Probably the best known Psalm in the Bible is Psalm 23: “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not be in want . . .” And I do like this Psalm. I particularly like the part that says “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, you are with me.” I like this part because of the preposition “through,” which indicates the valley of the shadow of death is not a permanent dwelling place, but rather a place we travel through to get somewhere else. But this is not my favorite Psalm.
Psalm 22 is also another popular one, especially since Jesus quoted it on the cross when he said, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” I like this Psalm because of it’s prophetic nature. Looked at closely you can find many of the things that would later happen to Jesus talked about by David in this Psalm even though David did not know that is what he was doing. But this is not my favorite Psalm either.
Psalm 27 is another favorite of many because it gives courage when it says, “ 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?” In a sometimes terrifying and wearying world, this Psalm provides great comfort to those enduring trials. But this is not my favorite either.
If you ask most Christians (and even some non-Christians), they will have a favorite Psalm, and I am no different. My favorite is Psalm 116. This Psalm starts in verse 1 with: “I love the LORD, for he heard my voice; he heard my cry for mercy.” This is a Psalm of David when he was in great anguish and danger. The verses that speak to me the most are 3-4 and 8-9.
3 The cords of death entangled me,
the anguish of the grave came upon me;
I was overcome by trouble and sorrow.
4 Then I called on the name of the LORD :
“O LORD, save me!”
8For you, O LORD, have delivered my soul from death,
my eyes from tears,
my feet from stumbling,
9 that I may walk before the LORD
in the land of the living.
Reading this Psalm reminds me of my journey through major depression and how God was with me in it all. It reminds me why I trust in Him – because He has proven Himself faithful to me in the past and has heard my cries for mercy. I supposed Psalms 23, 22, or 27 could serve the same purpose, but the language of Psalm 116 more closely fits the trouble and sorrow I went through, especially the part about delivering my eyes from tears. If you have ever experienced major depression, or known someone who has, you know that tears are an almost constant companion, and yet there is no understanding of why they are there.
I still have times of melancholy, and I certainly cry from time to time. But now I can identify what is making me blue and my tears have a reason and purpose when they come. And my God is always there to hear my cries of mercy.
So this is my favorite Psalm. What’s yours?