Psalm for the Broken-Hearted

Today in 1 Samuel 16, as I continued my study in the life of David, I read how God used the young shepherd’s love and talent for music to minister peace. When King Saul suffered from severe bouts of depression and fear, his servants suggested music therapy:

“Let us find a good musician to play the harp whenever the tormenting spirit troubles you. He will play soothing music and you will soon be well again.”

Whenever David played his harp for his king, Saul found relief. What a powerful gift God has given us in music!

The Power of Music: Joy

My brother’s log cabin in Wimberley is a special place for our family. I come from a family of musicians and songwriters, so one of our favorite ways to relax and to spend time together is to gather on the long front porch to play our instruments, share new songs, and worship the Lord together in full view of the glorious Texas sky you see in the picture.

The fact that we share the love of music unites us across four generations and brings us all so much joy. My 2 year old granddaughter was amazed to discover a few weeks ago that my mother could play the Itsy-Bitsy Spider on the organ. She asked her obliging great-granny to repeat the song over and over and as she twirled and danced and sang at the top of her lungs. Her delighted parents and grandparents looked on and beamed.

When I visit my 90 year old father he is always happy to see me, but his diminishing cognitive abilities make conversation difficult. I know, though, that if I find his guitar and begin to sing old favorites like “You are My Sunshine” and “What a Friend We Have In Jesus,” he will join in smiling, clapping, and faultlessly singing every verse.

The Power of Music: Sorrow

In the same way that God has used music to unite us in joy, he has also used it for our healing and comfort. I wrote the song “Psalm for the Broken-Hearted” at the cabin in Wimberley a few years ago as my brother and his family passed through a deep valley.

In March of 2013, Ed and his wife Janis experienced the tragic loss of their first grandchild. Brooklyn Olivia Hull lived well-loved for just a few months before passing into the arms of Jesus. Her parents, Corrie and Adam Hull, chronicled the story of her life and death on their blog Corrie’s writing is gorgeous, transparent, and wise. I recommend their website as valuable resource for anyone experiencing the grief of losing a child.

I went back to the cabin in Wimberley to spend time with my niece and her husband shortly after their daughter’s home-going. I wanted to be there to express my love and sorrow, but found I had no words to say that felt right. I sat alone on the porch as the afternoon wore on, looking out at the big Texas sky and asking God to help me write a song that would bring some comfort to my family. I thought about how God had given David the ability to play his harp to bring healing to Saul, and I asked him for just a touch of that anointing.

My prayer that day came from Isaiah 50:4 as I looked to God for “his words of wisdom so that I’d know how to comfort the weary.” I also recalled Zephaniah 3:16 and asked that he would “quiet them with his love” and even sing over them.

A few years later, my daughter Emily and I recorded this song with the help of her husband Caleb and included it on my 2015 album Still. I pray that in a season when you or a loved one need comfort from the Holy Spirit, he might use it to begin to bring you peace and healing.

Psalm for the Broken-hearted

Give us a song to sing for the broken-hearted,
A melody to soothe a wounded soul.
Words that are worthy to break the silence,
Sing over us, Jesus, your healing and hope.

Father of mercy, God of compassion,
Lord, we look to you,
We pray for your presence to comfort and heal us,
Lord, we don’t know what to do.

Teach us to sing your songs for the broken-hearted,
Your melodies to soothe a wounded soul,
Words that are worthy to break the silence,
Sing over us Jesus, Sing over us Jesus, songs of hope and peace.

Father of mercy, God of compassion,
Lord, we look to you,
We pray for your presence to comfort and heal us,
Lord, we don’t know what to do.
Father of mercy, God of compassion,
Jesus, we cling to you.
You bore our sorrows, you’ve tasted our grief
Sing to us, sing to us, your songs of peace.

O Lord, you bless and keep us,
Shine your face upon us,
Grace us with your favor and peace.
Sing your songs of peace, sing your songs of peace,
Songs of hope and peace.

c. GBones April 2013 Wimberley, Texas
In loving memory of Brooklyn Olivia Hull

Who do you know who today needs the comfort only the Holy Spirit can bring? Share this link and invite them to be still and let the Lord speak peace to them through the words and music of this song.