When You Need Comfort, Go Read a Psalm

Source: Orthodox Christian Network

March 24, 2016


When the righteous cry for help, the Lord hears, and delivers them out of all their troubles. The Lord is near to the brokenhearted, and saves the crushed in spirit.

Many are the afflictions of the righteous; but the Lord delivers him out of them all. He keeps all his bones; not one of them is broken.

The Lord redeems the life of his servants; none of those who take refuge in Him will be condemned.

Psalm 34: 17-20, 22

The Lord is gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. The Lord is good to all, and His compassion is over all that He has made.

The Lord upholds all who are falling, and raises up all who are bowed down.

The Lord is near to all who call upon Him, to all who call upon Him in truth.

Psalm 145:8-9, 14, 18 (Read at all Pre-Sanctified Liturgies) Thursday of the Second Week of Lent

The Pre-Sanctified Liturgy is a Traditional part of the Orthodox Christian journey. This service affords us the opportunity to partake of the Eucharist without the full celebration of the Divine Liturgy, as we do not have the joyful celebration of the Liturgy on the weekdays of Lent. It gives us an opportunity to receive Christ through Holy Communion each week in the middle of the week, in order to sustain us through the discipline of the Fast. And it gives us the opportunity to hear many Psalms read. There are eighteen Psalms read as part of the Pre-Sanctified Liturgy (an additional three if you include the 9th Hour). These Psalms, in many instances, bring many words of comfort. They sooth the mind, heart and soul. I’m continually amazed that the Psalms cover feelings and emotions that I have in a way that is more articulate than I could ever be.

The two Psalms that I quoted here are offered at the end of the Liturgy, as we depart the service and reenter the world. How comforting to hear that “The Lord is near to the brokenhearted,” and “the Lord upholds all who are falling.” Many times this is EXACTLY what I need to hear as I’m about to go back to the stresses of life.

The book of Psalms consists of 150 chapters. Each one captures a different emotion. If you’ve never read the book of Psalms, I recommend that you read it and keep a notepad next to you. After each Psalm, write down the emotion that it evokes, and what kind of circumstance in your life would be captured by each Psalm. And then refer to the Psalms when you are feeling each emotion. Allow me to share some of my favorites:

One of many Psalms I pray, to praise God, is Psalm 18—I love Thee, O Lord, my strength. The Lord is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer, my God, my rock, in Whom I take refuge, my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold. I call upon the Lord, Who is worthy to be praised, and I am saved from my enemies. (Verses 1-3)

When I need comfort, I pray Psalm 23—The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want. . .even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil; for Thou art with me. (Verse 1, 4)

When I have made a mistake, I pray Psalm 51—Create in me a clean heart, O God; and put a new and right spirit within me. (Verse 10)

When I need reassurance, I pray Psalm 91—Because he cleaves to me in love, I will deliver him; I will protect him, because he knows My name. (Verse 14)

When I don’t know what to do, I pray Psalm 143—Teach me the way I should go, for to Thee I lift up my soul. Deliver me, O Lord, from my enemies! I have fled to Thee for refuge! Teach me to do Thy will, for Thou art my God!  (Verses 8-10)

And of course, these two Psalms from Pre-Sanctified Liturgy reassure me that the Lord is always near, ESPECIALLY in the times when life is hardest. Notice how I used the verb “pray” when referring to the Psalms, as opposed to just “reading” them. Many of the Psalms are beautiful prayers. And they are used extensively in the hymns and prayers of our services, not only the Psalm Readings. In fact, the only book of the Bible that finds its way into ALL of our services is the book of Psalms.

Lord, I have cried to You; hear me. Hear me, O Lord. Lord, I have cried to You; hear me. Give heed to the voice of my supplication when I cry to You. Hear me, O Lord. (Sung at every Vespers service, including the Pre-Sanctified Liturgies and Vespers Services of Holy Week, Trans. by Fr. Seraphim Dedes)

Pray a Psalm (or a few of them) today!

R. Santanen 7/11/2017 5:01 pm
Thank you for explaining these beautiful Psalms (prayers). I know in my heart God wanted me to know He is near all of us who calls out for Him. I will be forever greatful for your explanation of the beautiful prayers from the Old Testament.
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