Happy Birthday from Psalms

Since April is my birth month, I was curious to look up birthdays in Scripture. The birth of Jesus was celebrated by shepherds, angels, magi, a mysterious star in the sky, and of course by his mother, Mary, and his earthly father, Joseph. But the word “birthday” appears in the Bible just three times: the birthday of Pharaoh in ancient Egypt (Exodus 40:20) and the birthday of King Herod in the time of Jesus (Matthew 14:6, Mark 6:21).

At one time, Christians did not celebrate birthdays because birthday celebrations were rooted in pagan religion. For example, the tradition of lighting birthday candles most likely began with the ancient Greeks who lit candles on cakes in honour of the Greek goddess, Artemis. Today a birthday cake with candles is not seen as idolatry any more than sending a birthday card or giving a gift, or the tradition from my Chinese background of celebrating birthdays with longevity noodles as a symbol for long life. I often share words of blessing for a birthday, and some of my friends invite donations to a worthy cause to celebrate their special day.

While these kinds of birthday traditions do not appear in Scripture, the Psalms do speak of time passing and the blessing of years, which seem very fitting as part of a birthday celebration. Here are my ten favourite Happy Birthday verses from the Psalms–to ponder for your own birthday or to bless someone else on theirs.

 

You show me the path of life.
    In your presence there is fullness of joy;
    in your right hand are pleasures forevermore.

Psalm 16:11

 

One thing I ask from the Lord,
    this only do I seek:
that I may dwell in the house of the Lord
    all the days of my life,
to gaze on the beauty of the Lord
    and to seek him in his temple.

Psalm 27:4

 

Show me, Lord, my life’s end
    and the number of my days;
    let me know how fleeting my life is.
You have made my days a mere handbreadth;
    the span of my years is as nothing before you.
Everyone is but a breath,
    even those who seem secure.

Psalm 39:4-5

 

But surely, God is my helper;
    the Lord is the upholder of my life.

Psalm 54:4

 

You crown the year with a bountiful harvest;
    even the hard pathways overflow with abundance.
The grasslands of the wilderness become a lush pasture,
    and the hillsides blossom with joy.

Psalm 65:11-12

 

You got me when I was an unformed youth,
    God, and taught me everything I know.
Now I’m telling the world your wonders;
    I’ll keep at it until I’m old and gray.

Psalm 71:17-18

 

Teach us to number our days,
    that we may gain a heart of wisdom.

Psalm 90:12

 

Call me and I’ll answer, be at your side in bad times;
    I’ll rescue you, then throw you a party.
I’ll give you a long life,
    give you a long drink of salvation!

Psalm 91:15-16

 

Those who are devoted to God will flourish like budding date-palm trees;
    they will grow strong and tall like cedars in Lebanon.
Those planted in the house of the Eternal
    will thrive in the courts of our God.
They will bear fruit into old age;
    even in winter, they will be green and full of sap
To display that the Eternal is righteous.
    He is my rock, and there is no shadow of evil in Him.

Psalm 92:12-15

 

For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.

Psalm 139:13-14

Writing/Reflection Prompt: Which of these Scripture verses most resonate with you today?

 

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4 thoughts on “Happy Birthday from Psalms

  1. April, right now Psalm 39, 4-5 about the fleeting nature of life speaks to me most because I lost my brother last week, very suddenly, and he was six years younger than me. He just celebrated his 70th birthday in February and is no. 5 out of 8, so it feels like it wasn’t his turn yet!

    1. My condolences to you, Elfrieda. I’m sorry that you lost your brother suddenly at 70 years young. The verses that you cite are so fitting from Psalm 39:4-5:
      Lord, remind me how brief my time on earth will be.
      Remind me that my days are numbered—
      how fleeting my life is.
      You have made my life no longer than the width of my hand.
      My entire lifetime is just a moment to you;
      at best, each of us is but a breath.

  2. Not an easy question.. but a good one… many do resonate one way or another… Today I would say this one..

    Those who are devoted to God will flourish like budding date-palm trees;
    they will grow strong and tall like cedars in Lebanon.
    Those planted in the house of the Eternal
    will thrive in the courts of our God.
    They will bear fruit into old age;
    even in winter, they will be green and full of sap
    To display that the Eternal is righteous.
    He is my rock, and there is no shadow of evil in Him.

    Psalm 92:12-15

    Reading it just now… a couple of things struck me … trees take time to grow … time to flourish and bear fruit … and they continue to live even in the winter … waiting for the spring … In some ways I am in a time of waiting and of faith right now and this resonates with me

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