Q/A Friday: What is a Psalm?

In the Hebrew text, the word “psalm” is translated “praise.” The rabbis call this book “The Book of Praises.” The word “psalms” comes from a Hebrew word tehillim which means “to pluck or to twang strings.” The Book of Psalms has always been meant to be a songbook – a book of worship.

A “psalm” was meant to be sung. And you see this often in the Book of Psalms as you read ascriptions like “to the choir director” or “to be played by a certain instrument.” You might say this is the original hymnal. Psalms are songs, poems, expressions of worship, instruction for worship, private, corporate and full of prayers and praises.

The Book of Psalms is a songbook. It was written for musical purposes.

We basically have seven song-writers who identify themselves as the composers of various psalms. And, we have forty-eight anonymous psalms (comprising 32% of the Psalter) that we are unable to identify. Our seven known song-writers are David (seventy-five psalms), Asaph (a Levite who led Temple choirs wrote twelve psalms), the sons of Korah (a group of Levitical musicians who wrote ten psalms, Solomon (two psalms) Moses (one psalm), Heman (a musician in the Temple who wrote one psalm, and Ethan (a Levitical singer who wrote 1 psalm).

The Psalms are a collections of songs that are meant to inspire and promote worship.


If you have a question you would like to submit to our blog to be answered in the future, please send them to charlesheck@cox.net or ask them in the comments section of this post.


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