Do you have a favorite psalm?
"I lift up my eyes to the mountains—where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth." Psalm 121:1-2
Do you have a favorite psalm? I do! Years ago, I adopted Psalm 16 as God’s personal message to me. I read it often. I meditate on its phrases, and in it I find direction, comfort, hope, and joy. Here are some examples of how this psalm speaks to me.
Keep me safe, O God . . . - Psalm 16:1a
What do I want to be kept safe from?
Accident? Physical pain? Emotional stress? Failure? Mistakes? Sin? Evil powers?
Once I identify the fear I am dealing with, I can pray specifically for the protection I need. The fears that most often surface for me relate to things I can’t control. When I know I don’t have influence over what may be about to happen, fear can strike to my core.
. . . for in You I take refuge. – Psalm 16:1b
The rest of that verse talks about refuge. Taking refuge in God means I trust him to take care of me. He is my safe place. He protects me even from my own weaknesses, flaws, and lack of judgment, as well as from other people’s mistakes or intentions. As I surrender my will and my fear to him, room is created in my soul for peace to seep in. Little by little, by the power of the Holy Spirit, peace conquers fear and I am at rest.
God is never impatient with my call for help and my desire to take refuge in him. He just seems pleased that I am learning to trust him when I’m afraid. He is ready to welcome you to his safe place, too. All you have to do is ask.
Here’s another verse that grabs my attention in this psalm:
As for the saints in the land, they are the excellent ones, in whom is all my delight.- Psalm 16:3
God delights in saints – those who are committed to relating to him and living out that relationship in their day-to-day lives.
I know many saints who bring cheer, support, and joy into my life: My husband, my spiritual mentor (who is now with Jesus), my ministry mentor, my lifelong friend, my book-reading friend, my compassionate friend, my hospitality friend, my “I’ll do anything to help” friend, my psychologist friend, my praying friend, my friend who is a light in a dark place, my daughters.
Who are the “saints who are in the land” for you? I hope you have a long list. They are the ones who make our lives rich, full, interesting, challenging, and fun. Thank you, Lord, for putting some special saints on life’s path with me!
And one more verse I want to share:
“I will praise the Lord who counsels me; even at night my heart instructs me.” -Psalm 16:7
When I was in college, I had a Christian professor who told us that when she went to bed, she prayed God would use the nighttime hours to speak to her. I thought that was a little “far out” at the time, but was intrigued because it seemed like an efficient use of time –seriously!
Over the years, though, I began to realize that nighttime may be the only time when I can relinquish control of my brain. Maybe, it is the best time for God to be able to talk to me without my interference.
So, I have learned to fall asleep with a Bible verse, a prayer, or a hymn on my mind. That way, I feel I am leaving my subconscious self open to the Spirit of God as I rest. Then I say something like this to God: “I pray that my heart will be so fully yielded to you and my mind so saturated in your Word that the nighttime processing will be instructive. I never want to be outside of the reach of your teaching, correction, guidance, wisdom – even while my body sleeps”.
You may want to ask God to speak to you in the nighttime hours, too. He might just be waiting for your invitation.
And maybe one of the best things about this psalm is that it points to Jesus:
“Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices; my body also will rest secure, because you will not abandon me to the realm of the dead, nor will you let your faithful one see decay. You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.
In his Pentecost sermon just weeks after Jesus’ resurrection, Peter makes it clear that this psalmist was looking ahead to Jesus who would die, but then be raised again. He looks even further ahead to eternity when, because of Jesus, we will experience the joy of being is God’s presence forever.
As we wind down this series of studies on the psalms, maybe it’s a good time for you to find your own “favorite” psalm. Find one that catches your attention, that captures your emotions, that feels comfortable. Then read it slowly, meditatively over a few days. If it continues to speak to you, memorize it or carry it with you on a card in your purse or wallet. Make it part of your life. Go deep with God in his messages to you.