Psalms For Every Situation - The One Year Book of Psalms

Psalms For Every Situation

The Psalms are honest, poetic expressions of the experiences, thoughts, and emotions of David and others as they followed God. Many of these spiritual songs are also prayers. Various kinds of psalms were written for different purposes and circumstances, and they can generally be grouped into five categories. These categories are listed below along with an example of each.

Individual prayers (often poignant pleas for help)

Have compassion on me, LORD, for I am weak.

Heal me, LORD, for my body is in agony.

I am sick at heart.

How long, O LORD, until you restore me?

Psalm 6:2-3

Instructional psalms

Come, my children, and listen to me,

and I will teach you to fear the LORD. . . .

Turn away from evil and do good.

Work hard at living in peace with others.

Psalm 34:11, 14

Prayers of the community

Only by your power can we push back our enemies;

only in your name can we trample our foes. . . .

But now you have tossed us aside in dishonor.

You no longer lead our armies to battle.

Psalm 44:5, 9

Hymns of thanksgiving

Let the whole world bless our God

and sing aloud his praises.

Our lives are in his hands,

and he keeps our feet from stumbling.

Psalm 66:8-9

Psalms for special occasions

Your procession has come into view, O God—

the procession of my God and King

as he goes into the sanctuary.

Singers are in front, musicians are behind;

with them are young women playing tambourines.

Psalm 68:24-25

In looking at these various kinds of psalms, we see that God wants us to bring our heart before him in every situation. The Psalms teach us to call upon him in our time of need, both individually and corporately; to praise him when he answers us; to acknowledge him on special occasions; and to learn to obey him and live right.

Perhaps it is because the Psalms speak to all of life that they are so popular. They have been able to touch the hearts of many people in all sorts of circumstances. We can relate to the Psalms very personally, and their honesty endears them to us. More than simply teaching us about God, the Psalms help us express our inmost feelings to God in all of life, reminding us that God has created our emotions as well as our mind and desires that we yield our whole self to him in all things.

The psalmists don’t pretend to have all the answers. Instead, they ask genuine questions and often cry out in agony. In other words, the psalmists are quite human—so much so, in fact, their humanity can almost be embarrassing to us at times. Yet, in spite of all their travail, the psalmists almost always end up praising God because they know he is bigger than their problems and wiser than their questions.

In short, the Psalms are songs to be sung, laments to be cried, prayers to be prayed, and praises to be lifted on high. Let the Psalms speak to your heart this year, whatever you may be feeling. Learn to give God your whole self—heart, mind, and soul—and discover what he desires to teach you in all your circumstances.

Let us before his presence come

With praise and thankful voice;

Let us sing psalms to him with grace

And make a joyful noise.


“Elsewhere in the Bible God speaks to us; in the Psalms He helps us speak to Him.”


Consider the way you feel today. Which of the five types of psalms would you use to express your thoughts and feelings? Try writing a psalm of your own—an honest expression of your emotions before God.

From the Book:

The One Year Book of Psalms cover image

The One Year Book of Psalms
By William Petersen, Randy Petersen, and Tyndale

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