The Poetic Psalms

Sometimes the dullness of our hearts needs a praise prompt from elsewhere. There is no better place to look than in the Psalms where poetic lines stimulate praise and clarify our perspective. Let these samples lift your heart.

  • But you, O God, do see trouble and grief; you consider it to take it in hand. Ps. 10:14a
    • You give me your shield of victory, and your right hand sustains me; you stoop down to make me great. You broaden the path beneath me, so that my ankles do not turn. Ps. 18:35-36
    • How great is your goodness, which you have stored up for those who fear you. Ps. 31:19a
    • You are my hiding place; you will protect me from trouble and surround me with songs of deliverance. Selah Ps. 32:7
    • The Lord foils the plans of the nations; he thwarts the purposes of the peoples. But the plans of the Lord stand firm forever, the purposes of his heart through all generations. Ps. 33:10-11

The Psalms prompt praise in spite of our troubles and challenges, fears and weakness, need and deprivation, or world unrest and threats. Let the psalmists’ reminders that the Lord sees us, holds us, provides for us, protects us, and stands firm forever, fill our hearts and evoke praise from our lips.


Praise Prompts #6

For the Lord is the great God, the great King above all gods. In His hand are the depths of the earth, and the mountain peaks belong to Him. The sea is His, for He made it, and His hands formed the dry land.

Psalm 95:3-5

If I wasn’t in love with alliteration, I would name this praise prompt Nature. From the first garden God planted to our compromised world today, the beauty of creation feeds our souls, and will continue to do so in our eternal home. Something happens when we spend time in nature—our spirits lift, our hearts feel happy, and we’re prompted to praise the One who masterminded it all.

New Jersey truly is the Garden State and offers a diversity of parks to choose from (as is true in every state). With mountains, woodlands, lakes, and the Atlantic, our parks will stir worship in your heart. Here are a few to visit:

  • High Point State Park in Wantage offers a spectacular view from the Kittatinny Mountains’ highest point in New Jersey. The ride there winds through farm land and is particularly beautiful in the fall. Admission is free for the 2022 season, with a minimal fee to climb the 220 foot monument from which you can view the Pocono and Catskill mountains.
  • Prefer the ocean? Island Beach State Park is a ten-mile ocean stretch with eight trails, each under a mile. Experience the sight and sound of waves crashing while exploring sand dunes and discovering the beauty of coastal life. This park also offers free admission.
  • Ramapo Reservation boasts a lower lake for a simple walk, an upper lake for hikers, and a lovely waterfall that is easily assessable. The woodland, flowing stream, lakes, and waterfall are peaceful and inspiring, delightful to eyes and ears. Admission may be limited on weekends due to the park’s popularity but Campgaw Mountain Reservation is nearby. Other suggestions are Ringwood State Park and the State Botanical Garden.

I could list more, but you can do your own search for state parks in New Jersey, or any state. The point is… time spent in nature revives us and refreshes our perspective. When we not only take in the natural beauty but know Who to thank, our hearts are prompted to praise.

*I took this picture at Dingmans Falls in Pennsylvania. A short walk on a boardwalk trail ends at this stunning sight with an option to climb to the top of the falls. Nearby is Grey Towers National Historic Site.


Our provisions should prompt us to praise but, sadly, we’ve grown so accustomed to our comfortable lives, we often don’t take note of our common blessings until our shelves aren’t stocked, or the rain doesn’t stop, or more dramatically, we lose our home… or our country. 

Last week my husband and three others handed out sandwiches and water in some of the worst areas of Paterson—sandwiches made in homes where sandwich-making is a common, thoughtless activity, in kitchens with running water that fills cups and washes hands. Food and water, provisions we barely consider.

I suspect those in refugee camps are keenly aware of provisions, thankful for a cup of rice, a bottle of water, someone’s discarded t-shirt, a night of safety, a pair of sandals, a ball for play, paper and pencil, a tarp in the rain.

Living in a new place has sensitized me to God’s extravagant provision and prompts praise daily, but I’m aware that familiarity has the power to dull my heart. Holy Spirit, keep me alert and thankful.

Let’s live with our eyes open to God’s gracious supply. Let’s pause and count our blessings. Add your praises to mine: a washer and dryer (on the main floor), air conditioning, an ensuite bathroom (!), recovery from illness, a heart beating in regular rhythm, space, birds at our feeders and deer crossing our yard, neighbors (near, but not too near), a great library, cupboards for dishes and filled with food, an attached garage, a front porch… Provisions that prompt praise!   

…Give thanks to the Lord for His unfailing love and His wonderful deeds for mankind,
for He satisfies the thirsty and fills the hungry with good things. Psalm 107:8-9

Pretty Things

Pretty things delight us. They are mood enhancers, day brighteners, heart lifters. They reflect God’s creativity in their beauty and they make us glad.

Our recent move helped me choose between what is nice, satisfactory, or familiar and things that give me pleasure. Yes, I’m aware of their temporal nature, but I’m also mindful of the expansive range of creative gifts God gives us for our personal enjoyment.

Exodus 35 offers a beautiful description of God endowing humans with His creativity.

He chose Bezalel and “filled him with the Spirit of God, with wisdom, with understanding, with knowledge and with all kinds of skills—to make artistic designs for work in gold, silver and bronze, to cut and set stones, to work in wood and to engage in all kinds of artistic crafts.” He filled others “with skill to do all kinds of work as engravers, designers, embroiderers in blue, purple and scarlet yarn and fine linen, and weavers—all of them skilled workers and designers” (verses 30-34).

The pretty things around me prompt praise for the Creator who inspired the creation of their beauty. What pretty things lift your spirits? Is it time to refresh your surroundings? Feel free to share a picture… and praise the Lord!