2 Samuel 22:1-2, Did David Write the Psalms?

And David spake unto the LORD the words of this song in the day that the LORD had delivered him out of the hand of all his enemies, and out of the hand of Saul: And he said, The LORD is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer;

//In today’s verse, David speaks (or perhaps sings) a song that we know as Psalm 18. Did he write that song? Indeed, David’s name is in the superscription of nearly half of the Psalms (73 out of 150).
I’m not aware of any Bible scholar who thinks the book of Psalms was written by David–at least, not very many of the Psalms–yet this bit of folklore persists to this day. Small wonder, since the Talmud claims this explicitly: “David wrote the book of the Psalms.”

The superscription above many of the psalms, le-David, however, probably does not ascribe authorship. It doesn’t anywhere else in the Bible. More likely, it means “to David,” or “for David,” or perhaps “about David.” The book of Psalms seems to be comprised of several song collections, one or more of which are written in the tradition of David. For example, Psalm 72 concludes with the words “End of the prayers of David son of Jesse,” though this is hardly the end of the Davidic Psalms; they pick up again with Psalm 86. Also curious is the existence of two Psalms–14 and 53–which are virtually identical, so the same Psalm was surely included in more than one collection.

More problematic to the idea of Davidic authorship is the existence of psalms which describe events after the death of David. I counted seven psalms which speak of the Temple. Others describe the destruction of Babylon, which occurred four centuries after David. And, of course, there’s psalm 137 about Babylonian exile: “By the rivers of Babylon, there we sat and wept when we remembered Zion.”

However, the Chronicles repeatly claim that David instituted the praise of God through song in the sanctuary. It is very possible that David and his musicians began the process of collecting hymns of praise to God, a process which continued for several hundred years ascribed to the tradition of David. Thus did the tradition evolve of Davidic authorship, similar to the way Moses is traditionally thought to be the author of the Torah.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>