The book of Psalms is sometimes called the “Hebrew Song Book.” With its 150 chapters, it is the longest single body of literature in the Old Testament. Unlike other books of the Bible, each chapter of the Psalms is an independent literary unit and the whole is a compilation of Poetry that spans a thousands years. Though most of the poems were written by Israel’s greatest king, David, other poems were written by Moses, Solomon, Asaph (who was in charge of the music of the tabernacle in David’s day), the sons of Korah (guardians of the temple gates) and some rather obscure fellows like Jeduthun and Heman.
The book of Psalms is divided into five “books,” each one ending with praise to God:
1) Book 1 – Psalm 1-41, ending with “Praise be to the Lord, the God of Israel, from everlasting to everlasting. Amen and Amen.
2) Book 2 – Psalms 42-72, ending with “Praise be to the Lord God, the God of Israel, who alone does marvelous deeds. Praise be to his glorious name forever; may the whole earth be filled with his glory. Amen and Amen.
3) Book 3 – Psalms 73 – 89, ending with “Praise be to the Lord forever! Amen and Amen.”
4) Book 4 – Psalms 90 – 106, ending with “Praise be to the Lord, the God of Israel, from everlasting to everlasting. Let all the people say, “Amen!” Praise the Lord.
5) Book 5 – Psalms 107 – 150, ending with an entire Psalm of praise.
116 of the Psalms have headings. We do not know if these headings were on the original manuscripts, but the headings appear in all the manuscripts we have. The headings tell who wrote the psalm, sometimes its occasion, and sometimes the tune it was to be sung to. Unfortunately, the tunes are now lost to us.
In the 16th century, John Calvin wrote: “I have been wont to call this book, not inappropriately, an anatomy of all parts of the soul; for there is not an emotion of which anyone can be conscious that is not here represented in a mirror.”