by Chris Sherrod Posted Apr 8, 2020
Read through this week’s verse together.
ASK: What are some things David says here that the Lord does for him?
Notice that David is still talking about his Shepherd (almost like one sheep bragging to another sheep on the other side of the fence). Even though sheep can’t voice their needs, the shepherd knows what is best for them. Jesus explained that God our Provider is aware of our needs even before we ask Him (Matthew 6:7-8).
Did You Know?
It’s difficult to get sheep to lie down and rest unless they are free from fear, hunger, irritations (flies and parasites), and tension with other sheep. Only the shepherd can provide relief from these anxieties so they can be content and quiet. The presence and provision of their master and protector puts them at ease like nothing else.
What Does Your Shepherd Do?
Green pastures for sheep don’t just happen by chance. They are the result of clearing rough and rocky land, tearing out brush and roots and stumps, and careful soil preparation. Likewise, God has prepared us with everything we need to live godly lives (2 Peter 1:3-4) and the spiritual food He provides will truly satisfy us (Psalm 63:5).
Being led to still waters (literally “waters of rest”) is key for two reasons. First, because a sheep may fall in while bending to drink from running water, a shepherd will often draw water from a well. Second, if not led to clean water, thirsty sheep may drink from dirty potholes. Similarly, our souls naturally thirst for the rest and contentment only God can fulfill (Matthew 11:28-29), but we often try to quench this with dangerous and unfulfilling things.
Sword Drill! Two people look up and read Jeremiah 2:13 and John 7:37-38 to learn about the living waters God promises to provide.
Ask: Having our souls restored when we feel downcast (Psalm 42:5) actually has a parallel in the world of shepherding. Does anyone know what a sheep is called when it gets stuck on its back? (the answer is, a “cast” sheep or a “cast down” sheep)
A “cast” sheep is a sorry sight– lying on its back, feet in the air, flailing frantically and unsuccessfully to stand up. Sometimes it bleats a little for help, but usually it just lies there floundering and frightened. If a shepherd doesn’t get there soon, the sheep may even die. When he finds a cast sheep, a shepherd gently turns it over and patiently restores it to its feet to walk again. Maybe David was picturing this when he said, “He restores my soul.” In Psalm 56:13 he wrote, “You have delivered my soul from death, yes, my feet from falling, that I may walk before God in the light of life.” Our compassionate Shepherd constantly looks to restore the downcast for their good and His glory (Psalm 79:9).
Finally, David mentions being led along righteous paths. As creatures of habit, sheep left to themselves will wear out trails until they become ruts and graze the same hills until they turn barren, and so a wise shepherd keeps his flock moving onto new feeding grounds. Just as sheep habitually and foolishly erode trails into gullies, we cling to the same habits that can ruin us. “There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death” (Proverbs 14:12). Walking in obedience on His paths lets others see our good deeds and glorifies God (Matthew 5:16).
What Should Ewe Do?
Ask: Why should God’s children be the most content people in the world?
David’s description of God in Psalm 145 sounds a lot like what we’ve learned this week…
“The Lord upholds all who are falling and raises up all who are bowed down.
The eyes of all look to you, and you give them their food in due season.
You open your hand; you satisfy the desire of every living thing.
The Lord is righteous in all his ways and kind in all his works.
The Lord is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth.
He fulfills the desire of those who fear him; he also hears their cry and saves them.”
Our Good Shepherd invites us to trust Him and let ourselves be guided into truth by His Spirit to discover the delight of His presence. Our souls won’t be satisfied with a substitute!
The question is, will you allow yourself to be led in “paths of righteousness,” or will you turn to your own way, even though it may take you into trouble? Will you be a stubborn, proud, self-sufficient sheep that pursues old paths and polluted ground, or will you put your life in the Master’s hands to find His rest each day? Simple obedience means you do what He asks you to do, go where He invites you to go, and say what He tells you to say.
Peace and Plenty
Ask: In order to do all of this providing and guiding, how close does the shepherd have to be to his flock? (Right there with them!)
Sword Drill! Someone read what Isaiah 40:11 reminds us about our Good Shepherd.
In the Christian life, there is nothing like knowing that you are never alone, no substitute for the awareness that Christ your Shepherd is near because His presence scatters all fear. You can either live in a sense of anxiety and dread, or in a sense of quiet rest. Which will it be?
Ask: Everybody share. What keeps you from enjoying the green pastures and quiet waters that God leads you to each day? What steals your rest so you won’t lie down?
In Psalm 4:8, David wrote, “In peace I will both lie down and sleep; for you alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety.”
In the presence of the Good Shepherd, there is “fullness of joy” (Psalm 16:11) because He has supplied green pastures and refreshing waters for those who care to move onto them and find peace and plenty. “You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you” (Isaiah 26:3).
For Younger Kids
Parents, take a moment to tell your kids some ways that God has provided food and water for your family (both metaphorically and literally). Some people need certain things in order to rest easy. Share with one another how you best prepare for sleep. How can you make sure that talking to the Good Shepherd is a part of your bedtime routine as individuals and as a family?
Have someone close your time together in prayer, thanking your Good Shepherd for His presence and the comforting truth that we are never alone.
Here’s a fun way to review and discuss what you’ve been learning this week!
As a family, go collect blindfolds (an old shirt or bandana will do) and a “shepherd’s staff” (could be a broomstick!). Once you have these, designate one child as the “shepherd,” while the other children put on blindfolds (parents can too, but it might be safest to always have one adult watching what’s going on!).
For the first round, have the shepherd guide the “sheep” to a water source (you can set out a cup of water or have them lead to the sink), using only their voice. Then switch and have another child lead the family to another area of the house or yard using only their shepherd’s staff to gently guide/herd to the left and right (no speaking allowed).
Give everyone a chance to be the shepherd, and then end your time discussing the different ways the Good Shepherd leads and guides us as His sheep (further discussion questions are given below).