Favorite Psalms

Ever since I read Kathleen Norris’s book, the Cloister Walk, maybe 10 years ago, I have been fascinated by Christians’ reliance on the Psalms as a means to a deep prayer life. Perhaps this is because the Psalms are so raw in terms of emotion, so striking in terms of insight, and so poetic in terms of imagery. Given this, I have been on a long-time quest of identifying and praying my favorite Psalms. In the last couple of weeks, my interest in this little project has been rekindled in front of my fireplace as I’ve quieted myself after the kids have went to sleep. Below I list my favorites, along with particular sections that most stand out as being most meaningful to me.

“Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked or stand in the seat of sinners or sit in the seat of mockers. But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither. Whatever he does prospers (Psalm 1: 1-3).”

“The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not be in want. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he restores my soul. . . Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me (Psalm 23: 1-4).”

“Show me, O Lord, my life’s end and the number of my days; let me know how fleeting is my life. You have made my days a mere handbreath; the span of my years is as nothing before you. Each man’s life is but a breath. Man is a mere phantom as he goes to and fro: He bustles about, but only in vain; he heaps up wealth, not knowing who will get it. But now, Lord, what do I look for? My hope is in you (Psalm 39:4-7).”

“As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God (Psalm 42:1-2).”

“God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore, we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging. . . Be still, and know that I am God (Psalm 46:1-3, 10).”

“Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. . . The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise (Psalm 51: 10, 17).”

“Unless the Lord builds the house, its builders labor in vain (Psalm 127:1).”

“My heart is not proud, O Lord, my eyes are not haughty; I do not concern myself with great matters or things too wonderful for me. But I have stilled and quieted my soul (Psalm 131:1-2).”

“Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting (Psalm 139: 23-24).”

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