20 Psalms to Read When Life Is Miserable

20 Psalms to Read When Life Is Miserable

Making the Psalms a consistent part of our time studying the Bible is enriching and important. The Psalms are meant to be sung and prayed, and there are specific psalms that were written to help us when life it bleak and we feel miserable.

The individual and communal laments are the largest category of psalms. These psalms lay a troubling situation before the Lord and ask him for help. They can be about broad community problems or individual struggles. There are also songs of confidence and comfort – these psalms enable worshippers to deepen trust in God by reminding us of God’s goodness and plan for us.

Here are 20 psalms, mostly psalms of lament and songs of comfort, to help you as you struggle through a hard season of life. We pray they will move you to remember the mighty love of God for you – he is steadfast, always rich in mercy, and will never leave your side.

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  • 1. Psalm 5—When You are Persecuted

    1. Psalm 5—When You are Persecuted

    Give ear to my words, O Lord;
        consider my groaning.
    Give attention to the sound of my cry,
        my King and my God,
        for to you do I pray.
    O Lord, in the morning you hear my voice;
        in the morning I prepare a sacrifice for youa] and watch.

    For you are not a God who delights in wickedness;
        evil may not dwell with you.
    The boastful shall not stand before your eyes;
        you hate all evildoers.
    You destroy those who speak lies;
        the Lord abhors the bloodthirsty and deceitful man.

    But I, through the abundance of your steadfast love,
        will enter your house.
    I will bow down toward your holy temple
        in the fear of you.
    Lead me, O Lord, in your righteousness
        because of my enemies;
        make your way straight before me.

    For there is no truth in their mouth;
        their inmost self is destruction;
    their throat is an open grave;
        they flatter with their tongue.
    10 Make them bear their guilt, O God;
        let them fall by their own counsels;
    because of the abundance of their transgressions cast them out,
        for they have rebelled against you.

    11 But let all who take refuge in you rejoice;
        let them ever sing for joy,
    and spread your protection over them,
        that those who love your name may exult in you.
    12 For you bless the righteous, O Lord;
        you cover him with favor as with a shield.

    The English Standard Version is published with the permission of Good News Publishers. (English Standard Version - The Holy Bible Online)

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  • 2. Psalm 6—When You are Depressed

    2. Psalm 6—When You are Depressed

    O Lord, rebuke me not in your anger,
        nor discipline me in your wrath.
    Be gracious to me, O Lord, for I am languishing;
        heal me, O Lord, for my bones are troubled.
    My soul also is greatly troubled.
        But you, O Lord—how long?

    Turn, O Lord, deliver my life;
        save me for the sake of your steadfast love.
    For in death there is no remembrance of you;
        in Sheol who will give you praise?

    I am weary with my moaning;
        every night I flood my bed with tears;
        I drench my couch with my weeping.
    My eye wastes away because of grief;
        it grows weak because of all my foes.

    Depart from me, all you workers of evil,
        for the Lord has heard the sound of my weeping.
    The Lord has heard my plea;
        the Lord accepts my prayer.
    10 All my enemies shall be ashamed and greatly troubled;
        they shall turn back and be put to shame in a moment.

    The English Standard Version is published with the permission of Good News Publishers. (English Standard Version - The Holy Bible Online)

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  • 3. Psalm 16—When You are Confused

    3. Psalm 16—When You are Confused

    Preserve me, O God, for in you I take refuge.
    I say to the Lord, “You are my Lord;
        I have no good apart from you.”

    As for the saints in the land, they are the excellent ones,
        in whom is all my delight.

    The sorrows of those who run after another god shall multiply;
        their drink offerings of blood I will not pour out
        or take their names on my lips.

    The Lord is my chosen portion and my cup;
        you hold my lot.
    The lines have fallen for me in pleasant places;
        indeed, I have a beautiful inheritance.

    I bless the Lord who gives me counsel;
        in the night also my heart instructs me.
    I have set the Lord always before me;
        because he is at my right hand, I shall not be shaken.

    Therefore my heart is glad, and my whole being rejoices;
        my flesh also dwells secure.
    10 For you will not abandon my soul to Sheol,
        or let your holy one see corruption.

    11 You make known to me the path of life;
        in your presence there is fullness of joy;
        at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.

    The English Standard Version is published with the permission of Good News Publishers. (English Standard Version - The Holy Bible Online)

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  • 4. Psalm 17—When You Feel Alone

    4. Psalm 17—When You Feel Alone

    Hear a just cause, O Lord; attend to my cry!
        Give ear to my prayer from lips free of deceit!
    From your presence let my vindication come!
        Let your eyes behold the right!

    You have tried my heart, you have visited me by night,
        you have tested me, and you will find nothing;
        I have purposed that my mouth will not transgress.
    With regard to the works of man, by the word of your lips
        I have avoided the ways of the violent.
    My steps have held fast to your paths;
        my feet have not slipped.

    I call upon you, for you will answer me, O God;
        incline your ear to me; hear my words.
    Wondrously show your steadfast love,
        O Savior of those who seek refuge
        from their adversaries at your right hand.

    Keep me as the apple of your eye;
        hide me in the shadow of your wings,
    from the wicked who do me violence,
        my deadly enemies who surround me.

    10 They close their hearts to pity;
        with their mouths they speak arrogantly.
    11 They have now surrounded our steps;
        they set their eyes to cast us to the ground.
    12 He is like a lion eager to tear,
        as a young lion lurking in ambush.

    13 Arise, O Lord! Confront him, subdue him!
        Deliver my soul from the wicked by your sword,
    14 from men by your hand, O Lord,
        from men of the world whose portion is in this life.
    You fill their womb with treasure;
        they are satisfied with children,
        and they leave their abundance to their infants.

    15 As for me, I shall behold your face in righteousness;
        when I awake, I shall be satisfied with your likeness.

    The English Standard Version is published with the permission of Good News Publishers. (English Standard Version - The Holy Bible Online)

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  • 5. Psalm 18—When Life Feels Precarious

    5. Psalm 18—When Life Feels Precarious

    I love you, 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.

    The cords of death encompassed me;
        the torrents of destruction assailed me;
    the cords of Sheol entangled me;
        the snares of death confronted me.

    In my distress I called upon the Lord;
        to my God I cried for help.
    From his temple he heard my voice,
        and my cry to him reached his ears.

    Then the earth reeled and rocked;
        the foundations also of the mountains trembled
        and quaked, because he was angry.
    Smoke went up from his nostrils,
        and devouring fire from his mouth;
        glowing coals flamed forth from him.
    He bowed the heavens and came down;
        thick darkness was under his feet.
    10 He rode on a cherub and flew;
        he came swiftly on the wings of the wind.
    11 He made darkness his covering, his canopy around him,
        thick clouds dark with water.
    12 Out of the brightness before him
        hailstones and coals of fire broke through his clouds.

    13 The Lord also thundered in the heavens,
        and the Most High uttered his voice,
        hailstones and coals of fire.
    14 And he sent out his arrows and scattered them;
        he flashed forth lightnings and routed them.
    15 Then the channels of the sea were seen,
        and the foundations of the world were laid bare
    at your rebuke, O Lord,
        at the blast of the breath of your nostrils.

    16 He sent from on high, he took me;
        he drew me out of many waters.
    17 He rescued me from my strong enemy
        and from those who hated me,
        for they were too mighty for me.
    18 They confronted me in the day of my calamity,
        but the Lord was my support.
    19 He brought me out into a broad place;
        he rescued me, because he delighted in me.

    20 The Lord dealt with me according to my righteousness;
        according to the cleanness of my hands he rewarded me.
    21 For I have kept the ways of the Lord,
        and have not wickedly departed from my God.
    22 For all his rules were before me,
        and his statutes I did not put away from me.
    23 I was blameless before him,
        and I kept myself from my guilt.
    24 So the Lord has rewarded me according to my righteousness,
        according to the cleanness of my hands in his sight.

    25 With the merciful you show yourself merciful;
        with the blameless man you show yourself blameless;
    26 with the purified you show yourself pure;
        and with the crooked you make yourself seem tortuous.
    27 For you save a humble people,
        but the haughty eyes you bring down.
    28 For it is you who light my lamp;
        the Lord my God lightens my darkness.
    29 For by you I can run against a troop,
        and by my God I can leap over a wall.
    30 This God—his way is perfect;
        the word of the Lord proves true;
        he is a shield for all those who take refuge in him.

    31 For who is God, but the Lord?
        And who is a rock, except our God?—
    32 the God who equipped me with strength
        and made my way blameless.
    33 He made my feet like the feet of a deer
        and set me secure on the heights.
    34 He trains my hands for war,
        so that my arms can bend a bow of bronze.
    35 You have given me the shield of your salvation,
        and your right hand supported me,
        and your gentleness made me great.
    36 You gave a wide place for my steps under me,
        and my feet did not slip.
    37 I pursued my enemies and overtook them,
        and did not turn back till they were consumed.
    38 I thrust them through, so that they were not able to rise;
        they fell under my feet.
    39 For you equipped me with strength for the battle;
        you made those who rise against me sink under me.
    40 You made my enemies turn their backs to me,
        and those who hated me I destroyed.
    41 They cried for help, but there was none to save;
        they cried to the Lord, but he did not answer them.
    42 I beat them fine as dust before the wind;
        I cast them out like the mire of the streets.

    43 You delivered me from strife with the people;
        you made me the head of the nations;
        people whom I had not known served me.
    44 As soon as they heard of me they obeyed me;
        foreigners came cringing to me.
    45 Foreigners lost heart
        and came trembling out of their fortresses.

    46 The Lord lives, and blessed be my rock,
        and exalted be the God of my salvation—
    47 the God who gave me vengeance
        and subdued peoples under me,
    48 who rescued me from my enemies;
        yes, you exalted me above those who rose against me;
        you delivered me from the man of violence.

    49 For this I will praise you, O Lord, among the nations,
        and sing to your name.
    50 Great salvation he brings to his king,
        and shows steadfast love to his anointed,
        to David and his offspring forever.

    The English Standard Version is published with the permission of Good News Publishers. (English Standard Version - The Holy Bible Online)

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  • 6. Psalm 22—When You Feel Forgotten

    6. Psalm 22—When You Feel Forgotten

    My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
        Why are you so far from saving me, from the words of my groaning?
    O my God, I cry by day, but you do not answer,
        and by night, but I find no rest.

    Yet you are holy,
        enthroned on the praises of Israel.
    In you our fathers trusted;
        they trusted, and you delivered them.
    To you they cried and were rescued;
        in you they trusted and were not put to shame.

    But I am a worm and not a man,
        scorned by mankind and despised by the people.
    All who see me mock me;
        they make mouths at me; they wag their heads;
    “He trusts in the Lord; let him deliver him;
        let him rescue him, for he delights in him!”

    Yet you are he who took me from the womb;
        you made me trust you at my mother's breasts.
    10 On you was I cast from my birth,
        and from my mother's womb you have been my God.
    11 Be not far from me,
        for trouble is near,
        and there is none to help.

    12 Many bulls encompass me;
        strong bulls of Bashan surround me;
    13 they open wide their mouths at me,
        like a ravening and roaring lion.

    14 I am poured out like water,
        and all my bones are out of joint;
    my heart is like wax;
        it is melted within my breast;
    15 my strength is dried up like a potsherd,
        and my tongue sticks to my jaws;
        you lay me in the dust of death.

    16 For dogs encompass me;
        a company of evildoers encircles me;
    they have pierced my hands and feet—
    17 I can count all my bones—
    they stare and gloat over me;
    18 they divide my garments among them,
        and for my clothing they cast lots.

    19 But you, O Lord, do not be far off!
        O you my help, come quickly to my aid!
    20 Deliver my soul from the sword,
        my precious life from the power of the dog!
    21     Save me from the mouth of the lion!
    You have rescued me from the horns of the wild oxen!

    22 I will tell of your name to my brothers;
        in the midst of the congregation I will praise you:
    23 You who fear the Lord, praise him!
        All you offspring of Jacob, glorify him,
        and stand in awe of him, all you offspring of Israel!
    24 For he has not despised or abhorred
        the affliction of the afflicted,
    and he has not hidden his face from him,
        but has heard, when he cried to him.

    25 From you comes my praise in the great congregation;
        my vows I will perform before those who fear him.
    26 The afflicted shall eat and be satisfied;
        those who seek him shall praise the Lord!
        May your hearts live forever!

    27 All the ends of the earth shall remember
        and turn to the Lord,
    and all the families of the nations
        shall worship before you.
    28 For kingship belongs to the Lord,
        and he rules over the nations.

    29 All the prosperous of the earth eat and worship;
        before him shall bow all who go down to the dust,
        even the one who could not keep himself alive.
    30 Posterity shall serve him;
        it shall be told of the Lord to the coming generation;
    31 they shall come and proclaim his righteousness to a people yet unborn,
        that he has done it.

    The English Standard Version is published with the permission of Good News Publishers. (English Standard Version - The Holy Bible Online)

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  • 7. Psalm 25—When You Feel Ashamed

    7. Psalm 25—When You Feel Ashamed

    To you, O Lord, I lift up my soul.
    O my God, in you I trust;
        let me not be put to shame;
        let not my enemies exult over me.
    Indeed, none who wait for you shall be put to shame;
        they shall be ashamed who are wantonly treacherous.

    Make me to know your ways, O Lord;
        teach me your paths.
    Lead me in your truth and teach me,
        for you are the God of my salvation;
        for you I wait all the day long.

    Remember your mercy, O Lord, and your steadfast love,
        for they have been from of old.
    Remember not the sins of my youth or my transgressions;
        according to your steadfast love remember me,
        for the sake of your goodness, O Lord!

    Good and upright is the Lord;
        therefore he instructs sinners in the way.
    He leads the humble in what is right,
        and teaches the humble his way.
    10 All the paths of the Lord are steadfast love and faithfulness,
        for those who keep his covenant and his testimonies.

    11 For your name's sake, O Lord,
        pardon my guilt, for it is great.
    12 Who is the man who fears the Lord?
        Him will he instruct in the way that he should choose.
    13 His soul shall abide in well-being,
        and his offspring shall inherit the land.
    14 The friendshipb] of the Lord is for those who fear him,
        and he makes known to them his covenant.
    15 My eyes are ever toward the Lord,
        for he will pluck my feet out of the net.

    16 Turn to me and be gracious to me,
        for I am lonely and afflicted.
    17 The troubles of my heart are enlarged;
        bring me out of my distresses.
    18 Consider my affliction and my trouble,
        and forgive all my sins.

    19 Consider how many are my foes,
        and with what violent hatred they hate me.
    20 Oh, guard my soul, and deliver me!
        Let me not be put to shame, for I take refuge in you.
    21 May integrity and uprightness preserve me,
        for I wait for you.

    22 Redeem Israel, O God,
        out of all his troubles.

    The English Standard Version is published with the permission of Good News Publishers. (English Standard Version - The Holy Bible Online)

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  • 8. Psalm 27—When You are Afraid

    8. Psalm 27—When You are Afraid

    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?

    When evildoers assail me
        to eat up my flesh,
    my adversaries and foes,
        it is they who stumble and fall.

    Though an army encamp against me,
        my heart shall not fear;
    though war arise against me,
        yet I will be confident.

    One thing have I asked of the Lord,
        that will I seek after:
    that I may dwell in the house of the Lord
        all the days of my life,
    to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord
        and to inquire in his temple.

    For he will hide me in his shelter
        in the day of trouble;
    he will conceal me under the cover of his tent;
        he will lift me high upon a rock.

    And now my head shall be lifted up
        above my enemies all around me,
    and I will offer in his tent
        sacrifices with shouts of joy;
    I will sing and make melody to the Lord.

    Hear, O Lord, when I cry aloud;
        be gracious to me and answer me!
    You have said, “Seek my face.”
    My heart says to you,
        “Your face, Lord, do I seek.”
        Hide not your face from me.
    Turn not your servant away in anger,
        O you who have been my help.
    Cast me not off; forsake me not,
        O God of my salvation!
    10 For my father and my mother have forsaken me,
        but the Lord will take me in.

    11 Teach me your way, O Lord,
        and lead me on a level path
        because of my enemies.
    12 Give me not up to the will of my adversaries;
        for false witnesses have risen against me,
        and they breathe out violence.

    13 I believe that I shall look upon the goodness of the Lord
        in the land of the living!
    14 Wait for the Lord;
        be strong, and let your heart take courage;
        wait for the Lord!

    The English Standard Version is published with the permission of Good News Publishers. (English Standard Version - The Holy Bible Online)

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  • 9. Psalm 31—When You Need Someone to Rescue

    9. Psalm 31—When You Need Someone to Rescue

    In you, O Lord, do I take refuge;
        let me never be put to shame;
        in your righteousness deliver me!
    Incline your ear to me;
        rescue me speedily!
    Be a rock of refuge for me,
        a strong fortress to save me!

    For you are my rock and my fortress;
        and for your name's sake you lead me and guide me;
    you take me out of the net they have hidden for me,
        for you are my refuge.
    Into your hand I commit my spirit;
        you have redeemed me, O Lord, faithful God.

    I hate those who pay regard to worthless idols,
        but I trust in the Lord.
    I will rejoice and be glad in your steadfast love,
        because you have seen my affliction;
        you have known the distress of my soul,
    and you have not delivered me into the hand of the enemy;
        you have set my feet in a broad place.

    Be gracious to me, O Lord, for I am in distress;
        my eye is wasted from grief;
        my soul and my body also.
    10 For my life is spent with sorrow,
        and my years with sighing;
    my strength fails because of my iniquity,
        and my bones waste away.

    11 Because of all my adversaries I have become a reproach,
        especially to my neighbors,
    and an object of dread to my acquaintances;
        those who see me in the street flee from me.
    12 I have been forgotten like one who is dead;
        I have become like a broken vessel.
    13 For I hear the whispering of many—
        terror on every side!—
    as they scheme together against me,
        as they plot to take my life.

    14 But I trust in you, O Lord;
        I say, “You are my God.”
    15 My times are in your hand;
        rescue me from the hand of my enemies and from my persecutors!
    16 Make your face shine on your servant;
        save me in your steadfast love!
    17 O Lord, let me not be put to shame,
        for I call upon you;
    let the wicked be put to shame;
        let them go silently to Sheol.
    18 Let the lying lips be mute,
        which speak insolently against the righteous
        in pride and contempt.

    19 Oh, how abundant is your goodness,
        which you have stored up for those who fear you
    and worked for those who take refuge in you,
        in the sight of the children of mankind!
    20 In the cover of your presence you hide them
        from the plots of men;
    you store them in your shelter
        from the strife of tongues.

    21 Blessed be the Lord,
        for he has wondrously shown his steadfast love to me
        when I was in a besieged city.
    22 I had said in my alarm,
        “I am cut off from your sight.”
    But you heard the voice of my pleas for mercy
        when I cried to you for help.

    23 Love the Lord, all you his saints!
        The Lord preserves the faithful
        but abundantly repays the one who acts in pride.
    24 Be strong, and let your heart take courage,
        all you who wait for the Lord!

    The English Standard Version is published with the permission of Good News Publishers. (English Standard Version - The Holy Bible Online)

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  • 10. Psalm 33—When You are Worried about the World

    10. Psalm 33—When You are Worried about the World

    Shout for joy in the Lord, O you righteous!
        Praise befits the upright.
    Give thanks to the Lord with the lyre;
        make melody to him with the harp of ten strings!
    Sing to him a new song;
        play skillfully on the strings, with loud shouts.

    For the word of the Lord is upright,
        and all his work is done in faithfulness.
    He loves righteousness and justice;
        the earth is full of the steadfast love of the Lord.

    By the word of the Lord the heavens were made,
        and by the breath of his mouth all their host.
    He gathers the waters of the sea as a heap;
        he puts the deeps in storehouses.

    Let all the earth fear the Lord;
        let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of him!
    For he spoke, and it came to be;
        he commanded, and it stood firm.

    10 The Lord brings the counsel of the nations to nothing;
        he frustrates the plans of the peoples.
    11 The counsel of the Lord stands forever,
        the plans of his heart to all generations.
    12 Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord,
        the people whom he has chosen as his heritage!

    13 The Lord looks down from heaven;
        he sees all the children of man;
    14 from where he sits enthroned he looks out
        on all the inhabitants of the earth,
    15 he who fashions the hearts of them all
        and observes all their deeds.
    16 The king is not saved by his great army;
        a warrior is not delivered by his great strength.
    17 The war horse is a false hope for salvation,
        and by its great might it cannot rescue.

    18 Behold, the eye of the Lord is on those who fear him,
        on those who hope in his steadfast love,
    19 that he may deliver their soul from death
        and keep them alive in famine.

    20 Our soul waits for the Lord;
        he is our help and our shield.
    21 For our heart is glad in him,
        because we trust in his holy name.
    22 Let your steadfast love, O Lord, be upon us,
        even as we hope in you.

    The English Standard Version is published with the permission of Good News Publishers. (English Standard Version - The Holy Bible Online)

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  • 11. Psalm 37—When You Doubt That Your Life Will Matter

    11. Psalm 37—When You Doubt That Your Life Will Matter

    Fret not yourself because of evildoers;
        be not envious of wrongdoers!
    For they will soon fade like the grass
        and wither like the green herb.

    Trust in the Lord, and do good;
        dwell in the land and befriend faithfulness.
    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 act.
    He will bring forth your righteousness as the light,
        and your justice as the noonday.

    Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him;
        fret not yourself over the one who prospers in his way,
        over the man who carries out evil devices!

    Refrain from anger, and forsake wrath!
        Fret not yourself; it tends only to evil.
    For the evildoers shall be cut off,
        but those who wait for the Lord shall inherit the land.

    10 In just a little while, the wicked will be no more;
        though you look carefully at his place, he will not be there.
    11 But the meek shall inherit the land
        and delight themselves in abundant peace.

    12 The wicked plots against the righteous
        and gnashes his teeth at him,
    13 but the Lord laughs at the wicked,
        for he sees that his day is coming.

    14 The wicked draw the sword and bend their bows
        to bring down the poor and needy,
        to slay those whose way is upright;
    15 their sword shall enter their own heart,

    Better is the little that the righteous has
        than the abundance of many wicked.
    17 For the arms of the wicked shall be broken,
        but the Lord upholds the righteous.

    18 The Lord knows the days of the blameless,
        and their heritage will remain forever;
    19 they are not put to shame in evil times;
        in the days of famine they have abundance.

    20 But the wicked will perish;
        the enemies of the Lord are like the glory of the pastures;
        they vanish—like smoke they vanish away.

    21 The wicked borrows but does not pay back,
        but the righteous is generous and gives;
    22 for those blessed by the Lord shall inherit the land,
        but those cursed by him shall be cut off.

    23 The steps of a man are established by the Lord,
        when he delights in his way;
    24 though he fall, he shall not be cast headlong,
        for the Lord upholds his hand.

    25 I have been young, and now am old,
        yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken
        or his children begging for bread.
    26 He is ever lending generously,
        and his children become a blessing.

    27 Turn away from evil and do good;
        so shall you dwell forever.
    28 For the Lord loves justice;
        he will not forsake his saints.
    They are preserved forever,
        but the children of the wicked shall be cut off.
    29 The righteous shall inherit the land
        and dwell upon it forever.

    30 The mouth of the righteous utters wisdom,
        and his tongue speaks justice.
    31 The law of his God is in his heart;
        his steps do not slip.

    32 The wicked watches for the righteous
        and seeks to put him to death.
    33 The Lord will not abandon him to his power
        or let him be condemned when he is brought to trial.

    34 Wait for the Lord and keep his way,
        and he will exalt you to inherit the land;
        you will look on when the wicked are cut off.

    35 I have seen a wicked, ruthless man,
        spreading himself like a green laurel tree.
    36 But he passed away, and behold, he was no more;
        though I sought him, he could not be found.

    37 Mark the blameless and behold the upright,
        for there is a future for the man of peace.
    38 But transgressors shall be altogether destroyed;
        the future of the wicked shall be cut off.

    39 The salvation of the righteous is from the Lord;
        he is their stronghold in the time of trouble.
    40 The Lord helps them and delivers them;
        he delivers them from the wicked and saves them,
        because they take refuge in him.

    The English Standard Version is published with the permission of Good News Publishers. (English Standard Version - The Holy Bible Online)

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  • 12. Psalm 40—When Life Keeps Getting Worse

    12. Psalm 40—When Life Keeps Getting Worse

    I waited patiently for the Lord;
        he inclined to me and heard my cry.
    He drew me up from the pit of destruction,
        out of the miry bog,
    and set my feet upon a rock,
        making my steps secure.
    He put a new song in my mouth,
        a song of praise to our God.
    Many will see and fear,
        and put their trust in the Lord.

    Blessed is the man who makes
        the Lord his trust,
    who does not turn to the proud,
        to those who go astray after a lie!
    You have multiplied, O Lord my God,
        your wondrous deeds and your thoughts toward us;
        none can compare with you!
    I will proclaim and tell of them,
        yet they are more than can be told.

    In sacrifice and offering you have not delighted,
        but you have given me an open ear.
    Burnt offering and sin offering
        you have not required.
    Then I said, “Behold, I have come;
        in the scroll of the book it is written of me:
    I delight to do your will, O my God;
        your law is within my heart.”

    I have told the glad news of deliverance
        in the great congregation;
    behold, I have not restrained my lips,
        as you know, O Lord.
    10 I have not hidden your deliverance within my heart;
        I have spoken of your faithfulness and your salvation;
    I have not concealed your steadfast love and your faithfulness
        from the great congregation.

    11 As for you, O Lord, you will not restrain
        your mercy from me;
    your steadfast love and your faithfulness will
        ever preserve me!
    12 For evils have encompassed me
        beyond number;
    my iniquities have overtaken me,
        and I cannot see;
    they are more than the hairs of my head;
        my heart fails me.

    13 Be pleased, O Lord, to deliver me!
        O Lord, make haste to help me!
    14 Let those be put to shame and disappointed altogether
        who seek to snatch away my life;
    let those be turned back and brought to dishonor
        who delight in my hurt!
    15 Let those be appalled because of their shame
        who say to me, “Aha, Aha!”

    16 But may all who seek you
        rejoice and be glad in you;
    may those who love your salvation
        say continually, “Great is the Lord!”
    17 As for me, I am poor and needy,
        but the Lord takes thought for me.
    You are my help and my deliverer;
        do not delay, O my God!

    The English Standard Version is published with the permission of Good News Publishers. (English Standard Version - The Holy Bible Online)

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  • 13. Psalm 42—When Life Seems Hopeless

    13. Psalm 42—When Life Seems Hopeless

    As a deer pants for flowing streams,
        so pants my soul for you, O God.
    My soul thirsts for God,
        for the living God.
    When shall I come and appear before God?
    My tears have been my food
        day and night,
    while they say to me all the day long,
        “Where is your God?”
    These things I remember,
        as I pour out my soul:
    how I would go with the throng
        and lead them in procession to the house of God
    with glad shouts and songs of praise,
        a multitude keeping festival.

    Why are you cast down, O my soul,
        and why are you in turmoil within me?
    Hope in God; for I shall again praise him,
        my salvation and my God.

    My soul is cast down within me;
        therefore I remember you
    from the land of Jordan and of Hermon,
        from Mount Mizar.
    Deep calls to deep
        at the roar of your waterfalls;
    all your breakers and your waves
        have gone over me.
    By day the Lord commands his steadfast love,
        and at night his song is with me,
        a prayer to the God of my life.
    I say to God, my rock:
        “Why have you forgotten me?
    Why do I go mourning
        because of the oppression of the enemy?”
    10 As with a deadly wound in my bones,
        my adversaries taunt me,
    while they say to me all the day long,
        “Where is your God?”

    11 Why are you cast down, O my soul,
        and why are you in turmoil within me?
    Hope in God; for I shall again praise him,
        my salvation and my God.

    The English Standard Version is published with the permission of Good News Publishers. (English Standard Version - The Holy Bible Online)

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  • 14. Psalm 51—When You Need Forgiveness

    14. Psalm 51—When You Need Forgiveness

    Have mercy on me, O God,
        according to your steadfast love;
    according to your abundant mercy
        blot out my transgressions.
    Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity,
        and cleanse me from my sin!

    For I know my transgressions,
        and my sin is ever before me.
    Against you, you only, have I sinned
        and done what is evil in your sight,
    so that you may be justified in your words
        and blameless in your judgment.
    Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity,
        and in sin did my mother conceive me.
    Behold, you delight in truth in the inward being,
        and you teach me wisdom in the secret heart.

    Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean;
        wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.
    Let me hear joy and gladness;
        let the bones that you have broken rejoice.
    Hide your face from my sins,
        and blot out all my iniquities.
    10 Create in me a clean heart, O God,
        and renew a right spirit within me.
    11 Cast me not away from your presence,
        and take not your Holy Spirit from me.
    12 Restore to me the joy of your salvation,
        and uphold me with a willing spirit.

    13 Then I will teach transgressors your ways,
        and sinners will return to you.
    14 Deliver me from bloodguiltiness, O God,
        O God of my salvation,
        and my tongue will sing aloud of your righteousness.
    15 O Lord, open my lips,
        and my mouth will declare your praise.
    16 For you will not delight in sacrifice, or I would give it;
        you will not be pleased with a burnt offering.
    17 The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit;
        a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.

    18 Do good to Zion in your good pleasure;
        build up the walls of Jerusalem;
    19 then will you delight in right sacrifices,
        in burnt offerings and whole burnt offerings;
        then bulls will be offered on your altar.

    The English Standard Version is published with the permission of Good News Publishers. (English Standard Version - The Holy Bible Online)

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  • 15. Psalm 53—When You Doubt God’s Existence

    15. Psalm 53—When You Doubt God’s Existence

    The fool says in his heart, “There is no God.”
        They are corrupt, doing abominable iniquity;
        there is none who does good.

    God looks down from heaven
        on the children of man
    to see if there are any who understand,
        who seek after God.

    They have all fallen away;
        together they have become corrupt;
    there is none who does good,
        not even one.

    Have those who work evil no knowledge,
        who eat up my people as they eat bread,
        and do not call upon God?

    There they are, in great terror,
        where there is no terror!
    For God scatters the bones of him who encamps against you;
        you put them to shame, for God has rejected them.

    Oh, that salvation for Israel would come out of Zion!
        When God restores the fortunes of his people,
        let Jacob rejoice, let Israel be glad.

    The English Standard Version is published with the permission of Good News Publishers. (English Standard Version - The Holy Bible Online)

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  • 16. Psalm 55—When People Malign You

    16. Psalm 55—When People Malign You

    Give ear to my prayer, O God,
        and hide not yourself from my plea for mercy!
    Attend to me, and answer me;
        I am restless in my complaint and I moan,
    because of the noise of the enemy,
        because of the oppression of the wicked.
    For they drop trouble upon me,
        and in anger they bear a grudge against me.

    My heart is in anguish within me;
        the terrors of death have fallen upon me.
    Fear and trembling come upon me,
        and horror overwhelms me.
    And I say, “Oh, that I had wings like a dove!
        I would fly away and be at rest;
    yes, I would wander far away;
        I would lodge in the wilderness; Selah
    I would hurry to find a shelter
        from the raging wind and tempest.”

    Destroy, O Lord, divide their tongues;
        for I see violence and strife in the city.
    10 Day and night they go around it
        on its walls,
    and iniquity and trouble are within it;
    11     ruin is in its midst;
    oppression and fraud
        do not depart from its marketplace.

    12 For it is not an enemy who taunts me—
        then I could bear it;
    it is not an adversary who deals insolently with me—
        then I could hide from him.
    13 But it is you, a man, my equal,
        my companion, my familiar friend.
    14 We used to take sweet counsel together;
        within God's house we walked in the throng.
    15 Let death steal over them;
        let them go down to Sheol alive;
        for evil is in their dwelling place and in their heart.

    16 But I call to God,
        and the Lord will save me.
    17 Evening and morning and at noon
        I utter my complaint and moan,
        and he hears my voice.
    18 He redeems my soul in safety
        from the battle that I wage,
        for many are arrayed against me.
    19 God will give ear and humble them,
        he who is enthroned from of old, Selah
    because they do not change
        and do not fear God.

    20 My companion stretched out his hand against his friends;
        he violated his covenant.
    21 His speech was smooth as butter,
        yet war was in his heart;
    his words were softer than oil,
        yet they were drawn swords.

    22 Cast your burden on the Lord,
        and he will sustain you;
    he will never permit
        the righteous to be moved.

    23 But you, O God, will cast them down
        into the pit of destruction;
    men of blood and treachery
        shall not live out half their days.
    But I will trust in you.

    The English Standard Version is published with the permission of Good News Publishers. (English Standard Version - The Holy Bible Online)

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  • 17. Psalm 63—When You are Desperate

    17. Psalm 63—When You are Desperate

    O God, you are my God; earnestly I seek you;
        my soul thirsts for you;
    my flesh faints for you,
        as in a dry and weary land where there is no water.
    So I have looked upon you in the sanctuary,
        beholding your power and glory.
    Because your steadfast love is better than life,
        my lips will praise you.
    So I will bless you as long as I live;
        in your name I will lift up my hands.

    My soul will be satisfied as with fat and rich food,
        and my mouth will praise you with joyful lips,
    when I remember you upon my bed,
        and meditate on you in the watches of the night;
    for you have been my help,
        and in the shadow of your wings I will sing for joy.
    My soul clings to you;
        your right hand upholds me.

    But those who seek to destroy my life
        shall go down into the depths of the earth;
    10 they shall be given over to the power of the sword;
        they shall be a portion for jackals.
    11 But the king shall rejoice in God;
        all who swear by him shall exult,
        for the mouths of liars will be stopped.

    The English Standard Version is published with the permission of Good News Publishers. (English Standard Version - The Holy Bible Online)

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  • 18. Psalm 73—When You are Confused about God’s Plan

    18. Psalm 73—When You are Confused about God’s Plan

    Truly God is good to Israel,
        to those who are pure in heart.
    But as for me, my feet had almost stumbled,
        my steps had nearly slipped.
    For I was envious of the arrogant
        when I saw the prosperity of the wicked.

    For they have no pangs until death;
        their bodies are fat and sleek.
    They are not in trouble as others are;
        they are not stricken like the rest of mankind.
    Therefore pride is their necklace;
        violence covers them as a garment.
    Their eyes swell out through fatness;
        their hearts overflow with follies.
    They scoff and speak with malice;
        loftily they threaten oppression.
    They set their mouths against the heavens,
        and their tongue struts through the earth.
    10 Therefore his people turn back to them,
        and find no fault in them.
    11 And they say, “How can God know?
        Is there knowledge in the Most High?”
    12 Behold, these are the wicked;
        always at ease, they increase in riches.
    13 All in vain have I kept my heart clean
        and washed my hands in innocence.
    14 For all the day long I have been stricken
        and rebuked every morning.
    15 If I had said, “I will speak thus,”
        I would have betrayed the generation of your children.

    16 But when I thought how to understand this,
        it seemed to me a wearisome task,
    17 until I went into the sanctuary of God;
        then I discerned their end.

    18 Truly you set them in slippery places;
        you make them fall to ruin.
    19 How they are destroyed in a moment,
        swept away utterly by terrors!
    20 Like a dream when one awakes,
        O Lord, when you rouse yourself, you despise them as phantoms.
    21 When my soul was embittered,
        when I was pricked in heart,
    22 I was brutish and ignorant;
        I was like a beast toward you.

    23 Nevertheless, I am continually with you;
        you hold my right hand.
    24 You guide me with your counsel,
        and afterward you will receive me to glory.
    25 Whom have I in heaven but you?
        And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you.
    26 My flesh and my heart may fail,
        but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.

    27 For behold, those who are far from you shall perish;
        you put an end to everyone who is unfaithful to you.
    28 But for me it is good to be near God;
        I have made the Lord God my refuge,
        that I may tell of all your works.

    The English Standard Version is published with the permission of Good News Publishers. (English Standard Version - The Holy Bible Online)

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  • 19. Psalm 86—When You are Overwhelmed by Your Own Neediness

    19. Psalm 86—When You are Overwhelmed by Your Own Neediness

    Incline your ear, O Lord, and answer me,
        for I am poor and needy.
    Preserve my life, for I am godly;
        save your servant, who trusts in you—you are my God.
    Be gracious to me, O Lord,
        for to you do I cry all the day.
    Gladden the soul of your servant,
        for to you, O Lord, do I lift up my soul.
    For you, O Lord, are good and forgiving,
        abounding in steadfast love to all who call upon you.
    Give ear, O Lord, to my prayer;
        listen to my plea for grace.
    In the day of my trouble I call upon you,
        for you answer me.

    There is none like you among the gods, O Lord,
        nor are there any works like yours.
    All the nations you have made shall come
        and worship before you, O Lord,
        and shall glorify your name.
    10 For you are great and do wondrous things;
        you alone are God.
    11 Teach me your way, O Lord,
        that I may walk in your truth;
        unite my heart to fear your name.
    12 I give thanks to you, O Lord my God, with my whole heart,
        and I will glorify your name forever.
    13 For great is your steadfast love toward me;
        you have delivered my soul from the depths of Sheol.

    14 O God, insolent men have risen up against me;
        a band of ruthless men seeks my life,
        and they do not set you before them.
    15 But you, O Lord, are a God merciful and gracious,
        slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness.
    16 Turn to me and be gracious to me;
        give your strength to your servant,
        and save the son of your maidservant.
    17 Show me a sign of your favor,
        that those who hate me may see and be put to shame
        because you, Lord, have helped me and comforted me.

    The English Standard Version is published with the permission of Good News Publishers. (English Standard Version - The Holy Bible Online)

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  • 20. Psalm 94—When You are Drowning in Anxiety and Stress

    20. Psalm 94—When You are Drowning in Anxiety and Stress

    O Lord, God of vengeance,
        O God of vengeance, shine forth!
    Rise up, O judge of the earth;
        repay to the proud what they deserve!
    O Lord, how long shall the wicked,
        how long shall the wicked exult?
    They pour out their arrogant words;
        all the evildoers boast.
    They crush your people, O Lord,
        and afflict your heritage.
    They kill the widow and the sojourner,
        and murder the fatherless;
    and they say, “The Lord does not see;
        the God of Jacob does not perceive.”

    Understand, O dullest of the people!
        Fools, when will you be wise?
    He who planted the ear, does he not hear?
    He who formed the eye, does he not see?
    10 He who disciplines the nations, does he not rebuke?
    He who teaches man knowledge—
    11     the Lord—knows the thoughts of man,
        that they are but a breath.

    12 Blessed is the man whom you discipline, O Lord,
        and whom you teach out of your law,
    13 to give him rest from days of trouble,
        until a pit is dug for the wicked.
    14 For the Lord will not forsake his people;
        he will not abandon his heritage;
    15 for justice will return to the righteous,
        and all the upright in heart will follow it.

    16 Who rises up for me against the wicked?
        Who stands up for me against evildoers?
    17 If the Lord had not been my help,
        my soul would soon have lived in the land of silence.
    18 When I thought, “My foot slips,”
        your steadfast love, O Lord, held me up.
    19 When the cares of my heart are many,
        your consolations cheer my soul.
    20 Can wicked rulers be allied with you,
        those who frame injustice by statute?
    21 They band together against the life of the righteous
        and condemn the innocent to death.
    22 But the Lord has become my stronghold,
        and my God the rock of my refuge.
    23 He will bring back on them their iniquity
        and wipe them out for their wickedness;
        the Lord our God will wipe them out.

    The English Standard Version is published with the permission of Good News Publishers. (English Standard Version - The Holy Bible Online)

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    Sue Schlesman is a writer, teacher, speaker, and pastor’s wife who lives in Richmond, VA with her husband and 3 sons. She blogs and writes Bible studies, non-fiction, fiction, curriculum, and children’s books. She has published a variety of print and non-print media. You can find her at www.susanwalleyschlesman.com and www.7prayersthatwork.com.