Psalm 151 is the name given to a short psalm that is found in most copies of the Septuagint
but not in the Masoretic Text of the Hebrew Bible. The title given to this psalm in the
Septuagint indicates that it is supernumerary, and no number is affixed to it: “This Psalm is
ascribed to David and is outside the number. When he slew Goliath in single combat”. It is
included also in some manuscripts of the Peshitta.
The Eastern Orthodox Church accepts Psalm 151 as canonical. Roman Catholics,
Protestants, and most Jews consider it apocryphal. However, it is found in an appendix in
some Catholic Bibles, such as certain editions of the Latin Vulgate, as well as in some
ecumenical translations, such as the New Revised Standard Version.
Although for many years scholars believed that Psalm 151 might have been an original Greek
composition and that “there is no evidence that Psalm 151 ever existed in Hebrew”, we now
know from the Dead Sea scrolls that this psalm did in fact exist in Hebrew and was a part of
the psalter used by the Qumran community.
Psalm 151 appears along with a number of canonical and non-canonical psalms in the Dead
Sea scroll 11QPs(a) (named also 11Q5), a first-century AD scroll discovered in 1956. The
editio princeps of this manuscript was first published in 1963 by J. A. Sanders. This scroll
contains two short Hebrew psalms which scholars now agree served as the basis for Psalm
The title of the psalm claims that it was written by King David after his battle with Goliath. As
it stands in the Greek text in this psalm, David rejoices that God favors him and hears his
prayers and worship. David states that he was the least of his brothers, and yet God chose
him to be anointed king (vv. 1–5). It goes on to commemorate how David cut off Goliath’s head
with the Philistine’s own sword, and thereby removed Israel’s disgrace (vv. 6–7).
The psalm assumes familiarity with and draws ideas and phraseology from elsewhere in the
Additional Psalms 151
This Psalm is ascribed to David and is outside the number. When he slew Goliath in single
(This Title given in the Septuagint)
1 Little was I among my brethren: A younger brother in my father’s house.
2 My hands, they made an instrument of music: My fingers, they prepared a psaltery.
3 And who shall bring back tidings to my master? The Lord Himself, Himself gives ear.
4 Himself sent forth His messenger: And took me from among my father’s sheep; And with
the oil of His annointing He annointed me.
5 Comely my brethren were and tall: And yet they found not favour with the Lord.
6 But I, I sallied forth to meet the alien: And he reviled me by all his idols.
7 But I drew forth the sword that was beside him: I cut his head off with it, And from the sons
of Israel removed reproach.