Who Were the Other Writers of Psalms?
When we think of the Book of Psalms, we usually think of King David. David wrote many psalms, but he did not write the entire book of Psalms. The majority of the writers have been identified, but many remain anonymous, and we cannot be certain of their identities. King David, Asaph, the sons of Korah, Heman, Solomon, Moses, and Ethan the Ezrahite are among the known Psalmists.
The Psalms were written primarily by King David. Scholars believe David wrote 75 psalms, including Psalms 3-9, 11-32, 34-41, 51-65, 68-70, 86, 101, 103, 108-110, 122, 124, 131, 133, and 138-145. Psalm 23 is my personal favourite of David’s. After my mother died, this psalm brought me great peace and serenity. Turn to Psalm 23 whenever you need a reminder of God’s everlasting presence.
Asaph and His Children
Asaph was a Levite and tabernacle leader. These tabernacle leaders are described in 1 Chronicles 6:31-32 as “They ministered with music before the tabernacle, the tent of meeting, until Solomon built the temple of the Lord in Jerusalem, and they performed their duties in accordance with the regulations laid out for them.”
We know David greatly trusted Asaph to carry out the Lord’s worship because he appointed him as one of the tabernacle leaders. Meanwhile, Asaph is relatable because he struggled with many of the same questions we do, such as why do the wicked prosper? Asaph writes, “For I envied the arrogant when I saw the prosperity of the wicked. They have no struggles; their bodies are healthy and strong. They are free from common human burdens; they are not plagued
However, because of Asaph’s love for the Lord, he was inspired by the Holy Spirit to write many psalms, including Psalm 50 and Psalms 73-83. Many of the psalms attributed to Asaph were also written by Asaph’s sons, who were skilled writers, singers, and musicians. Their love and gift for music flourished through their songwriting and worship of the Lord.
Asaph writes in Psalm 50, “The Mighty One, God, the Lord, speaks and summons the earth from the rising of the sun to where it sets; God shines forth from Zion, perfect in beauty; our God comes and will not be silent; a fire devours before him, and a tempest rages around him.” “Asaph praises God’s power and majesty in this passage. We see consistent praise of God, proper worship of His divinity, and a recount of God’s past wonders throughout Asaph’s psalms (and those of his children). When we need encouragement, we should remember God’s goodness and faithfulness by reading the psalms written by Asaph and his children.
Psalms 42, 44-49, 84-85, and 87-88 are attributed to Korah’s sons. They urged listeners to remember God’s demonstrated faithfulness and provision. “We have heard it with our ears, O God; our ancestors have told us what you did in their days, long ago,” they write. You drove out the nations and planted our ancestors with your hand; you crushed the peoples and made our ancestors thrive. They did not win the land with their sword, nor with their arm; it was your right hand, your arm, and the light of your face, because you loved them” (Psalm 44:1-3).
The sons of Korah are urging Israel to remember God’s mighty works in the past in this psalm. God would save them again, just as He had previously. The same theme pervades Psalm 84:1-2, where Korah’s sons exclaim, “How lovely is your dwelling place, Lord Almighty!” My soul longs, even faints, for the Lord’s courts; my heart and flesh cry out for the living God.”
May we all praise the Lord with the same zeal and devotion as Korah’s sons.
With the help of Korah’s sons, Heman wrote only one psalm, Psalm 88. This psalm speaks to me deeply because Heman writes, “I am overwhelmed with troubles, and my life is drawing near to death.” I am one of those who descend into the pit; I am like a weakling. I am distinguished among the dead, like the slain who lie in the grave, whom you no longer remember and who are cut off from your care” (Psalm 88:3-5).
As someone who suffers from depression, this Psalm speaks to me. Perhaps you struggle with depression or anxiety. Heman reminds us that we are normal to feel this way, but we must remember to turn to the Lord. While God does not promise to remove these feelings and pain, He does promise to hold us up with His mighty hand. Psalm 88 allows us to better reflect on God in the midst of our trials and tribulations.
Solomon composed two Psalms. Psalms 72 and 127 were written by him. Solomon was King David’s son. Solomon ascended to the throne after his father died. Solomon was known to be blessed with great wisdom, which God bestowed upon him. Solomon’s wisdom is evident in his psalms and musings on the Lord. Solomon writes in Psalm 72, “For he will deliver the needy who cry out, the afflicted who have no one to help.” He will have compassion for the weak and needy and will save the needy from death. He will deliver them from oppression and violence because their blood is precious in his eyes” (12-14).
Psalm 72 contains a prophecy about Jesus’ thousand-year reign. Even though Solomon was a king at the time he wrote this psalm, he was anticipating the arrival of the future King, who would reign victorious for all eternity. Consider Psalm 72 if you are looking for hope for the future. Solomon emphasizes the reality of Jesus’ righteous reign over all.
Psalm 90 is the only psalm written by Moses. Here, Moses expresses his deep anguish by pleading with the Lord, “Relent, Lord!” How much time will it take? Have mercy on your servants. Satisfy us in the morning with your unfailing love, so that we may sing and rejoice all the days of our lives” (Psalm 90:13-14). Moses is pleading with God to have mercy on His children once more. Every prayer we make, including Moses’ psalm, is heard by the Lord.
Psalm 60, on the other hand, declares the Lord’s praise and faithfulness. He praises the Lord, saying, “Lord, you have been our dwelling place throughout all generations.” “Before the mountains were born, or you gave birth to the entire world, you are God from everlasting to everlasting” (Psalm 90:1-2). Moses praises the Lord for His unwavering devotion to Israel.
The Ezrahite Ethan
Ethan the Ezrahite, like Moses, wrote one psalm, Psalm 89. Ethan praises and glorifies God for all of His miracles. When Ethan writes, “Righteousness and justice are the foundation of your throne; love and faithfulness go before you,” God’s righteousness is magnified. Blessed are those who have learned to praise you, Lord, and who walk in the light of your presence. They sing praises to your name all day; they rejoice in your righteousness” (Psalm 89:14-16).
Ethan’s psalm also asks God how long the people will have to suffer in pain (Psalm 89:46-52). Despite the fact that Ethan did not receive an immediate, clear answer, he still praises God. In our own lives, we must remember to praise God even if He does not answer our prayers when or how we would like. We must rely on God’s goodness and trust that God will respond in time, but at the right time.
In the meantime, let us live like Ethan the Ezrahite and focus on the Lord, giving Him praise for who He is.
The other forty-eight Psalms are unnamed. We don’t know who wrote these psalms, but we do know that the Holy Spirit inspired them. We know God is the ultimate Author in all of the Bible’s writings, even if we don’t know or can’t prove the human author who physically wrote down the words.
What we do know is that God’s Word is alive, Spirit-breathed, and true, which means that we can trust the truth contained in each psalm, regardless of its human composer. The Book of Psalms is, without a doubt, a beautiful book filled with profound truths about God, humanity, and joy in the face of adversity. If you ever get stuck in a rut with your Bible reading, I recommend starting with a psalm a day. You will be astounded by your soul’s conviction, wisdom, and encouragement.