When it comes to the emotions of happiness and rejoicing, there are a variety of expressions easily found in the Psalms: clapping, dancing, shouting, singing, laughing and playing instruments. For example, Psalm 149:3 states, "Let them praise His name with the dance; let them sing praises to Him with the timbrel and harp." And Psalm 47:1 says, "Oh, clap your hands, all you peoples! Shout to God with the voice of triumph!"
As for pain and anger, they are expressed through weeping, shouting, waving hands toward heaven, etc. Psalm 102:9 says, "For I have eaten ashes like bread, and mingled my drink with weeping." And Psalm 28:2 says, "Hear the voice of my supplications when I cry to You, when I lift up my hands toward Your holy sanctuary." But for believers today, some hurts may be too deep to express in their own words: the loss of a loved one, the betrayal of an esteemed friend, the conviction of a long-term sin, and the like. In such moments of anguish Psalms helps to look to God for comfort.
There are many individuals throughout the Scriptures that were so deeply moved that silence was the only sufficient expression. Ezra sat in silence until the evening sacrifice over the blatant sins of the Israelites. (Ezra 9:3-4) Job sat in silence for seven days over the sudden and complete loss of all of his children and all of his possessions. (Job 2:8, 13) The prophet Ezekiel sat in astonished silence for seven days among the Israelites captives. (Ezekiel 3:15) The intense pressure of what they felt prevented them from communicating their thoughts and emotions.
The same holds true today. For some, the pain is so deep they just cannot adequately express what they feel. But in their frustration, they can turn to the Psalms and find one that speaks to them right where they are, in the midst of their emotional pain or anguish. Some of the psalms even speak of physical torment, much like what Jesus experienced on the cross. For example, Psalm 22:14 says, "I am poured out like water, and all My bones are out of joint; My heart is like wax; It has melted within Me." This and many others are prophetic psalms that make allusions to the crucifixion of the promised Messiah, who came from the line of David.
David was the most loved king of Israel and the author of a majority of the psalms. Other authors included Moses, Asaph, Heman, the sons of Korah, Solomon and Ethan. All of them, especially David, had an amazing gift of expression through words. Each psalm, or song, has a message and a purpose. Some are instructional, others are prayerful. Some call for the destruction of enemies, others meditate on the mercy and goodness of God.
But all of these expressions are not just for the purpose of baring the soul, but rather to look to the One who can give what is needed: affirmation, deliverance, forgiveness, comfort, and more. The book of Psalms is one of the central books of the Bible, and within its chapters is found the heart's cry of humanity: the desperate need for a God who understands. David understood this cry, and wrote many of the unspeakable thoughts and emotions that go along with it. His son, Solomon, shared the same way with words. This is expressed in the next book, the book of Proverbs.