It’s important for our children to see us seek God in His Word. The hope is that they will eventually look for Him there, themselves. Proverbs 22:6 says, “Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it” (NIV). Being able to understand and apply Scripture to our daily lives through prayer and time spent reading our Bibles is a tough concept to teach children. Before we can expect them to memorize Scripture, it helps to read it with them, discuss what it means (on a level they can digest) and how they can apply it to their lives.
Memorizing God’s Word should not become a legalistic task, but rather an opportunity to bond with our Father in heaven. God will honor every effort to get our kids into God’s Word, and undoubtedly meet us in those moments.
If you’re wondering where to start introducing your kids to the book of Psalms, here are 20 wonderful ones to start with:
1. Psalm 1: Two Ways to Live
Children look to their parents for stability and direction. King David’s words, in Psalm 1, serve as a confident and unhesitant reminder of who God is, and the way we are to live as His children. When we follow Christ, we will see the fruit of righteousness in our lives.
Happy is the person who doesn’t listen to the wicked.
He doesn’t go where sinners go.
He doesn’t do what bad people do.
He loves the Lord’s teachings.
He thinks about those teachings day and night.
He is strong, like a tree planted by a river.
It produces fruit in season.
Its leaves don’t die.
Everything he does will succeed.
But wicked people are not like that.
They are like useless chaff
that the wind blows away.
So the wicked will not escape God’s punishment.
Sinners will not worship God with good people.
This is because the Lord protects good people.
But the wicked will be destroyed.”
2. Psalm 3: A Morning Prayer
It takes a disciplined obedience to intentionally think of God first each day. Our children will learn of the peace that floods through us when we honor Him with those first moments. God is ever-present in our lives. He is our Provider and Sustainer.
“Lord, I have many enemies!
Many people have turned against me.
Many people are talking about me.
They say, “God won’t rescue him.” Selah
But, Lord, you are my shield.
You are my wonderful God who gives me courage.
I will pray to the Lord.
And he will answer me from his holy mountain. Selah
I can lie down and go to sleep.
And I will wake up again
because the Lord protects me.
Thousands of enemies may surround me.
But I am not afraid.
Lord, rise up!
My God, come save me!
You have hit my enemies on the cheek.
You have broken the teeth of the wicked.
The Lord can save his people.
Lord, bless your people. Selah”
3. Psalm 23: The Lord is My Shepherd
Prayer and praise are not limited to waking moments, or the last before we drift off to sleep. Children can learn to take solace and find comfort in the Lord, their Shepherd, throughout their days. The hope David sang of in Psalm 23 is a all permeating reality for believers today. Jesus is always with us!
“The Lord is my shepherd.
I have everything I need.
He gives me rest in green pastures.
He leads me to calm water.
He gives me new strength.
For the good of his name,
he leads me on paths that are right.
Even if I walk
through a very dark valley,
I will not be afraid
because you are with me.
Your rod and your shepherd’s staff comfort me.
You prepare a meal for me
in front of my enemies.
You pour oil of blessing on my head.[a]
You give me more than I can hold.
Surely your goodness and love will be with me
all my life.
And I will live in the house of the Lord forever.”
4. Psalm 100: A Call to Praise God
God created us to bring glory and honor to Him. Worship is an important part of our daily life. This simple Psalm allows children to experience the joy of praising the Lord.
“Shout to the Lord, all the earth.
Serve the Lord with joy.
Come before him with singing.
Know that the Lord is God.
He made us, and we belong to him.
We are his people, the sheep he tends.
Come into his city with songs of thanksgiving.
Come into his courtyards with songs of praise.
Thank him, and praise his name.
The Lord is good. His love continues forever.
His loyalty continues from now on.”
5. Psalm 121: The Lord Guards His People
This Psalm represents a journey. Children often bear witness to some of life’s harsh realities. God is faithful to encourage our hearts on the road we travel home to reside with God in His glory in heaven.
“I look up to the hills.
But where does my help come from?
My help comes from the Lord.
He made heaven and earth.
He will not let you be defeated.
He who guards you never sleeps.
He who guards Israel
never rests or sleeps.
The Lord guards you.
The Lord protects you as the shade protects you from the sun.
The sun cannot hurt you during the day.
And the moon cannot hurt you at night.
The Lord will guard you from all dangers.
He will guard your life.
The Lord will guard you as you come and go,
both now and forever.”
6. Psalm 130: A Prayer for Mercy
When children mess up, or disappoint parents …or themselves …it’s important for them to remember the miracle of God’s mercy. He’s not expecting us, or them, to be perfect. They can run to His forgiving arms and know they are never loved less.
“Lord, I am in great trouble.
So I call out to you for help.
Lord, hear my voice.
Listen to my prayer for help.
Lord, if you punished people for all their sins,
no one would be left.
But you forgive us.
So you are respected.
I wait for the Lord to help me.
I trust his word.
I wait for the Lord to help me
more than night watchmen wait for the dawn,
more than night watchmen wait for the dawn.
People of Israel, put your hope in the Lord
because he is loving
and able to save.
He will save Israel
from all their sins.”
Image Credit: ©SWN/Bethany Pyle
7. Psalm 133: The Love of God’s People
God created each of us with detailed care, but we are not meant to do life alone. The family, friends and classmates in a child’s life serve as the first community of people God has purposefully placed around them.
“It is good and pleasant
when God’s people live together in peace!
It is like having perfumed oil poured on the priest’s head
and running down his beard.
It ran down Aaron’s beard
and on to the collar of his robes.
It is like the dew of Mount Hermon
falling on the hills of Jerusalem.
There the Lord gives his blessing
of life forever.”
8. Psalm 150: Praise the Lord with Music
This Psalm is a call to praise God with everything we have in us! We are to have faith like children, who sing and dance with abandon.
“Praise the Lord!
Praise God in his Temple.
Praise him in his mighty heaven.
Praise him for his strength.
Praise him for his greatness.
Praise him with trumpet blasts.
Praise him with harps and lyres.
Praise him with tambourines and dancing.
Praise him with stringed instruments and flutes.
Praise him with loud cymbals.
Praise him with crashing cymbals.
Let everything that breathes praise the Lord.
Praise the Lord!”
9. Psalm 11: A Statement About Trust in God
Difficult days warrant reminders of our good God. Children feel the unfairness of this world. Bullying, divorced parents, and abuse litter their innocent lives. But they can still trust God. His Word promises so, and He keeps every promise.
“I trust in the Lord for protection.
So why do you say to me,
“Fly like a bird to your mountain.
Like hunters, the wicked string their bows.
They set their arrows on the bowstrings.
They shoot from dark places
at those who are honest.
When all that is good falls apart,
what can good people do?”
The Lord is in his holy temple.
The Lord sits on his throne in heaven.
And he sees what people do.
He keeps his eye on them.
The Lord tests those who do right.
But he hates the wicked and those who love to hurt others.
He will send hot coals on the wicked.
Burning sulfur and a whirlwind is what they will gett.
The Lord does what is right, and he loves justice.
So honest people will see his face.”
10. Psalm 54: A Prayer for Help
This Psalm is a prayer from King David, who had been on the run from King Saul. It can feel, even for children, like we are being chased through this life! God is our ever present help in times of trouble, and kids need to know they can bravely and boldly call on Him.
"God, save me because of who you are.
By your strength show that I am innocent.
Hear my prayer, God.
Listen to what I say.
Strangers turn against me.
Cruel men want to kill me.
They do not care about God. Selah
See, God will help me.
The Lord will spare my life.
Let my enemies be punished with their own evil.
Destroy them because you are loyal to me.
I will offer a sacrifice as a special gift to you.
I will thank you, Lord, because you are good.
You have saved me from all my troubles.
I have seen my enemies defeated.”
11. Psalm 61: A Prayer for Protection
Jesus died on the cross to usher us back into God’s presence. He is our protection in times of trouble, and refuge from the waging war of this fallen world. Our children need to know He hears them when they pray.
"God, hear my cry.
Listen to my prayer.
I call to you from the ends of the earth.
I am afraid.
Carry me away to a high mountain.
You have been my protection,
like a strong tower against my enemies.
Let me live in your Holy Tent forever.
Protect me as a bird protects its young under its wings. Selah
God, you have heard my promises.
You have given me the things that belong to those who fear you.
Give the king a long life.
Let him live many years.
Let him rule in the presence of God forever.
Protect him with your love and truth.
Then I will praise your name forever.
And every day I will keep my promises.”
12. Psalm 93: The Majesty of God
Our confidence as Christians is rooted in who God is. He reigns, unsurprised by the chaos in the world, and in our everyday lives. It’s comforting to us, and to our children, to remember He reigns.
The Lord is king. He is clothed with majesty.
The Lord is clothed in majesty
and armed with strength.
The world is set,
and it cannot be moved.
Lord, your kingdom was set up long ago.
You are everlasting.
Lord, the seas rise up.
The seas raise their voice.
The seas lift up their pounding waves.
The sound of the water is loud.
The ocean waves are powerful.
But the Lord above is much greater.
Lord, your laws will stand forever.
Your Temple will be holy forevermore.”
13. Psalm 113: Praise for God’s Kindness
There is power in the name of Jesus, in praying the name of the Lord over our lives. Because of His perfect love, we live. Children need to know how much He loves them.
“Praise the Lord!
Praise him, you servants of the Lord.
Praise the name of the Lord.
The Lord’s name should be praised
now and forever.
The Lord’s name should be praised
from where the sun rises to where it sets.
The Lord is supreme over all the nations.
His glory reaches to the skies.
No one is like the Lord our God.
He rules from heaven.
He bends down to look
at the skies and the earth.
The Lord lifts the poor from the dirt.
He takes the helpless from the ashes.
And he seats them with princes,
the princes of his people.
He gives children to the woman who has none.
He makes her a happy mother.
Praise the Lord!”
14. Psalm 117: A Hymn of Praise
Many of the Psalms mentioned here may be hard for children to fully understand and memorize, even in the International Children’s Bible translation referenced here. But this simple Psalm can be easily internalized to write the most important truth on a child’s heart: “The Lord loves us very much.”
“All you nations, praise the Lord.
All you people, praise him.
The Lord loves us very much.
His truth is everlasting.
Praise the Lord!”
15. Psalm 128 - The Happy Home
When we follow Christ, we will see the fruit of righteousness in our lives. This Psalm is one of encouragement to do what is right and follow God’s commands. Jesus died so we would live life to the full. He blesses His children for their faithfulness.
“Happy are those who respect the Lord
and obey him.
You will enjoy what you work for.
You will be blessed with good things.
Your wife will give you many children.
She will be like a vine that produces a lot of fruit.
Your children will bring you much good.
They will be like olive branches that produce many olives.
This is how the man who respects the Lord
will be blessed.
May the Lord bless you from Mount Zion.
May you enjoy the good things of Jerusalem all your life.
May you see your grandchildren.
Let there be peace in Israel.”
16. Psalm 131: Childlike Trust in God
Trust in the Lord can be a difficult concept for a child. They trust in their parents and caregivers, and it is our responsibility to point them onwards towards their Father’s feet.
“Lord, my heart is not proud.
I don’t look down on others.
I don’t do great things,
and I can’t do miracles.
But I am calm and quiet.
I am like a baby with its mother.
I am at peace, like a baby with its mother.
People of Israel, put your hope in the Lord
now and forever.”
17. Psalm 4: An Evening Prayer
Children can relate to scary dreams. The world can be overwhelming, and they are constantly discovering it in a new way as they grow up. Praying to God before they drift off to sleep reminds them of their Sovereign Heavenly Father, who defends and protects them… even as they sleep. Make this Psalm a prayer you come to again and again as you tuck your children in bed. How quick they are to remember lullabies - perhaps find a way to sing this to them, so that they can have this truth in their minds as they receive the gift of sleep each night.
“Answer me when I pray to you,
my God who does what is right.
Lift the load that I carry.
Be kind to me and hear my prayer.
People, how long will you turn my honor into shame?
You love what is false, and you look for new lies. Selah
You know that the Lord has chosen for himself those who are loyal to him.
The Lord listens when I pray to him.
When you are angry, do not sin.
Think about these things quietly
as you go to bed. Selah
Do what is right as a sacrifice to the Lord.
And trust the Lord.
Many people ask,
“Who will give us anything good?
Lord, be kind to us.”
But you have made me very happy.
I am happier than they are,
even with all their grain and wine.
I go to bed and sleep in peace.
Lord, only you keep me safe.”
18. Psalm 124: The Lord Saves His People
God’s people praised Him for delivering them from their enemies. We may not face the same battles of God’s ancient people, but we are most definitely under attack in this world. Children feel the effects of this fallen world in their schools and homes, and need to know they are not helpless. Our great God is our Savior.
“What if the Lord had not been on our side?
(Let Israel repeat this.)
What if the Lord had not been on our side
when men attacked us?
When they were angry with us,
they would have swallowed us alive.
They would have been like a flood drowning us.
They would have poured over us like a river.
They would have swept us away like a mighty stream.
Praise the Lord.
He did not let them chew us up.
We have escaped like a bird
from the hunter’s trap.
The trap has been broken,
and we have escaped.
Our help comes from the Lord,
who made heaven and earth.”
19. Psalm 138: A Hymn of Thanksgiving
Gratitude has the power to re-shape our hearts, and lives. It’s important to thank God, not only for rescuing us from our enemies and dire circumstances, but for every blessing He put in our lives.
“Lord, I will thank you with all my heart.
I will sing to you before the false gods.
I will bow down facing your holy Temple.
And I will thank you for your love and loyalty.
You have made your name and your word
greater than anything.
On the day I called to you, you answered me.
You made me strong and brave...
20. Psalm 142: A Prayer for Safety
God put created us for a relationship with Him. We can turn our conversations with our children into prayers to our great God. He cares for us. He hears us.
“I cry out to the Lord.
I pray to the Lord for mercy.
I pour out my problems to him.
I tell him my troubles.
When I am afraid,
you, Lord, know the way out.
In the path where I walk,
a trap is hidden for me.
Look around me and see.
No one cares about me.
I have no place of safety.
No one cares if I live.
Lord, I cry out to you.
I say, “You are my protection.
You are all I want in this life.”
Listen to my cry
because I am helpless.
Save me from those who are chasing me.
They are too strong for me.
Free me from my prison.
Then I will praise your name.
Then the good people will surround me
because you have taken care of me.”
The Bible tells us to write the Truth of God’s Word on our hearts. God commands us to think about it when we sit and when we stand …no matter what we’re doing. (Deuteronomy 11:18-20) For the Truth of God’s Word to become the soundtrack of our children’s lives, we must help them cultivate a habit of getting quiet with God. The following Psalms, written here in the International Children’s Bible translation, can help us lead our children in learning more about who God is, and who they are as a child of God. If they memorize them, amazing! But if only they leave the time spent together with a loving parent reading God’s Word… it’s still a huge win.
Meg Bucher writes about everyday life within the love of Christ as an author, freelance writer and blogger at Sunny&80. Her first book, “Friends with Everyone,” is available on amazon.com. She earned a Marketing/PR degree from Ashland University, but stepped out of the business world to stay at home and raise her two daughters. Besides writing, she leads a Bible Study for Women and serves as a Youth Ministry leader in her community. She lives in Northern Ohio with her husband, Jim, and two daughters.
Originally published Tuesday, 07 September 2021.