Life-Study of Psalms, by Witness Lee

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A. The Book of Psalms,
Composed of One Hundred Fifty Psalms,
Being Divided into Five Books

The book of Psalms, composed of one hundred fifty psalms, is divided into five books. Psalms 1—41 are the first book; Psalms 42—72 are the second book; Psalms 73—89 are the third book; Psalms 90—106 are the fourth book; and Psalms 107—150 are the fifth book. These five books can be likened to the five floors of a building. The first book is the ground floor, whereas the fifth book is the highest floor. Book 5 is a book of praises with thanksgivings.

B. The Contents of the Psalms
according to the Human Concept

Apparently, according to the human concept, all the Psalms are the expressions of the sentiments, feelings, and impressions of godly men who were intimately close to God.

C. The Contents of the Psalms
according to the Divine Concept

Actually, according to the divine concept, the central thought of the book of Psalms is Christ, as revealed in plain words (Luke 24:44), and the church as the house of God and the city of God for His kingdom, as typified by the temple and the city of Jerusalem.

Thus, the book of Psalms is one book, but in two kinds of tones. One tone is uttered according to the human concept, and the other tone is uttered according to the divine concept. How could this be? No doubt, these holy writers were wrong in their understanding according to their human concept, but they were still godly men. They were very close to God. Therefore, while they were speaking wrongly, God came to speak through them. Because they were so intimate, so close, and even so one with God, while they were speaking, God came in to speak in their speaking. We should not separate Psalm 1 from Psalm 2. These two psalms were one speaking by David. The first psalm was uttered according to the human concept spoken by David directly. The second psalm was also David’s speaking, but it was actually uttered by God.

Then in Psalms 3 through 7, there is David’s tone again, but in Psalm 8 God’s tone came. Psalms 3 through 7 show us how poor and full of trouble the situation on earth is. But Psalm 8 begins by saying, "O Jehovah our Lord, / How excellent is Your name / In all the earth" (v. 1). When His name is absent, the earth is a mess. When His name is here on the earth, the earth is excellent. This is the name of the One who became a human being, a little lower than the angels, and the name of the One who passed through human life and died, resurrected, and ascended to the heavens to be glorified and honored (vv. 5-6). When this One’s name is on this earth, the earth becomes excellent.

Today in the newspapers murders are reported all the time. We have to warn the sisters that they should not walk home alone after the meetings in the evening. Can we say that it is excellent on the earth today? If we want to make the earth excellent, we need to preach the gospel and turn sinners into Christians. The day will come when the entire earth will be excellent because the Lord’s name will eventually be excellent in all the earth. This is the divine concept. According to God’s divine concept, the central thought in the five books of the Psalms is Christ and the church.

(Life-Study of Psalms, Chapter 1, by Witness Lee)