A photo capturing a single, worn Bible open to the book of Psalms, bathed in soft, warm light, symbolizing solace and hope for those battling depression.

The Best Book Of The Bible To Read When Depressed

Feeling down and depressed can make even simple tasks seem impossible. In times like these, many people turn to their faith for guidance, comfort and hope. For Christians, reading the Bible can provide encouragement and perspective during periods of depression.

But with 66 books to choose from, where should you start? Here’s a quick answer if you’re short on time: The Book of Psalms is one of the best books of the Bible to read when depressed.

In this comprehensive guide, we will examine why Psalms is such an impactful book for those struggling with low moods. We’ll provide an overview of the Book of Psalms, look at specific psalms and verses that can bring comfort, and share advice on how to practically apply the Psalms when you’re feeling depressed.

Overview of the Book of Psalms

What is the Book of Psalms?

The Book of Psalms, commonly referred to as Psalms or “the Psalms”, is the first book of the Ketuvim (“Writings”), the third section of the Hebrew Bible and thus a book of the Christian Old Testament.

Biblical scholars believe the psalms were written by several authors between about 1000 and 300 BC, including David, Solomon, Moses and others (Encyclopaedia Britannica).

The Book of Psalms is a collection of 150 poems, hymns, and prayers that express the religious feelings of Jews throughout the various periods of their national history. The psalms are directed to God and many include praise, appeals for help or expressions of gratitude.

Other psalms lament sinfulness or adversities. Taken together, the psalms encompass the full range of human emotions from joy to anger, praise to lament, trust to doubt.

Types of Psalms

There are various types of psalms, including praise, wisdom, royal, thanksgiving and lament psalms (Bible Study Tools). Some major types include:

  • Praise Psalms – These exalt the greatness and majesty of God, acknowledging his glory, power and sovereignty over all creation (e.g. Psalms 8, 19, 29, 65, 66, 96, 98, 100, 103, 104, 111, 113, 117, 135, 136, 145-150).
  • Wisdom Psalms – These instruct people how to live wisely and righteously, teaching moral lessons (e.g. Psalms 1, 37, 49, 73, 112, 127, 128, 133).
  • Royal Psalms – These deal with the king of Israel as the representative of Yahweh’s rule over the people (e.g. Psalms 2, 18, 20, 21, 45, 72, 89, 101, 110, 132, 144).
  • Thanksgiving Psalms – These offer gratitude to God for blessings received, rescue from harm or answered prayer (e.g. Psalms 18, 30, 32, 34, 40, 41, 66, 92, 103-106, 116, 118, 124, 129, 136, 138).
  • Lament Psalms – These express sorrow over adversity, a plea for help, penitence for sin or judgment on enemies (e.g. Psalms 3-7, 12, 13, 22, 35, 38, 42-44, 51, 55, 69-71, 74, 79, 80, 83, 85, 86, 88, 90, 102, 109, 120, 123, 126-137).

Major Themes

Some major themes covered in the Book of Psalms include (Bible Study Tools):

Theme Description
Praise for God’s Power and Care Many psalms extol the greatness of God in creating and sustaining the universe (e.g. Psalms 8, 19, 33, 104)
Pleas for God’s Help The psalmists cry out for God to deliver them from their troubles (e.g. Psalms 22, 35, 69)
God’s Love and Faithfulness Despite trials, God keeps his covenants and shows steadfast love (e.g. Psalms 23, 103, 117)
God’s Justice and Judgment God is righteous, punishing the wicked and vindicating his people (e.g. Psalms 1, 37, 58, 82)
Sorrow Over Sin and Evil The psalmists express remorse over their sins and lament the pervasiveness of evil (e.g. Psalms 6, 32, 38, 51, 137)

Encouraging Psalms for Depression

Psalm 23 – The Lord is My Shepherd

Psalm 23 is one of the most well-known and beloved psalms. In it, David compares God to a shepherd who cares for and protects his sheep. This psalm offers great comfort and encouragement to those struggling with depression and anxiety.

Some key verses that can uplift a depressed heart include:

  • “The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he refreshes my soul.” (Psalm 23:1-3a) God promises to provide for all of our needs.
  • “Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.” (Psalm 23:4) We have hope and courage even in dark times because God is always present.
  • “You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.” (Psalm 23:5) God lavishes blessings on us even when under attack.

Remembering God’s faithfulness as a caring shepherd can bring great comfort when depression comes.

Psalm 34 – Taste and See the Lord is Good

Psalm 34 is a psalm of praise and deliverance from trouble. The psalmist, David, testifies to God’s goodness and deliverance during a scary time when he had to flee from King Saul. Key verses to reflect on when depressed include:

  • “I sought the Lord, and he answered me; he delivered me from all my fears.” (Psalm 34:4) God hears us and rescues us when we call out to Him.
  • “Those who look to him are radiant; their faces are never covered with shame.” (Psalm 34:5) Our outlook improves as we focus on God rather than our circumstances.
  • “The eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and his ears are attentive to their cry.” (Psalm 34:15) The Lord cares about our suffering and wants to help.
  • “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” (Psalm 34:18) God is very near to us in our pain and deepest hurts.

Tasting God’s goodness, calling out to Him in faith, and trusting in His unfailing love allows light to overcome the darkness of depression (Psalm 34:8).

Psalm 42:5 – Why am I Discouraged?

Psalm 42 and 43 form a unit describing someone in deep despair. Yet the psalmist talks to himself, preaching truth to counter his depressed feelings. Psalm 42:5 says “Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God.”

Key lessons for dealing with depression include:

  • Talk to yourself! Challenge negative thoughts and feelings.
  • Intentionally put your hope in God’s faithfulness, care, and salvation.
  • Remember past times of God’s help and times you have praised Him. Those times will come again!
  • Keep taking small steps of faith and obedience, confident God will ultimately lift you up.

Though times of depression may feel endless, we can continue to hope in God’s promises, care, and power to deliver according to His good purposes.

Applying the Psalms When Depressed

Read the Psalms Aloud or Sing Them

Reading the Psalms aloud can be a powerful way to soak in their hopeful messages when you’re feeling low. As King David wrote these sacred poems, he poured out his distress and despair to God along with declarations of trust and praise.

Try reading Psalm 13 or Psalm 142 slowly, really letting David’s words resonate. For extra impact, sing or chant the Psalms, letting the words and melodies sink into your heart and lift your spirit. Many Psalms have been set to music over centuries.

Listen to some Psalms arranged by composers like Bernstein to surround yourself with encouraging words.

Journal Your Thoughts and Prayers

Use the Psalms as prompts for reflection and prayer. After reading one, spend time journaling about how you relate to the expressions and emotions conveyed. Write your own thoughts, cries, confessions, petitions, and words of trust to God. Pour out your heart just as David did.

Quietly meditating on how the Psalms mirror your inner world can bring self-understanding. And being honest with God may lighten the burden on your soul. Keep a Psalm journal to record your written prayers and insights over time.

As you re-read past journal entries, you may be encouraged to see how God has brought you through prior low times.

Highlight Favorite Passages

As you read through various Psalms, underline or highlight specific verses or passages that speak to you and your current circumstances. Choose a few key phrases or lines that resonate with where you’re at emotionally.

Write these Scripture quotes on notecards to carry with you or hang on your wall/mirror for quick reminders. A few examples of uplifting Psalm excerpts:

  • “Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God.” -Psalm 42:11
  • “The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” -Psalm 34:18
  • “Weeping may remain for a night, but rejoicing comes in the morning.” -Psalm 30:5

Let these nuggets of biblical wisdom speak hope when you feel hopeless. Refer back to them as needed to renew your spirit.

Other Helpful Bible Passages

Romans 8:31-39 – God’s Everlasting Love

In this passage, the apostle Paul powerfully proclaims the enduring and unfailing love that God has for His people. He emphasizes that nothing, including trouble, hardship, persecution, famine, danger or death, can separate Christians from the powerful love of God (Romans 8:35-39).

Even when believers feel abandoned or distressed, God promises to remain closely present, providing comfort, nourishment, and belonging within His embrace.

Christians who feel depressed or hopeless can cling to God’s declarations of love in this passage. Just a few key verses remind readers that:

  • God gave His Son Jesus on our behalf (v. 32)
  • God graciously gives believers all good things (v. 32)
  • Nothing can separate us from His love (v. 39)

Meditating on the true and lasting affection God has for His people can provide strength and peace when psychological pain feels overwhelming.

John 14:27 – Jesus Gives Peace

In John 14:27, Jesus comforts His disciples with the gentle words: “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. “ He makes it clear that the peace He offers is not like fleeting worldly peace. It is true and lasting peace, residing deep in the soul regardless of external circumstances.

Jesus purchased this peace for His followers through His death on the cross and victorious resurrection.

This verse reminds those struggling with depression and anxiety that Jesus Himself cares for them as a good shepherd cares for His sheep. He will lead Christians out of dark valleys and give rest to weary souls. Abiding in Christ provides genuine peace and calms emotional storms.

According to the Anxiety & Depression Association of America, over 50% of people with depression also struggle with anxiety. But Jesus’ peace can quiet both anxious and hopeless hearts.

Matthew 11:28-30 – Jesus Gives Rest

In this comforting passage, Jesus calls “all you who are weary and burdened” to come to Him for rest, promising that those who take His yoke upon them will find their souls refreshed (Matthew 11:28-30).

Many who suffer from depression feel crushed under the weight of perfectionistic standards, shame, loneliness, and other heavy burdens. The National Institute of Mental Health found that nearly 7% of U.S. adults experience at least one major depressive episode per year.

But Jesus extends profound compassion toward depressed individuals, asking them to lay their burdens at His feet rather than carry them alone.

Though Christian believers cannot always control their thought patterns and emotions, Jesus promises to walk closely at their side, easing life’s pressures. His friendship provides comfort and support that no depressive episode can erase.

Taking time to meditate on Scripture, pray, worship, and engage with a caring community helps reinforce awareness of Christ’s refreshment during seasons of depression. Just as a yoke joining two oxen eases the workload for each one, Jesus eases overwhelming burdens when people link their lives with His.


The Book of Psalms is a powerful resource to turn to when dealing with depression and low moods. The raw honesty and range of human emotion expressed in the Psalms can provide connection and comfort. Remembering God’s faithfulness, care and mercy through uplifting verses and passages can renew our perspective.

Practically applying the Psalms by reading, singing, journaling and memorizing key verses allows God’s Word to penetrate our hearts and minds. While the Psalms are an excellent starting point, other passages of Scripture can also give hope and encouragement when we feel depressed.

Immersing ourselves in the Bible is one of the best ways for Christians to experience God’s healing presence.

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