Book Three in Psalms 

“Book Three in Psalms” may be a new concept for some people depending on your personal Bible and the translation you read. At some point in the distant past someone gathered psalms and organized them into five separate books (It may have been under King David’s watch and could have been his praise team.) There are theories that the five books shadow the Five Books of Moses. I personally have been exploring this idea by trying to match the content of the books in Psalms by content, ideas, or themes with what is in the books of Moses. I am still working on that.  

Book Three (# 73 to 89) is an easy match on one level. Leviticus contains many of the 613 laws you always hear about, but it is for the Levites (priests) to do their ministry. I will take a different approach in my matching. Most of the psalms in Book Three are attributed to Asaph, followed by the sons of Korah, then individually named Levities. Psalm 86 begins with “A prayer of David” and is the only psalm written by a non-Levite. Please see my Sons of Korah post here on WordPress. Asaph and Korah are descended from Levi, thus the association. 

An idea I am still working with is many of these psalms carry the thought in 74:1, “Why have You rejected us”. Psalm 74 does not place well in the life of David, so I am not sure why this idea is repeated several times in this collection of Psalms. I know that there are scholars who think there may have been two Asaphs. One is with David and the other one is after Jeremiah, but I have not found the second one in the Scriptures. I have no doubt that he may have existed because repeating names within a family was/is a big deal. (PS, I like and use the NIV.) This thought of rejection may come from the sin/judgments mentioned in Deuteronomy 28: 15 – 68; it could be a reminder to follow the Law. 

Because the sons of Korah are musicians (and gatekeepers), it is not surprising that many psalms in Book Three have titles with directions for who and how they are to be played. Terms like maskil and selah are unknown to us today but were important then. Psalm 75 is a “cover” for another tune, probably with words, but it does say “tune”. 

David’s music team in 1 Chronicles 15: 19, Heman, Asaph, and Ethan have several jobs and are highlighted to play certain instruments. There are other names like Jeduthun that appear as leaders; a study to hunt them down in Scripture is always good.   

My study to link the Five Books of Psalms with the Five Books of Moses is on-going but Book Three is a nice start for me. 

Psalm 80

I have been looking at the names that describe God so as I read Psalm 80 its three repeating verses caught my eye. The verses are #3,7 and 19; the verses add a name of God each time it repeats, and part of my study was to look at body parts and it talks about the face of God.

The three names that are added are:

1. God – Elohim means great or mighty one

2. Almighty – Saba focuses on power to conquer or means commander of the army (host)

3. Lord – Yahweh implies a personal covenant relationship with the true God

Different translations handle these verses differently so checking several will be a good study. (I used the NIV.) I did a definition study of the other words in the verse and a loose translation without the names would be:  Physical bring us back O (different names) establish favorable circumstances as a sign of favor so that we can be rescued from earthly enemies.

If you now read the verse adding the definitions for the names, it really adds a new depth to the verse.

I like how Asaph added another name as the Psalm proceeded. Now there are three other sets of names in Psalm 80 the first is “Shepherd of Israel” and then in verses 4 and 14 and these are combinations of Lord, God, and Almighty; if numerology interests you that is six times the names of God are used and a total of twelve individual uses.

Asaph starts the Psalm by calling on the Shepherd of Israel who led Joseph.  I like that title – Shepherd of Israel.  I read several ideas about why he would start off with Joseph and then mention Ephraim, Benjamin and Manasseh so know that you will find many ideas. So here is mine; Joseph is actually the “firstborn heir” which was an important position in a Hebrew family.  Benjamin was his brother by the same mother and Ephraim and Manasseh are his children; that would make them Rachel’s (the “loved wife”) children. Jacob was making Joseph the “ruler” of the family when the brothers got rid of him. One sign of this was the coat of many colors. He actually was the first-born son just not the first-born son, but Reuben lost the birthright of the first-born (Genesis 35:22).

Here are a few other “nuggets” that I found in doing this study.

  1. “Restore” carries the idea of return or repent; it is different from the New Testament “repent” or metanoia. Metanoia is a mental change while shoob or restore usually refers to a physical return.
  2. The word for face is paneh which comes from panah; it means to turn or look. Another word is paniym and it refers to the “face bread” or shewbread that was put into the Tabernacle.  They did not have a physical image of God, but they had the bread. I am not an etymologist, so I do not know if they are related but the Spanish word for bread is pan.
  3. I read in my Bible Glow app; that the psalms in Book 1 (#1-41) more often use Yahweh (the Lord) and Book 2 (#42-72) uses Elohim (God) more often, there is no apparent reason for this grouping.
  4. A little background – this is in the Third Book of Psalms and most of these are attributed to Asaph (means gather or collector). He was a Levite and part of King David’s praise team.

I used my Strong’s Concordance with Vines Dictionary as a reference book. pic of bread from