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Posted March 31, 2006

Book: Psalms
Author: Adrian Curtis
Epworth, London, 2004, pp. 150

Excerpt from Jacket:

Although the Book of Psalms is a collection of ancient hymns and poems originally written in Hebrew, it continues to be a source of fascination and inspiration. The psalms live on because they reflect a profound belief in a God who was involved with people and with human affairs – a God who had done wonderful things in the past, for which he should be praised and held in awe; a God to whom complaints could be addressed because of apparent inactivity on behalf of those loyal to him in the present; a God who, despite the distresses and difficulties of those who called upon him, could be trusted to ensure justice in the future. The Psalter contains some very human responses to a God who was sometimes very real to those who addressed him and who sometimes seemed deaf to their cries. Adrian Curtis invites his readers to enter into the world of the Psalms and to find there, sometimes surprisingly, experiences and emotions which resonate with their own.

An Excerpt from the Book:

The Hebrew Psalms: The ‘Book of Praises’

Where better to begin consideration of the Hebrew Psalter than with the title of the book in the language in which the psalms were written? The Hebrew name means ‘Book of Praises’ and the title is most appropriate. Many psalms are hymns of praise to God, while others praise him indirectly, e.g., by praising Zion where his presence was believed to dwell. And many of the psalms which are not ostensibly praises, e.g., those which are laments, complaints or appeals, in fact usually contain statements of confidence and trust in God’s ability to intervene and help. So the overall sense of praise predominates. (The Hebrew word for ‘Praises’ is form the same root as the familiar ‘Hallelujah’ which means ‘Praise the Lord’ and which is used frequently towards the end of the Psalter.

Our words ‘Psalter’ and ‘psalm’ come from the Greek words psalterion and psalmos, which denote a stringed instrument and a song sung to the accompaniment of such an instrument. The Greek translators who produced the Septuagint (usually abbreviated LXX) used the word psalmos to translate the Hebrew mizmor, the term used most frequently in titles that have been added to some of the psalms in the Hebrew Bible, and which probably means a song sung to the accompaniment of a stringed instrument.

Table of Contents:

Psalm 1 to Psalm 150 with commentary