35 Psalms of Prayer and Praise Written by King David

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King David poured out his heart in prayer and praise in the Book of Psalms.

King David’s life was far from perfect. 

In fact, certain parts could accurately be described as scandalous. 

Lust. Adultery. Lies. Murder. 

Yep, Portions of David’s life had the perfect makings of a Lifetime movie. 

There were sins in his past he wasn’t proud of, and they had devastating consequences.

One of the many things I deeply appreciate about the Word of God is that the Lord not only used imperfect people like me and you in amazing ways, but He also provided us with an up-close, personal look into their areas of struggle AND redemption.

God knows you and I can relate to the brokenness of the individuals that have gone before us because each one of us has experienced brokenness. 

None of us can relate to perfection.

Truth be told, there are parts from my past that could sell out the tickets at the box office for a Lifetime movie! 

Thankfully, our Heavenly Father is in the business of redemption. 

David’s life is a perfect example of a man devoted to God, and we have the honor of having a window into his prayer life. 

King David: a man after God’s own heart. 

David is described in Scripture as “a man after God’s own heart”. This description alone is enough to make this student grab a pen and paper to take notes!

I don’t know about you, but I want to emulate the life of a person whose heart was devoted to the Lord.

Jesus Christ told us in Luke 6:45, “For out of the overflow of his heart his mouth speaks.”

Allow me to paraphrase: What’s in our hearts will be reflected in our words.

King David exemplified this for us as he appealed to the Lord in various situations and for many reasons.

I remember when our children were small we once attended a party that had two identical unlabeled containers on a beverage table. I knew one of them was full of unsweetened iced tea, and the other, sweetened.

I decided it was best not to send 3 children under the age of 8 to investigate; I know full well a year-old lacks the capacity to be discreet after swallowing a mouthful of any unsweetened beverage! I had everyone wait at our table while I went to get our drinks.

I figured out what was in the containers after I sampled what flowed from inside them. If bitter tea was in a container, then bitter tea would flow out when I pushed the release button. 

Think of those drink containers as your heart and the release button as your mouth.

What’s inside your heart will be reflected in the overall flavor of your words. You may be successful in keeping certain words, expressions, or opinions to yourself in certain circumstances, but the things that reign in your heart will season your unguarded speech.

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The Book of Psalms 

This Old Testament book contains a generous and beautiful sample of the heartfelt prayers from David’s devoted heart.

David’s plea for the Lord’s intervention throughout was always:

  • Honest
  • Raw
  • Heartfelt

Though our situations and circumstances may vary from the time David walked the earth, the conditions of our hearts are similar.

The common denominator is the same – we’re in need of a Savior.

Our ultimate help doesn’t come from any source on planet Earth – we must lift our eyes from where our help comes from – the Lord of heaven and Earth!

That’s precisely what David modeled for us.

Prayers of David

David authored 73 of the Psalms and some of them have a direct correlation with a specific life event, as Charles Swindoll points out.

For example:

  • Psalm 59 correlates with 1 Samuel 19:11
  • Psalm 56 pairs with events from 1 Samuel 21:10-15
  • Psalm 34 connects to 1 Samuel 21:10-22:2
  • Psalm 52 pairs with 1 Samuel 22:9

The Psalms penned by David drip with emotion as he unashamedly and unreservedly cries out to God in the midst of extreme situations.

Here are just a few of the life circumstances he faced while crying out to His sovereign God:

  • While running for his life from a madman who sought to kill him
  • While praising God after His mighty deliverance
  • Crying out in repentance

Despite dynamic circumstances, the constant was the condition of David’s heart.

Below I’ve listed 35 of the 73 Psalms he wrote.

Each psalm may have various components to it, but I provided one theme for each specific psalm with a portion of the prayer of David when he called on the name of the Lord.

Every one of us can identify with each reason below when we call upon our mighty God! 

We can use the correlating Bible verses and pray them over ourselves when we’re in the trenches of life facing a similar need, or when having a similar posture of heart before the Lord.

  • Times of distress when we need God’s help
  • Worshipping and Praising God; sing a song of praise
  • Walking through difficult times when we need great comfort as only God can provide
  • In need of God’s mercy and forgiveness
  • Express our gratitude for who God is, His provisions, who we are in Him, or any specific good thing for which we’re grateful
  • Crying out for God’s strength amid times of trouble and/or weakness
  • When we have a broken heart and we turn to our merciful God for healing and comfort
  • A life-threatening situation may be a very real threat to you or a loved one, and you cry out for deliverance 
  • David appeals to the Lord God in every scenario above, and we can model his example.

You and I can find specific prayers to align with our needs and desires and bring our own specific requests before our gracious God as we pray these Scriptures over ourselves in Jesus’ name! 

I hope you find this topical list helpful. I’d encourage you to read the psalm in its entirety when you find a theme/verses that resonate with you, but the verse(s) provided can serve as a starting point for you.

1. Confessing and Repentance – Psalm 51

The Lord sent the prophet Nathan to confront David regarding his sin of adultery with Bathsheba and the calculated murder of her husband Uriah.  David was sincerely repentant, and we’re given a glimpse into David’s plea for mercy and forgiveness in the midst of his repentance and remorse.

“Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love; according to your compassion blot out my transgressions. Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from all my sin. For I know my transgressions and my sin is always before me. Against you, and you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight.” (v. 1-4)

“Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.” (v. 10)

“Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.” (v. 12)

2. Gratitude for forgiveness of sins – Psalm 32

This Psalm of David expressed the deep gratitude, relief, and joy he experienced in response to the Lord’s forgiveness of his sins.

Reading these verses today makes me stop and think, “How often after I confess and repent from sin do I remember to thank the Lord for His forgiveness? 

“Blessed is he whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered. Blessed is the man whose sin the Lord does not count against Him and in whose spirit there is no deceit.” (v. 1-2)

“You are my hiding place; you will protect me from trouble and surround me with songs of deliverance.” (v. 7)

“I acknowledged my sin to you and did not cover up my iniquity. I said I will confess my transgressions to the Lord – and forgave the guilt of my sin.” (v. 5)

3. The joy of companionship with God – Psalm 16

In the midst of this declaration of worship, David acknowledges the sin of idolatry and the end result for those who chase after idols – their sorrows will increase. 

David provides an amazing declaration of worship, along with a dire warning regarding what to expect when chasing after idols. 

“I said of the Lord, you are my Lord; apart from you I have no good thing. The sorrows of those will increase who run after other gods.” (v. 2, 4)

4. Praise, worship, and adoration – Psalm 18

David’s devotion overflows from his heart and is evidenced in his prayers and praise throughout his life. 

When your devotion is pure and authentic, you can’t help it from spilling out from in you. 

From the overflow of the heart, the mouth speaks… 

“I love you, oh Lord, my strength. The Lord is my Rock, my Fortress and my Deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge. He is my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold. I called to the Lord, who is worthy of praise, and I am saved from my enemies.” (v. 1-3)

“As for God, his way is perfect; the Word of the Lord is flawless.” (v. 30)

mountains with scripture I lift my eyes to the mountains where does my help come Psalm 121:1

5. Plea for justice when facing persecution and false accusations – Psalm 17

Psalm 17 was likely written by David while he was being persecuted by Saul.

“Hear, O Lord, my righteous please; listen to my cry. Give ear to my prayer – it does not rise from deceitful lips. May my vindication come from you; may your eyes see what is right. (v. 1-2)

“Wondrously show your steadfast love, O Savior of those who seek refuge from their adversaries at your right hand.” (v. 7)

“Keep me as the apple of your eye; hide me in the shadow of your wings.” (v. 8)

6. An Appeal for Justice – Psalm 35

Our God is the ultimate Judge, and we can appeal to Him when we’re in need of justice.

“Contend, O Lord, with those who contend with me; fight against those who fight against me.” (v. 1)

7. Prayer in assurance God always hears our prayers – Psalm 34

God always hears, sees, and cares for you… He is for you.

“The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears them” (v. 17)

8. A prayer when feeling overwhelmed and desperate – Psalm 142

When we feel cornered and desperate, only God can help.

“I cry to you, oh Lord; I say, you are my refuge, my portion in the land of the living. Listen to my cry, for I am in desperate need; rescue me from those who pursue me, for they are too strong for me.” (v. :5-6)

9. God’s protection, presence, and provision – Psalm 63

David may have been in the desert when he characterized his surroundings as a dry and weary land where there is no water, but there is a spiritual parallel and application he is referring to as well. 

Centuries later, you and I may not live in a desert, but we can accurately describe our surroundings as a dry and weary land where there is no water. 

We need living water. (Remember in the New Testament when our Lord Jesus Christ offered living water to the woman at the well? That’s the only water that will quench our souls this side of heaven!)

Our God satisfies our souls as no one or nothing else can, and that’s what David’s powerful prayer in Psalm 63 references.

“O God, you are my God, earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you, my body longs for you, in a dry and weary land where there is no water.” (v. 1)

“My soul will be satisfied as with the richest of foods; with singing lips, my mouth will praise you.” (v. 5)

“Because you are my help, I sing in the shadow of your wings. My soul clings to you; your right hand upholds me.” (v. 7)

Watch a lesson on Psalm 63.

10. Prayer of worship – Psalm 24

Words of worship flow from a devoted heart to the Lord.

“The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it, the world and all who live in it; for He founded it upon the seas and established it upon the waters.” (v. 1-2)

“Who may ascend the hill of the Lord? Who may stand in His holy place? He who has clean hands and a pure heart, who does not lift up his soul to an idol or swear by what is false. He will receive blessings from the Lord and vindication from God His Savior.” (v. 3-5).

11. God’s comfort – Psalm 23

Easily one of the most recognizable of the Psalms, this is a source of deep comfort as it paints a picture of our Good Shepherd nurturing His people.

“The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not be in want. He makes me lie down in green pastures, He leads me beside quiet waters, He restores my soul.” (v. 1)

“Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.” (v. 4)

“Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.” (v. 6)

Check out this YouTube video on Psalm 23.

12. God’s guidance – Psalm 25

As God guides us, we choose to trust Him.

How I desire to have the teachable heart modeled in David’s prayer in this psalm.

“Show me your paths and teach me to follow; guide me by your truth and instruct me. You keep me safe, and I always trust you.” (v. 4-5)

13. Love for God’s Word; worship – Psalm 19

How I love the Word of God; this psalm has a special place in my heart and it describes what Scripture is, and what it will do in our minds and hearts.

The Law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul. The statutes of the Lord are trustworthy, making wise the simple. The precepts of the Lord are right, giving joy to the heart. The commands of the Lord are radiant, giving light to the eyes.” (v. 7-8)

“The ordinances of the Lord are sure and altogether righteous. They are more precious than gold than much pure gold; they are sweeter then honey, than honey from the comb.” (v. 9-10)

“May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer.” (v. 14)

14. God hears and will respond – Psalm 5

God is never indifferent to His people when they call out to Him.

“In the morning, O Lord, you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait in expectation.” (v. 3)

“For surely, O Lord, you bless the righteous; you surround them with your favor as with a shield.” (v. 12)

15. Trusting in God in times of trouble – Psalm 86

Trust is a deliberate choice we make, and it’s not always easy…

It can be extremely difficult to trust God in difficult times.

“Hear, O Lord, and answer me, for I am poor and needy. Guard my life, for I am devoted to you. You are my God; save your servant who trusts in you.” (v. 1-2)

“Hear my prayer, oh Lord; listen to my cry for mercy. In the day of my trouble, I will call you, and you will answer me. (v. 6-7)

“Teach me your way, O Lord, and I will walk in your truth; give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name.” (v. 11)

16. God’s strength and assurance – Psalm 27

This beautiful psalm reminds us to confidently, “Be strong, take heart, and wait for the Lord.” (v. 14)

The Lord helps us to be strong and courageous.

“The Lord is my light and salvation – whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life – of whom shall I be afraid?” (v:1)

We can stay for His strength.

17. Depending on God in times of stress – Psalm 31

When we are weak, He is strong.

He can bring healing after trauma.

“Be merciful to me, oh Lord, for I am in distress; my eyes grow weak with sorrow, my soul and my body with grief. My life is consumed by anguish and my years by groaning; my strength fails because of my affliction, and my bones grow weak.” (v. 9-10)

“But I trust in you, O Lord; I say, you are my God. My times are in your hands; deliver me from my enemies, from those who pursue me. Let your face shine on your servant and save me in your unfailing love. Let me not be put to shame, Lord, for I have cried out to you. ( v. 14-17)

18. Trusting God for His protection and peace – Psalm 3

The picture of the Lord being a shield around me provides incredible comfort and solace.

“But you are a shield around me, O Lord; you bestow glory on me and lift up my head.” (v. 3)

19. Prayer for refuge – Psalm 61

The Lord is our ultimate refuge.

“For you have been my refuge, a strong tower against the foe. I long to dwell in your tent forever and take refuge in the shelter of your wings.” (v. 3-4)

20. Prayer of praise – Psalm 8

“O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth! You have set your glory above the heavens. When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon, and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, the son of man that you care for him?” (v. 1, 3-4)

21. Expression of gratitude – Psalm 30

David was quick to express thanks to God and recognize Him as the Giver of any good thing.

“You turned my wailing into dancing; you removed my sackcloth and cloaked me with joy, that my heart may sing to you and not be silent. O Lord my God I will give thanks to you forever.” (v. 11-12)

22. Praising God now and forevermore – Psalm 145

He is the Alpha and Omega. The One and Only Holy One.

“Great is the Lord and most worthy of praise: his greatness no one can fathom. One generation will commend your works to another; they will tell of your mighty acts. They will speak of the glorious splendor of your Majesty, and I will meditate on your wonderful works.” (v. 3-5)

23. God is omnisient, omnipresent, omnipotent – Psalm 139

All things, people, all circumstances, and all of time are under the rule of our sovereign Lord

“for you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.” (v. 13)

24. Waiting on the Lord – Psalm 40

Waiting on the Lord isn’t easy.

“I waited patiently for the Lord; He turned to me and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand.” (v. 1-2)

“Blessed is the man who makes the Lord his trust, who does not look to the proud, to those who turn aside to false gods.” (v. 4)

25. Refusing to panic in chaos and danger – Psalm 11

More than once David fled for his safety. Psalm 11 may have been written when he was being hunted by Saul or during the days of Absalom’s rebellion.

David may have fled, but it was not driven by panic and fear. He leaned into God’s sovereignty and protection.

When I am afraid, I put my trust in God Psalm 56:3

“In the Lord I take refuge.” 

26. Choosing to trust when we’re afraid – Psalm 56 

It’s likely this Psalm was written on the same occasion as in Ps. 34, when David fled from Saul to the Philistine territory.

Verse 3 of this psalm is one of the first verses I taught our three children when they were very little so they could stand on this verse when they were scared.

I was intentional to teach my children from a very early age that while Mommy cannot always be with you every second of every day, GOD IS.

“When I am afraid, I will trust in you.”

27. Assurance that God is Judge over all – Psalm 58 

When our world appears to be rampant with injustice, we hold fast knowing our God is Judge over all.

“Do you rulers indeed speak justly? Do you judge uprightly among men? No, in your heart you devise injustice, and your hands mete out violence on the Earth… Surely there is a God who judges the Earth.” (v. 1-2, 11)

28. Placing our confidence in God’s sovereignty – Psalm 62

Our ultimate peace for our soul doesn’t rely on favorable circumstances or situations, but on who we are in God and in recognition we are under His sovereign care.

“My soul finds rest in God alone; my salvation comes from Him. He alone is my Rock and my salvation; He is my fortress, I will never be shaken.”

29. Prayer against those who conspire against us – Psalm 64

God’s people will experience persecution, and there will be those who conspire against us. 

“Hear me, O God, as I voice my complaints; protect my life from the threat of the enemy. Hide me from the conspiracy of the wicked, from that noisy crowd of evildoers. They sharpen their tongues like swords and aimed their words like deadly arrows. They shoot from ambush at the innocent man; they shoot at him suddenly, without fear. (v. 1-4)

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30. Prayer in suffering – Psalm 69

A cry of distress in times of trouble.

“Do not let the flood waters engulf me or the depths swallow me up or the pit close its mouth over me. Answer me, oh Lord, out of the goodness of your love; and your great mercy turn to me. Do not hide your face from your servant; Answer me quickly, for I am in trouble. Come near and rescue me; redeem me because of my foes.” (v. 15-18)   

31. Urgent need of help – Psalm 70

Our God is capable of instant intervention.

“Yet I am poor and needy; come quickly to me, oh God. You are my help and my deliverer; oh Lord, do not delay.” (v. 5)

32. Striving to walk with integrity – Psalm 101

Walking in integrity is possible as we die to the desires of our flesh and yield to the authority of the Holy Spirit.

“I will be careful to lead a blameless life – when will you come to me? I will walk in my house with blameless heart. I will set before my eyes no vile thing.” (v.2)

33. Expressing gratitude and praise for all God does for His people – Psalm 103

Our God blesses His people with abundant spiritual blessings.

“Praise the Lord, oh my soul, and forget not all his benefits – who forgives all your sins and heals all of your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion, who satisfies your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagles.” (v. 2-5)

34. Prayer for contentment – Psalm 131

Contentment will never be found in our circumstances or storehouses but in the Lord alone.

“My heart is not proud, O Lord, my eyes are not haughty; I do not concern myself with great matters or things too wonderful for me.” (v. 1)

35. Harmony in relationships – Psalm 133

“How good and pleasant it is when brothers live together in unity!” (v. 1)

Concluding thoughts on David’s Psalms

I love reading through the psalms. 

Whatever my situation, struggles, or emotions, I know I’ll find words that resonate deeply and minister to me.

We only scratched the surface of the rich depth and insight from these writings, but hopefully, this sample will be a helpful guide to serve as a launching pad in your prayer time.

You’re sure to be met with God’s grace and His tender mercies as you cry out to Him – just as David was centuries ago. 

Related Posts to King David’s Psalms of Prayer and Praise:

In-Depth Bible Study Lesson on Psalm 1

Heartfelt Prayer to God

Prayer Warriors From the Bible

Lesson on Prayer for Adults 

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2 Comments

  1. Knowing that people God chooses are not perfect beings gives me confidence that there is hope for my eternal salvation.
    Thanks for pointing this out, it gives Hope.

    1. We all need hope… the greatest source of hope regarding our eternal salvation is knowing there is not one thing we can do to secure our sppt, earn God’s favor, or be declared “good enough”. Ephesians 2:8-9 tells us, “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this is not from yourself, it is the gift of God – not by works, so that no one can boast.” Our salvation is made secure by God’s grace alone, and we receive it by faith alone the moment we surrender our life to Him, declaring Him our Savior and Lord of our life. Thank you so much for reading and taking the time to comment – God’s blessings to you!

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