Psalm Lines That Comfort Me

As I mentioned in my previous post, I have spent the last week in a setting that helped me to relive, move through and more deeply heal some of the trauma of my life. The deaths of Sheila, Joshua and my marriage have left me with some deep scars.

Only within the past eighteen months have I realized how deeply they still pain me and affect my self-image, my relationship with God and my relationship with others. Recognizing the need for some focused healing, I sought out a means of living through my grief again through some experiential and spiritual therapy. It was painfully but wonderfully meaningful.

I added to that experience my own discipline throughout the week of reading twenty five Psalms a day with the explicit purpose of experiencing the text anew and letting it speak for me. As I read through the Psalms I wrote down in a journal any line that expressed something in my heart. I used the Psalms to surface my feelings, my pain, my anger, and my sin. It was a cathartic exercise.

I decided to read the Psalms in the order they appear in the canon, that is, 1 through 150. I partly moved in this direction since I knew the first three books of the Psalms were largely lament while the last two books of the Psalms were largely praise. I wanted to experience the Psalms as a move through lament to praise, if indeed my heart could feel its way through them in that way.

I know this this is not a historical-critical approach to the Psalms nor the exegetical method that I would recommend or teach. However, it is a form of spiritual reading as I sought to let the Psalms identify with my own experience and allow them to speak for me out of my own pain and hurt. Below are some lines that were particularly meaningful. In future posts, I will focus on some themes or particulars that shaped my healing experience through reading the Psalms. I used the New Living Translation for my reading and quote it below. I have probably provided too many for blog readers…but I have many more written down. 🙂

“I am sick at heart.
How long, O Lord, until you restore me?”
Psalm 6:3

“My problems go from bad to worse.
Oh, save me from them all!
Feel my pain and see my trouble.”
Psalm 25:17-18a

“I am dying from grief;
My years are shortened by sadness.
Misery has drained my strength;
I am wsting away from within.”
Psalm 31:10

“My days are filled with grief…
My groans come from an anguished heart…
Do not stand at a distance, my God.”
Psalm 38:6b, 8b, 21b

“Hear my prayer, O Lord!
Listen to my cries for help!
Don’t ignore my tears…
Spare me so I can smile again.”
Psalm 39:12-13a

“You keep track of all my sorrows,
You have collected all my tears in your bottle.
You have recorded each one in your book.
Psalm 56:8

“My eyes are swollen with weeping,
waiting for my God to help me…
I am suffering and in pain.
Rescue me, O God, by your saving power.”
Psalm 69:3b,29

“My life is an example to many…
Don’t abandon me when my strength is failing…
O God, you have taught me from my earliest childhood,
and I have constantly told others about the wonderful things you do.
You have allowed me to suffer much hardshp,
but you will restore me to life again.”
Psalm 71:7a, 9b, 17, 20ab

“My health may fail, and my spirit may grow weak,
but God remains my strength of heart;
he is mine forever.”
Psalm 73:26

“I cry out to the Lord without holding back.
Oh, that God would listen to me!…
There can be no joy for me until he acts.”
Psalm 77:1, 2b.

“Happy are those who are strong in the Lord…
When they walk through the Valley of Weeping,
it will become a place of refreshing springs,
where pools of blessing collect after the rains.”
Psalm 84:5a, 6

“But even the best of these years are filled with pain and trouble.
Satisfy [me] in the morning with your unfailing love,
so [I] may sing for joy to the end of [my life].”
Psalm 90:10c, 14

“Unless the Lord helped me,
I would soon have died…
When doubts filled my mind,
your comfort gave me renewed hope and cheer.”
Psalm 94:17a, 18

“Don’t turn away from me in my time of distress.
My heart is sick, withered like grass.
My tears run down into my drink.”
Psalm 102:2ab, 4a, 9b

“My heart is full of pain.
Help me, O Lord my God!
Save me because of your unfailing love.”
Psalm 109:22b, 26

“Now I can rest again,
for the Lord has been so good to me.
He has saved me from death,
my eyes from tears.”
Psalm 116:7-8ab.

“I weep with grief,
encourage me by your word.
Your promise revives me;
it comforts me in all my troubles.
The suffering you sent was good for me,
for it taught me to pay attention to your principles.
Now let yoru unfailing love comfort me,
just as you promised me, your servant.
I have suffered much, O Lord;
restore my life again, just as you promised.
Do not let my hope be crushed. ”
Psalm 119:28, 50, 71, 76, 107, 116b

“I took my troubles to the Lord;
I cried out to him, and he answered my prayer.”
Psalm 120:1

“Those who plant in tears
will harvest with shouts of joy.
They weep as they go to plan their seed,
but they sing as they return with the harvest.”
Psalm 126:5-6

“The Lord will work out his plans for my life–
for your faithful love, O Lord, endures forever.
Don’t abandon me, for you made me.”
Psalm 138:8

“I pour out my complaints before him
and I tell him all my troubles.
For I am overwhelmed,
and you alone know the way I should turn.”
Psalm 142:2-3a

“For the glory of your name, O Lord, save me.
In your righteousness, bring me out of this distress.”
Psalm 143:11

“The Lord lifts the burdens of those bent beneath their loads.”
Psalm 146:8b

“He heals the brokenhearted,
binding up their wounds.”
Psalm 147:3

“Sing to the Lord a new song,
sing his praises in the assembly of the faithful.
For the Lord delights in his people.”
Psalm 149:1, 4a

“Let everything that lives sing praises to the Lord!
Praise the Lord!”
Psalm 150:6



12 Responses to “Psalm Lines That Comfort Me”

  1.   Quiara Says:

    Dr. Hicks,

    Thank you for sharing this. I’ve been on a similar journey as of late and Dr. Jimmy Adcox has been a mentor and brother to me as I’ve been praying through the Psalms with similar intent and method.

    It has been healing in ways I couldn’t have predicted, this reading with my heart instead of my mind, not picking out the double Hebrew meanings or the exegetical significances — just focusing on how the words spoke the things I felt.

    More recently, I’ve been purposely selecting Psalms that echo where I want to be. In the beginning, it was most helpful to find the Psalms that shared my feelings of sadness, hurt and pain; now, I find it useful to focus on the rejoicing Psalms of praise.

    Psalm 77 has been of great comfort and encouragement to me lately, as have Psalms 42, 51, 61, 63, 91 and 116.

  2. Profile photo of Justin Bronson Barringer  RogueMinister Says:

    Dr. Hicks, it is good to see you posting. This is beautiful. I look forward to reading more. I love the variety in the Psalms. They have everything.

    How have you been? Hope to stop by and see you sometime this summer.

    Rachel and I are about to wrap up our time in China. I just got accepted to Asbury Theological Seminiary, so we will be headed to KY soon for me to work on my M.Div.

    Be blessed!!!

    Shalom
    Justin Bronson

  3. Profile photo of John Mark Hicks  John Mark Hicks Says:

    In terms of lament Psalms, some of the most meaningful for me have been Psalm 13 and 77. I love 116 as a thanksgiving Psalm. In terms of my sin, Psalm 51 as well as Psalm 130 are difficult to exceed in terms of confession and comfort.

    Thanks for sharing, Q.

  4. Profile photo of John Mark Hicks  John Mark Hicks Says:

    Justin,

    Yes, it has been a long time, my friend. No more “Dr. Hicks” stuff–by anyone–on this blog, please. I’m just a fellow-traveler.

    I look forward to seeing you soon.

  5.   RICH CONSTANT Says:

    john mark
    you have the tools
    but like all tools where and when to use the right tool is up to each of us.
    necessity.
    the idea of a sound mind is the greatest tool for a healthy mind.
    i pray you can walk away from your past peacefully and continue onward in the Joy of the Spirit of our Lord. and a renewed understanding of all things work together for good to them that love the lord.

    peace and blessings my brother

    rich

    2Ti 1:6 For which cause I remind thee to stir up the gift of God that is in thee through the putting on of my hands,
    2Ti 1:7 for God did not give us a spirit of fear, but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind;

  6. Profile photo of Bobby Valentine  bobbyvalentine Says:

    Ah, many of these texts are on my own list. Thank you for sharing them. I have kept you in my prayers this week.

    Seeking Shalom,
    Bobby V

  7.   Trent Tanaro Says:

    The heart cries out to such words from our Maker. I am reminded of the value and nourishment of the Psalms.
    Bro. John Mark, you may not remember me, but I remember you. We met at LCU at the Moser lectures last fall.
    Praying always for the hearts of those who are suffering…..a journey it is indeed my brother.

    Trent Tanaro
    Earth, TX

  8. Profile photo of John Mark Hicks  John Mark Hicks Says:

    Thanks, Trent. I remember. The Psalms are indeed nourishment; they are voices that give us faithful but real words and thoughts.

  9.   Rich G Says:

    I am sick with Leukemia. I can not take it. The chemo is wicked. Pray the Lord hears and removes it Even now

  10.   Kim Says:

    These really helped me too! And the video series did too! Thank you for sharing your heart and being so real about grief…I really needed what you had to say and the prayers you offered! I am finally getting involved with the ladies ministry a tiny bit and listening better..for others that God puts in my path to help. He is definitely our strength and shield. I will always miss my Mama.

  11.   Steve Kell Says:

    JM–I began journaling as I started my pilgrimage on the road to repentance. I lived in the Psalms during the first 100 days of my spiritual rehab. They were my medicine and nourishment for my heart, mind, and soul while in spiritual CCU. Ps 51 was my initial launch point; Ps 101 has become my life mission statement.

    I was actually re-reading my early days via my first (of now many) journal this very morning, reflecting on how all my volatile emotions were given safe expression in the presence of an incredible God. I know of no other more critical and effective way to begin the alignment process between a wounded heart and his/her God than being immersed in the language of the Psalms for an extended period of time. [I might also add that Eugene Peterson’s award winning book A Long Obedience in the Same Direction (an insightful discussion of the Ascent Psalms) is a wonderful resource that reorients the life of a disciple.]

    I look forward to not only your future posts, but in the continued experience you will have to heal deeply–and to help others in ways you could not in days past.

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