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Ranking the Top 50 Psalms in Order
This post is sure to stir up some fun controversy
I enjoy ranking things.
It probably stems from my childhood love of sports, puzzles, and card collecting. I remember sorting my baseball cards according to teams, won-loss records, batting averages, and home runs. During basketball season I would also recreate a March Madness playoff bracket on poster board, paying close attention to the seeding and ranking of every team.
Recently, I was introduced to the website ranker.com, a list of nearly every subjective ranking imaginable. Let’s just say, I spent far too long scouring the website.
I’ve ranked everything from U.S. Presidents and books of the Bible, to months of the year and fast-food chicken sandwiches.
What was that? You say you’re interested in my rankings of the above categories? I rank Andrew Johnson as the worst U.S. President and the best book of the Bible is probably the Gospel of John. If I had to rank the months of the year, I would start with October, and the award for best chicken sandwich clearly goes to Popeyes.
Now that we have stirred up a little controversy, let’s dive into my highly subjective ranking of the Psalms.
Why I Ranked the Psalms?
Our mission at Groundswell is to mobilize more disciple makers and pioneers and it seems the most passionate of each have a deep love for the Word of God. I’ve repeated this more times than I can count, but the single greatest discipline for spiritual transformation is regularly engaging the Bible.
Nothing else even comes close.
At Groundswell we designed a simple resource called Banding Together that guides people in a daily reading of God’s Word and then joins them together in Discipleship Groups.
The reading plan is designed for every participant to read one chapter of the Bible each day and on days where the chapter has less than forty verses, we add in a Psalm. Over the course of 12 months, participants read all 150 Psalms.
We’ve seen incredible fruit from this process and if you would like to purchase a copy of the leader’s guide or journal please visit this website. However, I must make a confession.
When we first started this process, I often skipped the Psalms. I found myself so engaged in the other chapter for the day that I never came around to reading.
I recently decided to reverse that trend and ONLY read the Psalms. I purchased a beautiful journal to make notes and sketches, and I immersed myself in this incredible book.
It was extremely rewarding and created a stronger hunger for God’s Word. Toward the end of that season, I wanted to find a way to summarize all I learned from God and... I decided to rank the Psalms.
To some, this is sacrilege.
But for me, it was a powerful exercise to reflect on the cumulative impact the Psalms have had on my life. I ranked them in order of personal importance. The Spirit of God speaks through Scripture in different ways to different people and I wanted to see the order of impact on my life.
I would encourage you to make a similar list of the most meaningful Psalms and allow God to speak in a fresh way. How have the Psalms impacted your life?
I won’t bore you with all 150 in order (although I’m sure a few of you want to know which came in dead last). Instead, I’ll stick with my top 50 in reverse order.
Sorry. One more disclaimer.
I’m not ranking individual verses.
I’m ranking the entire chapter and that’s part of what makes this process so tough. In some cases the overall chapter might outweigh a powerful individual verse and in another case it might be the opposite. I’ve added a small quote from each of the Psalms (NIV) in the ranking so you can place the context.
Here we go!
50. Psalms 107 "Let the redeemed of the Lord tell their story."
49. Psalms 144 "He is my loving God and my fortress, my stronghold and my deliverer.”
48. Psalms 118 "This is the day that the Lord has made."
47. Psalms 086 "Teach me your way, Lord, that I may rely on your faithfulness."
46. Psalms 150 "Let everything that has breath praise the Lord."
45. Psalms 095 "Come let us worship and bow down."
44. Psalms 061 "Lead me to the rock that is higher than I."
43. Psalms 069 "Save me O God for the waters have come to my neck."
42. Psalms 071 "From birth I have relied on you' you brought me forth from my mother's womb.'
41. Psalms 068 "May God arise, may his enemies be scattered."
40. Psalms 100 "Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise."
39. Psalms 145 "Great is the Lord and most worthy of praise."
38. Psalms 104 "Praise the Lord my soul…who wraps himself in light."
37. Psalms 022 "My God, my God why have you forsaken me."
36. Psalms 005 "In the morning Lord you hear my voice."
35. Psalms 002 "Ask me and I will make the nations your inheritance."
34. Psalms 025 "No one who hopes in you will ever be put to shame."
33. Psalms 133 "How good and pleasant it is when we dwell together in unity."
32. Psalms 004 "In peace I will lie down and sleep."
31. Psalms 057 "Your faithfulness reaches to the skies."
30. Psalms 020 "Some trust in chariots and some in horses."
29. Psalms 003 "But you Lord are a shield around me."
28. Psalms 030 "Weeping may stay for the night, but rejoicing comes in the morning."
27. Psalms 033 “But the eyes of the Lord are on those who fear him."
26. Psalms 073 "My flesh and heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart"
25. Psalms 062 "Truly he is my rock and my salvation."
24. Psalms 024 "The earth is the Lord's and everything in it."
23. Psalms 016 "You make known to me the paths of life."
22. Psalms 127 "Unless the Lord builds the house, the builders labor in vain."
21. Psalms 090 "Teach us to number our days that we may gain a heart of wisdom."
20. Psalms 119 "I have hidden your word in my heart…a lamp unto my feet."
19. Psalms 084 "How lovely is your dwelling place…better is one day in your courts."
18. Psalms 042 "As the deer pants for the water, so my soul pants for you."
17. Psalms 063 "Because your love is better than life."
16. Psalms 032 "You are my hiding place, you will protect me from trouble."
15. Psalms 018 "The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer"
14. Psalms 040 "I waited patiently for the Lord; he turned to me and heard my cry."
13. Psalms 034 "Taste and see that the Lord is good."
12. Psalms 008 "Lord our Lord how majestic is your name in all the earth."
11. Psalms 121 "I lift my eyes up to the mountains, where does my help come from?"
Top 10 Psalms
My heart hurts.
I’m already seeing a few possible changes in my order and where I might have ranked a Psalm a bit too low or high. This is tough. In my top ten, I’ll share some commentary on why I ranked them where I did, and then close with a challenge. Once again, I’ll place a small snippet of each Psalm for context.
10. Psalms 037 "Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart." The first few verses of this Psalm are incredible. I would have ranked this Psalm higher but the last half doesn’t quite live up to the first. I left it at number 10.
9. Psalms 001 "Blessed is the one whose delight is in the law of the Lord." The imagery of a person who “delights in the law” being like “a tree being planted by streams of water” is beautiful. This is one of my favorite Psalms and I probably could have ranked it higher!
8. Psalms 051 "Create in me a clean heart O God and renew a right spirit within me." There aren’t too many Psalms of lament in my top 50 but this one lands in the top ten. David has committed adultery and cried out to God, “Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love. Restore to me the joy of your salvation”. This Psalm reminds me of God’s grace and forgiveness.
7. Psalms 139 "You have searched me Lord and know me." I have this entire Psalm underlined. God’s transcendence and immanence is on full display. He cares for us and knows us intimately from conception to old age. His presence is with us everywhere. He is with me!
6. Psalms 019 "The heavens declare the glory of God...may the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart…” Again, this a beautiful Psalm as it contrasts the general revelation of God through creation (vs. 1-6) and the special revelation of God through his Word (vs. 7-14). It then ends with the beautiful prayer, “May the words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, Lord, My rock and my Redeemer”
5. Psalms 046 "God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in times of trouble.” Why is Psalm 46 so high on my list? Purely subjective at this point. Some would rank it much lower but this Psalm was one I memorized during my daughter’s cancer diagnosis and sustained me during Covid-19 and the chaos of 2020. The last verse rang true, “Be still and know that I am God”.
4. Psalms 027 "The Lord is my light and my salvation, whom shall I fear?" There are many ways the Psalms bring comfort to my life, but I’ve noticed the top five all address the issue of fear. The first verse reminds me that with the Lord, there is nothing to fear and provides incredible comfort and perspective on the goodness of God.
3. Psalms 023 "The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.” This is probably #1 for most, but I ranked it #3 only because #1 and #2 have been so powerful in my life. That said, this is the most familiar of the Psalms and every verse is beautiful. What an incredible description of the shepherd heart of God.
2. Psalms 103 "Bless the Lord O my soul, and all that is within me, bless his Holy name" Whoa! I love this Psalm and pray it often. It is an amazing picture of what God has done, his character, power, and all he has given us.
Coming in at Number One…
It’s time for my very favorite Psalm. This may come as no surprise because it’s such a popular Psalm.
1. Psalms 091 "He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty." This Psalm stands out from the others because of the beautiful word pictures the author creates. If Psalm 23 is a loving shepherd, Psalm 91 is a loving protector and defender. I’ve committed this Psalm to memory, and it’s one I quote whenever anxiety, fear, or danger raise their ugly head.
There you have it. I put myself out there and was vulnerable. I now have a challenge for you. Take a few months and pour over the Psalms.
Read, reflect, rank, draw, create, and engage this wonderful book.
Making disciples and mobilizing disciple makers should come out of our overflow of spending time with Jesus and extended time in his Word. The Psalms is a great place to start. OK, I now have a few questions for you.