Friday: Further Thought – How to Read the Psalms

Daily Lesson for Friday 5th of January 2024

Read Ellen G. White, “The Temple and Its Dedication,” pp. 35–50, in Prophets and Kings; “The Benefits of Music,” pp. 291, 292, in Messages to Young People.

The book of Psalms consists of 150 psalms, which are grouped into five books: Book I (Psalms 1:1-6−41), Book II (Psalms 42:1-11:1-11−72), Book III (Psalms 73:1-28:1-28−89), Book IV (Psalms 90:1-17−106), and Book V (Psalms 1:1-607−150). The five-book division of the Psalter is an early Jewish tradition that parallels the five-book division of the Pentateuch.

Image © Stan Myers from

The book of Psalms provides evidence of some already-existing collections of psalms: the Korahite collections (Psalms 42:1-11:1-11−49, 84, 85, 87, 88), the Asaphite collection (Psalms 73:1-28:1-28−83), the Songs of the Ascents (Psalms 1:1-620−134), and the Hallelujah Psalms (Psalms 1:1-611−118, 146−150). Psalms 72:20 bears witness to a smaller collection of David’s psalms.

While most psalms are associated with the time of King David and early monarchy (tenth century B.C.), the collection of psalms continued to grow through the following centuries: the divided monarchy, the exile, and the postexilic period. It is conceivable that the Hebrew scribes under the leadership of Ezra combined the existing smaller collections of psalms into one book when they worked on establishing the services of the new temple.

The fact that scribes consolidated the book of Psalms does not take away from their divine inspiration. The scribes, like the psalmists, were devoted servants of God, and their work was directed by God (Ezra 7:6,10). The divine-human nature of the Psalms is comparable to the union of the divine and the human in the incarnated Lord Jesus. “But the Bible, with its God-given truths expressed in the language of men, presents a union of the divine and the human. Such a union existed in the nature of Christ, who was the Son of God and the Son of man. Thus it is true of the Bible, as it was of Christ, that ‘the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us.’ ”—Ellen G. White, The Great Controversy, p. 8.

Discussion Questions

What does it mean that the Psalms are divine-human prayers and hymns? How does this idea, however difficult to fully grasp, help us see the closeness that God wants with His people? How does it reveal, in its own way, how close to humanity, and to each of us, God is?

In class, talk about a time in which you found something in the Psalms speaking directly to your own situation. What comfort and hope did you find there?


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