A seasoned pastor was once asked this question: “If you were only able to have one book of the Bible, which would you choose?” He responded immediately saying, “That’s easy! The Book of Psalms because they encapsulate every emotion of life.”
It’s easy to understand why the pastor would respond in this way. The Psalms are helpful to the body of Christ because they provide us with a spiritual roadmap to which we can bring all of our unique experiences into the presence of the Lord. Here is a list of some categorized psalms that might serve as a helpful resource in various seasons of your life:
Messianic: pointing to the coming savior (Psalms 2, 16, 23, 24, 45, 72, 110)
Imprecatory: calling on God to bring about his righteous and just judgment on evil (Psalms 35, 58, 69, 83, 109, 137)
Lament: calling on God for help and deliverance by individuals who are in distress (Psalms 3,6,
12, 13, 28, 31, 42, 43 56, 86, 142)
Thanksgiving: giving credit to God for His work on our behalf (Psalms 8,19, 29, 33, 65, 67, 68,
Songs of Ascent: composed to be sung during the three pilgrimage celebrations observed in the
Temple — Passover, Pentecost, Tabernacles (Psalms 120-134)
Royal Psalms: composed to highlight a specific event in the life of a king — a wedding, battle, or
inauguration (Psalms 18, 20, 21, 47, 89, 93, 96-99, 101, 132, 144)
Acrostic: each verse, or group of verses, begins with a specific letter that follow in sequence
(Psalms 25, 34, 111, 112, 119, 145)
The Psalms become especially useful when we feel out of control due to a life situation; when we are angry with God; when we are doubting God and/or his goodness; or when we are in such a dark place that words themselves do not seem fitting. In these seasons, the Psalms provide us with a safe and sanctified path forward.
As a good Jew, Jesus would have started praying these psalms as a young boy in the synagogue all the way up until his final moments on the cross when he quotes Psalm 22. They informed his imagination, as well as his day-to-day life decisions. And so, as our church family follows along with the Psalm booklet during Lent, we’re not only acting like Jesus, we’re also joining into a bigger cosmic story (as we confess in the Nicene Creed each week) ordained by God with believers from the past, present and future who have and will pray these psalms.
May we be a people who run to the Psalms and pray them with discipline in order to inform our imagination and bring our raw emotions into the presence of the Lord.