If you’re like most people you are probably familiar with Psalm 23, which speaks of how the Lord is our Good Shepherd. You might even be well-acquainted with Psalm 139 which reminds us of how intimately God knows us, or Psalm 91, which tells of God’s protection over us.
Yet there are many other portions of the Psalms – the Bible’s Song Book – that are just as rich, just as comforting, and just as helpful to your walk with God. If you highlight them, bookmark them, or even memorize them, I’m certain they will help you grow in your relationship with God, especially during difficult times. Here are four often overlooked psalms that I encourage you to bookmark:
- Psalm 77 – A Song to Find God in the Silence
Does God ever seem silent? Asaph, the songwriter, might have felt that way too when he penned Psalm 77. But the beauty of his song is that he wrote it from retrospect. He knew God was there and He recounted for us how we can know, too.
In verses 7-9, Asaph asked questions that you and I might ask from time to time: “Will the Lord reject forever? And will He never be favorable again? Has His favor ceased forever? Has His promise come to an end forever? Has God forgotten to be gracious, or has He in anger withdrawn His compassion?” (NASB).
Asaph surely felt forgotten by his God. But then he admitted in verse 10 that it was his perception (not the truth) that the right hand of the Most High had changed. He then remembered God’s “wonders of old” and was able to declare “You are the God who works wonders; You have made known Your strength among the peoples” (verse 14). Asaph then recalled the waters, the clouds, the skies, the lightning, and the sound of thunder, as evidence of God’s presence and protection of His people. Then he says something so precious: “Your way was in the sea, and Your paths in the mighty waters, And Your footprints were not known. You led Your people like a flock by the hand of Moses and Aaron” (verses 19-20). Asaph remembered that, even in silence, God was there when He led the Israelites through the sea on dry ground.
Sometimes God’s way seems unfathomable to us. (Who would choose a path through pounding waves? ) Yet God is One who leads us through the waters, even though His footprints may not be seen, and guides us like a gentle shepherd. Bookmark Psalm 77 so you remember that even when God seems silent, His presence can be sensed through His wonders all around you.
2. Psalm 101 – A Song to Keep You from Compromise
In Psalm 101, David sang of God’s lovingkindness and justice (verse 1) and contrasted it with the evil in this world. This song is his commitment to be careful to live a blameless life.
“I will walk within my house in the integrity of my heart,” David sang in verse 2. “I will set no worthless thing before my eyes; I hate the work of those who fall away; it shall not cling to me” A perverse heart shall leave me; I will know no evil (verses 3-4, NASB).
David commits himself to tolerate no sin in his presence and vows that his eyes will be “upon the faithful of the land, that they may dwell with me; One who walks in a blameless way is one who will serve me” (verse 6).
This passage of Scripture reinforced to me, in my early 20s, that I needed to, like David, take a stand in how I would choose to live. I couldn’t walk the middle of the road. I had to choose righteousness over worldliness, integrity over dishonesty, good over evil, God over self and sin. Bookmark this song as a personal commitment to integrity, a dedication to live purely, a commitment to your home and family, or as a vow to God to live fully for Him.
3. Psalm 51– A Fresh Look at How to Repent
It’s likely that you’ve read the well-known song of David’s confession to God after being confronted by the prophet Nathan about his adultery with Bathsheba and the murder of her husband, one of David’s best soldiers. Yet it’s possible you haven’t read this Psalm in The Message– a translation from the original Hebrew language into idiomatic English, which is the way we think and speak today. This rendering of this Psalm – by the late Eugene Peterson, a longtime Bible scholar and pastor – is so powerful it can bring you to your knees and show you what true repentance really looks like.
Sometimes we read certain verses in a familiar translation so many times that they fail to impact us as they once did. That’s when it’s time to turn to a passage and read it afresh in language that will allow the Word to pierce your heart again like a two-edged sword (Hebrews 4:12). The original Hebrew language, in which the Psalms were written, was a very raw and graphic language, much more expressive than our modern English language. Peterson’s translation contains the emotion behind the original impacting Hebrew words and thoughts, and the result is an equally-inspired rendering of a Psalm of confession and spiritual restoration.
Read it aloud – phrases like: “God, make a fresh start in me, shape a Genesis week from the chaos of my life. Don’t throw me out with the trash, or fail to breathe holiness in me. Bring me back from gray exile, put a fresh wind in my sails!” (verses 10-12, MSG)
Bookmark Psalm 51 in The Message translation and let it revive your heart and help you fall in love with God once again.
4. Psalm 145 – A Reminder of God’s Protection and Provision
From the time I was a teenager, I have prayed through this song, and through the years I’ve taught others to do the same, as a way of staying aligned with God’s will and His ways. It’s a song of comfort :“The Lord supports all who fall, and raises up all who are bowed down” (verse 14 NASB). It’s a song celebrating God’s provision: “The eyes of all look to You, and You give them their food in due time. You open Your hand and satisfy the desire of every living thing” (verses 15-16). And it’s a song that will reinforce to You God’s ability to keep you safe and secure: “The Lord is righteous in all His ways, And kind in all His works. The Lord is near to all who call on Him, To all who call on Him in truth. He will fulfill the desire of those who fear Him; He will also hear their cry for help and save them. The Lord watches over all who love Him…” (verses 17-20).
Bookmark this Psalm and start praying through it at least once a week. I guarantee it will change your life and heart, and draw you closer to the Only One who satisfies.
Which of these Psalms will you focus on this week and become more familiar with? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comment section below.
(For more on drawing closer to God and sensing His presence during silence or disappointment, see my books, When God Sees Your Tears, God’s Whispers to a Woman’s Heart, and Letting God Meet Your Emotional Needs.)