Psalms 23; 91; 121: Psalms That We Love
Have we all learned to say the Lord's Prayer, and when we say the prayer at night do we say at the end, "I will both lay me down in peace and sleep, for Thou Lord only makest me dwell in safety"? It helps us to remember that the Lord and the good angels are with us when we sleep, and makes our sleep more peaceful. The words are the last words of Ps. 4. And when we repeat the prayer in church, we hear the minister say, "O come, let us worship and bow down: let us kneel before the Lord our maker." You find these words in Ps. 95:6. The kneeling is to help us to be reverent before the Lord when we say the prayer. Are there any whole Psalms that we can say? We can say "The Lord is my shepherd," Ps. 23, I am sure; and perhaps "I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills," Ps. 121; and perhaps "Blessed is the man," Ps. 1; and perhaps "Make a joyful noise unto the Lord, all ye lands," Ps. 100. And what other Psalms can we say?
Besides the Psalms that we can say, there are others that we love to hear read. Ps. 80 is one to read, about the vine brought out of Egypt and planted in the Holy Land; but its hedges were broken down and the boar and wild beasts spoiled the vine. Ps. 84 is another to read. Someone in a country far away, perhaps a captive, sees the little birds flying over, going so easily to the Lord's house. He also knows of companies of people going, so happy that the long hard way seems pleasant. He longs to go to Jerusalem and the temple.
Ps. 104 is a wonderful Psalm to read in the spring, when the trees are full of sap, and the birds and little animals are finding places for their nests. Ps. 107 is a wonderful Psalm of thanksgiving. It tells of times when people have been in trouble and have felt that the Lord helped them. They should remember this. The Lord could help them more if they would remember the Lordís goodness, and be thankful. The Psalm keeps saying, "Oh that men would praise the Lord for His goodness, and for His wonderful works to the children of men."
Let us look through the Book of Psalms together and see how many Psalms there are which we know and love. Some are connected with the Old Testament story. We see the connection of some with the Lord's life. Some are used in our church service. Some we have learned and often say or sing.
We have learned Ps. 1, describing a man as a tree by the rivers of water. Ps. 5, verses 1-8 of this Psalm are used in church in our opening service. Ps. 8, the strength of babes. Ps. 15, a simple Psalm of the life that prepares for heaven. Ps. 16, the Psalm is beautiful, and familiar from the 5th verse. Ps. 19, the Lord's message through His world and through His Word. Ps. 20, you may not know this Psalm so well, but read it and you will love it. Ps. 22, the Psalm which speaks most plainly of the Lord's crucifixion. Ps. 23, "The Lord is my shepherd," the Psalm that we all know and love. Ps. 24, we think of David bringing up the ark to Zion. Ps. 25, verses 1-10 are used sometimes as the invocation in the morning service. Ps. 27, a Psalm that you will love, if you do not already love it; verse 4 is used in the opening of our church service. Ps. 34 tells of the loving care of the Lord and angels. Ps. 37, one of the most trustful of all Psalms. Ps. 43, thoughts for Sunday morning, a call to church. Ps. 46, a Psalm of the Lord's strength. Ps. 61, a Psalm of trust. Ps. 67, a Psalm to learn and remember. Ps. 72, power and peace from the Lord. Ps. 80, the vine out of Egypt, the broken hedges. Ps. 84, looking with longing toward Zion. Ps. 85, a Psalm to know, if you do not already know it. Ps. 91, safe in the Lord's care. Ps. 95, a call to love and worship; verse 6 you recognize. Ps. 96, strength and beauty from the Lord. Ps. 100, "Serve the Lord with gladness." Ps. 103, the Lord's great love and mercy. Ps. 104, the Lord's power in the world about us. Ps. 107, a Psalm of thanksgiving, a responsive service in our Book of Worship. Ps. 116, a grateful and penitent heart. Ps. 118, we have thought of this as the hymn sung by the Lord and the disciples, closing the Passover. Ps. 119, the long Psalm telling of the value of the Lord's Word to the whole range of human life. Ps. 121, looking up to the hills of strength for life's pilgrimage. Ps. 122, strength from the church and prayer for its peace. Ps. 127, building with the Lord. Ps. 133, life beautiful from within. Ps. 139, nothing hidden from the Lord. Ps. 145, "The Lord is good to all." Ps. 148, praise the Lord, the call to young men and maidens, old men and children. In giving us the Psalms, the Lord has given us a treasure whose comfort and blessing can never be exhausted.
It is in using the Psalms that we shall grow to love them, feeling their help ourselves and seeing their help with others. It is useful to remember certain Psalms helpful for certain occasions, perhaps to note them in the back of our Psalm-book, so that we can quickly find them.
For Psalms to learn with children, see A Year's Lessons from the Psalms by John Worcester, fifty-two selections with notes of explanation.
Psalms of the Lord's care. 8, "What is man, that Thou art mindful of him?" 34, "The angel of the Lord encampeth round about them that fear Him, and delivereth them." 37, "fret not thyself." 42, "Why art thou cast down, O my soul?" 46, "God is our refuge and strength." 33, "Cast thy burden upon the Lord, and He shall sustain thee." 61, "Hear my cry, O God; attend unto my prayer." 91, "He that dwelleth in the secret place of the Most High." 103, "Bless the Lord, O my soul." 121, "I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills." 143, "The Lord is good to all."
Value of the Lordís Word. Psalms 1, "His delight is in the law of the Lord." 19, "The law of the Lord is perfect." 119, "O how I love Thy law!"
Witness of nature to the Lordís power. Psalms 19, "The heavens declare the glory of God." 63, "Thou visitest the earth and waterest it." 104, "He causeth grass to grow for the cattle, and herb for the service of man."
Repentance and forgiveness. Psalms 13, "Lord, who shall abide in Thy tabernacle?" 2, "Show me Thy ways, O Lord; teach me Thy paths." 37, "Depart from evil and do good." 31, "The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit." 80, "Turn us again, O Lord God of hosts." 85, "Thou hast forgiven the iniquity of Thy people." 116, "I love the Lord because He hath heard my voice." 139, "O Lord, Thou hast searched and known me."
Encouragement to worship. Psalms 43, 84, 95, 96, 100, 122.
Help to thanksgiving. Psalms 67, 107, 145, 130.
Help in sickness. Psalms 23, 27, 91, 103.
Have also at hand Prophets and Psalms to suggest the relation of the Psalms to the Lord's life on earth.