Discuss the Text
1. How would you summarize the big idea v1?
1a. What role does v.1 play in the Psalm?
1b. Even if you don’t know a thing about sheep and shepherds, what does v.1 reveal about the role of a shepherd? What are the key ideas that come with “shepherd”?
1c. How does the name Yahweh impact the statement, “The LORD is my Shepherd?”
2. How would you summarize the big idea v2-3?
2a. What does “lead beside still waters” mean?
2b. What does “makes me lie down in green pastures?” If you’re a sheep, is there anything better?
2c. What does it mean that “He restores my soul”?
2d. What does “leads me in paths of righteousness” mean?
2e. What does “for His name sake” mean? How does this idea relate to v2?
2f. How does being fed and led relate to God’s glory?
2g. application: What significance does the statement "He makes me to lie down" have for you?
2h. application: Why do our souls need to be restored?
3. How would you summarize the big idea v4?
3a. What does “even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death” mean?
3b. What does “I will fear no evil” mean?
3c. Does this mean that the Psalmist doesn’t think he will die?
3d. How does “rod and staff” relate to comfort? Why return to shepherd metaphor?
3e. Switch in pronoun? What’s the difference between He and you?
3f. application: How can God’s rod and staff be a comfort to us when we are in a dark valley?
3g. application: Does this mean God will give you all that you desire? Why or why not?
2h. application: Do these images and descriptions of God as shepherd match your personal concept and experience of God? If not, what image or word picture does fit your personal experience?
4. How would you summarize the big idea in v5-6?
4a. What does “You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies” mean?
4b. What is he emphasizing with the juxtaposition of hosting and enemies?
4c. What is the natural response when confronted by enemies (flee or fight)?
4d. In v5, is God the meal or host? Explain. What is David’s point?
4e. What does “anoint” mean? What does “my cup overflows” mean?
4f. How does this relate to prepare a table?
4g. What does “goodness and mercy shall follow me” mean?
4h. Is this emphasizing this life or next?
4i. application: The cup is a symbol of the host’s bountiful provision. What does our Host make our cups overflow with?
4j. application: What is the significance of our Shepherd leading us and goodness and mercy following us?
Apply the Text:
In addition to the application woven throughout the discussion, here are a few more pointed questions.
1. How many people do we know live out the promises in Psalm 23? Are we just hanging on hoping to survive? What is the distinction between the ideal of living in this promise and what appears to be most people’s normal experience?
2. When did you guys start to feel you were connected to God in the way Psalm 23 describes?
3. What are some ways that God restores us?
4. Why is it that we fear no evil even when we are in a valley of deep darkness? What difference does this make? What are you feeling today; do you feel more like the words of Psalm 23 or more pressed by the world around you?