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King David and the Psalms

King David and the Psalms

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Not as a great warrior or mighty king did David win the everlasting love of our people, and indeed of all peoples on earth, but as the author of the Book of Psalms (Tehillim), the sweetest poetry of Israel.

King David was a link in the continued transmission of the Torah, being the spiritual successor to the prophet Samuel. He surrounded himself with a group of prophets and scholars and together they studied the Torah. He thought nothing of the comforts of life that his regal palace could offer him, and unlike other kings he would rise before the sun to pray and chant psalms of praise to G‑d, the King of all kings.

The Psalms are hymns of praise to the Almighty G‑d, Creator of the Universe. They speak of G‑d's greatness, His goodness and mercy; His power and justice. David pours out his heart in these Psalms and avows his sincerest and purest trust in G‑d alone. Many of the Psalms are prayers and supplications to G‑d which king David prayed in times of trouble. Some psalms contain good advice, showing the way of true happiness through virtue and the fulfillment of G‑d's commandments. 

Thus the Psalms reflect all the varied incidents that can happen in life, both to the individual and to the whole Jewish nation. Indeed, in the history of David -- his exile, persecution, struggles, and eventual triumph -- the Jewish people, collectively and individually, find an example and prophecy of their own life. No wonder the Book of Psalms has throughout the ages served as a boundless source of inspiration, courage, and hope.

Not all the Psalms were composed by king David. Some were composed by Adam, Shem, Abraham, Moses and others. King David collected them all and added the psalms of his own which he had composed by Divine inspiration.

The Book of Psalms is divided into five parts, parallel to the Five Books of Moses. It is further subdivided into seven parts, one for each day in the week, and further divided into 30 divisions, for each day of the month. Many Jews make it a habit to say a portion of the Psalms every day after the morning prayers, thus completing all the Psalms in the course of a week or a month.

Excerpted from The Complete Story of Shavuot, published and copyright by Kehot Publication Society, Brooklyn NY
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Rowena Montgomery Battle Creek January 26, 2017

Thanks, I didn't know about the breakdown of Psalms. I knew about the 5 books. The 7 sub-division was new and the 30 division.

I also didn't know that it was stated that King David sung or reiterated each authors written Psalm.

Again, thanks for educating me. Reply

Eliezer Zalmanov for Chabad.org May 8, 2016

To Danny The most common understanding is that King David wrote this Psalm as well, and being a prophet he was able to foretell future events. Reply

Danny Moss Brooklyn April 28, 2016

Psalm 137 עַ֥ל נַהֲר֨וֹת ׀ בָּבֶ֗ל שָׁ֣ם יָ֭שַׁבְנוּ גַּם־בָּכִ֑ינוּ בְּ֝זָכְרֵ֗נוּ אֶת־צִיּֽוֹן

You mention some Psalms were written by others. Who wrote Psalm 137? The Babylonian Exile occurred in the wake of the destruction of the first Temple, hundreds of years after King David lived and died. Reply

Anonymous August 16, 2014

I just love the book of Psalms. Its full of encouragement, hope and assurance of God's presence. Reply

Ms Brown March 21, 2014

Awesome!! Learn a whole lot about the book. Reply

Jimmy DAVID TULLE, FRANCE March 15, 2014

DAVID SHALOM. Thank you for this publication and Happy PURIM. Reply

Anonymous Kiribati October 21, 2013

i like all the Psalm of David cos they all reflect for what our life means to us nowadays Reply

Anonymous toronto September 9, 2013

This is why I named my son David. What a beautiful name, what a wonderful role model. Reply

Anonymous Oklahoma March 13, 2013

I love what David has given us in his psalms. As I read, I can't help but note psalm after psalm to reference later in my times of trial. I know this is not the only thing he focuses on, but this crazy world makes me focus mostly on these. They have also taught me so much. His humility immediately reminds me to focus on mine and look for solutions and applications in my life. Reply

Mr. Jonn Mostovoy May 28, 2012

Re: 27/09 Have you found a study on the topic you outlined? I'd like to read similar documents as well. Reply

Anonymous Jeddah, K.S.A March 12, 2010

Psalms written by King David out of 150 Psalms, how many were written by King David? Reply

Anomy Mous Williamsport, PA/USA December 27, 2009

Psalms chronological writing I would like to read the psalms that King David wrote, in the chronological order of their writing. Naturally, this is not the order they appear in the writing. Psalm 3 was from Absolom's betrayal, Psalm 51 from the fallout after his knowing Bathseba. Psalm 34 after he was caught and acted crazy. I read recently that Psalm 29 is one of the oldest writings in the Bible. Has anyone used the Historical books of Samuel, and notes appended to the front of certain psalms, to determine when and why David wrote his Psalms? I find more about the artist thru their poetry and song lyrics, than any autobiography. And any new way of looking into the psalms, might be an aid to understanding, or worship. Thanks. Reply

Malkie Janowski for Chabad.org November 7, 2009

The division of five books seems to have been King David's intention. The Midrash explains that Moses gave Isral five books of the Torah and David gave Israel five books of Psalms. The first four books each end with a similar verse of thanksgiving for having completed that book, while the fifth ends with an entire psalm of gratitude. Reply

Colin Houma, Louisiana November 1, 2009

Psalms division At what period in Israel's history was the book of Psalms divided into five parts and why? Reply

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