Historical Ascriptions of the Psalms of David

David is closely identified with worship music in the Bible (Amos 6:5). He sang to calm his sheep on the hillsides and King Saul in his palace (1 Samuel 16:14-23; 18:10-11), accompanying himself on a lyre or harp. He is called "the sweet psalmist of Israel" (2 Samuel 23:1), with 73 psalms attributed to him – nearly half of the Book of Psalms. Several of these tell us on what occasion he wrote the psalm. These ascriptions have a lesson for us. Here are some of them:

1 Samuel 19:11

Psalm 59. “When Saul had sent men to watch David’s house in order to kill him.”

1 Samuel 21:12-15

Psalm 56. “When the Philistines had seized him in Gath.”

1 Samuel 21:13-15

Psalm 34. “When he pretended to be insane before Abimelech, who drove him away, and he left.” A beautiful acrostic psalm.

1 Samuel 22:9-10

Psalm 52. “When Doeg the Edomite had gone to Saul and told him, ‘David has gone to the house of Ahimelech.’”

1 Samuel 22:1

Psalm 57. “When he had fled from Saul into the cave.”

1 Samuel 22:1

Psalm 142. “When he was in the cave.”

1 Samuel 22:5; 23:14-16, 23-25

Psalm 63. “When he was in the Desert of Judah.”

1 Samuel 23:19

Psalm 54. “When the Ziphites had gone to Saul and said, ‘Is not David hiding among us?’”

2 Samuel 22

Psalm 18. “He sang to the LORD the words of this song when the LORD delivered him from the hand of all his enemies and from the hand of Saul.”

2 Samuel 8:13-14

Psalm 60. “When he fought Aram Naharaim and Aram Zobah, and when Joab returned and struck down twelve thousand Edomites in the Valley of Salt.”

2 Samuel 12:13

Psalm 51. “When the prophet Nathan came to him after David had committed adultery with Bathsheba.”

2 Samuel 15

Psalm 3. “When he fled from his son Absalom.”


Copyright © 1985-2017, Ralph F. Wilson. <pastor@joyfulheart.com> All rights reserved. A single copy of this article is free. Do not put this on a website. See legal, copyright, and reprint information.

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