The Word of God: The Foundation of Knowledge

Lesson 2, Part 6


The Writers of the Hebrew Bible

In writing His Word for humanity, God used people from all social levels and walks of life: kings, prophets, priests, scribes, tax collectors, herdsmen, fishermen.

Though God inspired them all, He used their own natural human personalities to help convey His message. Their background stories make for fascinating reading. It is surprising how much the Bible itself reveals about how it came to be put together through God using human instruments.

Let’s begin our story with David, the king of Israel who lived about 1,000 B.C. Three millennia later we still speak and write and sing the words of David. They are quoted extensively in what we call the New Testament. He created a large amount of literature that God preserved for future generations.

Who was the principal composer of the words and music of the Psalms?

Now these are the last words of David. Thus says David the son of Jesse; thus says the man raised up on high, the anointed of the God of Jacob, and the sweet psalmist of Israel”   2 Samuel 23:1

“On that day David first delivered this psalm into the hand of Asaph and his brethren, to thank the LORD  1 Chronicles 16:7

“[Woe to you] who sing idly to the sound of stringed instruments, and invent for yourselves musical instruments like David”  Amos 6:5

“Now David himself said in the book of Psalms . . .”  Luke 20:42

“For David himself said by the Holy Spirit . . .”  Mark 12:36

The Bible has much to say about David’s musical and literary accomplishments. No fewer than 73 psalms bear David’s name. It seems likely that many of the unattributed psalms were also authored by this king. His skillful playing on the harp calmed the disturbed mind of King Saul (1 Samuel 16:14-23). David also composed a moving lamentation after Saul and Jonathan lost their lives in battle (2 Samuel 1:17-27; 2 Samuel 3:33-34).

How many times have people unfamiliar with the Bible repeated the phrase, “How are the mighty fallen,” without realizing that they are quoting David’s sorrow over the deaths of Saul and Jonathan? David and his music were so renowned that the prophet Amos mentions them some 300 years after David’s reign (Amos 6:5).

What was the source of David’s inspiration?

“The Spirit of the LORD spoke by me, and His word was on my tongue”  2 Samuel 23:2

These are “the last words of David” (2 Samuel 23:1)—serious matters he wished his audience to remember. This great king was one of many Peter had in mind a millennium later when the apostle wrote, “For prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit” (2 Peter 1:21).

Did David himself have the Holy Spirit?

“Then Samuel [the prophet] took the horn of oil and anointed him in the midst of his brothers; and the Spirit of the LORD came upon David from that day forward”  1 Samuel 16:13

This anointing occurred when David was yet a young man caring for his father’s sheep. God gave His Spirit to David at a young age, and these passages indicate that many of his compositions were inspired through that Spirit. The Holy Spirit is a vital link between God and man. God reveals His precious truth to us by and through His Spirit (1 Corinthians 2:10). As Peter later wrote, God’s prophets had this Spirit, “the Spirit of Christ,” working within them (1 Peter 1:11).

King David and His Scribes

David was a remarkable leader and skilled organizer. In particular, 1 Chronicles details how he administered his government. Under his rule professional recorders and scribes were engaged and educated in the royal court. These men were greatly respected, and their successors in later reigns recorded court histories of the kings of Israel and Judah. One such record, for instance, was “the account of the chronicles of King David” (1 Chronicles 27:24). Shemaiah was one scribe in David’s royal court whose name is recorded (1 Chronicles 24:6).

An earlier passage in 2 Samuel sums up David’s regal administration. “So David reigned over all Israel; and David administered judgment and justice to all his people. Joab the son of Zeruiah was over the army; Jehoshaphat the son of Ahilud was recorder; Zadok the son of Ahitub and Ahimelech the son of Abiathar were the priests; Seraiah was the scribe” (2 Samuel 8:15-17). The chronicler later mentions that “Jehonathan, David’s uncle, was a counselor, a wise man, and a scribe” (1 Chronicles 27:32). This highly educated relative was apparently a trusted royal adviser.

The Bible indicates that King David created a climate in which recording and writing about royal affairs were important governmental functions, ranked with priestly and military duties. Solomon, his son and successor, grew up in an atmosphere that nourished his own considerable writing talents, which were strengthened by his father and others of the royal court. Among the king’s final words to his young son Solomon were these: “All this … the LORD made me understand in writing, by His hand upon me, all the works of these plans [for the first temple]” (1 Chronicles 28:19).

King Solomon's Writings

The books written by King Solomon are part of the Writings section of the Hebrew Bible.

Does the Bible describe King Solomon’s royal administration?

Solomon Solomon

“So King Solomon was king over all Israel. And these were his officials: Azariah the son of Zadok, the priest; Elihoreph and Ahijah … scribes; Jehoshaphat … the recorder”  1 Kings 4:1-3

Again, the offices of scribe and recorder were ranked high in the king’s administration. Like his father, David, King Solomon prized these men and their skills.

Did some of the books of the Bible eventually emerge from this great emphasis on writing?

“He [Solomon] spoke three thousand proverbs, and his songs were one thousand and five"  1 Kings 4:32

Only a few hundred of Solomon’s proverbs are recorded in the book of Proverbs. Only one of his songs (appropriately known as the Song of Songs) is preserved for us in the Bible. So a great deal of evaluation of written material had to have taken place. Solomon’s contributions to the Bible are accurately termed Wisdom Books.

Who is the real source of Solomon’s wisdom?

“And God gave Solomon wisdom and exceedingly great understanding, and largeness of heart like the sand on the seashore. . .For he was wiser than all men”  1 Kings 4:29-31

“And all the kings of earth sought the presence of Solomon to hear his wisdom, which God had put in his heart”  2 Chronicles 9:23

This is an important biblical fact and one we should never forget: God is the ultimate source of the books of the Bible, no matter the human beings He used to write them. “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God,” wrote the apostle Paul (2 Timothy 3:16). The wisdom of Solomon came from the Creator God.

Which well-known book of the Bible did King Solomon write?

“The proverbs of Solomon the son of David, king of Israel”  Proverbs 1:1

“The proverbs of Solomon . . .”  Proverbs 10:1

“These also are proverbs of Solomon which the men of Hezekiah king of Judah copied”  Proverbs 25:1

The book of Proverbs commences with a brief introduction (Proverbs 1:1-7) followed by a long section extolling the merits of wisdom. Then chapter 10 begins the main body of Solomon’s proverbs, some of which were later copied by King Hezekiah’s scribes (Proverbs 25:1). The final two chapters are attributed to two other people, but Solomon is the principal author of the book.

These biblical proverbs are instructive sayings that often contrast right and wrong in one brief passage. These practical points of wisdom not only enrich our lives, but help us avoid trouble. In short, here we have a brief guidebook for successful living.

What book of biblical philosophy did Solomon write?

“The words of the Preacher, the son of David, king in Jerusalem”  Ecclesiastes 1:1

Here, in the book of Ecclesiastes, Solomon reflects on his life and experiences. He concludes that fearing God and keeping His commandments constitute “man’s all” (Ecclesiastes 12:13). He observes that without God life has no real meaning—and that all too many people waste their lives pursuing things that will never truly satisfy them. He reminds us that God will eventually bring every human work into judgment (Ecclesiastes 11:9; Ecclesiastes 12:14).

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