Psalm 138 to 145
This group of psalms (138 to 145) has recently got my attention. They are in the Book Five of Psalms and are with the psalms known as the “Songs of Ascent.” These were songs that pilgrims sang as they went up to Jerusalem and the Temple. Outside of Books One and Two, this is the largest grouping of psalms attributed to David the writer. The original subtitles are in my NIV and many Bibles like my Holman Study Bible add their own titles to give people a sense of the contents of the psalm.
These psalms were probably grouped by whoever did the editing and grouping of the psalms into the form we know today. I like to think about where and when psalms were written and read them in those possible contexts. Only Psalm 142 gives you a time frame and that is “in the cave” referring to David’s outlaw days (1 Samuel 22) when he was hiding from King Saul. Two (139, 140) are “for the director of music” which may indicate that they were written after he went to Jerusalem, three (141, 143, 145) are identified as a “psalm of David”, and Psalms 138 and 144 are just “of David.”
The first verse or two in each of these Psalms gives you a good idea of why they were written. Most are truly songs of praise or thanksgiving but they seem to have been written at crucial or highlight points in David’s life. I guess I have started to look at them as a journey through David’s life. Psalm 138 could have been after Samuel anointed him and they go to Psalm 145 that has the sound of an older mature king who is looking back at his life and wanting his people to look ahead to the life and purpose in God.