Book Two of the Psalms Oct. 1, 2017
Overview of the Books of the Psalms
Pastor Louis Prontnicki Maple Glen Bible Fellowship Church
Differences between Book One (Psalms 1-41) and Book Two (Psalms 42-72):
- Book one uses YHWH (LORD) as the primary name for God, [278 to 48] while book two uses Elohim, [198 to 32] as they address the nations. In book one it was more of an us vs. them relationship, (in third person language), while in book two, the psalmist is communicating more directly to the nations, in the second person. (Robertson, p. 104-105). So for example, comparing Ps. 14 and 53, while both address the one who is the foolish atheist, the person in Ps. 14 is a Jew who knows YHWH, while the fool in Ps. 53 is a persecuting gentile, an atheist of the world, who rejects Elohim. (See Robertson, the Flow of the Psalms, p. 109). The psalmist is reaching out to mankind in book two.
- Within book two there are many references to the nations, the peoples, or all mankind. For example, see Pss. 66-68. Over half of the Davidic psalms in 51-71 refer to non-Israelite peoples, which is a significant difference from book one, where only 6 of 39 psalms refer to foreign peoples. (ibid, pp. 98-100)
- Davidic authorship is a bit less frequent, as in book two, the sons of Korah, Asaph, and Solomon are all mentioned as well.
- Now that the Davidic kingship in Zion is more established in book two, we see more emphasis on God’s care for and protection of Zion (Jerusalem) and the kingship there. In book one, David is usually praying for help and victory over his enemy, while in book two, King Messiah is now declared to be the Lord on His throne, with the nations falling beneath his feet (See the Kingship Psalms in 45-48).
- We see in some of the psalms a speaking out against the wrong kind of sacrifice and offerings, as if one could bribe God in the time of a national disaster, by bringing more sacrifices to the place of worship. The Sons of Korah, as Levites, speak against this, as does David, for what it required by God is true repentance and humility (Ps. 51:16-19)
One sign that book one and book two were at first used independently of each other is the repetition of two psalms in both books. Compare Ps. 14 and 53, and Ps. 40:13-17 and 70. All this is clear evidence of a deliberate editorial choice of which psalms to include in each book.
Note how the introductory psalms, 42-43, which are really one, deal with the individual’s struggle, while the next psalm, 44, deals with the nation’s conflict… reminding us of the pattern of Psalms 1 and 2. “These introductory psalms express hope in the context of an ongoing struggle to establish Messiah’s kingdom…in response to the opposition of other nations, as well as deeply personal struggles.” (ibid, p. 88)
The psalmist is singing God’s praises among the nations. (57:9-10)
The psalmist is confident of God’s victory over the nations. (45-48) [Each of the psalms in 54-60 conclude on a note of confident triumph. God will defeat them all.]
God provides the prospect of redemption for all the nations. (67)
Remember, when you see psalms that appear out of order, that the editor, under the Lord’s guidance, arranged them according to the overall theme of a book, not according to time.