I love the psalms because of their emotion. Almost every human emotion is expressed somewhere in the psalter. Longing, outrage, despair, along with joy, excitement, and peace, are all found in the songs of Israel. And these human emotions are expressed in relation to our Heavenly Father. He is big enough to handle them all. So no matter what you are struggling with or what you are ‘feeling’, there is a psalm that can speak to and encourage you:
- If you are wrestling with the success of the wicked, then look to Psalm 73.
- If you are desperate for wisdom, then try Psalm 1 or 37 or 127.
- If your heart is overwhelmed with praise, then shout out Psalm 18 or 19 or 100.
- If your soul is dry and your heart is heavy, then take comfort in Psalm 63 or 13.
- If you are guilty over your sin, then know the blessing of forgiveness in Psalm 32.
On and on we could go (for a good reference for different categories of psalms, see Daniel J. Estes, ‘Handbook on the Wisdom Books and Psalms’, p. 152-199). These songs of God’s people invite us to share with them our lives and our circumstances. Some were written in tears of anguish, others in tears of joy. They are all a great gift to us from our God, who knows how to comfort the hearts of men. Is it any wonder that our Savior cried out Psalm 22 as He suffered in our place on the cross? He displayed their value in that act, for in His darkest moment, the psalms were on His lips.
And they all rest upon a glorious foundation: the Lord hears us when we cry! Psalm 120 begins: “In my distress I called to the Lord, and he answered me.” I can bring my anger to the Lord and know that He hears me. I lay my tears before His throne and He keeps them in His bottle (Psalm 56:8). He delights in my singing (and my shouting) of His praise! It may feel like my prayers are falling on deaf ears, but I have 150 reasons to know that they are not. The Lord is there and He is listening.