The Church of Divine Guidance Sunday Morning Adult Bible Study Group studying the book Psalms: A Guide to Prayer and Praise by Ron Klug. The Psalms are some of the most widely read and best-loved portions of the Bible. For thousands of years these songs of faith have spoken to the hearts and minds of people around the world. The Psalms are songs–music our spirits sing to the Creator. They are poems–full of vibrant imagery and strong rhythms. And they are prayers–our deepest emotions expressed to the Lord who feels with us. Most importantly, the Psalms are God’s Word to us, revealing the truth about him and our relationship with him. Study along with us by getting a copy of the book by clicking this LINK or the image of the book at the end of the study notes.
Psalm 23 is one of the most famous and most quoted scriptures in all the Bible. Countless people have found comfort and strength in the richness of its imagery and meaning. This timeless passage of scripture promises us that we can trust God to meet all of our needs.
1. If you could choose a picture or comparison to express God’s care for you, what would it be?
A child in their parent’s lap or wrapped in their arms.
Psalm 23:1-6 (NIV) 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. He guides me along the right paths for his name’s sake. 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. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.
2. Verse 1 states the theme of the psalm. Why is a shepherd a good picture of God?
This psalm “strikes a positive note. It is not beseeching God to be something orto do something. It is stating positively that he is and does all that is required by man”
2 Peter 1:3-4 NIV His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature, having escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.
Philippians 4:19 NIV And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.
Matthew 6:31-34 NIV So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.
3. What do you think are the characteristics of a good shepherd? Why do sheep need a good shepherd?
First, to better understand the purpose of a shepherd during the time that David wrote this Psalm. This is from the site Got Questions? “It is helpful to realize that sheep are utterly defenseless and totally dependent upon the shepherd. Sheep are always subject to danger and must always be under the watchful eye of the shepherd as they graze. Rushing walls of water down the valleys from sudden, heavy rainfalls may sweep them away, robbers may steal them, and wolves may attack the flock. Driving snow in winter, blinding dust and burning sands in summer, long, lonely hours each day—all these the shepherd patiently endures for the welfare of the flock. In fact, shepherds were frequently subjected to grave danger, sometimes even giving their lives to protect their sheep.”
4. Can you say with confidence, “The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not be in want”? Why or why not?
5. According to verses 1–3, what does the Lord do for us? Which of these actions means the most to you right now? Why?
Psalm 23:1-3 NIV 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. He guides me along the right paths for his name’s sake.
He leads me beside quiet waters. Peace means most to me right now.
6. Why does God do all this for us? How would you paraphrase the expression “for his name's sake” (verse 3)?
Because He loves us.
He guides me just like He promised.
7. Why can the sheep feel safe even in the valley of the shadow of death (verse 4)? Does this mean that nothing bad can happen to a Christian?
Psalm 23:4 (NIV) 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.
This verse implies that we will face difficulties, death, and evil. But our hope and comfort lie in God’s unchangeable and steadfast presence with us.
Deuteronomy 31:6 (NIV) Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.”
2 Corinthians 4:8-12 (NIV) We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that his life may also be revealed in our mortal body. So then, death is at work in us, but life is at work in you.
1. Hebrews 13:5-6 (NKJV) 5 Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have. For He Himself has said, "I will never leave you nor forsake you."6 So we may boldly say: "The LORD is my helper; I will not fear. What can man do to me?"
2. Psalm 34:17 (NKJV) 17 The righteous cry out, and the LORD hears, And delivers them out of all their troubles.
3. Isaiah 43:2 (NKJV) When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; And through the rivers, they shall not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned, Nor shall the flame scorch you.
4. Psalm 46:1-3 (NKJV) 1 To the Chief Musician. A Psalm of the sons of Korah. A song for Alamoth. God is our refuge and strength, A very present help in trouble.2 Therefore we will not fear, Even though the earth be removed, And though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea;3 Though its waters roar and be troubled, Though the mountains shake with its swelling.
5. Romans 4:20-22 (NKJV) 20 He did not waver at the promise of God through unbelief, but was strengthened in faith, giving glory to God, 21 and being fully convinced that what He had promised He was also able to perform. 22 And therefore "it was accounted to him for righteousness."
6. Isaiah 26:3 (NKJV) You will keep him in perfect peace, Whose mind is stayed on You, Because he trusts in You.
7. Lamentations 3:21-23 (NKJV) 21 This I recall to my mind, Therefore I have hope.22 Through the LORD'S mercies we are not consumed, Because His compassions fail not.23 They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness.
8. James 1:2-5 (NKJV) 2 My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, 3 knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. 4 But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing. 5 If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him.
9. Hebrews 4:16 (NKJV) Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.
10. Psalm 27:14 (NKJV) Wait on the LORD; Be of good courage, And He shall strengthen your heart; Wait, I say, on the LORD!
8. What do God’s rod and staff signify?
Protection and guidance.
The rod and staff were standard equipment for shepherds. The rod was a short club with a heavy knob at the end and was used as a weapon against wild animals or marauders. The staff, a long stick sometimes curved at the end, was used to guide the sheep and pull them back when they began to stray.
Jesus said the He is our shepherd.
John 10:1-18 (NIV) “Very truly I tell you Pharisees, anyone who does not enter the sheep pen by the gate, but climbs in by some other way, is a thief and a robber. The one who enters by the gate is the shepherd of the sheep. The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep listen to his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice. But they will never follow a stranger; in fact, they will run away from him because they do not recognize a stranger’s voice.” Jesus used this figure of speech, but the Pharisees did not understand what he was telling them. Therefore Jesus said again, “Very truly I tell you, I am the gate for the sheep. All who have come before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep have not listened to them. I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. They will come in and go out, and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. The hired hand is not the shepherd and does not own the sheep. So when he sees the wolf coming, he abandons the sheep and runs away. Then the wolf attacks the flock and scatters it. The man runs away because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep. “I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me— just as the Father knows me and I know the Father—and I lay down my life for the sheep. I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also. They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd. The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life—only to take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This command I received from my Father.”
9. What do the actions in verse 5 mean to you? Who or what are the enemies in your life? How does God help you feast in their presence?
Psalm 23:5 (NIV) You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.
2 Corinthians 10:4-5 (NIV) The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.
Ephesians 6:12-18 (NIV) For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.
10. What confidence did the psalmist express in verse 6? Discuss the meaning of goodness and love.
Psalm 23:6 (NIV) Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.
He expresses his trust. The scene changes to show the psalmist as the guest of honor at God's house. He is under God's protection. His head is anointed with perfumed oil. His every need is completely satisfied. On the basis of this trust, every moment of his life will be filled with God's richest blessings. The greatest blessing will be an intimate fellowship with God through continued worship of Him.
11. What does it mean to you to “dwell in the house of the LORD forever” (verse 6)?
12. Read John 10:11–15 below. How did Jesus fulfill the description of the good shepherd described in Psalm 23?