Shmoop is our shepherd.
But we won't make you lug that whole thing out of storage.
Many of the psalms are associated with David, the future king of the Israelites...
...but there were actually many authors.
These 150 poems were intended to praise God...
...and to express deep emotions felt by the Jews as a result of their experiences.
So...what makes a psalm a psalm? Well, if it praises God... it might be a psalm.
If it establishes a relationship between God and man... it might be a psalm.
If it expresses deep emotion... it might be a psalm.
If it is pastoral in nature... in other words, if there's more countryside than big city...
it might be a psalm.
If it uses simile, metaphor, repetition, personification and concrete language... then it just might
be a psalm.
If it is all of those things... well then, you've got a psalm on your hands, buddy.
Let's take a gander at an example and see how well some of the verses in Psalm 111 align
with our little checklist.
I will extol the LORD with all my heart in the council of the upright and in the assembly.
He has caused his wonders to be remembered; the LORD is gracious and compassionate.
He provides food for those who fear him; he remembers his covenant forever.
The works of his hands are faithful and just; all his precepts are trustworthy.
They are steadfast for ever and ever, done in faithfulness and uprightness.
Okay, item numero uno. Does it praise God?
"Praise the Lord. I will extol the Lord with all my heart,"
"Great are the works of the Lord,"
"...his righteousness endures forever."
"the Lord is gracious and compassionate"
This passage certainly seems to think quite highly of the big guy. We're gonna go with
"yes." What about establishing a relationship between
God and man?
"He provides food for those who fear him."
"He provided redemption for his people"
Looks like this passage is telling us that God was a creator of, provider for, and savior
of his people.
Sounds like a pretty serious relationship to us.
Deep emotion... is that in there?
"I will extol the Lord with all my heart"
"They are steadfast for ever and ever"
"to him belongs eternal praise"
The speaker seems to be more than just a little choked up over the subject... strong emotion...
Is the passage pastoral in nature?
righteousness, glorious, majestic, redemption...
Okay, so no particular mention of cows or meadows...
...but the poem tends to reflect a simple, calm and confident tone through the use of
And finally... does the poem use simile or metaphor, repetition, personification and
Metaphor: "He provides food for those who fear him"; probably the speaker is referring
to spiritual sustenance rather than "food."
Personification: "They are steadfast for ever and ever"; "they" refers to the commandments
which are given the human quality of being able to remain steadfast.
Repetition: The words "praise" and "Lord" are repeated, emphasizing the idea that we
should.... Praise God.
Concrete language: The following words appeal to one of our senses- covenant, food, nations....
We can "see" all of these things.
Check, check, check and check! Since we seem to be checking all the boxes...
...we could be pretty sure that what we are reading is a psalm...
...even if we hadn't been told as much from the beginning.
We'll leave you with something to think about...
... if you graduate from a Bible School...
...is that your psalm-a mater?