God is with us! Within the liturgical life of the Church, the Book of Psalms is by far the most frequently quoted book in the Bible. All of our services are saturated with the Psalms, whether with a verse here or there, or with entire psalm passages. In Great Compline, tonight’s service, eleven psalms are read.
The Psalms are unique in the Bible, because they are spoken in first and second person, “I” and “you.” Thus they are the original prayers of the Church, a conversation between God and man. The entire range of human emotion and experience is contained within the Psalms: joy, grief, thanksgiving, despair, anger, anticipation, and consolation.
If you have never prayed with the Psalms—and especially if you are finding prayer difficult or dry—I encourage you to open the Bible and start reading the Psalms. You will find voice to exactly what you are experiencing at every moment of your life. Below are excerpts from four Psalms. May this be the beginning (or the renewal) of your prayer with Psalms!
Verses 1-6, 16-19, 28, 31
I will love You, O Lord, my strength. The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer; My God, my strength, in whom I will trust; My shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold. I will call upon the Lord, who is worthy to be praised; So shall I be saved from my enemies. The pangs of death surrounded me, And the floods of ungodliness made me afraid. The sorrows of Sheol surrounded me; The snares of death confronted me. In my distress I called upon the Lord, And cried out to my God; He heard my voice from His temple, And my cry came before Him, even to His ears. … He sent from above, He took me; He drew me out of many waters. He delivered me from my strong enemy, From those who hated me, For they were too strong for me. They confronted me in the day of my calamity, But the Lord was my support. He also brought me out into a broad place; He delivered me because He delighted in me. … The Lord my God will enlighten my darkness. … For who is God, except the Lord? And who is a rock, except our God?
Verses 1-5, 7-8, 11-12
Give ear to my words, O Lord, Consider my meditation. Give heed to the voice of my cry, My King and my God, For to You I will pray My voice You shall hear in the morning, O Lord; In the morning I will direct it to You, And I will look up. For You are not a God who takes pleasure in wickedness, Nor shall evil dwell with You. The boastful shall not stand in Your sight; … But as for me, I will come into Your house in the multitude of Your mercy; In fear of You I will worship toward Your holy temple. Lead me, O Lord, in Your righteousness because of my enemies; Make Your way straight before my face. … Let all those rejoice who put their trust in You; Let them ever shout for joy, because You defend them; Let those also who love Your name Be joyful in You. For You, O Lord, will bless the righteous; With favor You will surround him as with a shield.
Verses 1-3, 5-11
Preserve me, O God, for in You I put my trust. O my soul, you have said to the Lord, “You are my Lord, My goodness is nothing apart from You.” As for the saints who are on the earth, “They are the excellent ones, in whom is all my delight.” O Lord, You are the portion of my inheritance and my cup; You maintain my lot. The lines have fallen to me in pleasant places; Yes, I have a good inheritance. I will bless the Lord who has given me counsel; My heart also instructs me in the night seasons. I have set the Lord always before me; Because He is at my right hand I shall not be moved. Therefore my heart is glad, and my glory rejoices; My flesh also will rest in hope. For You will not leave my soul in Sheol, Nor will You allow Your Holy One to see corruption. You will show me the path of life; In Your presence is fullness of joy; At Your right hand are pleasures forevermore.
The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still waters. He restores my soul; He leads me in the paths of righteousness For His name’s sake. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; For You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You anoint my head with oil; My cup runs over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me All the days of my life; And I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.