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10 Powerful Psalms: Reminders of Hope for the Hard Times

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The book of Psalms contains some of the most quoted and powerful verses in the entire Bible. It flows with words of praise, prayers, and heart-felt thoughts about life and God, taking us through journeys from the depths of despair to seasons of celebration and thankfulness.

Maybe that’s one reason so many of us love reading it, because even today, we can relate. It’s real life. Because some days are just hard. We may wonder where God is when we’re facing the toughest of times or may struggle with feeling like we’ve been left on our own in the heat of hard circumstances. Other days we’re reminded of His constant goodness and care; His blessings and protection are evident through our lives.

In this longest book of the entire Bible, with 150 chapters, many of us may open up to the Psalms, yet struggle with knowing where to turn first. Maybe we’ve heard verses quoted from its pages over time, but we don’t know where to find them.

If you’ve been searching to find a word of strength for whatever you might be battling, or if you’re just needing to hear fresh whispers of hope, here are 10 of the most popular Psalms where we can find both comfort and encouragement today.

Psalm 23

This beautiful Psalm, written by David, reminds us that God is our constant caring shepherd and faithful guide. In Him, alone, do we have hope, both in this life and through eternity. It’s considered to be the most well-known and popular Psalm of all.

“The LORD is my shepherd, I lack nothing. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he refreshes my soul. He guides me along the right paths for his name’s sake. Even though I walk through the darkest valley, 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 overflows. Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.” Psalm 23:1-6

Psalm 91

This powerful Psalm, like all Scripture, is God-breathed, though it’s not known who actually penned the words. It has often been referred to the as the 9-1-1 call to God, the one we frequently go to when praying for God’s protection and help in time of need.

Key Verses –

“Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the LORD, “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.”…He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart…For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways…“Because he loves me,” says the LORD, “I will rescue him; I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name. He will call on me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him and honor him. With long life I will satisfy him and show him my salvation.” Psalm 91:1-2, 4, 11, 14-16

Psalm 121

This Psalm is a hope-filled reminder that we can fully depend on God for help, that He is constantly watching over us, protecting our coming and going. Though not fully known, some Bible scholars have suggested that Hezekiah, also known as the praying king, is the one who authored this chapter.

Key Verses –

“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. He will not let your foot slip— he who watches over you will not slumber; indeed, he who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep. The LORD watches over you— the LORD is your shade at your right hand; the sun will not harm you by day, nor the moon by night. The LORD will keep you from all harm— he will watch over your life; the LORD will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore.” Psalm 121:1-8

Psalm 27

This beautiful Psalm was penned by David and reminds us of the truth that God is our help and stronghold in this life. He gives us all we need to face each day and offers hope for the future, too. Choosing to trust our God who never changes can help us overcome the fear and battles we face today.

Key verses –

“The Lord is my light and my salvation – whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life – of whom shall I be afraid…I am still confident of this: I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.” Psalm 27:1, 13-14

Psalm 139

Another Psalm written by David, this is a powerful reflection of God’s all-knowing, all-seeing, and constant presence with us. From before the time we were born, God knew us, He saw us, every day that had been ordained for us to live. This should offer us great comfort in whatever we face in this life, knowing that His watchful care is continually over us, protecting, loving, and guiding us.

Key Verses –

“For you created my inmost being, you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made, your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be…Search me, O God, and know my heart, test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” Psalm 139:13-16, 23-24

Psalm 119

Though the writer of this Psalm is not fully known, some Bible Scholars have suggested it may have been penned by Ezra the priest. As the longest chapter of the entire Bible, it’s 176 verses are power-packed with wisdom and guidance in how to live a life in the truth of God’s word.

Key Verses –

“Blessed are they whose ways are blameless, who walk according to the law of the Lord…How can a young man keep his way pure? By living according to your word…I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you…I run in the path of your commands, for you have set my heart free…Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path…Great peace have they who love your law, and nothing can make them stumble.” Psalm 119: 1, 9, 11, 32, 105, 165

Psalm 37

David wrote this Psalm as an acrostic poem, beginning each of the stanzas with the successive letters of the Hebrew alphabet. He had lived some years running from the enemy, he had watched many rise up and succeed over him, even those who had treated him unjustly. In these verses, David reflects on God’s truths that we can trust fully in Him, believing that the Lord will indeed fight for us and hold us securely, even when we see the evil prospering around us.

Key Verses –

“Trust in the Lord and do good, dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture. Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord, trust in him and he will do this: He will make your righteousness shine like the dawn, the justice of your cause like the noonday sun. Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him…If the Lord delights in a man’s way, he makes his steps firm, though he stumble, he will not fall, for the Lord upholds him with his hand.” Psalm 37:3-7, 23-24

Psalm 51

This heart-cry of David was written as a plea for God’s mercy, forgiveness, and cleansing when the prophet Nathan had confronted him in his sin with Bathsheba. These verses are raw, full of emotion, and deep regret over sin. All of us can relate to these words in our lives and circumstances. We are desperate for the Lord’s grace and mercy, and we can trust that His ears are open to our cries for His help. He draws us to Himself, He desires our hearts to be right with Him, and in this prayer of a Psalm, we can receive great hope and reassurance that God does draw near to those who draw near to Him in repentance and truth.

Key Verses –

“Have mercy on me, O God, according to Your unfailing love, according to your great compassion blot out my transgressions…Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me…The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit, a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.” Psalm 51: 1, 10-12, 17

Psalm 1

This Psalm is often quoted as a road map for wise living, we see clearly in its verses the blessings of those who are faithful to walk closely with the Lord. Though the writer of this very first Psalm is not certain, it is written with the powerful truths of the importance of wise choices in this life and of God’s protective, watchful care over those who follow after Him.

Key Verses –

“Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked or stand in the way of sinners or sit in the seat of mockers. But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither. Whatever he does prospers…For the Lord watches over the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked will perish.” Psalm 1:1-3, 6

Psalm 46

This popular Psalm was written by the sons of Korah, who were temple assistants, and is a hymn of praise, possibly written during the time the Assyrian army had invaded the land and surrounded Jerusalem (2 Kings 18:13 – 19:37). Its powerful words remind us that no matter what we face, God holds the final victory, and we can trust Him in the midst of all that may be happening around us. It calls us to live free from fear, to seek after a quiet and secure confidence in our God, who alone is able to save.

Key Verses –

“God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging…God is within her, she will not fall, God will help her at break of day…The Lord Almighty is with us, the God of Jacob is our fortress…Be still, and know that I am God, I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” Psalm 46:1-3, 5, 7, 10

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