Write a psalm to God
Type of activity: A writing assignment that will help people express their feelings after experiencing what real life is like for many of their peers around the world
Adapt this lesson plan for your group.
Overview: In the Old Testament psalms, the psalmists poured out their hearts to God, expressing their agony, their joy, their outrage, their grief, their fear, their praise. Modern-day psalms can help students express their deep emotions as well.
Using the following excerpts from psalms as samples (or any number of other expressive psalms), write a psalm that expresses your feelings after touring the REAL. LIFE. Exhibit. The Old Testament psalmists poured out their hearts to God, and it wasn’t always pretty. Sometimes they were confused and angry. Other times they pleaded with God. Still other times they were overcome with gratitude and praise.
What do you want to say to God? Write either from your own personal voice, or take on the voice of someone you met in the exhibit. What might that person say to God?
Samples: (All excerpts are quoted from the New Living Translation, published by Tyndale House publishers.)
Psalm of pleading
“O Lord, you are my rock of safety. Please help me; don’t refuse to answer me. For if you are silent, I might as well give up and die. Listen to my prayer for mercy as I cry out to you for help, as I lift my hands toward your holy sanctuary.... The Lord is my strength, my shield from every danger. I trust in him with all my heart. He helps me, and my heart is filled with joy. I burst out in songs of thanksgiving.” (Excerpts from Psalm 28:1-9)
Psalm pleading for justice
“O Lord, I have so many enemies; so many are against me. So many are saying, ‘God will never rescue him!’ But you, O Lord, are a shield around me, my glory, and the one who lifts my head high. I cried out to the Lord, and he answered me from his holy mountain. I lay down and slept. I woke up in safety, for the Lord was watching over me. I am not afraid of ten thousand enemies who surround me on every side. Arise, O Lord! Rescue me, my God! Slap all my enemies in the face! Shatter the teeth of the wicked! Victory comes from you, O Lord. May your blessings rest on your people.” (Psalm 3:1-8, New Living Translation)
Psalm of praise
“I will praise you, Lord, for you have rescued me. You refused to let my enemies triumph over me. O Lord my God, I cried out to you for help, and you restored my health. You brought me up from the grave, O Lord. You kept me from falling into the pit of death. Sing to the Lord, all you godly ones! Praise his holy name. His anger lasts for a moment, but his favor lasts a lifetime! Weeping may go on all night, but joy comes with the morning.... Hear me, Lord, and have mercy on me. Help me, O Lord.” You have turned my mourning into joyful dancing. You have taken away my clothes of mourning and clothed me with joy, that I might sing praises to you and not be silent. O Lord my God, I will give you thanks forever!” (Excerpts from Psalm 30:1-5, 10-12)
Psalm pleading for rescue
“I waited patiently for the Lord to help me, and he turned to me and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the pit of despair, out of the mud and the mire. He set my feet on solid ground and steadied me as I walked along. He has given me a new song to sing, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see what he has done and be astounded. They will put their trust in the Lord. Oh, the joys of those who trust the Lord, who have no confidence in the proud, or in those who worship idols. O Lord my God, you have done many miracles for us. Your plans for us are too numerous to list. If I tried to recite all your wonderful deeds, I would never come to the end of them.... I have not kept this good news hidden in my heart; I have talked about your faithfulness and saving power. I have told everyone in the great assembly of your unfailing love and faithfulness. Lord, don’t hold back your tender mercies from me. My only hope is in your unfailing love and faithfulness. For troubles surround me—too many to count! They pile up so high I can’t see my way out. They are more numerous than the hairs on my head. I have lost all my courage. Please, Lord, rescue me! Come quickly, Lord, and help me.... As for me, I am poor and needy, but the Lord is thinking about me right now. You are my helper and my savior. Do not delay, O my God.” (Excerpts from Psalm 40:1-5, 10-13, 17)
Psalm pleading for rescue, justice, and praise
“O Lord, you are my refuge; never let me be disgraced. Rescue me! Save me from my enemies, for you are just. Turn your ear to listen and set me free. Be to me a protecting rock of safety, where I am always welcome. Give the order to save me, for you are my rock and my fortress. My God, rescue me from the power of the wicked, from the clutches of cruel oppressors. O Lord, you alone are my hope.... For my enemies are whispering against me. They are plotting together to kill me. They say, ‘God has abandoned him. Let’s go and get him, for there is no one to help him now.’ O God, don’t stay away. My God, please hurry to help me. Bring disgrace and destruction on those who accuse me. May humiliation and shame cover those who want to harm me. But I will keep on hoping for you to help me; I will praise you more and more. I will tell everyone about your righteousness. All day long I will proclaim your saving power, for I am overwhelmed by how much you have done for me. I will praise your mighty deeds, O Sovereign Lord. I will tell everyone that you alone are just and good.... Let me proclaim your power to this new generation, your mighty miracles to all who come after me. Your righteousness, O God, reaches to the highest heavens. You have done such wonderful things. Who can compare with you, O God? You have allowed me to suffer much hardship, but you will restore me to life again and lift me up from the depths of the earth.” (Excerpts from Psalm 71:1-5, 10-16, 18-20)
If your group's responses are ones you would like to share with us, please e-mail them to us. We may post them on our Web site.