Psalm 47

Why do we fear?
Are we not the children of Yahweh Shalom,
The Lord is Peace?
We stand before a Holy God,
yet we need not be afraid.
He is a God of peace,
who loves to lavish compassion on His own.

Come to Yahweh Shalom!
Let Him lift the shadow from you.
He will not deride and chide.
He will give you His open hand,
His nail-scarred hand.
Take what is offered to you,
sense the peace in your Lord's intimate touch.

Psalm 46

Lord, my soul is disturbed.
I feel lost, alone.
My emotions slip under the surface;
no one seems to notice.
A well of tears is waiting,
threatening to pour out of my soul.
Comfort me.
Remind me of your presence even now.
I am not alone.
You are with me.
You always see me.
You hear my pain.
You catch my tears.
O Comforter, bring comfort!
I lean on you!

Psalm 45

God, you are Yahweh Elohe Yisrael,
the Lord God of Israel.
You chose the children of Israel;
you lifted them above other nations.
You did not choose them
because of their greatness.
You chose them in your grace.

Why did you separate Israel to your Name?
You did so to demonstrate your glory.
Through Israel you declared your truth.
Your relationship with your chosen children
is an example of truth for us.
May we learn from Israel;
may we take to heart the lessons of history.

O Lord! What have you taught us?
You have shown us your unending mercy
as you were faithful to Israel in its unfaithfulness.
You have declared your purposes to stand
as you brought prophecy to fruition.
You have demonstrated that your choice is sovereign
as you set up kings and deposed them.

What more have you given us through your chosen people?
A Savior!
Your Son was born into the nation of Israel.
He grew up among the Jews,
with compassion on your people.
He fulfilled the prophecies
spoken in the Old Testament.

O Lord, what you promised to Abraham is fulfilled!
I have come to you because you blessed his seed.
Through Israel comes truth and salvation.
Lord, thank you for choosing a nation as your own.
Thank you for showing me who you are through Israel.
Yes, you are Yahweh Elohe Yisrael,
and through Israel your glory has shone.

What a Psalm Is and How to Write One

I thought I'd take a break to explain what a psalm is, specifically, how it is different from English poetry, and to also give people direction on how they can write their own psalms. The neat thing is that writing psalms is fairly easy. I encourage people to pick up their pens and write psalms to God. You'd be amazed how having to think through a psalm draws you closer to God!

First, a psalm is a song that is written according to Hebrew poetry (you don't have to put your psalms to music, though some people like to do this). This means it is different from English poetry. English poetry uses rhyme and meter. Hebrew poetry does not (No, the poems in Psalms really don't rhyme, even in Hebrew, if you ever wondered :-D). Hebrew poetry uses parallelism, rhythm and sometimes, structure. The good news is, if you want to write psalms, you only really need to understand parallelism. Rhythm all depends on how you want the psalm to sound to the ear. The ear likes repetitive syllables.

So, to parallelism we go. Hebrew poetry is mainly written in couplets, two lines that have some kind of relation with each other. Below are the kinds of couplets:

1. Synonymous Identical: The idea in the couplet is the same, although it uses different words. Here's an example: "Pay attention, my people, to my teaching,/Be attentive to the words of my mouth" (Psalm 78:1). The idea is exactly the same: pay attention to what I am going to teach you.

2. Synonymous Similar: The idea in the couplet is similar, but not identical. Example: "When the Almighty was yet with me,/And my children were around me" (Job 29:5). In the first line, the Almighty is with Job and in the second, his children are. Same idea, different people.

3. Antithetical: The idea in the lines of the couplets are opposites. Example: "A wise son heeds his father's instruction,/but a mocker does not listen to rebuke" (Proverbs 13:1). The first line presents a wise son that listens and the second presents a mocker who refuses to listen. This kind of parallelism you'll find mainly in Proverbs in the Bible, which makes sense since it is a book that teaches how you should live versus how you should not live.

4. Climactic: This is a couplet where one part of the first line is repeated in the second and finishes the thought of the first line. Example: "Accredit to Yahweh, O Heavenly Ones,/
Accredit to Yahweh glory and strength" (Psalm 29:1). Accredit to Yahweh is repeated and the second line tells us what to accredit to Yahweh.

5. Emblematic: The first line illustrates the second line. Example: "As a ring of gold in a swine’s snout,/So is a beautiful woman who lacks discretion" (Proverbs 11:22). The first line uses the illustration of a ring in a pig snout to describe a beautiful woman without discretion.

6. Synthetic Reason: The second line gives a reason for the first line. Example: "Do not answer a fool according to his folly,/Lest you also be like him" (Proverbs 26:4). I always say synthetic reason answers a why question: Why don't you answer a fool in the same way he approaches you? Because you'll be a fool just like him.

7. Synthetic Completion: This is a parallelism you find in rhythm alone, thus the two lines may not have a relation between their ideas.

Hebrew poetry also uses several literary devices: metaphor (comparison not using like or as), simile (comparison using like or as), metonymy (substituting one noun for another noun, i.e. "dogs have surrounded me, a band of evil men has encircled me"), personification (representing an object or concept as if it were a person, i.e. Wisdom in Proverbs is described as a woman calling out to people) to name some common ones.

The most fun thing about writing psalms is that you can write almost anything you want. For the rhyme challenged, you don't have to rhyme! All you need is a thought of praise and you can compose a psalm. Think of a concept, write it down, then write another line that relates to your first line in some way like the parallelism above. And yes, lines can stand on their own as well. If you want to give it a try, take the above parallelisms and try each out in a psalm. Here's one I've composed below to give you an example (of course, you don't need to identify the parallelism. I only did that as a help):

O Lord, you never leave me;
you do not forsake me. (Synonymous Identical)
You lavish on me your mercy;
You pour forth your peace. (Synonymous Similar)
Children of God hear your voice;
the lost refuse to listen. (Antithetical)
O hear the Lord, O Man,
O hear what the Lord has to say. (Climactic)
As fragrant oil poured over your head
are the Lord's spoken words. (Emblematic)
Hearken to the Lord's words,
by them will you be saved. (Synthetic Reason)
Yes, the Lord seeks you,
Yes, the Lord wants you. (Synthetic Completion)
Be a solid rock;
stand strong for the Lord. (Metaphor)
Like a mighty tower
is the one who trusts in God. (Simile)
Blessed are those who hold to the Lord,
the sparrows who rest in His hand. (Metonymy)
O, love is calling out to you,
imploring you, "Hear and trust the Lord!" (Personification)

Of course, you don't have to use all forms of parallelism or literary devices in a psalm. You can play around with the different parallelisms. Use what you want. Have fun; choose a theme, then go for it and write a psalm. I hope you enjoy writing psalms as much as I do and that they bring you closer to your God!

Psalm 44

Adonai, my Lord and Master,
You are true servant leader.
You rule with a gentle hand.
You show your wrath,
yet it is always paired with mercy.
You are not a harsh overseer,
demanding and disparaging.
No, you support us
you lead us.
Your compassion reigns.

We can trust Adonai.
To live under Him is to be free.
We throw off other masters;
sin, wealth, idolatry are banished.
We cling to the Master who died,
the Lord who suffered in our place.
Who else is worthy of our full devotion
but this sacrificial Master?
Let Adonai reign over you
and you will be truly free!

Psalm 43

The Lord is Yahweh Nissi,
The Lord is My Banner.
I will declare the works of God.
I will declare the praise of His triumphs.

The Lord has done great things for me.
The Lord has answered my prayers.
The Lord has protected my travels.
The Lord has opened closed doors.

O Yahweh Nissi!
You blessed me with a family,
with a loving husband,
with a precious daughter.

Why do I ever doubt your power?
Make me remember all you have done.
Make me know you are my banner.
I rest under your shadow.

Psalm 42

Yahweh Yireh, The Lord Will Provide:
When we need you, O Lord,
you are there.
When we think we are abandoned,
it is not so.
You walk beside us;
you are present in every step.

The Lord is Provider.
He gives us all we need.
He sends food and shelter.
He sends clothes and medicine.
He wants to give us
good out of His hand.

God alone knows our true needs,
even those that cannot be seen.
When our hearts cry,
He answers with comfort.
When we don't understand,
He calls us to trust.

Trust your Provider!
There is no circumstance
He cannot conquer.
Turn to Him in your day of need.
He is Yahweh Yireh;

He listens to your prayer.

Psalm 41

Praise to El Shaddai, God Almighty!
No one holds the power of our God.
He is not restrained;
He is never held back.
His word is fulfilled;
His purposes come to fruition.

Who can stand against El Shaddai?
No one! He rules above all.
None can thwart
the power in His hand.
God Almighty subdues
all under His authority.

See the works of God Almighty!
He parts seas;
He throws back the winds;
He calms frothing oceans;
He speaks in fire;
He shakes mountains.

What can men do but bow
in the presence of God Almighty?
Fear your God, O Man,
your God of power.
Know that He reigns supreme,
He alone possesses control.

How blessed are the
children of God!
They need not fear man;
they do not fear the tempests.
They know that God Almighty is on their side;
El Shaddai is guard over their lives.

Psalm 40

El Roi, God Who Sees:
You oversee all your creation.
You care for even the
lilies of the field,
the sparrows of the air.
What you have made
is precious in your sight.
You do not make and abandon.
You watch and you provide.

O how beloved is your highest creation, man!
You discern his every thought and way.
You seek out man to draw him to yourself.
You speak into man words of life.
You see us, El Roi, beyond outward appearance;
you penetrate into the heart.
Your desire is to guide us in your way,
to show us what you see.

O El Roi, open our eyes!
Let us answer your gaze
with true hearts of faith.
May we take comfort
in a God who sees us.
May we feel your
presence day in and out.
May we never forget
that you watch over us,
our All-Seeing God.

Psalm 39

(FYI, I plan on getting back to my names of God psalms next psalm.)

O Lord, the hindrances!
Why is it so easy to give up?
Why do I let busyness
tear me away from you?
You are my life!
Everything I have,
everything I am,
comes from you.
Can I not preserve time for you?
Lord, motivate me
to make the time!
May my passion for you
overwhelm my desire for
mindlessly entertaining myself.
Throw off the fetters of
exhaustion from my mind.
Give me a clarity
that pulls me into
meditation of you.
Lord, recapture my time!

Psalm 38--An Easter Psalm

What do you require of us, O God?
Must we work our way to please you?
Must I struggle to find you?
Do you hide from me until I am good enough?
No! The Lord stands with open arms!

O Lord, I praise you that repentance is all you ask.
Salvation is not in penance.
You do not offer a gift and then ask for payment.
You give the gift of your son freely.
Your forgiveness does not force us to suffer.

Lord, your mercy is astounding.
What can I do but be still in awe?
You are all my hope each day.
Covered in Christ's righteousness, my soul is at peace.
Praise to you, Lord, who makes the way for your children.

Psalm 37

El Elyon, God Most High:
There is no god like you.
You are above all earthly powers,
you reign over the supernatural realm.
No one can thwart your authority;
your might exceeds the strength of all others.

You are outside the universe,
external to space and time.
You are not bound by your creation.
You are boundless, infinite,
the always existent eternal.
There is no one like you.

Yet you choose to know your creation.
You enter time and space
to know us, to speak to us.
We are blessed at your appearance,
your appearance among us.
Your special revelation draws us to you.

There is nothing in life more sacred than you.
Who can be fully trusted but He who is above all?
It is you who holds time and place in your hands.
I will trust in my highest God.
He will be my absolute guide.
Glory to El Elyon, God Most High!

Psalm 36

Yahweh, the personal Lord:
You come to us, O Lord.
You seek us out.
We reject you,
yet you pursue.

Yahweh, you desire relationship.
You come down to your people;
you descend so we may ascend.
You have no need of us,
yet you choose us.

Your compassion saves us;
your love compels us.
Without your mercy,
without your grace,
life is a wasteland.

Your faithfulness astounds us;
your commitment is irreversible.
You are slow to anger,
patient with our failures,
a guide to our way.

O Yahweh, O Personal Lord!
Your hand reaching down to me
overwhelms me.
Teach me to ever reach back;
make me your faithful child.

Psalm 35

For the next nineteen psalms, I've decided to praise the names of God. I wanted to understand my God better and was inspired to write psalms to His names.

My God, My Elohim.
Your might is supreme
and your power overwhelming.
You speak and you act;
you promise and you fulfill.

Who can move the mind of Elohim?
No one. God moves His own mind.
Elohim is final authority;
His way is absolute.

Who do you fight, O man?
You cannot bend God to your will;
His decrees are assured.

Rest in your God, O believer.
He controls your time, your destiny.
He will bring your hope to fruition;
the path of your life to fulfillment.

Who is mighty, who is powerful?
My God, My Elohim.