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THE PSALTER.

INTRODUCTION.

1. CANONICAL POSITION AND TITLE.

The Psalter stands at the beginning of the third division of the Hebrew Scriptures (the Kethubim* or Hagiographa) in most of the Hebrew MSS. of the German class, followed by our printed editions. Philo ii. 475 and Luke xxiv. 44 seem to favor this position. The Spanish class of MSS., however, like the Masora, place the Chronicles at the head of this division (which in the prologue of Sirach is co-ordinate with the Law and the Prophets under the name τῶν ἄλλων πατρίων βιβλίων);† whilst the Talmud informs us that even the little book of Ruth had the first place. Still another Jewish canon mentioned by Jerome in his Prologus Galeatus begins with the book of Job, and places the Psalter second in this series of sacred writings. This arrangement was made with reference mainly to the subject matter, and is the one which was adopted by the Alexandrian version, and followed by the Vulgate, the German and English Bibles. Comp. Herzfeld, Geschichte des Volkes Israel iii. 102 sq.?

The Position of the Psalter among the Hagiographa is in accordance with its nature, not so much on account of the lateness of its completion, as rather its thorough-going joy and peculiar lyrical character which springing from the soil of revelation, in the sacred history of Israel; nourished by the revealed word of Jehovah in closest connection with the public worship of the covenant people, discloses the throbbing heart of the Israelites' life of faith, and speaks the language of revelation as subjectively appropriated by the inmost feelings. The position of the Psalter among the Hagiographa does not at all indicate that it was esteemed inferior to the "Prophets," the second great division of the Hebrew canon (embracing the prophetic books and those historical books following the Thorah). The view of some theologians, that there were different degrees of inspiration among the sacred writings, at least in the form which ascribed the origin of the Hagiographa simply to the Holy Spirit, whilst the remaining canonical books were ascribed to the Prophetic Spirit (Carpzov, Introduct. i. 25), was an unhistorical theory of a few Rabbis (Hävernick, Einleitung i. 66 ff). For the Holy Spirit was frequently and expressly represented as inspiring the Prophets; the term "Holy" Spirit was explained by the term "Prophetic" Spirit; and the appellation "Prophets" was frequently given to the Hagiographa and by Josephus (Contr. Ap. i. 8) even to the historical books. Moreover, not only were the legal prescriptions ordained for the Prophets extended to the Hagiographa, but all the writers of the Psalms were expressly numbered among the Prophets (Herzfeld iii. 17) for the reason that the Bible designates them as Prophets and

[means properly nothing more than something written, writings. It was probably not used for any class of writings at the first formation of the canon, but came gradually into use as a convenient designation of those other writings, which being of too much variety of form and character to have any characteristic title, were discriminated from the two fixed classes, the law and the prophets, by this general term (e. g. other writings).—C. A. B.]

[This was probably that they might follow the Books of Kings, being parallel with them in subject.-C. A. B.] [This was because it was regarded as a prologue to the Psalms, David being a descendant of Ruth.-C. A. B.]

[The natural order is that which places the Psalms first as representing the age of David, and then the Proverbs and Job as representing the Chokma-literature of the age of Solomon. Cf. Perowne, Introd. p. 69, and Delitzsch Com., Edinburgh, 1871, Introd. p. 4.-J. B. H.]

seers, 1 Chron. xxv. 1 sq.; 2 Chron. xxix. 30; xxxv. 15; 1 Sam. v. 10. The Targum of Jonathan on the latter passage reverses the expression and styles the utterance of that which the prophetic Spirit inspires the "making of psalms." According to the fourfold Ethiopic division of the Old Testament into Octateuch, Kings, Solomon and Prophets, the Psalms were classed with the second division.

From the Alexandrian version originated also the title Psalter (paλrýpior, Old German Salter), a collective term for the "Book of Psalms" (Luke xx. 42; Acts i. 20), or "The Psalms" (Luke xxiv. 44). The latter word originally meant the music and playing of a string instrument; the former, the instrument itself; then by transfer the song sung to it, finally the collection of these songs, as Euthymius Zigabenus (Præf. in Psalm. Ed. Le Moyne, pp. 172) rightfully remarked. It corresponds fully to the Hebrew mizmôr, which occurs, however, only in the title of particular Psalms, and not as a title of the collection. It does not appear at all in the plural form in the Bible, being simply used to indicate the recital of certain Psalms (vid. § 8, 2). The contents, and especially the religious character of these songs, is brought out more prominently by the word teffiloth. In Ps. lxxii. 20 all the preceding Psalms are collectively designated by this word as "prayers of David," although Ps. xvii. is the only one within this division in which it is found in the superscription (Septuag. pooεvxh). Later still, it characterizes Pss. lxxxvi., xc., cii., cxlii., as also Hannah's Psalm of praise, 1 Sam. xxi. 1.* The title tehillim is the usual superscription of the entire collection, in shortened form tillim, tillin, tilli, sometimes with, sometimes without sefer, i. e. (Book of) Hymns, which designation Philo and Jerome also employ. The Masora employed the plural sefer tehilloth, and also constructed from the same root the form hallêla, but only to designate Pss. cxiii.-exix., and not the entire Psalter, as since Buxtorf has been often erroneously stated (cf. Delitzsch Commentar. ii. 530). [The Psalter is still the common Prayer and Hymn Book of the Christian Church, as it was that of the Jews.-P. S.]

That these songs were designed to glorify God, is strikingly indicated by this superscription. The word occurs however with this special reference only in Ps. cxlv. (Septuag. aiveous), but its appropriation as the title of the whole book, points to the fact, that we are not dealing with a lyrical Anthology of the Hebrews (De Wette), but with the original hymn-book, especially designed for the worship of God in the congregation of Israel.† Vid. further 83 and 5.

? 2. AUTHORSHIP OF THE PSALMS.

It is undoubtedly true, that the Psalms, collected in the library of the Temple, 2 Macc. ii. 13, by Nehemiah, were designated rà rov ▲avíð, and that the Psalms are cited in the New Testament as the words of David. But we are not obliged on that account to assume, that David was the author of all the Psalms. This opinion has been defended of late by Clauss (Beiträge 1831, S. 4 sq.), and among the Jews by M. Randegger (Hist. krit. Versuche 1841), after the Talmud (Tract. Pesachim, c. 10) and a few of the Church fathers, (Augustine, Chrysostom, Euthym.)

Neither are we obliged to explain those cases, where other persons, than he, are referred to with Lamed in the superscriptions, by assuming that those persons were the subjects of, or the occasions of his writing these Psalms; nor that David was prophetically speaking in their stead. This is quite as ungrammatical as it is unhistorical. For the Lamed before the proper name does not always indicate strictly the authorship, but properly relationship or dependence. We shall have occasion to make use of this remark in those cases where the contents of the Psalm correspond neither with the personality nor the period of the one, whose name it bears.

* [Delitzsch: "The nature of prayer is the direct and fixed looking to God, the absorption of the Spirit in thinking of Him. All the Psalms share in this nature of prayer, even the didactic and hymnic which have no prayerful address."— · C. A. B.]

[Perowne: "A more suitable title could, perhaps, hardly be found; for thanksgiving is the very life of the Psalms, even of those in which there breathes most the language of complaint. To the glory of God' might stand as the inscription of each. The narrative Psalms praise, whilst they record His mighty deeds; the didactic Psalms declare His goodness as worthy of grateful acknowledgment; the Psalms of sorrow are turned into songs of joy, in the recollection or anticipation of His saving help."-C. A. B.]

The Psalm may be referred to him perhaps in a wider sense as being composed after his model or in his style; or the reference is to the musical director or the choir (e. g., Ps. xxxix.), to which the Psalm had been given for practice and recital. In most cases, however, the↳ prefixum indicates the author, and there are historical grounds for the view that other historical persons than David, distinguished likewise in the domain of sacred song, were by this designation to be put in the same relation to certain Psalms, and that it was by no means the intention of the authors of the superscriptions to make David the author of all the Psalms. And when the collection is generally designated as a Davidic composition, or when, as in later days, it was superscribed or collectively characterized in the language of the Church as the Psalter of David, or abbreviated as at the end of the Ethiopic translation, e. g., Finitus est David (Dorn De psalterio Ethiop. 1825, p. 9)—or when in occasional citations it is briefly called David; these are not historical or critical statements, but simply show a prevailing usage of certain periods, traces of which are found as early as 2 Chron. vii. 6. Comp. xxiii. 18; Ezra iii. 10. Its justification is found in the maxim “A potiori fit denominatio." It probably originated from the statement at the close of Ps. lxxii., which was also the final statement of the oldest collection of Psalms. Comp. 4. A spurious writing, called "David,” is mentioned in Constit. Apost., vi. 16; but is otherwise unknown.

From a historical point of view, however, there are but seventy-two Psalms ascribed to David by superscriptions of the kind referred to. These are partly associated with statements concerning their historical occasion, contents, and purpose, and their liturgical and musical use (comp. 8 and 12). The value of the superscriptions is disputed, their origin being uncertain, their contents frequently obscure, if not entirely unintelligible, whilst their influence in enabling us to understand the Psalms in question is unimportant. It is not surprising, therefore, that doubts should have been advanced respecting them as early as the time of Theodorus Mops. But the thoroughgoing doubts of their authenticity which have been advanced since Vogel, (Inscrip. psalmorum serius demum additas videri, 1767) which with De Wette and still more decidedly Hupfeld, have advanced to the unreasonable extreme of entirely rejecting the use of these titles as unreliable and therefore worthless, as being for the most part additions which have originated from the mere conjectures of later readers and compilers (so previously Rudinger), are entirely unreasonable.

The assumption on the other hand, that all these superscriptions originated with the authors of the Psalms, and are therefore inseparable from the text, cannot be consistently maintained. It can, at most, be held only of a few, and it is all the more important, that individual cases should be strictly scrutinized. This has been done in earlier times by Venema, and more recently by all the most eminent commentators. Useful remarks on these critical investigations may be found in Lutz, Biblische Hermeneutik, S. 461, who, however, regards the most of these superscriptions as later scholia. On the whole an opinion favorable to the antiquity and value of these superscriptions has again been wrought out, which ascribes them for the most part to tradition, and indeed a very ancient one, because they were generally unintelligible to the Septuag., were variously constructed, and divided by these translators, and sometimes in their reference to the occasion and contents of the Psalms, they rather produce difficulties than remove them. Comp. Fr. Bleek, Einleitung in das A. T., 1860, S. 613 f. There is now a disposition to admit, that some of them may have originated with the authors themselves. It is true, that among the Israelites, poets were still less accustomed than among the Arabians and Persians to prefix their names to their songs. But when we compare the superscription of Ps. lx. with 2 Sam. i. 18, we cannot deny the possibility of David's having done so; and when this is seen to have been the case with the prophet Habakkuk (iii. 1), shall we not conclude that the Psalmist also may have done the same? The writings of Sonntag on the Tituli Psalmorum 1687, Celsius 1718, and Irhof 1728, have become antiquated. J. A. Starck, Davidis aliorumque poetarum Hebr. carminum libr. V. (incomplete), 1776, 1, 2, p. 411 ff., however, is still worthy of attention. The best work is Delitzsch Symbolæ ad Psalmos illustrandos isagogica, 1846. He points in his Comm. II., 393, to the “ Annals of David" as a work different from the books of Samuel, and yet made use of as one of their sources.

Moreover the Psalms which bear the name of David, contain an abundance of references, expressions, and peculiar turns, which do not at all make the impression of mere poetical figures, but bear the stamp of the liveliness and truth of individuality, they refer to personal experiences and frames of mind, and the statements of the sacred Scriptures about David's fortune, character, and utterances, often present the only key to their historical interpretation. J. J. Stähelin (Das Leben Davids, 1866) acknowledges this, under many limitations, it is true, while according to Zunz (Die synagogale Poesie des Mittelalters, 1855, S. 4) they are only the legends of the chiefs of the Levites, and those who are said to have been the originators of the temple music, who made David the author of the Psalms, and even raised him to the dignity of a seer. These Psalms are as manifold in contents, tone, and color, as the agitated life of David himself, and reflect most instructively, as in a mirror, the changing emotions of a heart as tender as it was brave. We hear his cry of anguish and his shout of joy; the tearful wail of sorrow and the courageous expression of his trust in God; the penitential prayer of the broken-hearted sinner, the joyful thanksgiving of the favored one, the wisdom of an experienced sufferer who knows that his life is hid in God, the shepherd's voice of the prince, the royal word of the hero, the prophetic utterance of the seer. And here let us remember, that the rise of a sacred literature among God's people of Israel is not simply a matter of literary and historic interest, but an important factor in the history of the Divine Revelation and the kingdom of God. The person of David, moreover, occupies such a prominent place in this history, that, in connection with his poetical talent, clearly attested by his song of mourning at Jonathan's death, 2 Sam. i. 19-27; his youthful musical endowments according to 1 Sam. xvi. 17 f.; the daily cultivation of his art according to 1 Sam. xviii. 10, the assertion of Lengerke (Comm. p. xxvi. sq.) that David was not a religious poet, is as groundless as the statement of Vatke (Bib. Theol., I. 292) that not a single Psalm can with any certainty be put in the age of David and Solomon. On the other hand, Delitzsch's remark is worthy of consideration (Comm. i. 59): "As the New Testament canon contains no writings of the Apostles before the day of Pentecost, so the Old Testament canon contains none of the songs of David prior to his anointing. Only when he has become 'the anointed of the God of Jacob' is he the sweet singer of Israel, on whose tongue is the word of Jehovah (2 Sam. xxiii. 1 sq.).” Appropriate remarks are to be found in Fr. W. Krummacher's “David, der König von Israel; ein biblisches Lebensbild mit fortlaufenden Beziehungen auf die Davidischen Psalmen," 1866.

We have but a single psalm (xc.) of a date anterior to the time of David: one which in contents and language bears the mark of great antiquity, assigned in the superscription to Moses. Two Psalms are ascribed to Solomon, lxxii. and cxxvii., against which nothing decisive can be urged, however difficult the removal of some objections may be, and notwithstanding the fact, that Ps. cxxvii. has no superscription in the Septuag.

A prominent place in this department is taken by Asaph in the recollection of history (2 Chron. xxix. 30; Neh. xii. 46). Twelve Psalms in our collection bear his name. Pss. 1. and lxxiii.-lxxxiii. These cannot all, however, be assigned to Asaph, the Levite, son of Barechia, the renowned chorister of David. For Ps. lxxxiii. belongs to the time of Jehoshaphat; Pss. lxxv. and lxxvi. to the time of Hezekiah; Pss. lxxiv. and lxxix. to the beginning of the Chaldæan exile (comp. Keil in Hävernick's Handbuch der Einl., III. 213 sq.). It has therefore been generally assumed, that Asaph is here a family name. This view is favored by the circumstance, that this family was in existence at the time of Jehoshaphat, 2 Chron. xx. 14, and that of the 245 singers, male and female, who returned from the exile (Nehem. vii. 47), the majority were Asaphites; 128 according to Ezra ii. 41, and indeed 148 according to Nehem. vii. 44. The conjecture that an imitation of Asaph's style simply is indicated by this superscription is less probable. The entire group has, in fact, a certain family likeness, not only in its freshness and liveliness of expression, and in individual peculiarities of its lofty style, but especially in a sort of prophetic way of treating historical events and the recognition of Divine providence in them.

It must however be admitted, that the imitation of a style stamped with the peculiarities of Asaph within his family, has a parallel in the common features of the Psalms of the sons of Korah.

Eleven Psalms are ascribed in the superscriptions to the sons of Korah, viz.: xlii.—xlix. lxxxiv., lxxxv., lxxxvii., lxxxviii. (vide Carpzov, Introductio II., 97). Ps. lxxxviii. ought probably to be excluded from this group. The others, in the longings which they express for the worship of God in the holy city, have some similarity, it is true, with many of the Psalms of David, yet we are not, on that ground to ascribe their authorship to David, nor to supposé that their musical execution simply was assigned to the sons of Korah (Eichhorn). For they are not a mere echo of the songs of David. On the contrary, they move quite characteristically, with a lofty style, full of earnestness of soul, in songs of praise to Elohim, the king enthroned in Jerusalem. And while in the superscriptions of the Psalms of Asaph the family disappears in the name of its renowned ancestor and pattern, the personality of Korah does not appear at all in those of the group which bears the name. For Heman the Ezrahite, alluded to in Ps. lxxxviii., is not the leader of the Kohrite choir, 1 Chron. vi. 18 sq., but one of the four wise men of Israel, 1 Kings v. 11, of the tribe of Judah. We must also bear in mind that Korah, the great-grandson of Levi, was taken away by a Divine judgment, Num. xvi.; that representatives of his family, however, were not only preserved (Num. xxvi. 11), but were close adherents of David (1 Chron. xiii. 6) especially the watchmen at the gates of the temple (1 Chron. ix. 17; xxiv. 1-19; Neh. xi. 19), furnishing also a portion of the singers and musicians of the sanctuary (1 Chron. xxv.) The latter are alluded to in the time of Jehoshaphat, 2 Chron. xx. 19; the former even after the exile.

Ps. lxxxix. has a strong resemblance to the Psalm of Heman the Ezrahite, Ps. lxxxviii. The superscription assigns it to Ethan the Ezrahite, who also appears to belong to the tribe of Judah, (1 Kings v. 11; 1 Chron. ii. 6), and is only with violence identified by a few commentators with Ethan the Merarite, of the tribe of Levi, 1 Chron. xv. 17; vi. 29 sq., because he is mentioned alongside of Asaph and Heman as the leader of the Kohrite choir. There are fifty anonymous Psalms in our collection. Thirty-four of these have no superscription whatever, whence they have in the Talmud been called the orphaned Psalms. At all events, they are not to be assigned to the authors of the Psalms immediately preceding, according to the opinion of the Talmud, Origen, Hilarius, and Jerome, which has been controverted in detail by Jahn Einleitung II., 706. The Septuag. ascribes the authorship of several of them to the prophets Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Haggai, and Zechariah, apparently as mere conjectures (vid. Eichhorn Einleit., 8 622).*

* [J. F. Thrupp, in Smith's Dict. of the Bible, adopts the following theory respecting the Psalms ascribed to David: "If, now, in the times posterior to those of David the Levite choirs prefixed to the Psalms which they composed the names of Asaph, Heman, and Ethan, out of a feeling of veneration for their memories, how much more might the name of David be prefixed to the utterances of those who were not merely his descendants, but also the representatives for the time being, and so in some sort the pledges of the perpetual royalty of his lineage! The name David is used to denote, in other parts of Scripture, after the original David's d 'ath, the then head of the Davidic family; and so, in prophecy, the Messiah of the seed of David, who was to sit on David's throne (1 Ki. xii. 6; Hos. iii. 5; Is. lv. 3; Jer. xxx. 9; Ez. xxxiv. 23, 24). And thus, then, we may explain the meaning of the later Davidic superscriptions in the Psalter. The Psalms to which they be long were written by Hezekiah, by Josiah, by Zerubbabel, or others of David's posterity." This view has the analogy of the Psalms of Asaph and the sons of Korah in its favor, but it is unnecessary until some of the Davidic Psalms have been proved to be of a later time, which is not the case at present, at least with any certainty, with any of them. Of those Psalms without titles several of them are intimately connected with the preceding Psalms (Pss. xxxiii., Ixxi., etc.), some were originally one with them (Pss. ix. and x.; xlii. and xliii., etc.), and thus the same author is evident. Others show by their peculiarities of style, ideas, and expressious, that they belong to the same author, whether known or unknown. Thus the most of the orphan Psalms are in the last two books, and belong to groups. The group Pss. xcii.-c., belong to the same author, as Ewald (Dichter II., 349) shows. The group cxi.-cxviii. he assigns to two authors, but there are some reasons why they should belong to the same author, especially the Egyptian Hallel (Pss. cxiii.-exviii.). Ewald likewise assigns fourteen of the Pilgrim songs (Ps. cxx.-cxxxiv.) to the same author as Ps. lxxxvii. (assigned in the title to the sons of Korah) and the remaining pilgrim song, Ps. cxxxii., to the same author as Ps. lxxxix. (assigned in the title to Ethan the Ezralite). This might be accepted, save so far as the pilgrim songs assigned to David (Pss. cxxii., cxxiv. cxxxi., cxxxiii.) and Sol mon (Ps. cxxvii.) are concerned, the older ones of David and Solomon being the models after which the Levitical singers composed their later productions. Still further he regards Pas. cv., cxxxv. and cxxxvi.; cxlv.-cl. and xxxiii., as from the same author. Now Ps. cxlv. is assigned to David, and Ps. xxxiii. is closely connected with Ps. xxxii. He denies the authority of the title of the former and the connection of the latter, but his error in this respect does not overthrow his arguments for the same author. Hengstenberg finds six unknown authors: one of Pss. xci.-c., another of Pss. civ.-evil., a third of Pss. cxi.-cxix., a fourth of the 10 pilgrim songs which are without titles, a fifth of Pss. cxxxv.-cxxxvii., and Ps. cxlvi., a sixth of Pss. cxlvii.-cl. From these attempts of Ewald and Hengstenberg to group t'e Psalms under various unknown authors we may, whilst doubting some of their conclusions, be guided to more satisfactory results. A more careful comparative study of the Psalms as to their theological and ethical ideas, their figurative expresions, and

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