Fourteen psalms carry notes giving, for the most part, specific historical information setting the context in which the psalms are to be understood. In some cases the event noted is not known from the OT, as in Ps 7, or is a general situation, as in Ps 102. In most cases the contexts called to mind reflect other OT texts as follows:
Just which of these were actually penned by the composer of the psalms in question and which have been provided as commentary on the psalms we can no longer determine with certainty. Evidence from the LXX and the Targums suggests these and other parts of the superscriptions either (1) continued to be added as the OT text was copied and edited or (2) differed in the different textual traditions behind these translations.
Whatever their origin, these “historical” notes along with other information in the superscriptions now stand every bit as much a part of the canonical text as the poems themselves. In many cases the content of the psalm itself, though compatible with the historical setting given, would not necessarily suggest the event noted more than any other similar situation. The classic penitential prayer, Ps 51, for example, has no marks demanding association with David's sins with Bathsheba and his response to Nathan, though of course it is eminently appropriate to that terrible set of events. Nevertheless, the poem must now be read in that context, a frame of reference that influences, indeed enhances, the reader-prayer's understanding of the poem.
Step 1 - Create an account or log in to start your free trial.
Starting your free trial of Bible Gateway Plus is easy. You’re already logged in with your Bible Gateway account. The next step is to enter your payment information. Your credit card won’t be charged until the trial period is over. You can cancel anytime during the trial period.
Click the button below to continue.
Step 1 - Create an account or log in to start your subscription.
You’ve already claimed your free trial of Bible Gateway Plus. To subscribe at our regular subscription rate of $3.99/month, click the button below.
Now that you've created a Bible Gateway account, upgrade to Bible Gateway Plus: the ultimate online Bible reading & study experience! Bible Gateway Plus equips you to answer the toughest questions about faith, God, and the Bible with access to a vast digital Bible study library. And it's all integrated seamlessly into your Bible Gateway experience. Try it free for 30 days!