by Chris Sherrod Posted Mar 31, 2020
Several summers ago at our family camps, families studied Psalm 23, and many were deeply impacted by it. We thought what better time to share this study than now! We encourage you to gather your family and follow along weekly with this study! Read the intro to the study here.
David grew up as a shepherd and knew exactly what it took to watch over sheep. In Psalm 23, he compares his relationship with God to a sheep and a shepherd, inviting us to imagine a sheep explaining how great it is to be in the Good Shepherd’s care. With this in mind, read through all of Psalm 23 together.
Who is your Shepherd?
Ask: When you picture a shepherd with his sheep, what do you see him doing? [Most people just imagine him standing there, mindlessly staring out over his flock]
Did You Know?
Without a shepherd, sheep will stray, eat poisonous plants, drink dirty water, get stuck on their back, and be devoured by wild animals. Basically, sheep are not smart and will die on their own. The truth is, being a shepherd takes constant work and care and alertness!
Ask: Why do you think God compares us to sheep?
Ask: What qualities of God make Him worthy to follow as a shepherd?
In this week’s verse, David is confidently saying, “Look at who my Shepherd is! It’s the Lord! Who better could care for me?!” We too can have confidence because our Shepherd is powerful, wise and good; He’s on the job 24 hours a day, bearing us up (Psalm 68:19).
Sword Drill! Have someone look up and read Psalm 28:8-9 (also written by David).
Did you know that Jesus referred to Himself as the Good Shepherd? Listen to His words…
“I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.” (John 10:11)
“I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep.” (John 10:14-15)
What should Ewe do?
Ask: Why do you think we need a Shepherd who “lays down his life” for us?
Isaiah 53:6 gives us the answer: “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned – every one – to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.”
The wonderful, amazing news is that even though we are stubborn, rebellious sheep that wander and go our own way (1 Peter 2:25), Jesus offers to take the punishment for our sin and give us rest and “abundant life” (John 10:10).
In the Old Testament, people would offer a sacrifice for their sins. A shepherd, for example, would offer up a sheep for himself. But this was pointing to God’s ultimate solution to our sin problem one day when the Good Shepherd sacrificed Himself for the sheep (us).
You might be tempted to ask what you have to do to earn this forgiveness, but that’s the incredible thing… Jesus paid for all of your sins! Your job is to follow the Shepherd by faith.
Sword Drill! Have someone read John 10:27-28 to further learn what Jesus does.
Did you notice how David says, “The Lord is my shepherd”? In other words, he’s not anonymous, lost in the flock… God knows him individually and intimately. Isn’t it wonderful that the Creator of the universe would invite us to be His sheep – the object of His attention and affection? What an awesome gift and privilege to be known personally and lovingly!
Peace and Plenty
David knew the Lord was his protector and provider, which is why he confidently said, “I shall not want,” and then spent the rest of the psalm describing how he is completely satisfied, content, and at peace under his Master’s care and guidance.
We all long to have what the Good Shepherd offers – feeling safe and loved, finding peace and contentment, knowing joy and satisfaction – but we often look for it in the wrong things.
Ask: What are some ways that we try to find security and satisfaction on our own?
All of the possessions, popularity, power and pleasures of the world will always leave us empty, searching for more, and separated from our only source of true peace and plenty… Jesus Christ, the Good Shepherd, who calls us by name, makes us His own, and delights in caring for us.
Have you chosen to give up living for yourself to follow the Good Shepherd?
For Younger Kids
What are some things that children are unable to do or accomplish on their own and must have their parents do for them? (reaching something that is too high, tying shoes, driving somewhere, etc.) How is this similar to what we learned today about our Good Shepherd?
Close your time together in prayer, thanking the Lord for the free gift of salvation He offers, and the protection and provision only He can provide as our Good Shepherd.