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Psalm 23 - The Lord is my Shepherd
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  Lesson 1


The Lord is my shepherd………read the full psalm. We will focus on the first 5 words.

* David grew up as the youngest of 8 brothers and worked as a shepherd (1 Sam 16:10-11). Over months and years, he grew in his knowledge and understanding about sheep and shepherding.

1 Samuel 16:10-11
10 Jesse had seven of his sons pass before Samuel, but Samuel said to him, "The LORD has not chosen these."
11 So he asked Jesse, "Are these all the sons you have?" "There is still the youngest," Jesse answered, "but he is tending the sheep." Samuel said, "Send for him; we will not sit down until he arrives."

* Maybe he got bullied by his 7 brothers…he was given the job that the others didn't want to do - take the sheep out for the day and come back in the evening, a lonely, boring job - his brothers probably wanted to join the army and they, maybe, spent their time practicing fighting or training (1 Sam 17:12-15).

1 Samuel 17:12-15
12 Now David was the son of an Ephrathite named Jesse, who was from Bethlehem in Judah. Jesse had eight sons, and in Saul's time he was old and well advanced in years.
13 Jesse's three oldest sons had followed Saul to the war: The firstborn was Eliab; the second, Abinadab; and the third, Shammah.
14 David was the youngest. The three oldest followed Saul,
15 but David went back and forth from Saul to tend his father's sheep at Bethlehem.

David was alone, looking after the flock, away from his home. Day after day. How did he spend his time?…..probably

- Practicing with his sling shot (shooting at targets over and over again). He became very good. How do you know?

- Singing songs to God or playing an instrument - the harp. He was so good at this that he played for the King

1 Samuel 16:15-17,23
15 Saul's attendants said to him, "See, an evil spirit from God is tormenting you.
16 Let our lord command his servants here to search for someone who can play the harp. He will play when the evil spirit from God comes upon you, and you will feel better."
17 So Saul said to his attendants, "Find someone who plays well and bring him to me."

23 Whenever the spirit from God came upon Saul, David would take his harp and play. Then relief would come to Saul; he would feel better, and the evil spirit would leave him.

- In the midst of valleys and plains, trees, forests, the mountains. Looking for green pastures and water. Surrounded by nature. Flowers. Birds. Maybe he started writing his psalms at this time.

- Returning home at night, alone….many many times. Maybe at first he was afraid, but he definitely got over it and became very confident

Psalm 23:4
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.

- He killed a lion and a bear (1 Sam 17:34-37) an amazing achievement for a "boy"

1 Samuel 17:33
Saul replied, "You are not able to go out against this Philistine and fight him; you are only a boy, and he has been a fighting man from his youth."

- Out there, in the open land, it was just him, his sheep and God. Maybe he talked to God aloud. God was looking for a man to replace Saul (1 Sam 13:14). He found (Acts 13:22) a shepherd boy, David. He watched how David looked after the sheep. He loved what he saw….and acted accordingly (Ps 78:70). God is looking for people to be devoted to him (Jer 30:21)

1 Samuel 13:14
But now your kingdom will not endure; the LORD has sought out a man after his own heart and appointed him leader of his people, because you have not kept the Lord's command."

Acts 13:22
After removing Saul, he made David their king. He testified concerning him: 'I have found David son of Jesse a man after my own heart; he will do everything I want him to do.'

Psalm 78:70
He chose David his servant and took him from the sheep pens;

Jeremiah 30:21
Their leader will be one of their own; their ruler will arise from among them. I will bring him near and he will come close to me, for who is he who will devote himself to be close to me?' declares the LORD.

- The sheep would know his voice and he loved them (1 Sam 17:34-35) i.e. prepared to die for them when defending them; (Very interesting, in John 10, Jesus describes himself as the Good Shepherd…who loves his sheep so much that he is willing to lay down his life to save them.)

1 Samuel 17:34-35
34 But David said to Saul, "Your servant has been keeping his father's sheep. When a lion or a bear came and carried off a sheep from the flock,
35 I went after it, struck it and rescued the sheep from its mouth. When it turned on me, I seized it by its hair, struck it and killed it.

- David developed extraordinary courage and faith in God when he was alone, looking after the sheep.

Q: How do we spend our time when we are alone? What do we do? What thoughts go through our mind? How do we pass the time? (good examples, bad examples). Do I have a place to retreat to where it is quiet and I can meditate on God? What do I need to change in my life / lifestyle, so I can develop a close walk with God? Decide today what you will change…..ask another disciple; get input;

* David saw himself as a shepherd looking after his sheep. But in Psalm 23, he sees God, or the Lord, looking after him as if he was a sheep and God is his shepherd. Interesting! A change of roles. David knew what it meant to be a shepherd. He also knew what the sheep were like….now he sees himself as a sheep. If the Lord is our shepherd, this makes us all sheep! What does this mean that we are all sheep?

* Facts about sheep:

In a circus you see bears, elephants, lions, tigers. You don't see sheep. Why? Because all those animals can be trained. But sheep are dumb animals. Cannot be trained. They are slow. Their eyesight is poor. So is their hearing. They have little strength. Little stamina. No sense of direction. They get startled very easily. They have no offensive or defensive weapons - no fangs, no claws, can be caught very easily and dragged to the ground. They can't attack their enemies or defend themselves.

Sheep are vulnerable to danger from wolves and other wild animals as they cannot run very fast. They are not smart enough to avoid danger. That is why they require a shepherd. To take them to fertile areas, to protect them, keep them together so that they don't stray from the group. The shepherd has to watch over them constantly and be able to provide them food (grass) and water.

* We are like sheep. Are you offended that you are called a sheep? We may not know it, but we wander. Get lost. Do stupid things. Mess up. Just like sheep get lost and find themselves in tricky and dangerous situations, so also the same happens to us (SHARE..what are some stupid things you have done….examples of how you messed up).

That is why we need a shepherd. Can you honestly say - The Lord is my shepherd (this implies that you are listening to his voice and are following him.."My" makes it personal…).

* God compares himself to a shepherd…and he compares Israel to sheep.

* God led his people Israel out of Egypt (not 1 person but approx. 2 million, not counting livestock). He fed them, gave them water, guided them through the desert, protected them….everything that a good shepherd does.

Deuteronomy 8:15
He led you through the vast and dreadful desert, that thirsty and waterless land, with its venomous snakes and scorpions. He brought you water out of hard rock.

Deuteronomy 29:5
During the forty years that I led you through the desert, your clothes did not wear out, nor did the sandals on your feet.

Psalm 78:52
But he brought his people out like a flock; he led them like sheep through the desert.

* God uses this analogy (He is the shepherd) because many great men of the Bible - Abraham, Issac, Jacob, Moses - were all shepherds at some point in time. They all knew about stubborn sheep, sheep that got lost, sheep that got killed, sheep that strayed and had to be brought back…..

If God is our shepherd, and we are the sheep, are we listening to his voice…..obeying…..trusting……?

The good shepherd leads them from the front, so that whoever attacks has to go through him first.

He calls the sheep by name and they come to him. If two good shepherds shared a meal and their flocks became intermixed, they would stand at opposite ends of the field, call out, and the sheep would sort themselves out. The good shepherd is their guide through danger, their gate to safety, who rescues them when they are lost, who heals them when they get hurt. The good shepherd is their life.


Isaiah 40:11
He tends his flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart; he gently leads those that have young.

This verse describes how God looks after us; see the words - tends, gathers, carries, gently leads.

Q. Are you allowing God to be your shepherd today, or whose voice/s are you listening to?
Q. How can I let God be my shepherd…..what do I need to do?
Q. What happens if I allow God to be my shepherd?


1. For Home work: Read Eze 34 - Why is God angry here? And what does He decide to do? What can we learn from this chapter?

2. Memorize

Psalm 23:1-4
1 A psalm of David. The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not be in want.
2 He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters,
3 he restores my soul. He guides me in paths of righteousness for his name's sake.
4 Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.

3. We know the names of 3 of David's brothers (1 Sam 16). Can you tell me the names of 3 more brothers of David?

4. Read 1 Sam chapters 1 to 10.

5. Memorize John 10:11.

John 10:11
"I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.