Author of Psalms

by John Thomas Lowe
(Woodruff, S.C.)

Author of Psalms
According to Jewish tradition, the Book of Psalms was composed by the First Man (Adam), Melchizedek, Abraham, Moses, Heman, Jeduthun, Asaph, and the three sons of Korah. King David is credited with writing most of the Psalms in the Bible, but that does not mean he wrote any of them. In many cases, analysis of psalms attributed to David has been shown to have been of post-Exilic origin; therefore, he could not have written any of them, but David indeed wrote more psalms than any other writer.

Nevertheless, your children will quickly answer the question with one word: "David." True, but that answer is only partly correct. The Psalms are closely related to King David for many reasons. He was known as "the sweet singer of songs." Some of the events referred to in the psalms were a part of his life. Moreover, an early historian, Josephus, wrote that David composed "songs and hymns to God in various meters."*

*Meters —the rhythm of a piece of poetry, determined by the number and length of feet in a line."

Note that Psalm 90 is attributed to Moses in the subtitle. But, sorry, that does not mean David wrote them all! However, he gets credit for collecting many of them. Researchers believe that many came down in the oral tradition, written earlier by Moses, Abraham, and some of the prophets. Since the oral tradition can change the text with each retelling, we should thank David for seeing that they were finally put in written form. The final compilation was made in about 200 A.D.

These 150 songs were written for several different purposes: hymns used in temple ceremonies (Psalm 8), laments commemorating national calamities (Psalm 44), royal psalms connected with reigning kings (Psalm 2), individual petitions for God's help (Psalm 30), thanksgiving (Psalm 34), historical events (Psalm 78), wisdom songs related to good living (Psalm 37), and songs of ascent or degrees. This last category contains marching songs sung while ascending the hill of Jerusalem or another holy destination. Psalms in the 120s are in this category.

Looking at your Bible, you will find exciting sub-titles on many psalms. Some refer to an actual event, while others are dedicated to the chief musician in various places. Almost every village had one unskilled person in charge of songs and instruments for services. It is believed that David rewarded some of these people with an original song of his own. Still, others are sub-titled as David's prayer, and a few are written for large choral groups. You will note the word Asaph in some sub-titles. This is thought to be David's musician and the founder of the musicians guild. It might also refer to that group of singers.

Many of the psalms for temple worship are attributed to Solomon. David's son Solomon wrote some of the psalms. As you know, he was charged with building the temple; a glorious task denied David because of some of the unsavory events in his earlier life.

It is interesting to note that some psalms were added long after David's time during the captivity. Psalm 137 is one of these, and it eloquently describes this sad time as the captives long for their homeland. Reading this, one can appreciate the great sacrifices and intense love for their homeland.

At least twenty psalms are ascribed to David himself. These include the beloved Psalm 23 that ties in with David's years of shepherding, Psalm 91, which references disease in David's time, and Psalm 139, which is very personal. So there appear to be at least two dozen different writers, making this book an authentic collection.

These songs are considered canonical writings, books approved by Bible scholars and theologians centuries ago. They are beloved for their many memorable lines that speak to the heart, words such as: "Be still and know that I am God" (Psalm 89).

When you read The Book of Psalms (its official title), think of what these songs meant to the people at that time. They sang as they walked, they sang as they worked, they sang in their grief, they sang with thanksgiving. You can do the same.

The Psalms are closely related to King David for many reasons. He was known as "the sweet singer of songs." Some of the events depicted in psalms were written about David. The Psalms are very poetic, and they have a flow to them.


No one has offered to provide us with a satisfactory answer to the question;
Looking at your Bible, you will find exciting sub-titles on many psalms. Some refer to an actual event, while others are dedicated to the chief musician in various places. Almost every village had one unskilled person in charge of songs and instruments for services. It is believed that David rewarded some of these people with an original song of his own. Still, others are sub-titled, like David's prayer, and a few are written for large choral groups. You will note in some sub-titles the word Asaph. This is thought to be David's musician and the founder of the musicians guild. It might also refer to that group of singers.

Many of the psalms for temple worship are attributed to Solomon. David's son Solomon also wrote some of the psalms. As you know, he was charged with building the temple; a glorious task denied David because of some of the unsavory events in his earlier life.

It is interesting to note that some psalms were added long after David's time during the captivity. Psalm 137 is one of these, and it eloquently describes this sad time as the captives long for their homeland. Reading this, one can appreciate the great sacrifices and intense love for their homeland.

So there appear to be at least two dozen different writers, making this book an actual collection. At least twenty are ascribed to David himself. These include the beloved Psalm 23 that ties in with David's years of shepherding, Psalm 91, which references a disease contagious in David's time, and Psalm 139, which is very personal.

These songs are considered canonical writings, books approved by Bible scholars and theologians centuries ago. They are beloved for their many memorable lines that speak to the heart, words such as: "Be still and know that I am God" (Psalm 89).



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