Simple Bible Reading Guide
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"The revelation of Your words sheds light, giving understanding to the simple." —Psalms 119:130
God's word is intended for all people. For thousands of years God has communicated to millions of simple people through His word. In fact, many things are hidden from the learned and clever but revealed to the merest children (Lk 10:21). Of course, God's word is sometimes so difficult to interpret that we need the Church to teach us. Therefore, highly academic Bible study has its place, but it is not the principal approach to God's word. The word is not primarily for an educated elite but for everyday people praying and reading by the power of the Spirit.
Nevertheless, not many books about the Bible are written to help the average person. What most people need is something short, simple, and practical that encourages, motivates and guides. We need something that will help us read the Biblical texts and not just about the text. This is the purpose of this simple Bible reading guide. "We have aimed to please those who prefer simple reading, as well as to make it easy for the studious who wish to commit things to memory, and to be helpful to all (2 Mc 2:25).
Note: The breakdown of the Bible into chapters (although not always adequate) has served God's people for centuries. So in general we will use a chapter-by-chapter structure for our comments.
Be sure to read each chapter of the Bible along with the introductory comments.
P.S. We have prayed before Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament about our choice of the verses in this reading guide. We hope the Scriptures will have a prophetic, life-changing power for you.
Ps 1-2 — HAPPINESS IS...
"The Lord said to Me, 'You are My Son; this day I have begotten You.' " Psalm 2:7
The first two psalms are an introduction to all the psalms. Psalm 1 begins with a beatitude, a way to be happy: "Happy the man who follows not the counsel of the wicked nor walks in the way of sinners, nor sits in the company of the insolent, but delights in the law of the Lord and meditates on His law day and night" (1:1-2). Psalm 2 concludes with a second beatitude: "Happy are all who take refuge in Him!" (2:12) Happiness is living God's word and living for God's Son, the Word made flesh, Jesus.
Prayer: Father, may the psalms be my daily prayer and invariably make me happy.
Promise: "Whatever he does, prospers." 1:3
Ps 3 — JESUS SAVIOR
"But you, O Lord, are my Shield; my Glory, You lift up my head!" Psalm 3:4
The psalm which immediately follows the two introductory psalms focuses on salvation. Many say: "There is no salvation for him in God" (3:3). Nevertheless, I pray: "Save me, my God!" (3:8) The final word is: "Salvation is the Lord's" (3:9).
Prayer: Father, I accept Jesus as Lord and Savior.
Promise: "When I call out to the Lord, He answers me from His holy mountain." 3:5
Ps 4 — SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE
"Tremble, and sin not; reflect, upon your beds, in silence." Psalm 4:5
Traditionally, this psalm is prayed on Saturday night. While others are partying and being enslaved by their lusts, we call on the Lord to put gladness into our hearts, "more than when grain and wine abound" (4:8).
Prayer: Father, may my Saturday nights prepare me to celebrate Your Son's resurrection on Sunday morning.
Promise: "As soon as I lie down, I fall peacefully asleep, for You alone, O Lord, bring security to my dwelling." 4:9
Ps 5 — THE CRACK OF DAWN
"At dawn You hear my voice." Psalm 5:4
The previous psalm spoke of bedtime. This psalm calls us to rise at dawn to bring our plea expectantly before the Lord.
Prayer: Jesus, may I get up early to pray every morning, as You did (Mk 1:35).
Promise: "Let all who take refuge in You be glad and exult forever. Protect them, that You may be the Joy of those who love Your name."
Ps 6 — HEALING PRAYER
"I am wearied with sighing; every night I flood my bed with weeping; I drench my couch with my tears. My eyes are dimmed with sorrow." Psalm 6:7-8
The scene is switched back to night-time. David is crying himself to sleep. He prays to be healed, and the Lord answers.
Prayer: "Heal me, Lord, that I may be healed; save me, that I may be saved, for it is You Whom I praise" (Jer 17:14).
Promise: "Heal me, O Lord, for my body is in terror." 6:3
Ps 7 — OPERATION RESCUE
"O Lord, my God, in You I take refuge; save me from all my pursuers and rescue me." Psalm 7:2
David expects to be rescued because he is innocent. However, Jesus rescued us even when we were sinners (Rm 5:8).
Prayer: Father, thank You for Your Son's death. May we accept the salvation and mercy He has made possible.
Promise: "I will give thanks to the Lord for His justice, and sing praise to the name of the Lord Most High." 7:18
Ps 8 — WHY MAN?
"What is man that You should be mindful of him, or the son of man that You should care for him?" Psalm 8:5
The name and person of God are so glorious. Why would He create human beings or care about us? Why would He become one of us and die on the cross? The answer is: "God is love" (1 Jn 4:16).
Prayer: Father, You gave me the freedom to reject You so I would also have the freedom to love You. I love You with all my heart and all my life.
Promise: "Out of the mouths of babes and sucklings You have fashioned praise because of Your foes, to silence the hostile and the vengeful."
Ps 9 — ON THE RISE
"Rise, O Lord, let not man prevail; let the nations be judged in Your presence." Psalm 9:20
David repeatedly asks the Lord to rise up (7:7; 9:20; 10:12). The Lord ultimately answered his prayer by rising from the dead.
Prayer: Risen Jesus, Conqueror of death, I praise You for Your ultimate and final victory.
Promise: "I will give thanks to You, O Lord, with all my heart; I will declare all Your wondrous deeds." 9:2
Ps 10 — WHY EVIL?
"The desire of the afflicted You hear, O Lord; strengthening their hearts, You pay heed to the defense of the fatherless and the oppressed, that man, who is of earth, may terrify no more." Psalm 10:17-18
Why doesn't God do anything about all the evil in the world? "Why, O Lord, do You stand aloof? Why hide in times of distress?" (10:1)
Prayer: Father, may I trust You even when I don't see You doing anything.
Promise: "You do see, for You behold misery and sorrow, taking them in Your hands. On You the unfortunate man depends; of the fatherless You are the Helper." 10:14
Ps 11 — STILL ON THE THRONE
"When the pillars are overthrown, what can the just man do?" Psalm 11:3
The world tells us to live a life of escapism because the very foundations of human life have been overthrown. David tells us that the Lord is still on the throne, so we need not despair.
Prayer: Father, give me confidence. May I walk by faith and not by sight (2 Cor 5:7).
Promise: "The Lord is in His holy temple; the Lord's throne is in heaven. His eyes behold, His searching glance is on mankind." 11:4
Ps 12 — "IN GOD WE TRUST"
"Help, O Lord! For no one now is dutiful; faithfulness has vanished from among men." Psalm 12:2
You can't trust anybody but the Lord (Jer 17:5, 7). His promises are sure. He "will keep us and preserve us always from this generation, while about us the wicked strut and in high place are the basest of men" (12:8-9).
Prayer: Father, only in You is my soul at rest (Ps 62:6).
Promise: "The promises of the Lord are sure, like tried silver, freed from dross, sevenfold refined." 12:7
Ps 13 — HOW LONG?
"How long, O Lord? Will You utterly forget me? How long will You hide Your face from me?" Psalm 13:2
David asks the Lord four times how long he will continue to suffer. Either God didn't answer right away, or David didn't give Him the opportunity to answer.
Prayer: Father, may I trust You enough not to ask certain questions.
Promise: "Give light to my eyes that I may not sleep in death lest my enemy say, 'I have overcome him.' " 13:4-5
Ps 14 — LOST
"All alike have gone astray; they have become perverse; there is not one who does good, not even one." Psalm 14:3
David sees that humanity is hopelessly lost. He can only pray "that out of Zion would come the salvation of Israel!" (14:7) Jesus was the Answer to his prayer.
Prayer: Father, thank You for loving us so much as to send Your Son to save us (Jn 3:16).
Promise: "When the Lord restores the well-being of His people, then shall Jacob exult and Israel be glad." 14:7
Ps 15 — THE TEN COMMANDMENTS
"O Lord, who shall sojourn in Your tent? Who shall dwell on Your holy mountain?" Psalm 15:1
Who goes to heaven? The person will go to heaven who:
- "walks blamelessly and does justice" (15:2),
- "thinks the truth in his heart" (15:2),
- "slanders not with his tongue" (15:3),
- "harms not his fellow man" (15:3),
- does not take "up a reproach against his neighbor" (15:3),
- despises the reprobate (15:4),
- "honors those who fear the Lord" (15:4),
- "changes not his pledged word" (15:4),
- "lends not his money at usury" (15:5),
- "and accepts no bribe against the innocent" (15:5).
Only Jesus can give us the grace to do these things. If it weren't for Jesus, no one would go to heaven.
Prayer: Jesus, by faith in You may I live the life that will lead to heaven.
Promise: "He who does these things shall never be disturbed." 15:5
Ps 16 — A RESURRECTION-PROPHECY
"Therefore my heart is glad and my soul rejoices, my body, too, abides in confidence; because You will not abandon my soul to the nether world, nor will You suffer Your faithful one to undergo corruption." Psalm 16:9-10
The early Church considered this one of the most important psalms because it prophesied Jesus' resurrection. Peter preached on this psalm on Pentecost and 3,000 people came to Jesus (Acts 2:25-28).
Prayer: Risen Jesus, I praise You.
Promise: "You will show me the path to life, fullness of joys in Your presence, the delights at Your right hand forever." 16:11
Ps 17 — PLEADING INNOCENT OR GUILTY
"Though You test my heart, searching it in the night, though You try me with fire, You shall find no malice in me." Psalm 17:3
Because he is innocent, David expects God to rescue him from his enemies. However, in the new covenant, Jesus rescues us even in our guilt, if we but repent.
Prayer: Jesus, thank You for forgiving our sins. May I go to Confession very soon.
Promise: "Keep me as the apple of Your eye; hide me in the shadow of Your wings from the wicked who use violence against me." 17:8-9
Ps 18 — INTERVENTION
"He inclined the heavens and came down, with dark clouds under His feet." Psalm 18:10
David praises God for intervening and giving him victory. We can praise the Lord for intervening in human history through the Incarnation, Calvary, the Resurrection, and Pentecost.
Prayer: "I love You, O Lord, my Strength, O Lord, my Rock, my Fortress, my Deliverer" (18:2-3).
Promise: "He set me free in the open, and rescued me, because He loves me." 18:20
Ps 19 — "IN THE BEGINNING WAS THE WORD" (Jn 1:1)
"Day pours out the word to day, and night to night imparts knowledge; not a word nor a discourse whose voice is not heard." Psalm 19:3-4
This psalm glories in God's creation and then abruptly switches to praising God's word. This may seem to us like changing the subject but to the psalmist, creation and God's word are together since "by the word of the Lord the heavens were made" (Ps 33:6; Jn 1:3; Jas 1:18).
Prayer: "Cleanse me from my unknown faults! From wanton sin especially, restrain Your servant; let it not rule over me. Then shall I be blameless and innocent of serious sin" (19:13-14).
Promise: "Through all the earth their voice resounds, and to the ends of the world, their message." 19:5
Ps 20 — "BLESSED ASSURANCE"
"The Lord grant all your requests! Now I know that the Lord has given victory to His anointed, that He has answered him from His holy heaven." Psalm 20:6-7
The psalmist prays for the king and suddenly knows in his heart that his prayer is answered.
Prayer: Father, send the Spirit to assure me that my prayer is answered even months and years before the results of my prayer are manifest.
Promise: "Some are strong in chariots; some, in horses; but we are strong in the name of the Lord, our God." 20:8
Ps 21 — ETERNAL HAPPINESS
"He asked life of You: You gave him length of days forever and ever." Psalm 21:5
The psalmist prophesied that we could live in eternal happiness. This was a new and amazing revelation for most of the people of the old covenant.
Prayer: Father, thank You for letting me know about life after death and giving me the opportunity to choose eternal life.
Promise: "For You made him a blessing forever; You gladdened him with the joy of Your presence." 21:7
Ps 22 — CALVARY'S CRY
"My God, my God, why have You forsaken me, far from my prayer, from the words of my cry?" Psalm 22:2
Jesus prayed this psalm while He hung on the cross (Mt 27:46). This psalm is an overwhelming prophecy of Jesus' passion, death, and resurrection. Pray this psalm year after year, and the Lord will use it to transform your life.
Prayer: Jesus, thank You for suffering Your passion and death out of love for me.
Promise: "Let the coming generation be told of the Lord that they may proclaim to a people yet to be born the justice He has shown." 22:31-32
Ps 23 — WALKING PAPERS
"And I shall dwell in the house of the Lord for years to come." Psalm 23:6
This most famous of the psalms probably describes a procession to the Temple. A ritual meal and an anointing with oil are two parts of this liturgical procession. Walk through, more than read through, this psalm.
Prayer: Father, may my celebration of the Eucharist lead me into an ever deeper relationship with You.
Promise: "You spread the table before me in the sight of my foes; You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows." 23:5
Ps 24 — "O WHEN THE SAINTS COME MARCHING IN..."
"Lift up, O gates, your lintels; reach up, you ancient portals, that the king of glory may come in!" Psalm 24:7
After the procession of the previous psalm, the party comes to the gate of the Temple where they engage in a liturgical dialogue with the gate keeper.
This psalm can also be taken as a prophecy of Christ's ascension and entry into heaven.
Prayer: Father, may I follow Jesus in entering heaven's gates.
Promise: "Who is this King of glory? The Lord of hosts; He is the King of glory."24:10
Ps 25 — FROM MEMORY
"Your ways, O Lord, make known to me; teach me Your paths, guide me in Your truth and teach me, for You are God my Savior." Psalm 25:4-5
This is one of the alphabetic psalms. Beginning the verses in alphabetical order is a memory device which implies that we should memorize this psalm. This is the way to deeply appreciate this psalm.
Prayer: Father, give me a special grace to remember the Bible and, more importantly, to live it.
Promise: "The sins of my youth and my frailties remember not; in Your kindness remember me, because of Your goodness, O Lord." 25:7
Ps 26 — HAND-WASHING
"I wash my hands in innocence, and I go around Your altar, O Lord." Psalm 26:6
This psalm possibly accompanied a rite of purification. Consider using it as part of your preparation for Confession.
Prayer: "Search me, O Lord, and try me; test my soul and my heart" (26:2).
Promise: "My foot stands on level ground; in the assemblies I will bless the Lord." 26:12
Ps 27 — FAITH OVER FEAR
"The Lord is my Light and my Salvation; whom should I fear? The Lord is my life's Refuge; of whom should I be afraid?" Psalm 27:1
When you feel afraid of anything, pray this psalm.
Prayer: "Show me, O Lord, Your way, and lead me on a level path" (27:11).
Promise: "Though my father and mother forsake me, yet will the Lord receive me." 27:10
Ps 28 — IN MID-PRAYER
"Blessed be the Lord, for He has heard the sound of my pleading." Psalm 28:6
Once again, the psalmist changes in mid-prayer from petition to thanksgiving. He knows his prayer is answered.
Prayer: Father, give me supernatural gifts of knowledge and faith.
Promise: "Save Your people, and bless Your inheritance; feed them, and carry them forever!" 28:9
Ps 29 — THUNDER SHOWERS
"The voice of the Lord is over the waters, the God of glory thunders." Psalm 29:3
When you hear it thundering, cry "Glory" and praise God with this psalm.
Prayer: Father, may I praise You for any and every kind of weather.
Promise: "May the Lord give strength to His people; may the Lord bless His people with peace!" 29:11
Ps 30 — "YOU HEALED ME" (30:3)
"At nightfall, weeping enters in, but with the dawn, rejoicing." Psalm 30:6
The psalmist became very sick and almost died, but the Lord healed him. God turned weeping into joy, mourning into dancing, sickness into health.
Prayer: Father, because of Your love for us, may I expect miraculous healings.
Promise: "O Lord, my God, forever will I give You thanks."30:13
Ps 31 — THE LAST WORDS
"Into Your hands I commend my spirit." Psalm 31:6
Like Psalm 22, this psalm was prayed by Jesus while He hung on the cross shortly before His death (Lk 23:46).
Prayer: Father, give me the grace to know many of the psalms by memory and to pray them in the worst circumstances.
Promise: "Take courage and be stouthearted, all you who hope in the Lord." 31:25
Ps 32 — HAPPINESS IS REPENTING
"Happy is he whose fault is taken away, whose sin is covered." Psalm 32:1
Do you remember that the purpose of praying the psalms is to make us happy? (see Psalms 1 & 2) Happy are the sorrowing (Mt 5:4), those sorrowing for their sin, repenting, and being forgiven. "Indeed, sorrow for God's sake produces a repentance without regrets, leading to salvation, whereas worldly sorrow brings death" (2 Cor 7:10).
Prayer: Father, may I rejoice with all in heaven when I repent (Lk 15:7).
Promise: "Happy the man to whom the Lord imputes not guilt, in whose spirit there is no guile." 32:2
Ps 33 — "ONE NATION UNDER GOD"
"Happy the nation whose God is the Lord." Psalm 33:12
Once again, the psalmist is concerned about our happiness, not only as individuals but as a nation. This is a good prayer for our country.
Prayer: Father, may America repent before it loses its soul.
Promise: "The Lord brings to naught the plans of nations; He foils the designs of peoples. But the plan of the Lord stands forever; the design of His heart, through all generations." 33:10-11
Ps 34 — A PRAYER FOR HARD TIMES
"The Lord is close to the brokenhearted; and those who are crushed in spirit He saves. Many are the troubles of the just man, but out of them all the Lord delivers him." Psalm 34:19-20
This is another of the alphabetic psalms. When we memorize this psalm, we will be able to pray it in the worst circumstances. The Lord will use it to free, heal, and empower us.
Prayer: Father, give me a word of prophecy when I am overwhelmed with trials.
Promise: "I will bless the Lord at all times; His praise shall be ever in my mouth." 34:2
Ps 35 — PRAYING FOR ENEMIES
"Fight, O Lord, against those who fight me; war against those who make war upon me." Psalm 35:1
David's friends have now become his enemies, and he prays for vengeance. In contrast, Jesus, the Son of David, gave His life on behalf of His enemies.
Prayer: Father, may I love my enemies, even if I have to die for them (Mt 5:39, 44).
Promise: "Then my tongue shall recount Your justice, Your praise, all the day." 35:28
Ps 36 — GOD'S LOVE FOR WICKED HUMANITY
"For with You is the fountain of life, and in Your light we see light." Psalm 36:10
We're so sinful and God is so loving. Lord, have mercy!
Prayer: Father, thank You for Your tremendous patience. May I repent while I can.
Promise: "O Lord, Your kindness reaches to heaven; Your faithfulness, to the clouds." 36:6
Ps 37 — TRUST FUN
"Trust in the Lord and do good, that you may dwell in the land and enjoy security. Take delight in the Lord, and He will grant you your heart's requests." Psalm 37:3-4
Why do the wicked seem to get away with murder? "Leave it to the Lord, and wait for Him" (37:7). "Commit to the Lord your way; trust in Him, and He will act. He will make justice dawn for you like the light; bright as the noonday shall be your vindication" (37:5-6). Trust Him.
Prayer: Father, give me an unshakable trust in You.
Promise: "But the meek shall possess the land, they shall delight in abounding peace." 37:11; Mt 5:5
Ps 38 — SIN-SICK
"There is no health in my flesh because of Your indignation; there is no wholeness in my bones because of my sin." Psalm 38:4
The psalmist is sin-sick. He acknowledges his guilt, grieves over his sin, and asks the Lord for salvation.
Prayer: Father, some of my health problems are due to my sins. May I repent and be healed.
Promise: "Make haste to help me, O Lord my Salvation!" 38:23
Ps 39 — OUR ONLY HOPE
"With rebukes for guilt You chasten man; You dissolve like a cobweb all that is dear to him; only a breath is any man." Psalm 39:12
The psalmist complains about the brevity and vanity of life. He comes to the conclusion that the Lord is his only hope.
Prayer: Jesus, You are my only Hope but the only hope I need.
Promise: "And now, for what do I wait, O Lord? In You is my hope." 39:8
Ps 40 — A LIFE OF OBEDIENCE (1 Pt 1:2)
"Sacrifice or oblation You wished not, but ears open to obedience You gave me." Psalm 40:7
In good times and in bad, to do God's will is our delight. We live to obey Him. Doing His will is our food and drink (Jn 4:34).
Prayer: Father, may I make "no secret of Your kindness and Your truth in the vast assembly" (40:11).
Promise: "Happy the man who makes the Lord his trust; who turns not to idolatry or to those who stray after falsehood." 40:5
Ps 41 — FIRST AND LAST
"Happy is he who has regard for the lowly and the poor; in the day of misfortune the Lord will deliver him." Psalm 41:2
The psalmist continues to focus on happiness and praise. In imitation of the Pentateuch, the Psalms are divided into five books, and this psalm concludes the first book. The last verse is not merely the last verse of this psalm, but of the first forty-one psalms. The last word of the psalms' first book is: "Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel, from all eternity and forever. Amen. Amen" (41:14).
Prayer: Father, may the last word always be praise of You.
Promise: "The Lord will help him on his sickbed, He will take away all his ailment when he is ill." 41:4
Ps 42 — CRYING TO WORSHIP
"Athirst is my soul for God, the living God. When shall I go and behold the face of God?" Psalm 42:3
This first psalm of the second book of psalms expresses an exile's burning desire to worship again with his people in the Temple. He breaks down into tears and is in mourning because he can't share in the community's worship. Would we cry if prevented from going to church?
Prayer: Father, may I live to worship You.
Promise: "Hope in God! For I shall again be thanking Him, in the presence of my Savior and my God." 42:6, 12; 43:5
Ps 43 — DRIVE-THRU
"Then will I go in to the altar of God, the God of my gladness and joy." Psalm 43:4
This psalm is part of the previous psalm. This suggests that sometimes we should ignore the numbering of the psalms and read them straight through. This will give us new insights into the Lord's revelations.
Prayer: Father, open my eyes daily to new insights in Your word.
Promise: "Hope in God! For I shall again be thanking Him, in the presence of my Savior and my God." 43:5; 42:6, 12
Ps 44 — SLEEPING THROUGH THE ALARM CLOCK
"Awake! Why are you asleep, O Lord? Arise! Cast us not off forever!" Psalm 44:24
The people have suffered a shameful defeat in war. The psalmist assumes God is sleeping and tries to wake Him up.
Prayer: Father, wake me up even if You must shake me up.
Promise: "Arise, help us! Redeem us for Your kindness' sake." 44:27
Ps 45 — THE BRIDEGROOM, JESUS (Mk 2:19)
"Forget your people and your father's house. So shall the king desire your beauty; for He is your Lord, and you must worship Him." Psalm 45:11-12
This psalm is a wedding liturgy and a prophecy about our relationship with the Bridegroom, Jesus (Rv 22:2).
Prayer: Jesus, may my relationship with You be deeper than any marriage-relationship.
Promise: "I will make your name memorable through all generations; therefore shall nations praise you forever and ever." 45:18
Ps 46 — WAR ON WAR
"Desist! and confess that I am God." Psalm 46:11
The Lord is not only victorious in war but over war. "He has stopped wars to the end of the earth: the bow he breaks; he splinters the spears; he burns the shields with fire" (46:10). Judith said: "You, the Lord, crush warfare; Lord is Your name" (Jdt 9:8). Isaiah said: "They shall beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks; one nation shall not raise the sword against another, nor shall they train for war again" (Is 2:4).
Prayer: Father, like Jesus, may I die for my enemies.
Promise: "The Lord of hosts is with us; our Stronghold is the God of Jacob." 46:4, 8, 12
Ps 47 — KING OF KINGS
"God mounts His throne amid shouts of joy; the Lord, amid trumpet blasts." Psalm 47:6
This psalm is ultimately fulfilled in Jesus' ascension and enthronement in heaven. "God has given us the wisdom to understand fully the mystery, the plan He was pleased to decree in Christ, to be carried out in the fullness of time: namely, to bring all things in the heavens and on earth into one under Christ's headship" (Eph 1:9-10).
Prayer: Jesus, You are worthy to be praised. I give my life to You.
Promise: "For God's are the guardians of the earth; He is supreme." 47:10
Ps 48 — "TO GOD BE THE GLORY"
"Go about Zion, make the round; count her towers. Consider her ramparts, examine her castles, that you may tell a future generation that such is God." Psalm 48:13-15
When we see the wonders of God's creation, experience victory, or see the beauty of a city, we should react by giving God the glory.
Prayer: "O Lord our God, You are worthy to receive glory and honor and power!" (Rv 4:11).
Promise: "Great is the Lord and wholly to be praised in the city of our God." 48:2
Ps 49 — "YOU CAN'T TAKE IT WITH YOU"
"Yet in no way can a man redeem himself, or pay his own ransom to God; too high is the price to redeem one's life; he would never have enough." Psalm 49:8-9
When we die, we can't take our wealth with us. But the psalmist reveals that the just will be redeemed "from the power of the nether world" (49:16). Only Jesus is the Redeemer.
Prayer: Jesus, thank You for giving Your life as a ransom for me (Mt 20:28).
Promise: "Man, for all his splendor, if he have not prudence, resembles the beasts that perish." 49:21, 13
Ps 50 — PRACTICE WHAT YOU PRAY
"Offer to God praise as your sacrifice and fulfill your vows to the Most High." Psalm 50:14
Our worship of God must not be lip-service but an expression of a life of loving obedience to the Lord (Mt 15:8; Is 29:13).
Prayer: Father, may I practice what I pray.
Promise: "He that offers praise as a sacrifice glorifies Me; and to him that goes the right way I will show the salvation of God." 50:23
Ps 51 — MONTHLY CONFESSION
"For I acknowledge my offense, and my sin is before me always." Psalm 51:5
Go to Confession monthly and pray this psalm in preparation. The Lord will use this psalm to cleanse, free, and transform you.
Prayer: "Thoroughly wash me from my guilt and of my sin cleanse me" (51:4).
Promise: "A clean heart create for me, O God, and a steadfast spirit renew within me. Cast me not out from Your presence, and Your Holy Spirit take not from me. Give me back the joy of Your salvation, and a willing spirit sustain in me." 51:12-14
Ps 52 — "I WILL REPAY" (Rm 12:19)
"God Himself shall demolish you; forever He shall break you." Psalm 52:7
The Lord can deal with our enemies without our help. We should simply love our enemies, pray for them, and get out of God's way.
Prayer: Father, may I realize my battle is not against human beings but the devil (Eph 6:12).
Promise: "I, like a green olive tree in the house of God, trust in the kindness of God forever and ever." 52:10
Ps 53 — TEXT AND CONTEXT
"God looks down from heaven upon the children of men to see if there be one who is wise and seeks God." Psalm 53:3
This psalm is almost exactly the same as psalm 14, but it has a different emphasis because it's in a different context. Read psalms 13 to 15 and then psalms 52 to 54 to see how psalms 14 and 53 are given different nuances by the psalms that precede and follow them.
Prayer: Father, speak a word to my heart that will convict me of sin and set me free.
Promise: "Oh, that out of Zion would come the salvation of Israel! When God restores the well-being of His people, then shall Jacob exult and Israel be glad." 53:7
Ps 54 — INSTANTANEOUS LOVE
"Behold, God is my Helper; the Lord sustains my life." Psalm 54:6
God answers our prayers almost before we get the words out of our mouths.
Prayer: Father, if we, with all our sins, know how to give our children good things, how much more will You give good things to those who ask You! (Mt 7:11)
Promise: "Freely will I offer You sacrifice; I will praise Your name, O Lord, for its goodness, because from all distress You have rescued me." 54:8-9
Ps 55 — A PSALM FOR A BROKEN HEART
"But you, my other self, my companion and my bosom friend..." Psalm 55:14
Did you ever feel like running away, especially after your best friends, spouse, parent, or child broke your heart? "The Lord is close to the brokenhearted; and those who are crushed in spirit He saves" (Ps 34:19).
Prayer: Father, heal my broken heart.
Promise: "Cast your care upon the Lord, and He will support you; never will He permit the just man to be disturbed." 55:23
Ps 56 — "LOVE CASTS OUT ALL FEAR" (1 Jn 4:18)
"When I begin to fear, in You will I trust." Psalm 56:4
The Lord has numbered the hairs of your head (Mt 10:30) and the tears you have shed (56:9). Because He is with you, you fear no evil (see Ps 23:4).
Prayer: Father, increase my faith in You so as to displace my fears.
Promise: "In God in Whose promise I glory, in God I trust without fear; what can flesh do against me?" 56:5, 11-12
Ps 57 — SPECTRUM
"Awake, O my soul; awake, lyre and harp! I will wake the dawn." Psalm 57:9
The last five verses of this psalm are repeated at the beginning of psalm 108. Once again, God is not confused. Like a precious jewel, this psalm will manifest a new beauty according to the setting. Pray this psalm when you feel good and when you feel terrible. Experience the difference and the richness of this psalm.
Prayer: "May He send from heaven and save me; may He make those a reproach who trample upon me; may God send His kindness and His faithfulness" (57:4).
Promise: "Be exalted above the heavens, O God; above all the earth be Your glory!" 57:6, 12
Ps 58 — CURSES
"O God, smash their teeth in their mouths; the jaw-teeth of the lions, break, O Lord!" Psalm 58:7
The psalmist curses unjust judges. In the new covenant, Jesus became "a curse for us" (Gal 3:13).
Prayer: Jesus, thank You for Your atonement on Calvary, which began the season of mercy.
Promise: "Truly there is a reward for the just; truly there is a God Who is judge on earth!" 58:12
Ps 59 — "LOVE YOUR ENEMIES" (Mt 5:44)
"I will sing of Your strength and revel at dawn in Your kindness." Psalm 59:17
In the light of this psalm and the previous one, we can see how radical were Jesus' commands to love our enemies and "offer no resistance to injury" (Mt 5:39).
Prayer: Father, may I love my enemies as You love me.
Promise: "O my Strength! Your praise will I sing; for You, O God, are my Stronghold, my gracious God!" 59:18, 10-11
Ps 60 — LEARNING FROM MISTAKES
"O God, You have rejected us and broken our defenses; You have been angry; rally us!" Psalm 60:3
After defeat and failure, we can at least learn that "worthless is the help of men. Under God we shall do valiantly; it is He Who will tread down our foes" (60:13-14).
Prayer: Father, may I learn the easy way rather than hard way; but whatever it takes, may I learn.
Promise: "You have raised for those who fear You a banner to which they may flee out of bow shot. That Your loved ones may escape..." 60:6-7
Ps 61 — MUSIC, POETRY, AND RHYTHM
"For the leader; with stringed instruments..." Psalm 61:1
Most of the psalms have some introductory comments. These remarks are not considered the inspired word of God, but they do remind us that the psalms are lyrics to songs. To fully appreciate the psalms, we must listen to the Holy Spirit and allow Him to provide the melody and rhythm.
Prayer: Father, give me the grace to sing some of the psalms.
Promise: "So will I sing the praises of Your name forever, fulfilling my vows day by day." 61:9
Ps 62 — ONE AND ONLY
"Only in God is my soul at rest; from Him comes my salvation. He only is my Rock and my Salvation, my Stronghold; I shall not be disturbed at all." Psalm 62:2-3, 6-7
God is not merely a Savior, a Rock, or a Stronghold. He is the one and "only Master and Lord" (Jude 4). "There is no salvation in anyone else, for there is no other name in the whole world given to men by which we are to be saved" (Acts 4:12).
Prayer: Jesus, Your name is above all names (Phil 2:9). I worship You alone.
Promise: "Trust in Him at all times, O my people!" 62:9
Ps 63 — DESIRING GOD
"Thus will I bless You while I live; lifting up my hands, I will call upon Your name." Psalm 63:5
This psalm is often prayed on Sunday morning and always prayed on the morning of major celebrations, i.e. Christmas, Easter, etc. We begin these special days seeking the Lord. We pray: "O God, You are my God Whom I seek; for You my flesh pines and my soul thirsts" (63:2).
Prayer: Father, may I want to be with You and serve You more than I want to live (see 63:4).
Promise: "My soul clings fast to You; Your right hand upholds me." 63:9
Ps 64 — EXPECTING ENEMIES
"Hear, O God, my voice in my lament; from the dread enemy preserve my life." Psalm 64:2
The psalmist seems to have so many enemies. Yet "anyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus can expect to be persecuted" (2 Tm 3:12).
Prayer: Father, may I want the conversion of my enemies more than I want to get away from them.
Promise: "The just man is glad in the Lord and takes refuge in Him; in Him glory all the upright of heart." 64:11
Ps 65 — A GOOD PROVIDER
"The fields are garmented with flocks and the valleys blanketed with grain. They shout and sing for joy." Psalm 65:14
Praise the Lord for a good harvest! Once again, our heavenly Father has been faithful in providing for His children and giving us our daily bread.
Prayer: Abba, thank You for showing Your love for me in practical ways.
Promise: "Happy the man You choose, and bring to dwell in Your courts. May we be filled with the good things of Your house, the holy things of Your temple!" 65:5
Ps 66 — AN ATTITUDE OF GRATITUDE
"When I appealed to Him in words, praise was on the tip of my tongue." Psalm 66:17
Since the Lord has been so good to us, our entire lives should be dedicated to thanking Him. We should "render constant thanks; such is God's will" for us in Christ Jesus (1 Thes 5:18).
Prayer: Jesus, thank You for the daily Eucharist (thanksgiving).
Promise: "We went through fire and water, but You have led us out to refreshment." 66:12
Ps 67 — "YOU ARE THE LIGHT" (Mt 5:14)
"May God have pity on us and bless us; may He let His face shine upon us. So may Your way be known upon earth; among all nations, Your salvation." Psalm 67:2-3
We pray that all nations be drawn to the Lord by seeing the blessings, justice, and holiness of our lives. For many people, our lives are the first Bible that they read.
Prayer: "May God bless us, and may all the ends of the earth fear Him!" (67:8)
Promise: "May the peoples praise You, O God; may all the peoples praise You!" 67:4, 6
Ps 68 — I LOVE A PARADE
"They view Your progress, O God, the progress of my God, my King, into the sanctuary; the singers lead, the minstrels follow, in their midst the maidens play on timbrels." Psalm 68:25-26
This psalm describes the liturgical procession of the ark of the covenant into the Temple. This procession is a symbolic representation of the Lord taking over the world. "You kingdoms of the earth, sing to God, chant praise to the Lord Who rides on the heights of the ancient heavens" (68:33-34).
Prayer: Father, may I die to myself and join Your triumphal procession in history (see 2 Cor 2:14).
Promise: "Behold, His voice resounds, the voice of power: 'Confess the power of God!' " 68:34-35
Ps 69 — AMAZING PROPHECIES
"I looked for sympathy, but there was none; for comforters, and I found none. Rather they put gall in my food, and in my thirst they gave me vinegar to drink." Psalm 69:21-22
As in psalm 22, this psalm contains prophecies of elements in Jesus' passion and death. Some of these verses were later applied to Jesus' cleansing of the Temple and Judas' suicide.
Prayer: Father, may I bring to life the dry bones in my life by prophesying over them (Ez 37:4).
Promise: "For God will save Zion and rebuild the cities of Judah." 69:36; see Ps 51:20
Ps 70 — THE MASTER'S PIECE
"Deign, O God, to rescue me; O Lord, make haste to help me." Psalm 70:2
This psalm is almost like psalm 40. The psalms are masterpieces, works of art that are so rich that we can pray them over and over, year after year, and be touched in new and deeper ways.
Prayer: "How deep are the riches and the wisdom and the knowledge of God!" (Rm 11:33)
Promise: "You are my Help and my Deliverer; O Lord, hold not back!" 70:6
Ps 71 — A PSALM FOR OLD FOLKS
"O God, You have taught me from my youth, and till the present I proclaim Your wondrous deeds; and now that I am old and gray, O God, forsake me not till I proclaim Your strength to every generation that is to come." Psalm 71:17-18
An elderly person is praying once again. The Lord has never let him down and never will. He expects that his prayer will be answered and soon he will be singing and shouting his praises to the Lord.
Prayer: Father, may my faith in You be greater than ever as I grow old and approach death.
Promise: "My lips shall shout for joy as I sing Your praises." 71:23
Ps 72 — JESHUA MESSIAH
"May His name be blessed forever; as long as the sun His name shall remain. In Him shall all the tribes of the earth be blessed; all the nations shall proclaim His happiness." Psalm 72:17
This last psalm of the second book is a fantastic prophecy of the kingdom of Jesus the Messiah.
Prayer: Father, may I seek first Your kingdom and way of holiness (Mt 6:33).
Promise: "Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel, Who alone does wondrous deeds. And blessed forever be His glorious name; may the whole earth be filled with His glory. Amen. Amen. The prayers of David the son of Jesse are ended." 72:18-20
Ps 73 — AFTERLIFE
"Yet with You I shall always be; You have hold of my right hand; with Your counsel You guide me, and in the end You will receive me in glory." Psalm 73:23-24
The problem of the injustice of the wicked prospering and the just suffering is answered in an amazing way. The psalmist says: "Though I tried to understand this it seemed to me too difficult. Till I entered the sanctuary of God and considered their final destiny" (73:16-17). Although this is nothing new for us because of Jesus' revelation in the New Testament, this was a tremendous insight at the time it was written.
Prayer: Father, thank You for eternal life. I want to be with You forever.
Promise: "But for me, to be near God is my good; to make the Lord God my Refuge." 73:28
Ps 74 — NATIONAL CALAMITY
"Arise, O God: defend Your cause." Psalm 74:22
In a time of national calamity, all we can do is repent and throw ourselves on the mercy of the Lord. Rather than wait until after the damage is done, let's turn to the Lord now to prevent catastrophe.
Prayer: Father, "now is the acceptable time! Now is the day of salvation!" (2 Cor 6:2)
Promise: "Yours is the day, and Yours the night; You fashioned the moon and the sun. You fixed all the limits of the land; summer and winter You made." 74:16-17
Ps 75 — A LITURGY FOR JUSTICE
"When I seize the appointed time, I will judge with equity." Psalm 75:3
After the opening praises, we hear the word of God. Then the psalmist gives a homily. Finally, the liturgy ends with praises.
Prayer: Father, give justice to the poor and oppressed.
Promise: "But as for me, I will exult forever; I will sing praise to the God of Jacob. And I will break off the horns of all the wicked; the horns of the just shall be lifted up." 75:10-11
Ps 76 — THE SUPREME BEING
"You are terrible; and who can withstand You for the fury of Your anger?" Psalm 76:8
The Lord is supreme. He takes the wrath of the nations and turns it into His praises. When nations conspire against the Lord, He merely laughs (Ps 2:4). He is Lord.
Prayer: Father, thank You for paying any attention to me.
Promise: "Make vows to the Lord, your God, and fulfill them; let all round about Him bring gifts to the terrible Lord." 76:12
Ps 77 — THE GOOD OLD AND NEW DAYS
"I consider the days of old; the years long past I remember." Psalm 77:6-7
When we compare the present with the past, we see how far we have fallen. But we also see that the Lord is the same today as yesterday (Heb 13:8). He will restore us, if we let Him.
Prayer: Father, renew Your wonders in our day as in a new Pentecost (Pope John XXIII).
Promise: "O God, Your way is holy; what great god is there like our God? You are the God Who works wonders." 77:14-15
Ps 78 — HISTORY LESSON
"We will not hide from their sons; we will declare to the generation to come the glorious deeds of the Lord and His strength and the wonders that He wrought." Psalm 78:4
The history of Israel and America is filled with God's glorious works and man's sins. If we learn only one thing from history, may we learn of our need to repent.
Prayer: Father, give me the Spirit that I may learn from others' mistakes.
Promise: "What He commanded our fathers they should make known to their sons; so that the generation to come might know, their sons yet to be born, that they too may rise and declare to their sons that they should put their hope in God, and not forget the deeds of God but keep His commands, and not be like their fathers, a generation wayward and rebellious." 78:5-8
Ps 79 — S-O-S
"Remember not against us the iniquities of the past; may Your compassion quickly come to us, for we are brought very low." Psalm 79:8
Once again, God's people ask Him to save them from the wages of their own sins (Rm 6:23). The Lord has given us a second chance a thousand times. He is merciful.
Prayer: Father, may I repent now before it's too late.
Promise: "Help us, O God our Savior, because of the glory of Your name; deliver us and pardon our sins for Your name's sake." 79:9
Ps 80 — CHRIST RENEWS
"O Lord of hosts, restore us; if Your face shine upon us, then we shall be safe." Psalm 80:4, 8, 20
This psalm of restoration asks God to shepherd His people. The Lord did this by sending His Son Jesus, the Good Shepherd. The psalmist prophesied of Jesus: "May Your help be with the man of Your right hand, with the son of man whom You Yourself made strong. Then we will no more withdraw from You; give us new life, and we will call upon Your name" (80:18-19).
Prayer: Jesus, renew Your Church.
Promise: "Rouse Your power, and come to save us." 80:3
Ps 81 — A LIFE-CHANGING CELEBRATION
"If only My people would hear me, and Israel walk in My ways, quickly would I humble their enemies; against their foes I would turn My hand." Psalm 81:14-15
The Lord uses a song and a prophecy on the Jewish feast of Booths to call the people to repentance and obedience.
Prayer: Father, may holy days be more than ceremonies. On the next major feast day, change my life.
Promise: "Israel I would feed with the best of wheat, and with honey from the rock I would fill them." 81:17
Ps 82 — A DOSE OF THEIR OWN MEDICINE
"God arises in the divine assembly; He judges in the midst of the gods." Psalm 82:1
God judges the unjust judges. "Your verdict on others will be the verdict passed on you" (Mt 7:2).
Prayer: Father, I throw myself on the mercy of Your court.
Promise: "Rise, O God; judge the earth, for Yours are all the nations." 82:8
Ps 83 — MY ONLY CHANCE
"O God, do not remain unmoved; be not silent, O God, and be not still!" Psalm 83:2
When your back is against the wall and all your enemies stop taking turns and unite to come against you en masse, then your only hope is prayer.
Prayer: "My Lord, our King, You alone are God. Help me, who am alone and have no help but You" (Est C:14).
Promise: "You alone are the Lord, the Most High over all the earth." 83:19
Ps 84 — IN GOD'S HOUSE
"Happy they who dwell in Your house! Continually they praise You. Happy the men whose strength You are!" Psalm 84:5-6
If I can only go to church, if I can only be in His eucharistic presence, if I can only worship the Lord with the community of believers! "I had rather one day in Your courts than a thousand elsewhere; I had rather lie at the threshold of the house of my God than dwell in the tents of the wicked" (84:11).
Prayer: Father, may the deepest desire of my heart be to worship You.
Promise: "The Lord withholds no good thing from those who walk in sincerity. O Lord of hosts, happy the men who trust in You!" 84:12-13
Ps 85 — PRAYER AND PROPHECY
"You have favored, O Lord, Your land; You have restored the well-being of Jacob. You have forgiven the guilt of Your people; You have covered all their sins." Psalm 85:2-3
The people pray for restoration and salvation. A prophet proclaims that their prayer has been heard: "The Lord for He proclaims peace. To His people, and to His faithful ones, and to those who put in Him their hope. Near indeed is His salvation to those who fear Him" (85:9-10).
Prayer: Father, may I seek prophecy above all the other gifts of the Spirit (1 Cor 14:1).
Promise: "Justice shall walk before Him, and salvation, along the way of His steps." 85:14
Ps 86 — MEMORIZING THE WORD
"Teach me, O Lord, Your way that I may walk in Your truth; direct my heart that it may fear Your name." Psalm 86:11
This psalm is almost a collage of psalms. Ask God for the grace to memorize the psalms so well that you can string together parts of various psalms.
Prayer: Father, give me the memory I need to serve You well.
Promise: "All the nations You have made shall come and worship You, O Lord, and glorify Your name." 86:9
Ps 87 — "O JERUSALEM, JERUSALEM" (Lk 13:34)
"And all shall sing, in their festive dance: 'My home is within you.' " Psalm 87:7
Jerusalem is the spiritual center of the world for Jews, Christians, and Muslims. It also prefigures the Church.
Prayer: "Pray for the peace of Jerusalem! May those who love You prosper!" (Ps 122:6)
Promise: "His foundation upon the holy mountains the Lord loves." 87:1-2
Ps 88 — THE AGONY AND THE ECSTASY
"You have plunged me into the bottom of the pit, into the dark abyss." Psalm 88:7
This may be the saddest of all the psalms. But don't stop with verse 19; read it straight through into the next psalm.
Prayer: Father, may I always remember that the final word is resurrection.
Promise: "The favors of the Lord I will sing forever; through all generations my mouth shall proclaim Your faithfulness." 89:2
Ps 89 — COVENANT-LOVE
"I have made a covenant with My chosen one, I have sworn to David My servant: forever will I confirm your posterity and establish your throne for all generations." Psalm 89:4-5
This is one of the greatest psalms and the last one of the third book. It recalls the covenant the Lord made with David. At that time, the people were being punished for violating the covenant. However, the Lord promised: "My kindness I will not take from him, nor will I belie My faithfulness. I will not violate My covenant; the promise of My lips I will not alter" (89:34-35).
Prayer: Father, thank You for the new covenant in Jesus Christ, the Son of David and the Son of God.
Promise: "Blessed be the Lord forever. Amen, and amen!" 89:53
Ps 90 — HE MAKES LIFE WORTH LIVING
"You turn man back to dust, saying, 'Return, O children of men.' " Psalm 90:3
We only live seventy or eighty years. Time flies and we don't accomplish that much. Our only Hope is the Lord.
Prayer: "Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain wisdom of heart" (90:12).
Promise: "Fill us at daybreak with Your kindness, that we may shout for joy and gladness all our days. Make us glad, for the days when You afflicted us, for the years when we saw evil." 90:14-15
Ps 91 — CHARGE!
"Though a thousand fall at your side, ten thousand at your right side, near you it shall not come." Psalm 91:7
This psalm is usually prayed every Sunday night as we begin to engage in a new week of spiritual warfare and victory.
Prayer: Father, may I use fully my authority over the devil (Mt 10:1).
Promise: "Because he clings to Me, I will deliver him; I will set him on high because he acknowledges My name." 91:14
Ps 92 — KEEP HOLY THE LORD'S DAY (see Ex 20:8)
"They that are planted in the house of the Lord shall flourish in the courts of our God. They shall bear fruit even in old age; vigorous and sturdy shall they be." Psalm 92:14-15
The directions for this psalm call for it to be prayed on the Sabbath Day. It expresses the rest and resurrection we can receive on Sunday, the new Sabbath.
Prayer: Father, may I obey the third commandment and receive Your power.
Promise: "You have exalted my horn like the wild bull's; You have anointed me with rich oil. And my eye has looked down upon my foes, and my ears have heard of the fall of my wicked adversaries." 92:11-12
Ps 93 — ALL-POWERFUL
"More powerful than the roar of many waters, more powerful than the breakers of the sea powerful on high is the Lord." Psalm 93:4
The Lord is more powerful than all the catastrophes, social upheavals, and rebellions that will ever occur. He is Lord.
Prayer: Father, I will trust in You.
Promise: "Your decrees are worthy of trust indeed: holiness befits Your house, O Lord, for length of days." 93:5
Ps 94 — HOW LONG? (94:3)
"When cares abound within me, Your comfort gladdens my soul." Psalm 94:19
The psalmist is struggling to hold onto his faith. He knows God will help him, but he wonders how long it will be.
Prayer: Father, may I hang on, hold on, and win out.
Promise: "Happy the man whom You instruct, O Lord, whom by Your law You teach." 94:12
Ps 95 — THE DAY'S FIRST PRAYER
"Come, let us sing joyfully to the Lord; let us acclaim the Rock of our salvation. Let us greet Him with thanksgiving; let us joyfully sing psalms to Him." Psalm 95:1-2
This is the psalm the Church usually uses to begin the day. Each day, we should be singing, thanking, worshipping, and listening to the Lord.
Prayer: Father, may I praise, thank, and pray to You always.
Promise: "Come, let us bow down in worship; let us kneel before the Lord Who made us." 95:6
Ps 96 — PRAISE IS A CHOICE
"For great is the Lord and highly to be praised." Psalm 96:4
All creation is praising the Lord. Human beings are the only creatures not automatically participating in the symphony of praise directed to the Father. Choose to praise Him.
Prayer: Father, make praise be the atmosphere I live in.
Promise: "Let the heavens be glad and the earth rejoice; let the sea and what fills it resound; let the plains be joyful and all that is in them!" 96:11-12
Ps 98 — A NEW SONG
"Sing joyfully to the Lord, all you lands; break into song; sing praise." Psalm 98:4
Let's sing, play the harp, blow the trumpet, and sound the horn. Let the sea resound, the rivers clap, and the mountains shout. "Sing to the Lord a new song, for He has done wondrous deeds" (98:1).
Prayer: Father may I praise You with abandon.
Promise: "The Lord has made His salvation known; in the sight of the nations He has revealed His justice." 98:2
Ps 99 — PRAISE OUT
"Extol the Lord, our God." Psalm 99:5, 9
Praise psalms 95 through 100 all in a row. Don't just read these psalms, but do the psalms. What a time you'll have praising the Lord!
Prayer: Father, may I frequently praise You for extended periods of time.
Promise: "O Lord, our God, You answered them; a forgiving God You were to them, though requiting their misdeeds." 99:8
Ps 100 — NOISE-MAKERS
"Enter His gates with thanksgiving, His courts with praise." Psalm 100:4
The first verse of this psalm is sometimes translated: "Make a joyful noise unto the Lord." First, we thank Him; then we praise Him. If we can't sing, we can at least make a noise. Our heavenly Father loves to see His children happy.
Prayer: Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!
Promise: "Serve the Lord with gladness." 100:2
Ps 101 — THE AUTHORITY OF THE BELIEVER
"Each morning I will destroy all the wicked of the land, and uproot from the city of the Lord all evildoers." Psalm 101:8
The king renewed his vows to surround himself with good people and to rule justly. Likewise, we Christians are a royal priesthood (1 Pt 2:9), who have the responsibility of exercising our God-given authority in the name of Jesus over evil and the evil one (Mt 10:1).
Prayer: Father, may I attack the gates of hell that cannot prevail against me (Mt 16:18).
Promise: "I will persevere in the way of integrity." 101:2
Ps 102 — THE LORD OF LIFE
"Like clothing You change them, and they are changed, but You are the same, and Your years have no end." Psalm 102:27-28
The psalmist is sick and the nation is destroyed. Human life is fragile and fleeting. The Lord is our only Hope.
Prayer: Lord, have mercy.
Promise: "The Lord looked down from His holy height, from heaven He beheld the earth, to hear the groaning of the prisoners, to release those doomed to die." 102:20-21
Ps 103 — ALL YOURS
"Bless the Lord, O my soul; and all my being, bless His holy name. Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits; He pardons all your iniquities, He heals all your ills." Psalm 103:1-3
May all my being bless His holy name my mind, spirit, body, emotions, will, sexuality, possessions, family, work, friendships.
Prayer: Father, "may all that is within me cry 'Holy.' "
Promise: "As far as the east is from the west, so far has He put our transgressions from us. As a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear Him." 103:12-13
Ps 104 — ECOLOGY
"May the glory of the Lord endure forever; may the Lord be glad in His works! He Who looks upon the earth, and it trembles; Who touches the mountains, and they smoke!" Psalm 104:31-32
Praise the Lord for the light, heavens, outer space, clouds, winds, lightning, the earth, ocean, mountains, thunder, valleys, the springs, rivers, animals, asses, birds, fruit, grass, vegetation, bread, wine, oil, trees, cedars, fir trees, storks, goats, badgers, the moon, sun, darkness, and human beings (just to name a few). Praise the Lord that these were all harmonized in a perfect ecology.
Prayer: Father, may Your creation always thrill me.
Promise: "When You send forth Your Spirit, they are created, and You renew the face of the earth." 104:30
Ps 105 — THE LORD OF HISTORY
"Recall the wondrous deeds that He has wrought, His portents, and the judgments He has uttered." Psalm 105:5
Psalm 103 is theology. Psalm 104 is biology. Psalm 105 is history. All are poetry. The psalms give us some of everything. They give us the Lord in His fullness.
Prayer: Father, how could such a great God as You adopt me?
Promise: "Glory in His holy name; rejoice, O hearts that seek the Lord! Look to the Lord in His strength; seek to serve Him constantly." 105:3-4
Ps 106 — SIN AFTER SIN
"We have sinned, we and our fathers; we have committed crimes; we have done wrong." Psalm 106:6
This last psalm of the fourth book contrasts with the previous psalm. In psalm 105, the Lord's goodness in history is recounted. In this psalm, our sins are listed.
Prayer: Father, thank You for forgiving me repeatedly.
Promise: "Happy are they who observe what is right, who do always what is just." 106:3
Ps 107 — CHANGES
"Let them give thanks to the Lord for His kindness and His wondrous deeds to the children of men." Psalm 107:15, 21, 31
The Lord can find the lost, free the imprisoned, heal the sick, and rescue the endangered. He can change "rivers into desert, water springs into thirsty ground, fruitful land into salt marsh, because of the wickedness of its inhabitants" (107:33-34). He can change bread into His body, wine into His blood, sin into salvation, and death into eternal life.
Prayer: Father, thank You for the changes Jesus has made in my life.
Promise: "Let them make thank offerings and declare His works with shouts of joy." 107:22
Ps 108 — MORE EXCITED
"Awake, O my soul; awake, lyre and harp; I will wake the dawn." Psalm 108:3
This psalm repeats parts of psalms 57 and 60. However, in this context, after the previous psalm, we feel like praying this psalm with ever greater enthusiasm.
Prayer: Father, may my joy rise to fever pitch (Acts 8:8).
Promise: "My heart is steadfast, O God; my heart is steadfast; I will sing and chant praise." 108:2
Ps 109 — MORE CURSES
"He loved cursing; may it come upon him; he took no delight in blessing; may it be far from him. And may he be clothed with cursing as with a robe." Psalm 109:17-18
The psalmist, and most of the people in the Old Testament, were experts in cursing. See verses 6-19 for expert cursing. In the New Testament, we no longer need this skill, for we now know that the Lord wants all "to be saved and come to know the truth" (1 Tm 2:4). "There is no condemnation now for those who are in Christ Jesus" (Rm 8:1).
Prayer: Father, I would be forever under the curse of sin and the law if not for You. I thank You.
Promise: "He stood at the right hand of the poor man, to save him from those who would condemn him." 109:31
Ps 110 — GOD-MESSIAH
"The Lord said to my Lord: 'Sit at My right hand till I make your enemies your footstool.' " Psalm 110:1
This psalm is prayed by the Church almost every Sunday evening. The early Church quoted this psalm often in reference to Jesus, risen Messiah, enthroned King, and eternal High Priest.
Prayer: Jesus, I adore You and give my life totally to You.
Promise: "The Lord has sworn, and He will not repent: 'You are a priest forever, according to the order of Melchizedek.' " 110:4
Ps 111 — ALPHABET SOUP
"The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom." Psalm 111:10
This is another alphabetic psalm. It's another reminder in case we forget we're to memorize many of the psalms.
Prayer: Father, may Your praises be ever in my mouth (Ps 34:2).
Promise: "He has sent deliverance to His people; He has ratified His covenant forever." 111:9
Ps 112 — HAPPINESS IS FEARING THE LORD
"Happy the man who fears the Lord, who greatly delights in His commands." Psalm 112:1
This is another alphabetic psalm that should be read with the previous psalm.
Prayer: Father, what a joy it is to live for You!
Promise: "Lavishly He gives to the poor; His generosity shall endure forever." 112:9
Ps 114 — JUMP FOR JOY
"The mountains skipped like rams, the hills like the lambs of the flock." Psalm 114:4
This psalm is often prayed on Sunday evening. After experiencing Jesus' resurrection all day, we feel like skipping and jumping along with the sea, Jordan River, mountains, and hills.
Prayer: Father, give me a youthful joy.
Promise: "Before the face of the Lord, tremble, O earth, before the face of the God of Jacob." 114:7
Ps 115 — FAMILY PRAYER AND PRAISE
"Our God is in heaven; whatever He wills, He does." Psalm 115:3
This psalm describes a liturgy including a prayer, litany, blessing, and song. Most of the psalms are set in the context of communal worship.
Prayer: Father, as a people we praise You as Father of the family.
Promise: "But we bless the Lord, both now and forever." 115:18
Ps 116 — LIFE-GIVING
"O Lord, I am Your servant; I am Your servant, the son of Your handmaid; You have loosed my bonds." Psalm 116:16
The main question in life is: "How shall I make a return to the Lord for all the good He has done for me?" (116:12) After all the Lord has done for us, the least we can do is to give our lives in service to Him.
Prayer: Father, thank You for the privilege of giving my life for You.
Promise: "To You will I offer sacrifice of thanksgiving, and I will call upon the name of the Lord." 116:17
Ps 117 — WORLD EVANGELISM
"Praise the Lord, all you nations; glorify Him, all you peoples!" Psalm 117:1
The shortest psalm extends to the largest territory. It calls for every nation and people on earth to praise the Lord.
Prayer: Father, may I reach out in evangelism and intercession to the billions of people who have not heard of Your love.
Promise: "For steadfast is His kindness toward us, and the fidelity of the Lord endures forever." 117:2
Ps 118 — THE ROAR OF THE CROWD
"This is the day the Lord has made; let us be glad and rejoice in it. O Lord, grant salvation! O Lord, grant prosperity!" Psalm 118:24-25
Litanies, a homily, shouts of praise, songs, a procession, a thanksgiving sacrifice, and a blessing are some of the parts of this extensive liturgy. If we can picture the movement and responses of the people, this psalm will be charged with excitement.
Prayer: Father, may I rejoice when they say to me: "We will go up to the house of the Lord" (Ps 122:1).
Promise: "The stone which the builders rejected has become the cornerstone. By the Lord has this been done; it is wonderful in our eyes." 118:22-23
Ps 119 — KISS THE BIBLE
"Happy are they whose way is blameless, who walk in the law of the Lord." Psalm 119:1
This longest of all the psalms expresses the psalmist's love for God's word in 176 ways. "How do I love thee? Let me count the ways."
The alphabetical arrangement of this psalm indicates that it was designed to be memorized. Read and pray one verse a day for about a half a year and see your love for God's word grow amazingly.
Prayer: Father, may my heart burn inside as I receive Your word (Lk 24:32).
Promise: "Let my soul live to praise You, and may Your ordinances help me." 119:175
Ps 120 — SENT, ASCENT, AND ASSENT
"In my distress I called to the Lord, and He answered me." Psalm 120:1
The next fifteen psalms are called songs of ascents. This probably means they were sung as the people went up to Jerusalem to celebrate the great feasts. As you prepare for great celebrations in your life, pray these psalms. They will prepare your heart to receive God's grace.
Prayer: Father, give me a Christian community uncompromised with the world.
Promise: "O Lord, deliver me from lying lip, from treacherous tongue." 120:2
Ps 121 — SANCTUARY
"I lift up my eyes toward the mountains; whence shall help come to me?" Psalm 121:1
If I can just get to the Temple, I'll be all right. If I can only call on the name of the Lord, I shall not be put to shame (Rm 10:11-13).
Prayer: Father, protect Your children.
Promise: "The Lord will guard you from all evil; He will guard your life. The Lord will guard your coming and your going, both now and forever." 121:7-8
Ps 122 — GOD'S HOUSE
"I rejoiced because they said to me, 'We will go up to the house of the Lord.' " Psalm 122:1
Just to hear someone talk about going to church makes me happy. If I can just set foot in the holy place, I will rejoice and prosper. My whole family, even my relatives and friends, will be blessed as I worship in the house of the Lord.
Prayer: "Pray for the peace of Jerusalem! May those who love You prosper!" (122:6)
Promise: "I will pray for your good." 122:9
Ps 123 — EYE CONTACT
"As the eyes of a maid are on the hands of her mistress, so are our eyes on the Lord, our God, till He have pity on us." Psalm 123:2
Our victory in Jesus is based on our obedience to Jesus. Let's eagerly keep our eyes on Jesus' nail-scarred hands so as to respond to His slightest move.
Prayer: Jesus, keep my eyes fixed on You (Heb 12:2).
Promise: "Have pity on us, O Lord, have pity on us, for we are more than sated with contempt." 123:3
Ps 124 — EXCEPT FOR THE LORD
"Had not the Lord been with us..." Psalm 124:1, 2
Except for the Lord, our lives would be time-bombs sure to destroy us.
Prayer: Jesus, Savior, thank You for Calvary.
Promise: "Blessed be the Lord, who did not leave us a prey to their teeth." 124:6
Ps 125 — THE MOUNTAINS
"They who trust in the Lord are like Mount Zion, which is immovable; which forever stands." Psalm 125:1
If we trust God, we are like an immovable mountain or like a valley surrounded by mountains. We are protected and victorious in Him.
Prayer: Father, You are my only social security.
Promise: "For the scepter of the wicked shall not remain upon the territory of the just." 125:3
Ps 126 — A DREAM COME TRUE
"When the Lord brought back the captives of Zion, we were like men dreaming. Then our mouth was filled with laughter, and our tongue with rejoicing." Psalm 126:1-2
Think of the most tragic circumstances in your life being turned to the good (Rm 8:28). The Lord can do the impossible. "Those that sow in tears shall reap rejoicing. Although they go forth weeping, carrying the seed to be sown, they shall come back rejoicing, carrying their sheaves" (126:5-6).
Prayer: "Restore our fortunes, O Lord" (126:4).
Promise: "The Lord has done great things for us; we are glad indeed." 126:3
Ps 127 — "UNLESS THE LORD..."
"Unless the Lord build the house, they labor in vain who build it." Psalm 127:1
Only the Lord can build, guard, and save. In accomplishing all this, however, He will use people, especially our families, as His instruments.
Prayer: Father, You are my only Hope but the only hope I need.
Promise: "Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the sons of one's youth. Happy the man whose quiver is filled with them." 127:4-5
Ps 128 — FEAR THE LORD
"Happy are you who fear the Lord, who walk in His ways!" Psalm 128:1
The best thing you can do for your family is to fear the Lord. When we are in right relationship with Him, when we are awed in His presence, we are happy, blessed, prosperous, and at peace.
Prayer: Father, may I seek first Your kingdom and see everything else provided for my family (Mt 6:33).
Promise: "May you see your children's children. Peace be upon Israel!" 128:6
Ps 129 — SURVIVOR
"Much have they oppressed me from my youth; yet they have not prevailed against me." Psalm 129:2
For years, ever since your youth, you have been oppressed, but you have survived.
Prayer: Father, may I fix my eyes on Jesus and walk on the water of all my problems (Mt 14:29).
Promise: "We bless you in the name of the Lord!" 129:8
Ps 130 — IN THE PITS
"Out of the depths I cry to You, O Lord; Lord, hear my voice!" Psalm 130:1
When you're in the pits, repent, trust in God's word, and "wait for the Lord, for with the Lord is kindness and with Him is plenteous redemption" (130:7).
Prayer: Lord, I think I'm waiting for You but You're waiting for me.
Promise: "I trust in the Lord; my soul trusts in His word. My soul waits for the Lord more than sentinels wait for the dawn." 130:5-6
Ps 131 — SLEEPING LIKE A BABY
"I have stilled and quieted my soul like a weaned child. Like a weaned child on its mother's lap..." Psalm 131:2
David says he is humble and as peaceful as a baby. Have you stilled and quieted your soul?
Prayer: Father, restore my innocence.
Promise: "O Israel, hope in the Lord, both now and forever." 131:3
Ps 132 — PRECIOUS PROMISES
"I will bless her with abundant provision, her poor I will fill with bread. Her priests I will clothe with salvation, and her faithful ones shall shout merrily for joy." Psalm 132:15-16
When we put the Lord first in our lives, we inherit God's precious promises.
Prayer: Father, by faith may I inherit Your kingdom.
Promise: "The Lord swore to David a firm promise from which He will not withdraw." 132:11
Ps 133 — "...THAT ALL MAY BE ONE" (Jn 17:21)
"Behold, how good it is, and how pleasant, where brethren dwell at one!" Psalm 133:1
When we are united, we are all anointed with a new power.
Prayer: Father, may we be one as You and Jesus are one. Then the world will believe that You sent Jesus (Jn 17:21).
Promise: "For there the Lord has pronounced His blessing, life forever." 133:3
Ps 135 — WORTHY TO BE PRAISED
"Praise the Lord, for the Lord is good; sing praise to His name, which we love." Psalm 135:3
The Lord of creation and of history is worthy to be praised. "O Lord our God, You are worthy to receive glory and honor and power!" (Rv 4:11)
Prayer: Father, may every minute and detail of my life give You praise.
Promise: "All that the Lord wills He does in heaven and on earth, in the seas and in all the deeps." 135:6
Ps 136 — MAKE YOUR OWN PSALM
"For His mercy endures forever;
give thanks to the God of gods, for His mercy endures forever;
give thanks to the Lord of lords, for His mercy endures forever;
Who alone does great wonders, for His mercy endures forever;
Who made the heavens in wisdom, for His mercy endures forever;
Who spread out the earth upon the waters, for His mercy endures forever;
Who made the great lights, for His mercy endures forever;
the sun to rule over the day, for His mercy endures forever;
the moon and the stars to rule over the night, for His mercy endures forever;
Who smote the Egyptians in their first-born, for His mercy endures forever;
and brought out Israel from their midst, for His mercy endures forever;
with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm, for His mercy endures forever;
Who split the Red Sea in twain, for His mercy endures forever;
and led Israel through its midst, for His mercy endures forever;
but swept Pharaoh and his army into the Red Sea,
for His mercy endures forever;
Who led His people through the wilderness, for His mercy endures forever;
Who smote great kings, for His mercy endures forever;
and slew powerful kings, for His mercy endures forever;
Sihon, king of the Amorites, for His mercy endures forever;
and Og, king of Bashan, for His mercy endures forever;
and made their land a heritage, for His mercy endures forever;
the heritage of Israel His servant, for His mercy endures forever;
Who remembered us in our abjection, for His mercy endures forever;
and freed us from our foes, for His mercy endures forever;
Who gives food to all flesh, for His mercy endures forever.
Give thanks to the God of heaven, for His mercy endures forever." 136:1-26
This litany of thanksgiving can be personalized. Add other elements of creation that you are thankful for. Also, pick several events of your life to add to the psalm.
Prayer: Father, You've been so good.
Promise: "Give thanks to the God of heaven, for His mercy endures forever." 136:26
Ps 137 — NO TIME TO PLAY AROUND
"If I forget you, Jerusalem, may my right hand be forgotten! May my tongue cleave to my palate if I remember you not." Psalm 137:5-6
We must put God's Church ahead of our joy. We shouldn't be entertaining ourselves with amusements when the people of God are in bad condition.
Prayer: Father, may zeal for Your house consume me (Jn 2:17; Ps 69:10).
Ps 138 — WOULD YOU JOIN ME?
"All the kings of the earth shall give thanks to You, O Lord, when they hear the words of Your mouth." Psalm 138:4
The psalmist joins the angels in praising the Lord. He hopes the leaders of the earth will join him.
Prayer: Father, may I invite others to praise You.
Promise: "The Lord will complete what He has done for me." 138:8
Ps 139 — SECURE IN HIS LOVE
"If I take the wings of the dawn, if I settle at the farthest limits of the sea, even there Your hand shall guide me, and Your right hand hold me fast." Psalm 139:9-10
This is one of the most cherished psalms.
Since the Lord knows everything, He can guard us well. Because of His love for us, He cares about every detail of our lives.
Prayer: "Probe me, O God, and know my heart; try me, and know my thoughts" (139:23).
Promise: "Truly You have formed my inmost being; You knit me in my mother's womb. I give You thanks that I am fearfully, wonderfully made." 139:13-14
Ps 140 — HIT-MAN
"Preserve me from violent men who plan to trip up my feet the proud who have hidden a trap for me." Psalm 140:5-6
Imagine there's a contract out on you. Several people are trying to trap and kill you. Jesus lived like that. But His enemies were not destroyed. Rather He died for them.
Prayer: "Deliver me, O Lord, from evil men" (140:2). And even more importantly, deliver me from holding resentment against my enemies.
Promise: "O God, my Lord, my Strength and my Salvation; You are my Helmet in the day of battle!" 140:8
Ps 141 — PRAY OR PREY?
"Let not my heart incline to the evil of engaging in deeds of wickedness with men who are evildoers; and let me not partake of their dainties." Psalm 141:4
The Church frequently prays this psalm on Saturday evening. Will we spend the evening in God's presence or will we sell out to the world?
Prayer: Father, may I have "no love for the world, nor the things that the world affords" (1 Jn 2:15).
Promise: "Let my prayer come like incense before You; the lifting up of my hands, like the evening sacrifice." 141:2
Ps 142 — JAILBREAK
"Lead me forth from prison, that I may give thanks to Your name. The just shall gather around me when You have been good to me." Psalm 142:8
Is there some area of your life where you are imprisoned? Pray this psalm for liberation.
Prayer: Jesus, You alone can free me (Jn 8:36).
Promise: "I cry out to You, O Lord; I say 'You are my Refuge, my Portion in the land of the living.' " 142:6
Ps 143 — WHAT A MESS!
"Show me the way in which I should walk, for to You I lift up my soul. Rescue me from my enemies, O Lord, for in You I hope." Psalm 143:8-9
If you have made a mess of your life, the way out is to do the Lord's will, not yours.
Prayer: "Teach me to do Your will, for You are my God. May Your good Spirit guide me on level ground" (143:10).
Promise: "At dawn let me hear of Your kindness, for in You I trust." 143:8
Ps 144 — LET GO AND LET GOD
"Happy the people for whom things are thus; happy the people whose God is the Lord." Psalm 144:15
Happiness is letting the Lord fight our battles. He alone can give us victory and prosperity.
Prayer: "May our sons be like plants well-nurtured in their youth, our daughters like wrought columns such as stand at the corners of the temple" (144:12).
Promise: "May our sheep be in the thousands, and increase to myriads in our meadows." 144:13
Ps 145 — P.T.L.
"Great is the Lord and highly to be praised." Psalm 145:3
This alphabetic psalm is partly a collage of Biblical praises. As we read these last few songs, we should be impressed with the command to praise the Lord always. The direction for this psalm simply says: "Praise" (145:1).
Prayer: Father, give me a heart to praise You under any circumstances.
Promise: "You open Your hand and satisfy the desire of every living thing." 145:16
Ps 146 — GOD ALONE
"Happy he whose help is the God of Jacob, whose hope is in the Lord, his God." Psalm 146:5
"Cursed is the man who trusts in human beings, who seeks his strength in flesh, whose heart turns away from the Lord" (Jer 17:5). "Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, whose hope is the Lord" (Jer 17:7).
Prayer: Father, may I not trust in any way anything or anyone but You.
Promise: "The Lord sets captives free; the Lord gives sight to the blind. The Lord raises up those that were bowed down." 146:7-8
Ps 147 — INFINITE PRAISE
"It is fitting to praise Him." Psalm 147:1
For the thousandth time, praise the Lord. "Let us praise Him the more, since we cannot fathom Him, for greater is He than all His works" (Sir 43:29). "Lift up your voices to glorify the Lord, though He is still beyond your power to praise; Extol Him with renewed strength, and weary not, though you cannot reach the end" (Sir 43:31-32).
Prayer: Father, may I worship You in Spirit and in truth (Jn 4:23).
Promise: "He sends forth His command to the earth; swiftly runs His word!" 147:15
Ps 148 — EVERY
"Be this His praise from all His faithful ones, from the children of Israel, the people close to Him." Psalm 148:14
Everyone and everything praise Him everywhere.
Prayer: Father, may I praise You with greater enthusiasm than ever before.
Promise: "Praise the name of the Lord, for His name alone is exalted; His majesty is above earth and heaven." 148:13
Ps 149 — PRAISE IS A WEAPON
"Let the high praises of God be in their throats. And let two-edged swords be in their hands: to execute vengeance on the nations." Psalm 149:6-7
The power of praise is manifested not only in worship but also in spiritual warfare (see Ps 8:3).
Prayer: Jesus, glorify me as I place Your enemies beneath Your feet (Heb 10:13).
Promise: "Let them praise His name in the festive dance, let them sing praise to Him with timbrel and harp. For the Lord loves His people, and He adorns the lowly with victory." 149:3-4
Ps 150 — BREATHING AND PRAISING
"Praise the Lord in His sanctuary, praise Him in the firmament of His strength." Psalm 150:1
Let's form a symphony to praise the Lord. The final word of the psalms is: "Let everything that has breath praise the Lord! Alleluia" (150:6).
Prayer: Father, "let the last word be," you are "all in all!" (Sir 43:28)
Promise: "Praise Him for His mighty deeds, praise Him for His sovereign majesty." 150:2
Nihil obstat: Reverend Ralph J. Lawrence, November 17, 1997
Imprimatur: Most Reverend Carl K. Moeddel, Vicar General and Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, November 19, 1997
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