What were David's reasons for writing the Book of Psalms?

Are they in chronological order to the events that happened in his life?

Did he write some of the psalms as the event was happening?


1 Answer 1


To partly answer your question...

One ma'an d'amar says that some of Tehillim reflects that which happened personally to Dovid. Note Pesachim 117a:

תָּנוּ רַבָּנַן: כׇּל שִׁירוֹת וְתוּשְׁבָּחוֹת שֶׁאָמַר דָּוִד בְּסֵפֶר תְּהִלִּים, רַבִּי אֱלִיעֶזֶר אוֹמֵר: כְּנֶגֶד עַצְמוֹ אֲמָרָן. רַבִּי יְהוֹשֻׁעַ אוֹמֵר: כְּנֶגֶד צִיבּוּר אֲמָרָן. וַחֲכָמִים אוֹמְרִים: יֵשׁ מֵהֶן כְּנֶגֶד צִיבּוּר וְיֵשׁ מֵהֶן כְּנֶגֶד עַצְמוֹ. הָאֲמוּרוֹת בִּלְשׁוֹן יָחִיד — כְּנֶגֶד עַצְמוֹ, הָאֲמוּרוֹת בִּלְשׁוֹן רַבִּים — כְּנֶגֶד צִיבּוּר.

The Sages taught in a baraisa that with regard to all the songs and praise that David recited in the book of Psalms, Rabbi Eliezer says: David said them about himself. They were the praises of an individual that were later transmitted to the community. Rabbi Yehoshua says: He originally said them about the community. He composed all of the psalms for the people, including those he wrote about himself. And the Rabbis say: There are among these psalms some that are about the community, and there are among these psalms some that are about himself. The Rabbis clarify their opinion: The psalms that are stated in the singular form are about himself, and those stated in the plural form are about the community. (William Davidson translation & notation)

That being said, his authorship came through Divine inspiration - i.e. it was not necessarily an ad hoc reaction to an event as it happened.

The Zohar 1:179a notes that the various songs and praises that Dovid authored contained Divine wisdom principally because they were composed when he received Divine inspiration:

תָּא חֲזֵי, בְּאִלֵּין שִׁירִין וְתוּשְׁבְּחָן דְּקָאֲמַר דָּוִד אִית בְּהוֹן רָזִין וּמִלִּין עִלָּאִין בְּרָזֵי דְחָכְמְתָא, בְּגִין דְּכֻלְּהוּ בְּרוּחַ קוּדְשָׁא אִתְאֲמָרוּ. דְּהֲוָה שָׁרַא רוּחַ קוּדְשָׁא עֲלֵיהּ דְּדָוִד, וְהֲוָה אָמַר שִׁירָתָא. וּבְגִין כָּךְ כֻּלְּהוּ בְּרָזֵי דְחָכְמְתָא אִתְאֲמָרוּ

And as far as placing a timeframe on it, I am not certain, however the Zohar elsewhere (Zohar 3:285a) observes that this Divine inspiration came to him when he was towards the end of his life:

כְּתִיב, (שמואל ב כ״ב:א׳) וַיְדַבֵּר דָּוִד לַיְיָ' אֶת דִּבְרֵי הַשִּׁירָה הַזֹּאת. הַשְׁתָּא תּוּשְׁבַּחְתָּא דְּדָוִד הוּא, בְּגִין דְּאָמַר שִׁירָה מִתַּתָּא לְעֵילָּא, וְזָכָה לְהַאי דַּרְגָּא, וְלָא אָמַר הַאי שִׁירָה, אֶלָּא בְּסוֹף יוֹמוֹי, דְּהֲוָה בִּשְׁלִימוּ יַתִּיר מֵהַאי שִׁירָה. כְּמָה דְּתָנֵינָן, אַל תַּאֲמֵן בְּעַצְמָךְ עַד יוֹם מוֹתָךְ. וְהָכָא, אֲמַאי זָכָה דָּוִד לְמֵימַר שִׁירָתָא מִתַּתָּא לְעֵילָּא, בְּסוֹף יוֹמוֹי. דְּהֲוָה בְּנַיְיחָא מִכָּל סִטְרוֹי, דִּכְתִּיב, (שם) בְּיוֹם הִצִּיל יְיָ' אוֹתוֹ מִכַּף כָּל אוֹיְבָיו.

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