Getting to Know the Psalmists

April 01, 2024

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Who’s the first person that pops in your mind when you think of the Book of Psalms? Probably King David, right? Second Samuel 23:1 calls him “the sweet psalmist of Israel.” And nearly half of the psalms—73 out of 150—were written by David or refer to an event in his life.


But David was not the only author of the Book of Psalms. So let’s take a few minutes to talk about a few of the other Psalmists: Asaph, the descendants of Korah, and Moses.


The psalmist Asaph lived in Israel during the time of King David. He was part of the tribe of Levi—the priestly tribe. Along with some other Levites, Asaph was chosen to lead joyful songs of celebration when the ark of the covenant was brought into Jerusalem. Asaph must have been a gifted musician and leader, because eventually, King David appointed him over a group of Levites who led God’s people in worship. First Chronicles 16:4 says their mission was to ask for God’s blessings, to give thanks, and to praise the one true God. Twelve psalms have been ascribed to Asaph, including Psalm 73, which says, “Whom have I in heaven but you? And earth has nothing I desire besides you. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever” (verses 25–26, NIV).


The descendants of Korah were also part of the tribe of Levi. They served in the temple as musicians, and they are credited with writing 12 psalms. They wrote Psalm 42, which says, “As the deer longs for streams of water, so I long for you, O God. . . . Why am I discouraged? Why is my heart so sad? I will put my hope in God! I will praise him again—my Savior and my God!” (verses 1, 5, NLT). They also wrote Psalm 84, which says, “How lovely is your dwelling place, Lord Almighty! My soul yearns, even faints, for the courts of the Lord; my heart and my flesh cry out for the living God. . . . Better is one day in your courts than a thousand elsewhere” (verses 1–2, 10, NIV).


Another person who wrote part of the Book of Psalms is Moses. We know him better as the man who led the Israelites out of slavery in Egypt. But Moses also is the author of Psalm 90. He’s the one who prayed these words: “Lord, you have been our dwelling place throughout all generations. Before the mountains were born or you brought forth the whole world, from everlasting to everlasting you are God. . . . A thousand years in your sight are like a day . . . Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom. . . . Satisfy us in the morning with your unfailing love, that we may sing for joy and be glad all our days” (verses 1–2, 4, 12, 14, NIV).


All of the psalmists were very honest and transparent in their writing—whether they were struggling or celebrating, confused or content. They brought all their emotions to God and held nothing back. In Psalm 73, Asaph describes what usually happened by the end of each psalm: “I went into your sanctuary, O God, and I finally understood” (verse 17, NLT). We can follow the psalmists straight into God’s presence. That’s where we’ll start to understand who He really is. That’s where we’ll be changed to be more like Him.

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