The Book of Psalms

OT505 The Book of Psalms

What are the Psalms?

The Book of Psalms, Internet Bible College, Vision Colleges

Unlike other sections of the Bible, the book of Psalms is actually a compilation of about one-hundred and fifty individual manuscripts, apparently written by various composers/authors over a period of at least five-hundred years, that were at some juncture assembled into the collection we know today as "The Psalms" or "Tehillim" (Heb. Praises), the song book of the Bible. Looking at the book of Psalms with this is mind as a collection of varied musical material of varying styles, from various sources and for various applications, we find that there are four basic types of manuscripts included within the Psalm compilation:

  • Ceremonial songs primarily used by the Levite singers and musicians in their formal activities in relation to the Tabernacle and later Temple systems. (e.g. Psalm 117)
  • Songs written, most likely written by some of the Levite singers and musicians in Babylon, during the time period of the Exile. (e.g. Psalm 137)
  • Manuscripts that conveyed the stories and history of the Hebrew people in song format, the oral tradition. (e.g., Psalm 18)
  • Songs used by the general population as part of their personal religious practices. (e.g. Psalm 92

As with our modern songs, the Psalms have some very characteristic elements that not only assist in defining the divisions of the individual manuscripts within the collection, but also distinguish them from strict literary, non-musical works. Three of these elements are the superscriptions, the phrase [hal'lu YAH], and most importantly for our discussions - the cantillation symbols.

I. Course Description

How important are songs in the life of Israel and the Church! In this course learners study the Book of Psalms, giving attention to the various forms of the Psalms and their function within the historical experience of Israel. The course begins by focusing on the formulation and interpretation of the psalms. Students then examine in detail the various types of psalms: lament, royal, pilgrimage, wisdom, messianic, and psalms of descriptive praise. Dr. Waltke gives sermonic treatment of selected psalms with application for today's Church.

II. Course Objectives

1. To understand the historical setting and development of the Psalter.

2. To analyze the various forms, contents, and settings of the Psalms.

3. To acquire the ability to interpret the figures of speech found within the Psalms as a means of understanding the message of the Psalms.

4. To demonstrate the application of the Psalms to the Church today.

III. Required Texts

It is assumed that the student will have access to the standard lexicons, concordances and other lexical and exegetical aids especially: E. W. Bullinger. Figures of Speech Used in the Bible. Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1968.

IV. Course Requirements

1. Course Lesson Plans:

The student is expected to submit satisfactory response to the Lesson Assignments given under "Assignments," which includes the Lecture Study Questions located after each Lesson Outline. These will be due following lectures 5, 14 and 24.

2. Final Examination:

One examination will be given. The student is expected to analyze the designated Psalms putting into practice those principles presented in the recorded lectures. The use of exegetical aids is permitted. Commentaries may not be used in the formulation of the synopsis nor the outline. The student is required to spend at least ten (10) hours of analysis for each psalm. It is therefore recommended that the student complete the first fourteen (14) lectures during the first half of the semester. This will insure sufficient time for the preparation of the final.

Click here to download the course outline (PDF)

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