Well, yesterday I completely forgot about the Bible challenge. I'm SO glad I had already decided to start Psalms next since the chapters are much smaller than many others and they're an easy read for me. This morning I spent a good hour finishing the remaining chapters of Esther: 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, and 10. I began reading in the Psalms. To make up for lost time I went ahead and read two chapters ahead in case this happens again. Today's chapters read total equals 22. I read chapters 1-16 in Psalms.
I love reading the Psalms. A lot of the verses are like someone knew what I was thinking/feeling and wrote them out on paper hundreds of years ago. I love that. I am very encouraged to continue reading through the Psalms. I do hope to get a little ahead since the chapters are shorter and since I love reading this book. :)
Title: The variety of songs, laments, and praises in this book caused it to be left unnamed in the Old Testament. The Jews referred to it as "The Book of Praises," while the LXX entitled it "The Book of Psalms" (from a Greek word indicating songs sung to the accompaniment of stringed instruments). The book was the hymnal of the Jewish people.
Authorship and Date: The titles to the various psalms related 73 of them to David, two to Solomon, 12 to the sons of Korah, 12 to Asaph, one to Heman, one to Ethan, and one to Moses. The majority of the psalms were written during the times of David and Solomon (tenth century B.C.).
Nature of Hebrew Poetry: Unlike much Western poetry, Hebrew poetry is not based on rhyme or meter, but on rhythm and parallelism. The rhythm is not achieved by balanced numbers of accented and unaccented syllables, but by tonal stress or accent on important words.
In parallelism, the poet states an idea in the first line, then reinforces it by various means in the succeeding line or lines. The most common type is synonymous parallelism, in which the second line essentially repeats the idea of the first (see Psalms 3:1). In antithetic parallelism, the second line contains an idea opposite to that in the first (see Psalms 1:6). In synthetic parallelism, the second or succeeding lines add to or develop the idea of the first (see Psalms 1:1-2). In emblematic parallelism, the second line elevates the thought of the first, often by using a simile (see Psalms 42:1). Parallelism is not restricted to two lines but may extend to strophes (smaller units of a few lines) and stanzas (longer units). The alphabetical acrostic is also used (Psalms 119).
Classification of the Psalms: The most generally agreed upon categories of the psalms are: (1) the lament or petition psalms, either individual (Psalms 3) or communal (Psalms 44); (2) thanksgiving or praise psalms, either individual (Psalms 30) or communal (Psalms 65); (3) psalms of trust in God (Psalms 4); (4) hymns that include psalms on the enthronement of Yahweh, psalms concerning Jerusalem (Psalms 48), and royal psalms (some of which are messianic); and (5) didactic and wisdom psalms. Psalms may also be classified according to themes; e.g., creation, the Exodus (Psalms 78), imprecation (Psalms 7), penitence (Psalms 6), psalms of pilgrims (Psalms 120). Psalms that include important prophecies concerning Messiah include 2, 8, 16, 22, 40, 45, 72, 110, and 118.
Titles and Technical Terms: All but 34 of the psalms have titles or superscriptions that normally comprise the first verse of the Hebrew text. They are editorial titles, added after the psalms were written, but are historically accurate.
The two most frequently used technical terms are (1) "Selah" (occurring 71 times in the Psalms and three times in Habakkuk 3), which is probably a musical notation signaling an interlude or change of musical accompaniment, and (2) "To the chief Musician," (choir director), which is attached to 55 psalms (and Habakkuk 3:19, "To the chief singer"), suggesting that a collection of psalms existed for the choir director, possibly for use on special occasions.
Imprecatory Psalms: These psalms (7, 35, 55, 58, 59, 69, 79, 109, 137, 139, and 140), which invoke judgment or curses on one's enemies, perplex many. Consider, howevver, that the purposes of these imprecations are (1) to demonstrate God's just and righteous judgement toward the wicked (58:11); (2) to show the authority of God over the wicked (59:13); (3) to lead the wicked to seek the Lord (83:11); and (4) to cause the righteous to praise God (7:17). Therefore, out of zeal for God and abhorrence of sin, the psalmist calls on God to punish the wicked and to vindicated His righteousness.
Contents: The psalms are divided into five books, each ending with a doxology (1-41; 42-72; 73-89; 90-106; and 107-150).