The PsalmsA messed-up Christian Psalter
How long, O Lord? Will You forget me until the end? How long will You turn away Your face from Me? How long shall I take counsel in my soul and heave sorrows in my heart every day? How long shall my enemy be exalted over me? Consider and answer me, O Lord my God; lighten my eyes, lest I sleep in death; lest at any time my enemies say, “I have prevailed against him;” lest my persecutors exult if ever I am shaken. But I have trusted in Your mercy; my heart shall rejoice in Your salvation. I will sing to the Lord, because He has dealt bountifully with me, and I will sing psalms to the name of the Lord Most High.
Oh God, my God, attend to me! Why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from helping me, from the words of my groaning? Oh my God, I cry by day, but You do not answer, and by night, but find no rest. But You dwell in the sanctuary, the Praise of Israel. In You our father’s hoped. They hoped in You, and You delivered them. To You they cried and were saved; in You they hoped and were not disappointed. But as for me, I am a worm and no man, a reproach of men and an outcast of the people. All who seek me mock me; they open their lips and wag their heads: “He hoped in the Lord–let Him deliver him; let Him save him, if He was pleased in Him.” Yet you are He who took me from the womb; You have been my hope from my mother’s breasts. Upon You was I cast from my birth; from my mother’s womb, You have been my God. Be not far from me, for trouble is near, and there is none to help me. Many bullocks encircle me, strong bulls surround me. The open their mouths against me like ravenous and roaring lions. I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint; my heart is like wax melted within my breast. My strength is dried up like a potsherd, and my tongue cleaves to my throat; You have brought me down into the dust of death. For many dogs are round about me; a company of evildoers closes in on me; they have pierced my hands and feet. They count all my bones; they stare and gloat over me. They divided my garments among them, and for my raiment they cast lots. But you, O Lord, do not remove Your help from me! Hasten to my aid! Deliver me from the sword, my afflicted soul from the power of the dog! Save me from the mouth of the lion, my lowliness from the horns of the wild bulls…The poor shall eat and be satisfied; those who seek the Lord shall praise Him; their hearts shall live forever….Yes, my soul lives for Him, and my children will serve Him.
The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I be afraid? The Lord is the defender of my life; of whom shall I be afraid? When evildoers assailed me to eat up my flesh, my adversaries and foes, they stumbled and fell. Though an army encamp against me, me heart shall not fear; though war rise up against me, yet I am confident of this. One thing I asked of the Lord — that will I seek after — that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord and to look upon His temple. For He hid me in His shelter in the day of my afflictions; He concealed me in the cover of His tabernacle; He set me high upon a rock….Be my helper, forsake me not, and do not overlook me, O God my Savior! For my father and my mother have forsaken me, but the Lord has taken me to Himself. Instruct me in Your way, O Lord, and lead me on a right path because of my enemies…I believe I shall see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait on the Lord; be courageous and let your heart be strengthened; yes, wait on the Lord.
Be not jealous of the wicked nor envious of evildoers. For they will soon fade like the grass and wither like the green herb. Hope in the Lord and do good; so you will dwell in the land and be fed with its wealth. Take delight in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart. Disclose your struggles to the Lord; hope in Him, and He will act. He will cause your righteousness to shine forth as the light and your judgment as the noonday. Be still before the Lord and submit yourself to Him; be not jealous of him who prospers in his way, of the man who transgresses the law. Refrain from anger, and forsake wrath. Let not envy lead you to evil deeds….But the meek shall inherit the earth and delight themselves in the fullness of peace….Better is little that the righteous has than the great wealth of sinners….The Lord guides the steps of man, and He will delight in his ways. Though he fall, he shall not be cast headlong, for the Lord is the stay of his hand. I have been young and now am old, yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken or his children begging bread. He is merciful and ever lending, and his children shall be blessed. Depart from evil and do good; so shall you abide forever….The salvation of the righteous is from the Lord; He is their defender in the time of tribulation; the Lord shall help them and deliver them; He shall deliver them from the wicked and save them, because they have hoped in Him.
As a hart longs for flowing streams, so longs my soul for You, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When shall I come and behold the face of God? My tears have been my food day and night, while men say to me continually, “Where is your God?” These things I remembered as I poured out my soul: Yes, I will go to the place of Your wonderful tabernacle, even to the house of God, with load shouts and songs of thanksgiving of a multitude keeping festival. Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you disquieted within me? Hope in God; for I will give thanks to Him, the salvation of my countenance and my God. My soul is cast down within me; therefore, I have remembered You from the land of Jordan and of Hermon, from the small mountain. Deep calls to deep at the thunder of Your cataracts; all Your waves and your billows have gone over me. By day the Lord will command His mercy; by night I will sing a psalm to Him – a prayer to the God of my life. I will say to God, “You are my Helper; why have You forgotten me?” Why do I go mourning because of the oppression of the enemy? While my bones were breaking, my adversaries taunted me, while they said to me daily, “Where is your God?” Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you disquieted within me? Hope in God, for I will give thanks to Him, the help of my countenance and my God.
Have mercy on me, O God, according to Your steadfast love; according to your abundant mercy, blot out my transgressions. wash me thoroughly from my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin. For I know my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me. Against You, You only, have I sinned and done that which is evil in Your sight, so that You are justified in Your sentence and blameless in Your judgment. Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me. Behold, You desire truth in the inward being; therefore, teach me wisdom in my secret heart. Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow. Fill me with joy and gladness; let the bones which You have broken rejoice. Hide Your face from my sins and blot out all my iniquities. Create in me a clean heart, O God, and put a new and right spirit within me. Cast me not away from Your presence, and take not Your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of Your salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit. Then I will teach transgressors Your ways, and sinners will return to You. Deliver me from bloodguilt, O God, God of my salvation, and my tongue will sing aloud of Your deliverance. O Lord, open my lips, and my mouth shall show forth Your praise. For You have not delight in sacrifice; were I to give a burnt offering, You would not be pleased. The sacrifice acceptable to God is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, You will not despise. Do good to Zion in Your good pleasure; rebuild the walls of Jerusalem; then will You delight in right sacrifices, in burnt offerings and whole burnt offerings; then bulls will be offered on Your alter.
Give ear to my prayer, O God, and hide not Yourself from my supplication. Attend to me and answer me; I am grieved in my meditation and troubled because of the noise of the enemy, because of the oppression of the wicked. For they bring trouble upon me, and in anger they cherish enmity against me. Fear and trembling come upon me, and horror overwhelms me. And I say, “Oh, that I had wings like a dove! I would fly away and be at rest. Yes, I would wander afar, I would lodge in the wilderness; I would hasten to find a shelter from the raging wind and tempest.”… It is not an enemy who taunts me–then I could bear it; it is not an adversary who deals insolently with me–then I could hide from him. But it is you, my equal, my companion, my familiar friend. We used to hold sweet converse together; within God’s house we walked in fellowship….But I call upon God, and the Lord will save me. Evening and morning and at noon I utter my complaint and moan, and he will hear my voice. He will deliver my soul in safety from the battle that I wage, for many are arrayed against me….Cast your burden on the Lord, and He will sustain you; He will never permit the righteous to be moved. But You, O God, will cast them down into the lowest pit; men of blood and treachery shall not live out half their days. But I will trust in You.
Save me, O God! For the waters have come up to my neck. I am sunk in deep mire, where there is no foothold; I have come into the depths of the seas, and a storm sweeps over me. I am weary with my crying; my throat has become hoarse; my eyes have grown dim with waiting for my God. More in number than the hairs of my head are those who hated me without a cause; my enemies who would persecute me unrighteously are strengthened: what I did not owe, they made me repay. O God, You know my folly; the wrongs I have done are not hidden from You…But as for me, through my prayer I remain close to You, O Lord; it is time to show Your good will, O God. In the abundance of Your mercy hear me, in the truth of Your salvation. Rescue me from sinking in the mire; let me be delivered from those who hate me and from the deep waters. Let not the flood drown me, or the deep swallow me up, or the pit close its mouth over me. Hear me, O Lord, for Your mercy is good; according to the abundance of Your compassion, look upon me. Turn not away Your face from Your servant, for I am afflicted…The poor see and rejoice; seek the Lord, and your soul shall live. For the Lord hears the poor and does not despise His own that are in bonds.
My heart burned, and my reigns were troubled; I was brutish and ignorant; I was like a beast before You. Nevertheless, I am continually with You; You have held my right hand. You have guided me with Your counsel, and You have taken me to Yourself with glory. For whom have I in heaven but You? And what have I desired upon earth besides You? My flesh and my heart have failed, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. For those who remove themselves far from You shall perish; You put an end to those who commit adultery against You. But for me, my fullness is to cling to God, to put my trust in the Lord God, that I may proclaim Your praises in the gates of the daughter of Zion.
I cried aloud to God with my voice; my voice cried aloud to God, and He heard me. In the day of my trouble, I earnestly sought the Lord; in the night my hands were stretched out before Him, and I was not deceived; my soul refused any other consolation. I remembered God, and I rejoiced; when I thought of my woes, my spirit failed. My eyes were awake in vigil; I was so troubled that I could not speak. I considered the days of old; I remembered the eternal years, and I meditated. I labored in my heart in the night, and my spirit struggled to understand: Will the Lord spurn forever and never again be favorable? Has He cut off His mercy forever, from generation to generation? Will God forget to be gracious? Will He in anger shut up His compassion? And I said, “Now have I begun; this is the change of the right hand of the Most High.” I called to mind the deeds of the Lord; yes, I will remember Your wonders from the beginning. I will meditate on all Your works and muse on Your deeds. Your way, O God, is in holiness; Who is so great a God as our God? You are the God who works wonders; You have manifested Your might among the peoples.
Incline Your ear, O Lord, and answer me, for I am poor and needy. Preserve my life, for I am godly; save Your servant who trusts in You. You are my God; be gracious to me, O Lord, for to You do I cry all the day. Gladden the soul of Your servant, for to You, O Lord, do I lift up my soul. For You, O Lord, are good and forgiving, abounding in mercy to all who call on You. Give ear, O Lord, to my prayer; hearken to my cry of supplication. In the day of my trouble I call on You, or You answer me. There is none like You among the gods, O Lord, nor are there any works like Yours….Lead me in Your way, O Lord, that I may walk in Your truth; let my heart find its joy in the fear of Your Name. I give thanks to You, O Lord my God, with my whole heart, and I will glorify your Name forever. For great is Your mercy toward me; You have delivered my soul from the depths of Sheol….Look upon me and take pity on me; give Your strength to Your servant and save the son of Your handmaid. Set upon me a sign of salvation, that those who hate me may see and be put to shame, because You, O Lord, have helped me and comforted me.
I cry with my voice to the Lord; with my voice I make supplication to the Lord. I pour out my complaint before Him; I tell my trouble before Him. When my spirit is faint, You know my way. In the path where I walk they have hidden a trap for me. I look to the right and watch, but there is none who takes notice of me; no refuge remains to me, no man cares for me. I cry to You, O Lord; I say, “You are my refuge, my portion in the land of the living.” Give heed to my cry, for I am brought very low! Deliver me from my persecutors, for they are too strong for me. Bring my soul out of prison, that I may give thanks to Your name. The righteous will surround me, for You will deal bountifully with me.
- The enemies mentioned in these Psalms are often your own passions and thoughts. They are not always external to you. Keep this in mind as you pray these Psalms.
- These Psalms are chosen since they usually mention a personal “crisis” in which God is seen or enters into.
- The psalmist does not have his act together. He is “poor and needy.”
- There is great benefit to your heart and spirit in simply reading these Psalms in God’s presence.