Restore My Soul An In-depth Study in Psalm 23

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1 (Psalm 23:4) Part One Restore My Soul An In-depth Study in Psalm 23 In this lesson we will be focusing on the central verse of this Psalm and probably the most well known passage in the Bible. When David wrote these words he could never have imagined how much comfort they would bring. They were, to him, words that reflected what he had come to believe and love about his Lord. Before you begin this study, open your Bible and read Psalm 23 once again in its entirety. Record your thoughts and reflections below. In the first lesson you began a list of everything you know about Jesus, and asked Him to increase your understanding of who He is throughout this study. In the space below add any new insights you have learned about the character and nature of the Lord. In the chart below, make a list of some of the qualities you have learned about sheep and shepherds. Use a separate piece of paper if you need more room. Sheep Shepherds What truth has impacted you most about yourself (as a sheep) and the Lord (as your Shepherd)?

2 Part Two for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me. 1. Read Psalm 23:4. What does this verse mean to you, personally? 2. In verses 1-3, David talks about the Shepherd (He makes, He leads, He restores, etc.) but in the last three verses (4-6) he talks directly to Him (You are with me, You prepare, You anoint, etc.) What does that tell you about the relationship between the sheep and the Shepherd in valley times? 3. Do you ever walk through a valley alone? Who always goes with you? Describe a time when you were comforted by God s presence in a dark valley. In the Christian life we often speak of wanting to move onto higher ground with God. How we long to live above the lowlands of life. We want to get beyond the common crowd, to enter a more intimate walk with God. We speak of mountaintop experiences and we envy those who have ascended the heights and entered into this more sublime sort of life. Often we get an erroneous idea about how this takes place. It is as though we imagined we could be air lifted onto higher ground. As with ordinary sheep management, so with God s people, one only gains higher ground by climbing up through the valleys. W. Phillip Keller A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23 2

3 Part Three Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death 4. The valley of the shadow of death is also called the valley of deep darkness. A valley experience can be any time of loneliness that comes into our lives up to and including the time of our death. What valley of deep darkness have you walked through? How has it deepened your relationship with the Lord? 5. Read Job 23:8-9. a. How did Job feel as he walked in the valley? b. Sometimes a sense of God s presence is nonexistent as we walk through our valley of darkness. Why do you think God allows this to happen? 6. Read Job 23:10. a. How did Job s perspective help him in the valley? What two things did he know for sure? b. How does an understanding of the love and character of God comfort us during valley times? Digging Deeper: Life is a walk. At times the road is easy, other times it is hard, but we are never to pitch a tent we are to keep walking. Read the following passages and record your insights: a. 2 Corinthians 5:7 b. Hebrews 11:1 c. John 20:29 d. Job 19:25 7. Remember you are walking the valley of the shadow of death. God doesn t lead you there to leave you there! 3

4 Part Four Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil 8. What creates shadows? Why do you think David used that word? Christ met the substance, we encounter but the shadow. You cannot have a shadow unless there be a bright light shining somewhere. The shadow is temporary, the light eternal; for God is light, and in Him is no darkness at all F. B. Meyer The Shepherd Psalm 9. Read Matthew 4:16. a. What happens to darkness when the Light dawns? b. How has the light of Christ s life dispelled the darkness in your life? 10. No one likes to talk about the subject of death. It is hard to part with those we love without sadness. But for Christians, death is merely a shadow Christ met the substance and conquered it at Calvary. Death is but a gateway to life, a walk through a shadowy valley to the other side. It affects us physically, but it cannot touch our souls. Read 1 Corinthians 15: What does Paul say about death? The basic question is not whether we have many or few valleys. It is not whether those valleys are dark or merely dim with shadows. The question is how do I react to them? How do I go through them? How do I cope with the calamities that come my way? With Christ I face them calmly. With His gracious Spirit to guide me I face them fearlessly. I know of a surety that only through them can I possibly travel on to higher ground with God. In this way not only shall I be blessed but in turn I will become a benediction to others around me who may live in fear. W. Phillip Keller A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23 4

5 Part Five For You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me. 11. What two reasons does David give in this verse, for not fearing evil? Is there ever cause to fear evil? 12. The Bible contains many verses that encourage us not to be afraid. What Scripture(s) have especially ministered to you during anxious times? How did they help you to overcome obstacles and walk in victory? 13. In the darkness, David expresses faith in what he knows to be true You are with me. Our circumstances do not alter God s truth. Even when everything around us seems to scream otherwise God is with us. He never leaves us. He never forsakes us. His eye is always upon us. Read Isaiah 43:1-2 and write your own testimony of faith concerning God s presence in the good times and the bad times. 14. The book of Job is filled with some of the greatest expressions of faith in the Bible. Job 1:21, 2:10, and 19:25-26, are some familiar passages that have encouraged many in difficult times. But Job experienced fear too. He was just like us. Read Job 3: Did Job understand what was happening in the dark valley that the Lord had led him in to? Was he indifferent to its pain? Was he wrong to trust the Lord instead of giving into his fear? Do we ever lose when we put our trust in Him? What do you learn from Job s life about walking through the dark valley s of life? 5

6 15. There are many valleys in life. Valley s of disappoint, pain, loneliness, discomfort, illness, and death. We tend to look for ways of escape from our valleys, instead of looking to the Lord for comfort and strength to walk through them. In what ways have you tried to escape from, or dull the pain of, trials in the past? How has knowing you have a Shepherd you can trust changed the way you deal with difficulties? 16. A rod symbolizes the shepherd s ability to protect the sheep against all enemies. A hooked staff is used to keep his sheep from wandering and to pull them out of places where they shouldn t be. They are both used to prod, correct, and guide the sheep. The fact that the shepherd cares so closely for the welfare of the sheep is a great comfort to the flock. What are some ways your Shepherd has used His rod and staff to bring comfort, correction, and guidance into your life? 17. Read John 16:7-14. The KJV translates Helper as Comforter. What did Jesus tell His disciples that the Comforter (Holy Spirit) would do when He came? 18. Do you know His comfort today? The Christian life is not just one of subscribing to certain doctrines or believing certain facts. Essential as all of this confidence in the Scriptures may be, there is, as well, the actual reality of experiencing and knowing firsthand the feel of His touch the sense of His Spirit upon my spirit. There is for the true child of God that intimate and subtle, yet magnificent experience of sensing the Comforter at his side. This is not imagination it is the genuine, bona-fide reality of everyday life. There is a calm, quiet repose in the knowledge that He is there to direct even in the most minute details of daily living. He can be relied on to assist us in every decision and in this there lies tremendous comfort for the Christian. W. Phillip Keller A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23 6

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