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this promise, David runs out, through an entire series of Psalms, into the future of his race, and accompanies it along its course of suffering, even to its final glorious issue.
“In regard to form, David was the first to introduce the alphabetical arrangement; an arrangement which was further extended, according to the import of numbers, to the grouping of verses, and the use of the names of God. To him also belongs the formation of the pairs of Psalms, and the larger Psalm cycles. The distinguishing character of the Psalmodic poetry of David would have discovered itself still more strongly, if there had stood beside him other independent bards; if he had not been so decidedly the prototype of all others in this territory, [of lyrical poetry,] so that, in a certain sense, David may be considered the author of all the Psalms."
He was a
3. Asaph is mentioned in the titles of twelve Psalms, in all, as their author. These are Psalms 1, lxxiii, lxxiv, lxxv, lxxvi, lxxvii, lxxviii, lxxix, lxxx, lxxxi, lxxxii, and lxxxii.
They were not, however, written by one and the same man. There was a numerous family who bore this name, and by a common usage among the Hebrews, the son is often called simply by the name of his father. Asaph, therefore, in the titles of the above Psalms, must often be taken for the “sons of Asaph.” Asaph, the father, was a Levite, the son of Barachias, of the family of Kohath. 1 Chron. vi, 39. man of distinction in his tribe, and a prophet of God, as we find him called in later times, “Asaph the seer.” 2 Chron. xxix, 30. He was selected by David, as a master musician, and, together with Heman, Jeduthun, and others, was with his family solemnly set apart for this particular service of the sanctuary. 1 Chron. xv, 17, 19; xxv, 1, 2. After this event the family of Asaph seemed to have attained more celebrity in their peculiar office than any others of the choristers of David, for we find them mentioned with peculiar marks of prominence in the days of Jehoshaphat, (2 Chron. xx, 14,) and in the reign of Hezekiah, (2 Chron. xxix, 30 ;) and of their descendants, one hundred and forty-eight are enumerated as having returned from the captivity, while little mention is made of the singers belonging to the other families. Neh. vii, 44. In reorganizing the nation, and particularly the tribe of Levi, for their sacred
functions, after the captivity, Mattaniah, a descendant of Asaph, was placed over the singers as superintendent of the sacred music; which seems to indicate that that science had been more cultivated, and the spirit of the ancient chants better preserved, by Asaph's family than by any other. Neh. xi, 17. Nehemiah himself, referring to the ancient order of worship established in the days of David, in respect to the sacred music, says, “For in the days of David and Asaph of old there were chief of the singers, and songs of praise and thanksgiving to God,” (Neh. xii, 46 ;) giving Asaph a marked prominence in his profession. Also in Hezekiah's time, the king commanded the Levites to sing praise unto the Lord with the words of David and of Asaph the seer, (2 Chron. xxix, 30 ;) giving Asaph a rank as poet and spiritual instructer next to David.
The Psalms of Asaph are distinguished for their didactic excellence, both in sentiment and diction. Of didactic poetry he may indeed, of all the lyric writers, be called the master. The prophetic spirit also appears in his Psalms. They are also generally very clearly identified with historic occasions, as will be seen by reference to their introductions in the following work. It will be seen also that they mostly belong to the later periods of the kingdom of Judah, or to the times of the captivity.
4. The sons OF KORAH were another family of Levitical sing
Eleven Psalms in all are attributed to them, either as authors or as the chief performers of the music, namely, Psalmg xlii, xliv-xlix, lxxxiv, lxxxv, lxxxvii, lxxxvii.
Korah, the father of these musicians and poets, was grandson to Kohath, the son of Levi. Exodus v, 16-21. He conspired against Moses and Aaron, and usurped the office of the highpriest, just after the sentence had been pronounced upon the Israelites to return and die in the wilderness, for which he and his company were miraculously destroyed. Numbers xvi. Various of his family survived him, however, from whom sprang a more godly seed. They are mentioned under the several patronymic titles of “Sons of Korah,” “ Korathites,” “Korhites," and “ Korahites.” Numbers xxvi, 58; 1 Chronicles ix, 19, 31, 32; and xii, 6. Besides the musical charge committed to
them, the Korahites had other honourable and important services assigned them in the temple-worship. As a family, their attachment to David is sufficiently attested by the fact that, in his exile at Ziklag, five of their leading men came to him to join their fortunes with his. 1 Chronicles xii, 1–6. “From the companions of the conflict came latterly companions in the composition of sacred song. But the band which joined itself to David was perpetually the same—that of those who were associated in faith toward the God of Israel."
“The Psalms of the sons of Korah,” says Hengstenberg, “on the whole proceed in a manner strikingly parallel to those of Asaph.” “These beautiful Psalms,” says De Wette, “are distinguished for their sprightliness of feeling, rapidity of movement, and lofty conception.”
5. HEMAN was another of David's chief musicians, called also “the king's seer in the words of God.” He was the father of fourteen sons, all of whom were set apart for the musical service of the sanctuary. 1 Chronicles xxv, 1-5. To Heman Psalm eighty-eight is ascribed. It is also ascribed to the "sons of Korah.” This is explained by the fact that Heman himself was a Levite, of the family of Kohath, through the branch of the Korhites; that is, he was himself one of the “sons of Korah.” 1 Chronicles vi, 33. The title of the eightyeighth Psalm, therefore, bears both the patronymic and also the individual name of its author. It was probably written by Heman himself, and dedicated or assigned to the choristers of the family of Korah for its musical performance.
A difficulty has arisen, however, in fixing the family descent of Heman, from the fact that in the title of the above Psalm, and also in 1 Kings iv, 31, he is called “the Ezrahite;" and in 1 Chronicles ii, 6 he is expressly called the son of Zerah, of the tribe of Judah. Dr. Davies (Kitto's Bib. Cyclop., Art. Psalms) suggests that the Ezrah who was the ancestor of Heman was also a Levite and one of the Korahites, though his name is not given in the genealogical lists. This would account for Heman's being at the same time a “son of Korah,” and an Ezrahite. Dr. Kitto considers both the Heman and Ethan mentioned in 1 Kings iv, 31 and 1 Chronicles ii, 6, as descendants of the tribe of Judah, to be different persons from the Heman and
Ethan mentioned in 1 Chronicles vi, 33, 44, as descendants of the tribe of Levi, and also in the titles of the eighty-eight and eighty-ninth Psalm. This is not improbable; and this also is the view of Gesenius.
Hengstenberg supposes that both Heman and Ethan were descendants of the tribe of Levi, but that they were reckoned to the family of Zerah, of the tribe of Judah, in 1 Chronicles ii, 6, “only in the sense that they dwelt in this family,” and were illustrious members of the same, as citizens and sojourners, not as descendants; that “they were adopted sons of Zerah, who brought him more honour than did all his real children.” This would reconcile the several accounts, and either of the above views is infinitely more reasonable than to suspect the correctness of the inspired statements, or impugn their historical accuracy; a business to which a certain class of critics seems ever readily disposed. If the Heman mentioned in the title of the eighty-eighth Psalm is the same as is mentioned in 1 Kings iv, 31, he was renowned in his day for wisdom and learning, as well as for piety and the musical art.
6. Ethan the Ezrahite is mentioned in the title of the eightyninth Psalm, in the same manner that “Heman the Ezrahite" is mentioned in the superscription of the eighty-eighth Psalm. In both cases they should probably be understood as the authors of those Psalms. The eighty-ninth Psalm belongs to the period of the Babylonian captivity, and consequently the Ethan who wrote it must have been a descendant of the Levite of the same name, who is reckoned as one of David's choristers. 1 Chronicles xv, 17-19.
Ethan was the son of Kishi, a Levite of the family of Merari. 1 Chronicles vi, 44–47. If he is the same as is mentioned in 1 Chronicles ii, 6, who is there reckoned to the family of Zerah, of the tribe of Judah, he must be considered as an adopted son of Zerah. It is evident that Ezrah is only another form for Zerah, and is used only as a patronymic. Ethan, the chorister, was indisputably a Levite by birth. This is shown in his regular genealogy of 1 Chronicles vi, 44, and also by the fact, so well known and so indisputable, that none but Levites could be admitted to any part in the tabernacle and temple service. If we suppose, with Hengstenberg, that he was an adopted mem
ber of the family of Zerah, we may here find the reason of his being called an Ezrahite; the names Zerah and Ezrah being identical, only differing in form. If, on the contrary, we adopt the opinion that he was a lineal descendant of Zerah, and consequently of the tribe of Judah, we must suppose him to be an entirely different person from the Ethan who was David's chorister.
Evidently both Heman and Ethan, whose names appear in the titles of the eighty-eighth and eighty-ninth Psalms, were Ezrahites, either by adoption or by natural descent, and the same who were renowned for their wisdom in Solomon's time, and were honoured by a comparison with that monarch, of whom it is said that “he was wiser than all men; than Ethan the Ezrahite, and Heman, and Chalcol, and Darda, the sons of Mahol." 1 Kings iv, 31. (See under Heman.) The Psalms of the Korahitic school were all inscribed to the family of the Korhites, the authors concealing their own proper names, excepting the cases just mentioned of Heman and Ethan. It should be mentioned, Ethan is supposed by some to be the same as Jeduthun, one of David's chief musicians, (1 Chronicles xxv, 1, 3, 6; 2 Chronicles v, 12; and xxix, 14,) whose descendants were known honourably in later times, (2 Chronicles XXXV, 15; Nehemiah xi, 17,) and mentioned as masters of music in the titles of Psalms xxxix, lxii, lxxvii. Where an enumeration of David's masters in music is made, Ethan and Jeduthun are never mentioned together, which favours the hypothesis that they are one and the same person. Jeduthun means praising. “Ethan,” says Hengstenberg, “is probably the proper noun, and Jeduthun (the praise-man) an ideal name devised by David," or a kind of poetical surname.
7. SOLOMON wrote the one hundred and twenty-seventh and one hundred and twenty-eighth Psalms. Our English Bible renders the title of the seventy-second Psalm of Solomon, as though Solomon wrote it. But it should most certainly be rendered to Solomon. It is the last public address of David to his favourite son and successor, and the title addresses the Psalm to him. “The seventy-second Psalm,” says De Wette, “ can be referred to Solomon only as the subject.” It very properly concludes with the significant postscript, “The prayers