I find the Psalms to be very personal. David and the other men that wrote these beautiful pieces of poetry wrote them during times of strong emotion, whether they were full of thanksgiving and praise or fear and trembling. The Psalms for grief are no different. Penned from a heavy heart, these words give us hope, strength, and peace.
Whether you are wading through the heartache of grief yourself or are looking for words of encouragement for a friend, these Psalms for grief are a great place to begin.
Before we launch into Psalms for grief, I want to share with you my own story.
I am a proud mama of five kids, four boys and one girl. At the time, my oldest was 10 and my youngest was five months. It was a warm August evening when my eight year old daughter was killed in an accident. It was sudden. One minute everything was fine and the next I was on my knees begging God to save her life.
I remember it like yesterday, but the memory is blurred as if someone else had lived it. Maybe someone else had lived it because I am a different person than I was that day. Grief has a way of changing you.
I’ve tried dozens of times to explain what grieving the loss of your child feels like, but real words escape me. What word describes overwhelming pain? Which word explains what it feels like to be alive and walking around, but dead inside?
There are no words for that kind of hopelessness. One word is not enough to share the overwhelming fear and anxiety that crippled me (of which I still struggle). Nothing explains how after four years, one word or memory will suddenly have me weeping with no forewarning.
Rather than try to explain to you what I experienced, I’d rather show you how God helped me. How He brought me from a place of brokenness and gave me hope. I’d rather share with you the words I clung to (and still do!) to keep me afloat when the pain was overwhelming.
While this post is about Psalms for grief, I want to begin with a scripture from Isaiah because it was this verse that gave me the greatest hope. It gave me strength and peace and I lean heavily on it yet today.
“Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by your name; You are Mine.
When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; And through the rivers, they shall not overflow you.
When you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned, Nor shall the flame scorch you. (Isaiah 43:1-2)
If you would like to know more about my Rebekah, check out “Rebekah’s Heart”. She was my sunshine, my constant companion, and I miss her terribly.
What Do Psalms Say about Death?
Those who wrote the Psalms were well acquainted with death. David was not only a warrior, killing hundreds of soldiers, but on a personal level, he lost two of his children.
One was an infant (I tell this story in “Psalms for Forgiveness and Repentance” check it out if you are unfamiliar with it). The other died as an adult during a revolt against David.
We also see David mourning the death of King Saul.
David, being expressive, writes about these feelings. This is helpful to us because we can see how God worked through David’s pain and it not only gives us hope, but it gives us words to pray (more about that later).
Psalm 91 was written by Moses and talks about the danger of death and God’s security. I sometimes wonder if he wrote it while reflecting on the thousands of firstborns dying with that fateful last plague.
Because you have made the Lord, who is my refuge, Even the Most High, your dwelling place, No evil shall befall you, Nor shall any plague come near your dwelling; (Psalm 91:9-10)
Psalm 79 is written by Asaph and is about the destruction of Jerusalem. It is full of heartbreak, fear, and mourning.
They have laid Jerusalem in heaps. The dead bodies of Your servants…Help us, O God of our salvation, For the glory of Your name; And deliver us, and provide atonement for our sins,
What a terrible day to live in; pain and suffering, death and fear, and wickedness that seemed to rule. But God was still there and Asaph knew it which is why he cried out to Him.
Comforting Psalms for Grief
Asaph brings me to an important point. Even when things are falling down around you and you can’t feel God, He is still there. Often times we are so overcome with grief, sadness, fear etc. that we can’t feel God. This is where our faith is tested. Lean into Him, cry out to Him, I promise you, He is walking beside you.
You are my refuge and my shield; I have put my hope in your word. (Psalm 119:114)
Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; (Psalm 23:4)
You, who have shown me great and severe troubles, Shall revive me again, And bring me up again from the depths of the earth. You shall increase my greatness, And comfort me on every side. (Psalm 71:20-21)
Then they cried out to the Lord in their trouble, And He saved them out of their distresses.
He brought them out of darkness and the shadow of death, And broke their chains in pieces. (Psalm 107:13-14)
Psalms for Comfort and Healing
For me, the best Psalms for comfort and healing are those that remind me that God hears me and is beside me. As I mentioned above, when you are overwhelmed with pain or fear it is easy to forget that God is still with you. Having that reminder is invaluable.
In my distress I cried to the Lord, And He heard me. (Psalm 120:1)
“Because he has set his love upon Me, therefore I will deliver him; I will set him on high, because he has known My name. He shall call upon Me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble; I will deliver him and honor him. (Psalm 91:14-15)
When my spirit was overwhelmed within me, Then You knew my path. In the way in which I walk. (Psalm 142:3)
O Lord my God, I cried out to You, And You healed me. O Lord, You brought my soul up from the grave; You have kept me alive, that I should not go down to the pit. (Psalm 30:2-3)
Grief is very much like a pit! I felt like that during my deep grief. For more encouragement (and maybe a few more tears) check out “Grief, My Dark Hole”.
My flesh and my heart fail; But God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. (Psalm 73:26)
Unless the Lord had been my help, My soul would soon have settled in silence. If I say, “My foot slips,”
Your mercy, O Lord, will hold me up. In the multitude of my anxieties within me, Your comforts delight my soul. (Psalm 94:17-19)
Comforting Bible Verses for Grief
While this post is primarily about Psalms for grief, I wanted to give you a few other scriptures that you might find comforting. These Bible verses for grief speak of God’s unending love for us as well as His constant nearness to us.
Honestly, I don’t know how people heal from grief without God. If it was not for His presence in my life, I do not know where I’d be. I’ve often felt that I would be in a hopeless depression.
For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:38-39)
Surely he took up our pain and bore our suffering, yet we considered him punished by God, stricken by him, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed. (Isaiah 53:4-5)
The Lord appeared to us in the past, saying: “I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with unfailing kindness. (Jeremiah 31:3)
The Lord your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves. He will take great delight in you; in his love he will no longer rebuke you, but will rejoice over you with singing.” (Zephaniah 3:17)
I called on your name, Lord, from the depths of the pit. You heard my plea: “Do not close your ears to my cry for relief.” You came near when I called you, and you said, “Do not fear.” (Lamentations 3:55-57)
Prayer for Grief
Over the past year, I have been learning how to pray scripture. It all began with praying the Psalms and I’ve come to rely on God’s words when my own fail me.
If you’ve never prayed God’s word or if you need a prayer for grief, let me show you how I do it. Simply stated, you find a verse that speaks to you and then personalize it in your prayer. Psalm 61 is a perfect verse for grief to turn into a prayer.
Hear my cry, O God; Attend to my prayer. From the end of the earth I will cry to You,
When my heart is overwhelmed; Lead me to the rock that is higher than I. (Psalm 61:1-2)
Your prayer then becomes something like this:
Hear me, O God, I cry out to you. My heart is overwhelmed, I am burdened, hear my prayer. Lead me to yourself, be my rock, help me to trust in you.
You can use any of the verses here and turn them into a prayer for grief. You could also write them in a card as a prayer for a grieving friend or loved one.
Psalms for grief may be written in a book read in every corner of the world, but they are personal to you. Make them your own.
What are your thoughts on Psalms for grief? Share them with me in the comments below!
Be sure to check out this other post about Psalms!