Who wrote the book of Psalms?

The psalms are the inspired creation of several writers. The oldest suggestions regarding the origin of the Psalter are given in the superscriptions that appear at the beginning of two thirds of the psalms. About one third of the psalms have no superscriptions and thus, are totally anonymous (orphan psalms).

The authors

The names of the authors are: David, Asaph, Korah, Moses, Heman, Ethan, Solomon, and Jeduthun. These names are of authors, contributors, compilers, or musicians. Bible students have guessed that among the writers of the psalms were other OT spiritual leaders such as Ezra, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and Haggai. It is possible that Ezra, Nehemiah or other scribes are the ones that have gathered the collection of Psalms.

Primary author

The primary author of the book of Psalm is David. Scriptures tell us that David was both a poet and a musician (1 Sam. 16:15–23; 2 Sam. 23:1; Amos 6:5). In the OT, there are several quotes in 2 Sam. 22 and 1 Chron. 16:1–36, that link him with the psalms. And in the NT, there is also proof for that in the use of his name in Matt. 22:43–45; Mark 12:36, 37; Luke 20:42–44; Acts 2:25; 4:25; Rom. 4:6–8; 11:9, 10; Heb. 4:7.

David’s deep love, remarkable nobility (2 Sam. 1:19–27; 3:33, 34), his hardships, and unshakable faith in God prepared him to create the most heartfelt poems that reflected man’s search for God. Seventy-three psalms show in their superscription the phrase, “of David” (Heb. Ledawid). These are named the Davidic Collection.

The rest

In the superscription of 12 psalms, the phrase “of Asaph” (le’asaph) appears (Ps. 50, 73–83). Asaph was a Levite, one of David’s choir leaders. Similar to David, Asaph was a seer and a musical author (1 Chron. 6:39; 2 Chron. 29:30; Neh. 12:46). It should be added that in the list of captives who were restored to Jerusalem, the children of Asaph are the only singers cited (Ezra 2:41).

In the superscription of 11 psalms the phrase “for the sons of Korah” appears (Ps. 42, 44–49, 84, 85, 87, 88). The sons of Korah fled from the judgement that was imposed on them because of their father’s rebellion against Moses (Num. 16:1–35). And their offspring became leaders in the Temple worship (1 Chron. 6:22; 9:19). One psalm (Ps. 88) assigned “for the sons of Korah” is also assigned “Maschil of Heman of Ezrahite.” Heman was the son of Joel and grandson of Samuel (Heb. Shemu’el). He was a Kohathite of the tribe of Levi, and also a leader in the Temple music (1 Chron. 6:33; 15:17; 16:41, 42).

The superscriptions to three psalms (Ps. 39, 62, and 77) contain the name of Jeduthun, who was the leader of a company of Temple musicians (1 Chron. 16:41, 42), and probably a compiler of Temple music. These superscriptions, however, have other names than that of Jeduthun, and it is possible that the three psalms were not recorded by Jeduthun but likely were proposed to be sung to tunes created by him.

In His service,
BibleAsk Team

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