Question: “How many psalms did David write?”
Contrary to popular belief, David is not the only author of the Psalms. In fact, of the 150 Psalms, David is named as the author of only 75.
David is specifically noted as the author of 73 psalms in the titles of the psalms. These include Psalms 3 — 9; 11 — 32; 34 — 41; 51 — 65; 68 — 70; 86; 101; 103; 108 — 110; 122; 124; 131; 133; and 138 — 145.
Many of David’s psalms lack background information regarding their context, but thirteen do share details of their setting:
- Psalm 3: A Psalm of David, when he fled from Absalom his son
2. Psalm 7: A Shiggaion of David, which he sang to the Lord concerning the words of Cush, a Benjaminite.
3. Psalm 30: A Psalm of David. A song at the dedication of the temple.
4. Psalm 34: Of David, when he changed his behavior before Abimelech, so that he drove him out, and he went away.
5. Psalm 51: A Psalm of David, when Nathan the prophet went to him, after he had gone in to Bathsheba.
6. Psalm 52: A Maskil/Maschil of David, when Doeg the Edomite, came and told Saul, “David has come to the house of Ahimelech.”
7. Psalm 54: A Maskil of David, when the Ziphites went and told Saul, “Is not David hiding among us?”
8. Psalm 56: A Miktam of David, when the Philistines seized him in Gath.
9. Psalm 57: A Miktam of David, when he fled from Saul, in the cave.
10. Psalm 59: A Miktam of David, when Saul sent men to watch his house in order to kill him.
11. Psalm 60: A Miktam of David; for instruction; when he strove with Aram-naharaim and with Aram-zobah, and when Joab on his return struck down twelve thousand of Edom in the Valley of Salt.
12. Psalm 63: A Psalm of David, when he was in the wilderness of Judah.
13. Psalm 142: A Maskil of David, when he was in the cave. A Prayer.
In addition to these psalms, David is mentioned as the author of two psalms by writers in the New Testament. Psalm 2 is attributed to David in Acts 4:25: “You spoke by the Holy Spirit through the mouth of your servant, our father David: ‘Why do the nations rage and the peoples plot in vain?’”
And Psalm 95 is attributed to David in Hebrews 4:7: “God again set a certain day, calling it ‘Today.’ This he did when a long time later he spoke through David, as in the passage already quoted: ‘Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts.’”
The first psalm of David’s that we find is Psalm 3, written when David fled from his son Absalom. From this title we surmise that David’s psalms are not organized in chronological order but rather by themes. David’s psalms are found throughout the five books of the Psalms that were likely grouped upon the completion of Psalms during the time of Ezra in the fourth century BC.