Throughout the 150 chapters that comprise the Bible’s Book of Psalms, the message is clear: When the trials and burdens of our everyday existence wear us thin and we experience despair, frustration, hopelessness, or even anger, the best solution is to call upon the Lord. The Psalms provide encouragement in all of life's up and downs but also in your daily waking up and living!
Many of us have learned how to cope with life’s big moments—the mountains and the valleys, the times of wild bliss, and those dark periods of anguish and turmoil. But what about regular daily life, the day-to-day grind that can feel at times monotonous or even meaningless? On occasion, we all experience seasons when daily life can wear at our souls, make us question our faith, or wonder how we’ll possibly endure. At times like these, it can help to know God-breathed words of comfort, encouragement, and motivation into his precious child, King David, and the other writers of the psalms, who penned both cries for divine assistance, as well as deep, abiding messages of gratitude and praise.
Here, then, are six uplifting psalms of encouragement you in your daily life.
1. Psalm 16
Key verses: Psalm 16:5,8, “Lord, you alone are my portion and my cup; you make my lot secure. … I keep my eyes always on the Lord. With him at my right hand, I will not be shaken.”
Sometimes, what is most difficult about daily life is its commonplace nature. From morning and bedtime routines to the tasks and responsibilities that make up the bulk of our hours, we often get caught up in focusing on the future or pining for the past. But God calls us to focus not on yesterday or tomorrow but today—this very moment in time. Right now is our gift. We are to savor and bask in this moment.
Psalm 16, authored by King David, is at its heart a reflection of trust and intimacy, of full-fledged confidence in the Lord of Creation. Here, David embraces his close relationship with God, which eclipses all else. As David says, God is his portion—the best part of his life. He keeps his focus on the Lord and trusts that God will take care of him in all things, always. David was certainly surrounded by distractions, not only false gods and temptations but doubts and fears, also. Here, he pledges trust and rest in God above all else, something we all would do well to mimic in our own daily lives.
2. Psalm 27
Key verse: Psalm 27:10, “Though my father and mother forsake me, the Lord will receive me.”
There are seasons in life when we encounter opposition. At times this is bold and obvious, and we have a direct enemy to face—whether in the form of a person or group determined to stand in our way, or in the form of some other obstacle, such as an addiction or personal crisis. But often, this opposition is far more subtle. We might feel snubbed or disliked by coworkers, or shunned by neighbors whose political or social values are different from ours. Maybe someone is jealous of something we have or represent, or perhaps it’s as simple as feeling we just don’t “fit in.”
Psalm 27, also authored by King David, can be supremely helpful during seasons like this. Here, David puts all his faith, hope, trust, and full confidence in God Almighty. All around him, David faces adversity. Fear presses in; foes are everywhere. But David refuses to cower to this and instead clings to his true hope, his Father God. David pledges to seek God’s face in all things (v. 8-9) and craves God’s direction over all his steps (v. 11). It matters not that if other human on earth—even his own flesh and blood—rejects him, for he knows he belongs to God, and God will always provide and hold him close. When we’re feeling rejected and oppressed, this psalm reminds us to put our hope in the only One who matters: God.
3. Psalm 91
Key verses: Psalm 91:2,4 “I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust. … He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.”
We might say we trust God, but on a daily basis, we sometimes show our trust lies elsewhere. Instead of risking our money, many of us choose what we perceive is the safe route. Instead of following our dreams, we might stick with the company that provides the comforts or perks we desire, afraid of letting go of so-called security in favor of the unknown. A leap of faith translates, for some, to a risk too scary to consider.
This psalm, written by an unknown author, references all sorts of frightening scenarios—pestilence, plague, arrows, terrors, snares. But the psalmist rejects all these and instead puts his trust in God, his “refuge and fortress” (v. 2). With language evoking not only images of military threat but general wickedness, the psalm paints a picture of danger pressing in. But the psalmist shrugs all his worry aside. He likens God to a majestic feathered creature, fiercely protective, shielding those who trust in Him from any kind of peril. That protection is our “shield and rampart” (v. 4), a defensive wall covering us completely.
Every day, we encounter danger—illness or injury, job loss or financial strain. This psalm reminds us that God is our refuge, protecting us against all evil. Jesus echoed the same thought centuries later when He told His disciples, “Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell” (Matthew 10:28). God will take care of everything—period.
4. Psalm 34
Key verses: Psalm 34:1-3, “I will extol the Lord at all times; his praise will always be on my lips. I will glory in the Lord; let the afflicted hear and rejoice. Glorify the Lord with me; let us exalt his name together.”
Life can be downright hard! We toil and sweat, often for little reward. All we have—our health, those we love, our finances—can disappear in an instant. At times in our daily existence, we grow weary of the day-in, day-out, endless slog of wake, work, sleep, repeat. At times like this, we have a choice. We can cave to negative feelings, or we can choose the better way: gratitude. Every day we have breath in our lungs brings a new opportunity to walk with God and do God’s will in this world. And when we shift our perspective from what we don’t have, or how difficult things are, and turn it to thankfulness for all we do have, a tiny seed of joy begins to sprout and then flourish.
That’s what King David was expressing in this psalm: deep, abiding gratitude for all the good our Lord God brings. No matter what we go through in life, God is good, and God deserves total respect and appreciation for this world He created and all the blessings He gives all of us, His children. That the Creator of the Universe loves us is staggering! And considering that He loves us so much that “He gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16), we have even more to praise.
Life can be tough, but it is temporary—and there is beauty even in the hardship. So embrace the struggle and seek the good, praising God in the center of all of it. As the Apostle Paul wrote to the early church in Colossae, “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving” (Colossians 3:23-24).
5. Psalm 142
Key verses: Psalm 142:1-2, “I cry aloud to the Lord; I lift up my voice to the Lord for mercy. I pour out before him my complaint; before him I tell my trouble.”
There are times in life when we feel no one understands what we are going through. Other times, we bear our souls to a loved one, seeking their wisdom as if their advice can somehow get us through. But this psalm, written by King David, reminds us that no one knows us like God knows us. He is there always, listening and ready, watching over us in all things. God doles out mercy and compassion as well as wrath—He’s the only One worth talking to when we feel alone and desperate for help. We can tell God anything, and He will love us and be there for us. He craves a relationship with us.
6. Psalm 37
Key verses: Psalm 37:3-4, 7, “Trust in the Lord and do good; dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture. Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart. … Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him; do not fret when people succeed in their ways, when they carry out their wicked schemes.”
Waiting can be a huge part of daily life—we wait for results from a medical test, wait for a dream to come to fruition, wait for a project to pan out, wait for a prodigal relative to finally come home. But when the waiting takes a while, hope can fizzle as doubts creep in. That’s why this psalm can be so encouraging.
As the psalm, likely authored by or for King David, begins, “Do not fret because of those who are evil or be envious of those who do wrong; for like the grass they will soon wither, like green plants they will soon die away” (v. 1). Your time will come if you trust in the Lord, the psalmist says. Don’t worry. Have faith. Wait with patience and pleasure, knowing God will come through, and He will deliver. We all know bad things do happen to good people; following the rules and doing God’s will doesn’t mean we’ll get everything we want in this earthly realm. But there is a grander picture beyond everyday life on this planet—the eternal realm of God’s heavenly Kingdom. Focus on God, obey His ways, love Him and His people, and all will be well.
There are just a few of the many encouraging psalms we can tuck into our hearts to help us stay strong and faithful in everyday life. And they all circle back to one crucial, all-encompassing truth: God is the only sure thing. When we focus on faith over fear, we cannot help but be encouraged.
- NIV Biblical Theology Study Bible. Copyright © 2019 by Zondervan.
- Essential Bible Companion to the Psalms. Copyright © 2010 by Brian Webster and David Beach.
Photo credit: ©GettyImages/pcess609
Jessica Brodie is an award-winning Christian novelist, journalist, editor, blogger, and writing coach and the recipient of the 2018 American Christian Fiction Writers Genesis Award for her novel, The Memory Garden. She is also the editor of the South Carolina United Methodist Advocate, the oldest newspaper in Methodism. Learn more about her fiction and read her faith blog at jessicabrodie.com. She has a weekly YouTube devotional, too. You can also connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, and more. She’s also produced a free eBook, A God-Centered Life: 10 Faith-Based Practices When You’re Feeling Anxious, Grumpy, or Stressed.