Psalm 23: The LORD is My Shepherd
Since this is our first Life Group meeting of the fall, take 5 minutes to do an official icebreaker in you group.
Have each person to say
- their name,
- how they came to your group, and
- one thing they might hope to gain from learning about the Psalms.
Psalm 23 is one of the most familiar passages in the whole Bible. It might be interesting to see how many people in your group have it committed to memory.
Begin by reciting the Psalm as a group. Challenge people not to read it if they have it memorized. For those who have not memorized the Psalm, have them look it up on their phone or read it from the discussion guide.
I used the King James Version here because that’s the one most people have committed to memory.
The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.
He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.
Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.
As a group, watch this clip of a conversation between Bono and Eugene Peterson where they discuss their earliest interactions with the Psalms. Feel free to stop watching the video as a group at 12:26.
Discussion Questions for Psalm 23
- If you have this psalm committed to memory (even if it’s just a few lines), do you remember where you first heard it?
- Has there been a particular time in your life when this psalm came to your mind?
- How did Psalm 23 help you to get through that time?
- Why do you think God uses poetry and music to speak to our souls?
The theme of shepherding is prominent not just in Psalms, but throughout the Old and New Testaments.
In John 10, Jesus identifies himself as the Good Shepherd who lays down his life for the sheep. Shepherding is linked to the salvation of the sheep. Just as David (and his people/descendants) are brought by the LORD to salvation (through the Valley of the shadow of death), Jesus offers protection and salvation to his sheep through his own death.
We are often comforted by the promises of Scripture by making them our own. Those of us who belong to the Good Shepherd may rightfully claim Psalm 23 for ourselves. But we need to understand that the promise of salvation in this passage was given in context to Jesus.
The 23rd Psalm also strategically follows the 22nd. Jesus Christ explicitly quoted Psalm 22 as he hung on the cross. We experience the salvation of God because Jesus, as the son of David, first received the promises of Psalm 23.
- How confident are you that you are being saved by God?
- On what do you base your confidence?
- What is your favorite imagery in Psalm 23 to help you imagine what salvation is like?
- Why is that imagery important to you in particular?
- How does it make you feel that David was promised “to dwell in the house of the Lord forever?”
Ask these questions of your group as you begin to work to identify where they are at in the discipleship pathways that were spoken about at Leadership Summit on September 15th. Keep in mind that we are not merely interested in box checking religious acts. We are seeking to shepherd group members to evaluate how their measurable actions reflect their personal journeys of faith.
These questions will be on the discussion guide each week, so if you don’t get to all of them, you will have a chance over the next few weeks. If you need more information on that as a discussion leader, please contact Jonathan Pugh.
- Have you come to a place in your life where you can say that you have trusted God for salvation?
- Have you publicly stated that faith through believers’ baptism?
- In what ways are you serving God with your time?
- How are you making prayer a part of your daily life?
- How is your personal Bible study going this week?
- Have you been able to talk about faith with somebody outside of church this week?
- How are you currently being led to give of your resources to God’s work?
You may pray in a large group or break your group into smaller groups of 3-4. Allow people to request prayer for one personal need and one burden where they would like to see the Gospel advance.