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Introduction to Psalms

 

Introduction

 

INTRODUCTION TO PSALMS

The title of this book may be rendered "the Book of Praises", or "Hymns"; the psalm which our Lord sung at the passover is called an "hymn", Matthew 26:30; and the one hundred forty fifth Psalm is entitled תהלה, "an Hymn of David"; and the psalms in general are called "hymns" by Philo the JewF1De Mutat. Nom. p. 1062. , and songs and hymns by JosephusF2Antiquitat. l. 7. c. 12. s. 3. ; and to these several names of this book the apostle manifestly refers in Ephesians 5:19, Colossians 3:16. The Jews divided the writings of the Old Testament into three parts: the first division is the Law, or five books of Moses; the second is the Prophets, former and latter; and the third, the "Hagiographa", or holy writings; to which division Christ has a regard in Luke 24:44; and because the book of Psalms stand first in the last division, the whole goes by its name. This book by the Apostle Peter is entitled as here, Acts 1:20; the title in the Syriac version is,

"the Book of the Psalms of David, King and Prophet,'

with which agrees the Arabic version. As to the divine authority of it, that it was written by inspiration of God, we have not only the testimony of David, who says, "the Spirit of God spake by me", 2 Samuel 23:2; but the testimonies of Christ and his apostles, Matthew 22:43; and, as Aben EzraF3Praefat. in Psalm. observes the whole of it was spoken ברוח הקודש, "by the Holy Ghost". Concerning the penman or amanuensis, employed by the Spirit of God in writing it, there are different opinions. The Jews make mention of ten, which are differently reckoned by them. According to JarchiF4Praefat. in Psalm. , they were Adam, Melchizedek, Abraham, Moses, David, Solomon, Asaph, and the three sons of Korah. According to KimchiF5Praefat. in ibid. , they were Adam, the first, Melchizedek, Abraham, Asaph, Heman, Jeduthun, Moses, and the three sons of Korah; Asir, Elkanah, and Abiasaph. Some ascribe all the Psalms to DavidF6R. Hona in Midrash Tillim, fol. 2. 1. , and think that those which are said to be a psalm of Asaph, or of Heman, &c. should be rendered "a psalm to Asaph", &c. and only signify that they were psalms delivered to them, to be sung in a public manner. But the truest opinion seems to be, that the greater part of them were written by David, and for the most part those that have no title; and the rest by those whose names they bear. Some were written at and after the Babylonish captivity, as Psalm 126:1 and Psalm 137:1. The manner or form in which they were written was metreF7Vid. Lowth de Sacr. Poes. Heb. Praelect. 3. s. 32, &c. , though some deny it that the Jews had metre: as appears by the different accentuation of them from other writings, and from their being sung vocally and on musical instruments. JosephusF8Ut supra. (Antiquitat. l. 7. c. 12. s. 3.) , the Jewish historian, says, that

"David being free from war, and enjoying a profound peace, composed songs and hymns to God, of various metre; some trimeter, and some pentameter;'

that is, some of three feet, and others of five feet: for the Psalms of David are thought to be of the "lyric" kind; and Gomarus, in his Lyra, has given many instances out of them, which are of the "iambic", "trochaic" kind, &c. though the Jews for many years have lost the knowledge of the sacred poetry. R. BenjaminF9Itinerar. p. 70, 71. indeed says, that in his time there were at Bagdad R. Eleazar and his brethren, who knew how to sing the songs, as the singers did when the temple was standing. The subject matter of this book is exceeding great and excellent; many of the psalms respect the person, offices, and grace of Christ; his sufferings and death, resurrection, ascension, and session at the right hand of God; and so are exceeding suitable to the Gospel dispensation. The whole book is a rich mine of grace and evangelical truths, and a large fund of spiritual experience; and is abundantly suited to every case, state, and condition, that the church of Christ, or particular believers, are in at any time.

 

Commentator

John Gill (November 23, 1697-October 14, 1771) was an English Baptist, a biblical scholar, and a staunch Calvinist. Gill's relationship with hyper-Calvinism is a matter of academic debate.

He was born in Kettering, Northamptonshire. In his youth, he attended Kettering Grammar School, mastering the Latin classics and learning Greek by age eleven. The young scholar continued self-study in everything from logic to Hebrew. His love for Hebrew would follow Gill throughout his life.

At the age of about twelve, Gill heard a sermon from his pastor, William Wallis, on the text, "And the Lord called unto Adam, and said unto him, where art thou?" (Genesis 3:9). The message stayed with Gill and eventually led to his conversion. It was not until seven years later that young John made a public profession when he was almost nineteen years of age.

His first pastoral work was as an intern assisting John Davis at Higham Ferrers in 1718 at age twenty one. He was subsequently called to pastor the Strict Baptist church at Goat Yard Chapel, Horsleydown, Southwark in 1719. In 1757, his congregation needed larger premises and moved to a Carter Lane, St. Olave's Street, Southwark. His pastorate lasted 51 years. This Baptist Church was once pastored by Benjamin Keach and would later become the New Park Street Chapel and then the Metropolitan Tabernacle pastored by Charles Spurgeon.

During Gill's ministry the church strongly supported the preaching of George Whitefield at nearby Kennington Common.

In 1748, Gill was awarded the honorary degree of Doctor of Divinity by the University of Aberdeen. He was a profound scholar and a prolific author. His most important works are:

John Gill is the first major writing Baptist theologian. His work retains its influence into the twenty-first century. Gill's relationship with hyper-Calvinism in English Baptist life is a matter of debate. Peter Toon has argued that Gill was himself a hyper-Calvinist, which would make Gill the father of Baptist hyper-Calvinism. Tom Nettles has argued that Gill was not a hyper-Calvinist himself, which would make him merely a precursor and hero to Baptist hyper-Calvinists.

 

──John Gill’s Exposition of the Bible

 

New King James Version Bible, NKJV

The NKJV was commissioned in 1975 by Thomas Nelson Publishers. One-hundred-and-thirty respected Bible scholars, church leaders, and lay Christians worked for seven years with the goal of updating the vocabulary and grammar of the King James Version, while preserving the classic style of the of the 1611 version.

The task of updating the English of the KJV involved many changes in word order, grammar, vocabulary, and spelling. One of the most significant features of the NKJV was its removal of the second person pronouns "thou", "thee", "ye," "thy," and "thine." Verb forms were also modernized in the NKJV (for example, "speaks" rather than "speaketh").

 

Young’s Literal Translation (YLT)

Young’s Literal Translation was completed in 1898 by Robert Young, who also compiled Young’s Analytical Concordance. It is an extremely literal translation that attempts to preserve the tense and word usage as found in the original Greek and Hebrew writings. The online text is from a reprint of the 1898 edition as published by Baker Book House, Grand Rapids, Michigan. Obvious errors in spelling or inconsistent spellings of the same word were corrected in the online edition of the text. This text is Public Domain in the United States.