Who wrote the book of Psalms?


By BibleAsk Team

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 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 Old Testament 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.

The 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 Samuel 16:15–23; 2 Samuel 23:1; Amos 6:5). In the Old Testament, there are several quotes in 2 Samuel 22 and 1 Chronicles 16:1–36, that link him with the psalms. And in the New Testament, there is also proof for that in the use of his name in Matthew 22:43–45; Mark 12:36, 37; Luke 20:42–44; Acts 2:25; 4:25; Romans 4:6–8; 11:9, 10; Hebrews 4:7.

David’s deep love, remarkable nobility (2 Samuel. 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.

Other Authors

In the superscription of 12 psalms, the phrase “of Asaph” (le’asaph) appears (Psalms 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 Chronicles 6:39; 2 Chronicles 29:30; Nehemiah 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 (Psalms 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 (Numbers 16:1–35). And their offspring became leaders in the Temple worship (1 Chronicles 6:22; 9:19). One psalm (Psalms 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 Chronicles 6:33; 15:17; 16:41, 42).

The superscriptions to three psalms (Psalms 39, 62, and 77) contain the name of Jeduthun, who was the leader of a company of Temple musicians (1 Chronicles 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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