Eternity and Human Frailty
attributed to: Moses (!)
date composed: during or after Exile?
date of events: Exodus
genres: communal lament; wisdom
comments: "A prayer of Moses, the man of God."
Seventy is the sum of our years,
or eighty, if we are strong;
Most of them are toil and sorrow;
they pass quickly, and we are gone. (10)
Teach us to count our days aright,
that we may gain wisdom of heart. (12)
Give us joy to balance our affliction
for the years when we knew misfortune ...
Give success to the work of our hands,
Give success to the work of our hands. (15,17; Breviary)

Psalm 91

TNK
Security under God's Protection
attributed to:
date composed:
date of events:
genres: NAB: A prayer of someone who has taken refuge in the Lord, possibly within the Temple (Ps 91:1–2).
comments:
  • Source of the song, "Eagle's Wings"
  • Guardian Angel psalm
  • Quoted in the temptation of Jesus in Luke and Mark
  • NAB: [91:1] The shelter of the Most High: basically “hiding place” but in the Psalms a designation for the protected Temple precincts, cf. Ps 27:5; 31:21; 61:5. The shade of the Almighty: lit., “the shadow of the wings of the Almighty,” cf. Ps 17:8; 36:8; 57:2; 63:8. Ps 91:4 makes clear that the shadow is an image of the safety afforded by the outstretched wings of the cherubim in the holy of holies.
Because you have the LORD for your refuge
and have made the Most High your stronghold,
No evil shall befall you,
no affliction come near your tent.
For he commands his angels with regard to you,
to guard you wherever you go.
With their hands they shall support you,
lest you strike your foot against a stone. (9-12)

Psalm 92

TNK
A Hymn of Thanksgiving for God's Fidelity
attributed to:
date composed:
date of events:
genres: "Sabbath song." Wisdom? Praise and thanksgiving.
comments:
  • "A psalm. A sabbath song."
  • NAB: [92:14] Planted: the just are likened to trees growing in the sacred precincts of the Temple, which is often seen as the source of life and fertility because of God’s presence, cf. Ps 36:9, 10; Ez 47:1–12.
The just shall flourish like the palm tree,
shall grow like a cedar of Lebanon.
Planted in the house of the LORD,
they shall flourish in the courts of our God.
They shall bear fruit even in old age,
they will stay fresh and green,
To proclaim: “The LORD is just;
my rock, in whom there is no wrong.” (13-16)

Psalm 93

TNK
God is a Mighty King
attributed to:
date composed:
date of events:
genres: Hymn of praise; creation, enthronement, eschatology.
comments:
  • God's initial reaction to Israel's request for a king was irritation (1 Samuel 8.) GOD was their king! How could they find anyone better than GOD to lead them? In the New Testament, God the Son is revealed as the King of Israel who will reign forever--the coming of God the Son as the Son of David restores God's Kingship over His people.
  • God's authority over the flood waters shows His almighty power. The stories of Jesus walking on water and calming the storm echo this theme.
  • One of the geocentric verses: "The world will surely stand in place, never to be moved." We now know this to be false as science. It is true as phenomenology--speaking from the perspective of how the earth appears to us through the naive testimony of our senses. Science describes the manifold motions of the earth and predicts that it will surely not last forever. Our conviction of God's almighty power to reign over the whole of creation has to be based on a different set of images in today's world.

Psalm 94

TNK
A Prayer for Deliverance from the Wicked
attributed to:
date composed:
date of events:
genres: Wisdom? Individual lament, but the whole community is oppressed. Confidence.
comments:
No, the LORD is my secure height,
my God, my rock of refuge.

Psalm 95

TNK
A Call to Praise and Obedience
attributed to:
date composed:
date of events:
genres: hymn of praise
comments:
  • Invitatory psalm for the Liturgy of the Hours.
  • God is the Shepherd of Israel (Ps 80:2). I wonder whether Jesus was making an implicit claim to divinity when He described himself as "the Good Shepherd."
Enter, let us bow down in worship;
let us kneel before the LORD who made us.
For he is our God,
we are the people he shepherds,
the sheep in his hands. (6-7)

Psalm 96

TNK
God of the Universe
attributed to:
date composed:
date of events:
genres: Hymn of praise. Creation.
comments:
  • NAB: [96:4] For references to other gods, see comments on Ps 58:2 and 82:1,5.
For great is the LORD and highly to be praised,
to be feared above all gods. (4)
Declare among the nations: The LORD is King
The world will surely stand fast, never to be shaken.[3] (10)
The psalter, lamentably, translates the Hebrew as "God is King." But the sacred tetragrammaton does NOT mean "God"; it is the name of God. The Jews would say "Adonai" instead of pronouncing the Name. That is a word free from extraneous meanings in our liturgy--better than "Jehovah," a nonsense word, or the Divine Name itself, or "God," or "I AM." "The LORD" is not bad, either. That makes it clear that the original is the Name of God.

Psalm 97

TNK
The Divine Ruler of All
attributed to:
date composed:
date of events:
genres: Hymn. Confidence in God's sovereignty.
comments:
  • NAB [97:7]: "All who serve idols are put to shame, who glory in worthless things; all gods bow down before him." "All gods": divine beings thoroughly subordinate to Israel’s God. The Greek translates “angels,” an interpretation adopted by Heb 1:6: "And again, when he leads the first-born into the world, he says: 'Let all the angels of God worship him.'"
The LORD is king; let the earth rejoice;
let the many islands be glad. (1)

Psalm 98

TNK
The Coming of God
attributed to:
date composed:
date of events:
genres: Hymn of praise; creation, eschatology.
comments:
With trumpets and the sound of the horn
shout with joy to the King, the LORD. (6)

Psalm 99

TNK
The Holy King
attributed to:
date composed:
date of events:
genres: Hymn of praise.
comments:
  • NAB: [99:1] Enthroned on the cherubim: cherubim were composite beings with animal and human features, common in ancient Near Eastern art. Two cherubim were placed on the ark (or box) of the covenant in the holy of holies. Upon them God was believed to dwell invisibly, cf. Ex 25:20–22; 1 Sm 4:4; 2 Sm 6:2; Ps 80:2.
The LORD is king, the peoples tremble;
he is enthroned on the cherubim, the earth quakes. (1)

Psalm 100

TNK
Processional Hymn
attributed to:
date composed:
date of events:
genres: Thanksgiving. Invitation to enter the Temple with thanksgiving offerings.
comments:
  • "A psalm of thanksgiving."
Know that the LORD is God,
he made us, we belong to him,
we are his people, the flock he shepherds. (3)

Psalm 101

TNK
Norm of Life for Rulers
attributed to: David
date composed:
date of events:
genres: Royal psalm?
comments:
  • "A psalm of David."
I study the way of integrity;
when will you come to me?
I act with integrity of heart
within my household. (2)

Psalm 102

TNK
Prayer in Time of Distress
attributed to:
date composed:
date of events: After loss of Northern Kingdom? During or after Exile? "The nations shall fear your name, LORD, all the kings of the earth, your glory, Once the LORD has rebuilt Zion" (16-17).
genres: penitential lament. Creation.
comments:
  • "The prayer of one afflicted and wasting away whose anguish is poured out before the LORD."
For my days vanish like smoke;
my bones burn away as in a furnace.
My heart is withered, dried up like grass,
too wasted to eat my food. (4-5)
The LORD looked down from the holy heights,
viewed the earth from heaven. (20)
Of old you laid the earth’s foundations;
the heavens are the work of your hands.
They perish, but you remain;
they all wear out like a garment;
Like clothing you change them and they are changed,
but you are the same, your years have no end. (26-28)

Psalm 103

TNK
Praise of Divine Goodness
attributed to: David
date composed:
date of events:
genres: Hymn of praise. Creation.
comments:
  • "Of David."
Merciful and gracious is the LORD,
slow to anger, abounding in mercy. (8)
The LORD has set his throne in heaven;
his dominion extends over all. (19)

Psalm 104

TNK
Praise of God the Creator
attributed to:
date composed:
date of events: creation of the world, now, all time
genres:
  • Hymn of praise; creation.
  • NAB: "A hymn praising God who easily and skillfully made rampaging waters and primordial night into a world vibrant with life."
  • Wisdom?
comments:
  • NAB: [104:35] Hallelujah: a frequent word in the last third of the Psalter. The word combines the plural imperative of praise (hallelu) with an abbreviated form of the Divine Name Yah(weh).
You fixed the earth on its foundation,
so it can never be shaken. (5)
You make the grass grow for the cattle
and plants for people’s work
to bring forth food from the earth,
wine to gladden their hearts,
oil to make their faces shine,
and bread to sustain the human heart. (14-15)
How varied are your works, LORD!
In wisdom you have made them all;
the earth is full of your creatures. (24)
Send forth your spirit, they are created
and you renew the face of the earth. (30)
May sinners vanish from the earth,
and the wicked be no more.

Psalm 105

TNK
God's Fidelity to the Promise
attributed to:
date composed:
date of events: Abraham to Judges
genres: history
comments:
  • NAB: [105:27–38] This Psalm and Ps 78:43–51 have an account of the plagues differing in number or in order from Ex 7:14–12:30. Several versions of the exodus story were current.
Give thanks to the LORD, invoke his name;
make known among the peoples his deeds!
Sing praise to him, play music;
proclaim all his wondrous deeds!
Glory in his holy name;
let hearts that seek the LORD rejoice!
Seek out the LORD and his might;
constantly seek his face. (1-4)
Do not touch my anointed ones,
to my prophets do no harm. (15)

Psalm 106

TNK
Israel's Confession of Sin
attributed to:
date composed:
date of events: Exodus and Judges
genres: history, call for national repentance
comments:

5. Psalms 107 to 150

Psalm 107

TNK
God the Savior of Those in Distress
attributed to:
date composed:
date of events:
genres: invitation to praise and thanksgiving
comments:

Psalm 108

TNK
Prayer for Victory
attributed to: David
date composed:
date of events:
genres: prayer
comments:
  • "A song; a psalm of David."
  • [Psalm 108] A prayer compiled from two other Psalms: Ps 108:2–6 are virtually the same as Ps 57:8–12; Ps 108:7–14 are the same as Ps 60:7–14. An old promise of salvation (Ps 108:8–10) is combined with a confident assurance (Ps 108:2–6, 13) and petition (Ps 108:7, 12–13).
Was it not you who rejected us, God?
Do you no longer march with our armies? (12)

Psalm 109

TNK
Prayer of a Person Falsely Accused
attributed to: David
date composed:
date of events:
genres: lament, very harsh imprecatory psalm
comments:
  • "For the leader. A psalm of David."
Appoint an evil one over him,
an accuser[4] to stand at his right hand,
That he may be judged and found guilty,
that his plea may be in vain.
May his days be few;
may another take his office. [Quoted in Acts 1:20--replacing Judas with Matthias]
May his children be fatherless,
his wife, a widow. (6-9)
Not in the Breviary

Psalm 110

TNK
God Appoints the King both King and Priest
attributed to: David
date composed:
date of events:
genres: NAB: A royal Psalm in which a court singer recites three oracles in which God assures the king that his enemies are conquered (Ps 110:1–2), makes the king “son” in traditional adoption language (Ps 110:3), gives priestly status to the king and promises to be with him in future military ventures (Ps 110:4–7).
comments:
  • "A psalm of David."
  • NAB: [110:1] The LORD says to my lord: a polite form of address of an inferior to a superior, cf. 1 Sm 25:25; 2 Sm 1:10. The court singer refers to the king. Jesus in the synoptic gospels (Mt 22:41–46 and parallels) takes the psalmist to be David and hence “my lord” refers to the messiah, who must be someone greater than David. Your footstool: in ancient times victorious kings put their feet on the prostrate bodies of their enemies.
The LORD says to my lord:
“Sit at my right hand,
while I make your enemies your footstool.” (1)
The LORD has sworn and will not waver:
“You are a priest forever in the manner of Melchizedek.” (4)

Psalm 111

TNK
Praise of God for Goodness to Israel
attributed to:
date composed:
date of events:
genres: Hymn of praise. Acrostic: 1/2 verse per consonant. Wisdom? History.
comments:
The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom;
prudent are all who practice it. (10)

Psalm 112

TNK
The Blessings of the Just
attributed to:
date composed:
date of events:
genres: Acrostic: 1/2 verse each. Wisdom?
comments:
Blessed the man who fears the LORD,
who greatly delights in his commands.

   


Hallel: Psalms 113-118. Hymns of praise used on Jewish holidays.

 

Psalm 113

TNK
Praise of God's Care for the Poor
attributed to:
date composed:
date of events:
genres: Hymn of praise; use of the Divine Name; Hallel.
comments:

Psalm 114

TNK
The Lord's Wonders at the Exodus
attributed to:
date composed: United Kingdom of Israel?
date of events:
genres: Hymn of praise; historical reflection; victory; God's power over His creatures; Hallel.
comments:

Psalm 115

TNK
The Greatness of the True God
attributed to:
date composed:
date of events:
genres: hymn extolling Israel's God and denigrating idols; monotheism; creation; Hallel.
comments:
  • Speaks of Israel in completely positive terms, which suggests the United Kingdom to me; but it also is powerfully monotheistic, which seems to me to be a later concept of God.
  • Temple worship was striking because of the absence of an image of God. For those raised in other cultures, it would be natural to ask, "Where is your God?" The same question would naturally spring to the lips of the Israelites as one misfortune after another befell them.
The dead do not praise the LORD,
not [nor?] all those go down into silence. (v. 16)

Psalm 116

TNK
Thanksgiving to God Who Saves from Death
attributed to:
date composed:
date of events:
genres: thanksgiving (classic pattern); Temple; Hallel.
comments:
I love the LORD, who listened
to my voice in supplication (1)


The LORD protects the simple;
I was helpless, but he saved me. (6)
ICEL lectionary (1989): "I was helpless, so he saved me."
  • NAB: "'The land of the living': the phrase elsewhere is an epithet of the Jerusalem Temple (cf. Ps 27:13; 52:5; Is 38:11). Hence the psalmist probably refers to being present to God in the Temple."
  • "Psalm 116 was sung following the eating of the Passover lamb" (FreedomInChrist.net).

Psalm 117

TNK
The Nations Called to Praise
attributed to:
date composed: From a time of consolation for the Israelites? United Kingdom?
date of events:
genres: Hymn of praise; the greatness of the "nation" (goy) vs. other "nations" (goyim); Hallel.
comments:
  • Shortest psalm
  • A triumphal hymn: our "nation" (goy, tribe, people) is greater than all the other "nations" (goyim). This is not "nationalism" in our modern technocratic sense, but it is analogous to it. Israel is favored over all the other peoples of the earth because God chose them to be His partner. "Immanuel" = "God with us" = "Gott mit uns" (German military slogan, 1631-1948) = "Nobiscum Deus" (military slogan in late Roman Empire).

Psalm 118

TNK
Hymn of Thanksgiving
attributed to:
date composed: Second Temple? Not if a King is present in the thanksgiving liturgy. If it is from the Second Temple, it may be a nostalgic memory of the role the King used to play in the Temple or else an anticipation of what a King would do in the future after the restoration of the monarchy.
date of events:
genres: NAB: "A thanksgiving liturgy accompanying a procession of the king and the people into the Temple precincts." Triumph over enemies. Hallel.
comments:
  • NAB: "The stone [eben] the builders rejected: a proverb: what is insignificant to human beings has become great through divine election. The 'stone' may originally have meant the foundation stone or capstone of the Temple. The New Testament interpreted the verse as referring to the death and resurrection of Christ (Mt 21:42; Acts 4:11; cf. Is 28:16 and Rom 9:33; 1 Pt 2:7)."
  • Unsupported speculation: Would the Judahites have felt themselves to be "the stone rejected by the builders"? The Northern Kingdom of Israel (10 tribes) rejected the Southern Kingdom (Judah), but God destroyed the rebellious Kingdom of Israel and preserved the Southern Kingdom of Judah.
LORD, grant salvation!
LORD, grant good fortune! (25)
NAB: "Grant salvation: the Hebrew for this cry has come into English as 'Hosanna.' This cry and the words in Ps 118:26 were used in the gospels to welcome Jesus entering the Temple on Palm Sunday (Mk 11:9–10)."

   


Hallel: Psalms 113-118. Hymns of praise used on Jewish holidays.

 

Psalm 119

TNK
A Prayer to God, the Lawgiver
attributed to:
date composed: post-exilic? Part of Deuteronomic reform?
date of events:
genres: Acrostic: 8 verses for each of 22 Hebrew characters (176 verses total). Praise of the Torah.
comments:
  • NAB: The poem is an acrostic; its twenty-two stanzas (of eight verses each) are in the order of the Hebrew alphabet. Each of the eight verses within a stanza begins with the same letter. Each verse contains one word for “instruction.” The translation here given attempts to translate each Hebrew word for “instruction” with the same English word. There are, however, nine words for “instruction,” not eight, so the principle of a different word for “instruction” in each verse cannot be maintained with perfect consistency. The nine words for “instruction” in the translation are: law, statute, commandment, precept, testimony, word, judgment, way, and promise.
My soul is depressed; lift me up according to your word. (28)
Seven times a day I praise you because your judgments are righteous. (164).
Qoph, vv. 145-152
I call with all my heart; Lord, hear me,
I will keep your commands;
I call upon you, save me
and I will do your will.
I rise before dawn and cry for help,
I hope in your word.
My eyes watch through the night
to ponder your promise.
In your love hear my voice, O Lord;
give me life by your decrees.
Those who harm me unjustly draw near:
they are far from your law.
But you, O Lord, are close:
your commands are truth.
Long have I known that your will
is established for ever.

Psalms of Ascents


Psalms 120 .. 134

Psalm 120

TNK
Prayer of a Returned Exile
attributed to:
date composed:
date of events:
genres: thanksgiving and prayer for protection from enemies
comments:
  • "A song of ascents."
  • NAB: "Ps 120–134 all begin with this superscription. Most probably these fifteen Psalms once formed a collection of Psalms sung when pilgrims went to Jerusalem, since one “ascended” to Jerusalem (1 Kgs 12:28; Ps 24:3; 122:4; Lk 2:42) or to the house of God or to an altar (1 Kgs 12:33; 2 Kgs 23:2; Ps 24:3). Less probable is the explanation that these Psalms were sung by the exiles when they “ascended” to Jerusalem from Babylonia (cf. Ezr 7:9). The idea, found in the Mishnah, that the fifteen steps on which the Levites sang corresponded to these fifteen Psalms (Middot 2:5) must underlie the Vulgate translation canticum graduum, “song of the steps” or “gradual song.”
"LORD, deliver my soul from lying lips, from a treacherous tongue." (2)

Psalm 121

TNK
The Lord My Guardian
attributed to:
date composed:
date of events:
genres: blessing on travelers; creation; God's sovereignty and care
comments: "A song of ascents."

Psalm 122

TNK
A Pilgrim's Prayer for Jerusalem
attributed to:
date composed:
date of events:
genres: Hymn of praise; song of Zion, song of ascents.
comments:
  • "A song of ascents. Of David."
  • NAB: "A song of Zion, sung by pilgrims obeying the law to visit Jerusalem three times on a journey. The singer anticipates joining the procession into the city (Ps 122:1–3)."

Psalm 123

TNK
Reliance on the Lord
attributed to:
date composed:
date of events:
genres: lament
comments:
  • "A song of ascents."
"Show us favor, LORD, show us favor, for we have our fill of contempt" (3)

Psalm 124

TNK
God, the Rescuer of the People
attributed to:
date composed:
date of events:
genres: thanksgiving
comments: "A song of ascents. Of David"

Psalm 125

TNK
Israel's Protector
attributed to:
date composed: post-exilic? Second Temple?
date of events:
genres: confidence in God
comments: "A song of ascents."

Psalm 126

TNK
The Reversal of Zion's Fortunes
attributed to:
date composed:
date of events: return from Exile
genres:
comments:
  • "A song of ascents."
Those who sow in tears
will reap with shouts of joy.
Those who go forth weeping,
carrying sacks of seed,
Will return with shouts of joy,
carrying their bundled sheaves. (5-6)

Psalm 127

TNK
The Need of God's Blessing
attributed to: Solomon
date composed: post-exilic?
date of events:
genres: wisdom
comments: "A song of ascents. Of Solomon."
Unless the LORD build the house,
they labor in vain who build.
Unless the LORD guard the city,
in vain does the guard keep watch.
It is vain for you to rise early
and put off your rest at night,
To eat bread earned by hard toil—
all this God gives to his beloved in sleep. (1-2)

Psalm 128

TNK
The Blessed Home of the Just
attributed to:
date composed:
date of events:
genres: confidence
comments: "A song of ascents."

Psalm 129

TNK
Against Israel's Enemies
attributed to:
date composed:
date of events:
genres: Hymn of praise; thanksgiving; prayer against enemies.
comments: "A song of ascents."

Psalm 130

TNK
Prayer for Pardon and Mercy
De Profundis
attributed to:
date composed:
date of events:
genres: penitential lament, pilgrimage
comments:
  • "A song of ascents."
  • "Out of the depths I call to you, LORD" (1)--De profundis.
  • "My soul looks for the Lord more than sentinels for daybreak. More than sentinels for daybreak, let Israel hope in the LORD, For with the LORD is mercy, with him is plenteous redemption, And he will redeem Israel from all its sins" (6-8).

Psalm 131

TNK
Humble Trust in God
attributed to:
date composed:
date of events:
genres:
comments:
  • "A song of ascents. Of David."
I have stilled my soul,
Like a weaned child to its mother,
weaned is my soul. (2)

Psalm 132

TNK
The Covenant between David and God
attributed to:
date composed: pre-exilic roots?
date of events:
genres:
comments:
  • "A song of ascents."
  • The Psalmist prays that God and His "might ark" will enter the Temple. Was this composed before the ark was lost? Afterward? For Catholics, each tabernacle is a Holy of Holies, an ark of the New Covenant.

Psalm 133

TNK
A Vision of a Blessed Community
attributed to:
date composed:
date of events:
genres:
comments:
  • "A song of ascents. Of David."
  • Aaron was anointed with oil (2), and therefore was a Messiah (Hebrew) or a Christ (Greek). I believe the role of the anointed (christened) High Priest (Ex 30:22) expanded when the office of Messiah-King was destroyed by the Babylonian Captivity.
How good and how pleasant it is when brothers dwell together as one. (1)

Psalm 134

TNK
Exhortation to the Night Watch to Bless God
attributed to:
date composed:
date of events:
genres: Hymn of praise. Exhortation to those who serve in the Temple at night. Creation.
comments: "A song of ascents."

end Songs of Ascents, Ps 120 .. 134

Psalm 135

TNK
Praise of God, the Ruler and Benefactor of Israel
attributed to:
date composed:
date of events:
genres: Hymn of praise; history, exultation in God's saving power.
comments: choice of Israel, creation, history
  • Henotheism? "For I know that the LORD is great, that our Lord is greater than all gods" (5).
  • Mockery of "the idols of the nations" (15-18).
  • "House of Aaron ... House of Levi" (19-20): Aaron was a Levite. The descendants of Aaron were called "Kohanim," or "Cohens," who were specially charged with offering sacrifices in the Temple; each year, one Cohen would be chosen as High Priest. Levites who were not Cohens carried out many other functions in the Temple and in Israelite and Jewish society. "Leviticus" is Latin for "the book of the Levites," but the Hebrew name for the book is Torath Kohanim, "the law of the priests."

Psalm 136

TNK
Hymn of Thanksgiving for God's Everlasting Mercy
attributed to:
date composed:
date of events:
genres: Hymn of praise; creation, history. It is called The Great Hallel, although the phrase "hallelujah" does not appear in it, as it does in other hallel psalms.
comments:
  • Henotheism? "Praise the God of gods" (2).
The construction, "something of something" is the Hebrew method of expressing the superlative. The greatest car is the "car of cars." The greatest quarterback is "the quarterback of quarterbacks." The supreme God is "the God of gods." So too, we have "Lord of lords" and "King of kings" in TNK.
"For His mercy endures forever": "The refrain occurring after every line suggests that a speaker and chorus sang the Psalm in antiphonal fashion" (NAB).
Destroying our enemies is a mercy to us. It's a little hard on them. Remember the moral of the book of Jonah: Our enemies are God's children, too!
Commentary by Pope Benedict XV
The word variously translated as "love" or "mercy" in the refrain is "hesed."

Psalm 137

TNK
Sorrow and Hope in Exile
attributed to: [a musician and singer of psalms]
date composed: in exile
date of events: Babylonian Captivity
genres: lament, imprecation
comments:
  • All that the exiles could do while in captivity was to "remember" Jerusalem (1,5-6). This became a prototype for Jewish spirituality after the destruction of the Second Temple. Because of the destruction of the Temple in 70 AD by the Romans, all Jews can do today is to study the Torah and meditate on the sacrifices that God asked of them in days long gone.
Sing for us a song of Zion! (3)
Blessed the one who seizes your children and smashes them against the rock. (9)
NAB: "The children represent the future generations, and so must be destroyed if the enemy is truly to be eradicated."

Psalm 138

TNK
Hymn of a Grateful Heart
attributed to:
date composed: Second Temple?
date of events:
genres: thanksgiving, confidence
comments:
I thank you, Lord, with all my heart; in the presence of the angels to you I sing. (1)
All the kings of earth will praise you, LORD, when they hear the words of your mouth. (4)

Psalm 139

TNK
The All-knowing and Ever-present God
attributed to: David
date composed:
date of events:
genres: Hymn of praise; God's omnipresence and omniscience; creation, imprecation.
comments:
  • For the leader. A psalm of David.
You formed my inmost being; you knit me in my mother’s womb. (13)
Do I not hate, LORD, those who hate you?
Those who rise against you, do I not loathe?
With fierce hatred I hate them,
enemies I count as my own.

Psalm 140

TNK
Prayer for the Deliverance from the Wicked
attributed to: David
date composed:
date of events:
genres: lament, confidence, imprecation (10-11)?
comments:
  • "For the leader. A psalm of David."
Those who surround me raise their heads;
may the mischief they threaten overwhelm them.
Drop burning coals upon them;
cast them into the watery pit never more to rise. (10-11)

Psalm 141

TNK
Prayer for Deliverance from the Wicked
attributed to: David
date composed:
date of events:
genres: individual lament
comments:
  • A psalm of David.
  • "Set a guard, LORD, before my mouth, keep watch over the door of my lips" (3).
  • "Let the wicked fall into their own nets, while only I pass over them safely" (10).

Psalm 142

TNK
A Prayer in Time of Trouble
attributed to: David
date composed:
date of events: during war with Saul
genres: individual lament
comments:
  • "A maskil of David, when he was in the cave. A prayer" (1 Samuel 22:1).
  • "Lead my soul from prison, that I may give thanks to your name" (8).

Psalm 143

TNK
A Prayer in Distress
attributed to: David
date composed:
date of events:
genres: individual penitential lament, imprecation
comments:
  • "A psalm of David."
  • "I remember the days of old; I ponder all your deeds; the works of your hands I recall." (5).
  • "In your mercy put an end to my foes; all those who are oppressing my soul, for I am your servant" (12).

Psalm 144

TNK
A Prayer for Victory and Prosperity
attributed to: David
date composed: late? Second Temple?
date of events:
genres: individual lament. Royal psalm? Intercession for the people?
comments: *
  • "Of David."
  • NAB: "Except for its final section, the Psalm is made up almost entirely of verses from other Psalms."
Blessed be the LORD, my rock,
who trains my hands for battle,
my fingers for war;
My safeguard and my fortress,
my stronghold, my deliverer,
My shield, in whom I take refuge,
who subdues peoples under me. (1-2)
May our sons be like plants
well nurtured from their youth,
Our daughters, like carved columns,
shapely as those of the temple.

   


Psalms 145-150: Ashrei & the daily Hallel.

Ashrei
The Ashrei (Hebrew: אַשְׁרֵי יוֹשְׁבֵי בֵיתֶךָ, עוֹד יְהַלְלוּךָ סֶּלָה, Ashrei yoshvei veitecha, od y’hallelucha, selah!; English: "Happy are they who dwell in Your house; they will praise You, always!") is a prayer that is recited at least three times daily in Jewish prayers, twice during Shacharit and once during Mincha. The prayer is composed primarily of Psalm 145 in its entirety, with a verse each from Psalms 84 and 144 added to the beginning, and a verse from Psalm 115 added to the end. The first two verses that are added both start with the Hebrew word "ashrei" (translating to "happy" or "praiseworthy" or "fortunate"), hence the prayer's name.
Daily Hallel
Hallel of pesukei dezimra a selection of six psalms recited as part of pesukei dezimra (Hymnal Verses) — the introduction the daily morning service. This "Hallel" is specifically Ashrei (most of which is Psalm 145) followed by Psalms 146-150. The term Hallel without a qualifier general refers to Psalms 113-118 which are recited only of festivals; for this reason the Hallel of pesukei dezimra is also known as the "daily Hallel".
These psalms are recited because they are devoted entirely to the praise of God.[1]

Psalm 145

TNK
The Greatness and Goodness of God
attributed to: David
date composed:
date of events:
genres: Hymn of praise. Acrostic: 1 verse each (the best of the acrostics, in my view). Used in its entirely in "Ashrei," a prayer that introduces daily Hallel (Psalms 146-150).
comments:
  • "Praise. Of David."
The LORD is gracious and merciful,
slow to anger and abounding in mercy. (8)
Ps 86:5, 15; 103:8; Ex 34:6; Sir 2:11.

Psalm 146

TNK
Trust in God the Creator and Redeemer
attributed to:
date composed:
date of events:
genres: hymn of praise, creation, confidence; daily Hallel.
comments:
  • NAB: "The first of five hymns that conclude the Psalter."
Put no trust in princes,
in children of Adam powerless to save.
Who breathing his last, returns to the earth;
that day all his planning comes to nothing. (3-4)
The maker of heaven and earth,
the seas and all that is in them ...(6)
The theologian says, "One God made everything." The poet expresses the same thought by listing the fundamental elements of the natural world: the sky, the dry land, the seas, and all living things--bringing images of bird, fish, and land animals to mind, as in other passages about creation in TNK.

Psalm 147

TNK
God's Word Restores Jerusalem
attributed to:
date composed: post-exilic--second Temple
date of events:
genres: hymn of praise, creation, wisdom; daily Hallel.
comments:
He proclaims his word to Jacob,
his statutes and laws to Israel.
He has not done this for any other nation;
of such laws they know nothing.
The Jews felt privileged to know the Torah. God's law was not a burden, but a blessing. Ignorance is not bliss. Knowing what is pleasing to God and being able to obey him is the source of lasting joy.

Psalm 148

TNK
All Creation Summoned to Praise
attributed to:
date composed:
date of events:
genres: hymn of praise, creation; daily Hallel.
comments:
Let them all praise the LORD’s name;
for he commanded and they were created,
Assigned them their station forever,
set an order that will never change.
The earth, the sun, the moon, and the stars seem to be eternal to the untrained eye. Modern science teaches us to disregard these superficial appearances and recognize that the solar system is not eternal and unchanging, but has come from a historical process and will have a definite end as the sun goes through the normal stages of stellar development. The earth will be consumed by the fire of the sun as it approaches the end of its life. It will be a long time from not, but it is far from "forever."

Psalm 149

TNK
Praise God with Song and Sword
attributed to:
date composed:
date of events:
genres: hymn of praise, God's special relationship with Israel, victory; daily Hallel.
comments:
For the LORD takes delight in his people,
honors the poor with victory.
Let the faithful rejoice in their glory,
cry out for joy on their couches,
With the praise of God in their mouths,
and a two-edged sword in their hands,
To bring retribution on the nations,
punishment on the peoples,
To bind their kings in shackles,
their nobles in chains of iron,
To execute the judgments decreed for them—
such is the glory of all God’s faithful. (4-9)
Grail translation
Let the faithful rejoice in their glory,
cry out for joy and take their rest. (5)

Psalm 150

TNK
Final Doxology
attributed to:
date composed: Second Temple?
date of events:
genres: Hymn of praise; daily Hallel.
comments:
  • Possibly composed precisely to conclude the collection of 150 Psalms, just as Psalm 1 may have been deliberately composed as the introduction to this edition.
Praise God in his holy sanctuary [the Temple?];
give praise in the mighty dome [raqia] of heaven.
The NAB commentator says that the "holy sanctuary" is the earthly Temple, but it seems to me that it is possible that a kind of pun or dual meaning may be understood: "the might dome" or "firmament" or "bowl" of the heavens may be thought of as God's Holy of Holies, too, as well as the dwelling place that He chose to inhabit in Jerusalem.

To do?

  • Next: #Psalm 146.
  • Note the daily Psalms from the Temple period
  • Note the acrostic psalms in my commentary ...
  • Ps. 120-134: Over each of these Psalms is the title "A Psalm of Degrees" or "of Ascents."
  • Regularize indentation of verses quoted from the psalms in "comments" section.
  • What was the Hebrew classification system? Praises, miktah, lament, etc.

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Wikipedia, "Jeduthun": A Levite of the family of Merari, and one of the three masters of music appointed by David. (1 Chr. 16:41, 42; 25:1-6) His office was generally to preside over the music of the temple service, Jeduthun’s name stands at the head of the 39th, 62d and 77th Psalms, indicating probably that they were to be sung by his choir.
  2. 1 Sm 4:11, 22.
  3. See comments about God's Kingship and the eternity of the earth above (Psalm 93).
  4. NAB: [109:6] An accuser: Hebrew satan, a word occurring in Job 1–2 and Zec 3:1–2. In the latter passage Satan stands at the right hand of the high priest to bring false accusations against him before God. Here the accuser is human.

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