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Small Group Bible Study - Leader Guide

Psalm 23:3


The LORD longs to right us when we have failed or become discouraged.


David was a shepherd as a child and later came to be known as the “shepherd king.” God put David in charge of His own personal flock: the children of Israel.


Read the entire chapter. What stands out? Comments? Questions?

Warm up

Give an example of a time when you were looking forward to something. (A vacation, a new job, a new house, a new purchase, etc.) When you received this thing did it exceed your expectations or were you disappointed? Why? Life does not always live up to our expectations. We are often disappointed. Even as Christians, life is not perfect: we mess up, we become discouraged, life can quickly overwhelm us (bough of despair, Pilgrim’s Progress) This was David’s experience. He was anointed as king and then feared for his life for years… where was God?


Psalm 23:3


Chapter 5 He restores my soul

“He restores my soul; He leads me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake..” (Psalm 23:3)







Restoration of Soul

  • Surely it would be assumed that anyone in the good Shepherd's care could never become so distressed in soul as to need restoration. But the fact remains that this does happen. Even David, the author of the psalm, who was much loved of God, knew what it was to be cast down and dejected. (69)


  • A cast sheep is a very pathetic sight. Lying on its back, it’s feet in the air, it flays away frantically struggling to stand up, without success. If the owner does not arrive on the scene within a relatively short amount of time the sheep will die. (70)


  • It is not only the Shepherd who keeps a sharp eye for cast sheep, but also predators. (71)


  • Many people have the idea that when a child of God falls, when he is frustrated and helpless in a spiritual dilemma, God becomes disgusted, fed up and even furious with him. This simply is not so. One of the great revelations of the heart of God given to us by Christ is that of Himself as shepherd. He has the same identical sensations of anxiety concern and compassion for cast men and women as I had for cast sheep. (75)


1. What can cause us to become downcast?


2. What should our response be in such situations?

Why, my soul, are you downcast? ​​ Why so disturbed within me?

Put your hope in God, ​​ for I will yet praise him, ​​ my Savior and my God. (Psalm 42:11)


Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless his holy name! Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits, who forgives all your iniquity, who heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit, who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy, who satisfies you with good so that your youth is renewed like the eagle's. (Psalm 103:1-5)


Chapter 6 He guides me in paths of righteousness for His name's sake

“He restores my soul; He leads me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake..” (Psalm 23:3)


  • Sheep are notorious creatures of habit. If left to themselves they will follow the same trails until they become ruts, graze the same hills until they become desert wastes (83)


  • A commonly held but serious misconception about sheep is that they can just “get along anywhere” The truth is quite the reverse. No other class of livestock requires more careful handling, more detailed direction than do sheep. (84)


  • The intelligent shepherd is aware of all this. Not only just for the welfare of his sheep and the health of his land, but also for his own sake and reputation as a rancher, he must take the necessary precautions to safeguard against these adverse animal traits. (85)


  • The greatest single safeguard which a shepherd has in handling his flock is to keep them on the move. (85)


  • It is no mere whim on God's part to call us sheep. Our behavior patterns and life habits are so much like that of sheep it is well nigh embarrassing. (88)


  • First of all, scripture points out that most of us are a stiff necked and stubborn lot. We prefer to follow our own fancies and turn to our own ways. “We all, like sheep, have gone astray. Each of us has turned to his own way. (Is 53:6) and this we do deliberately, repeatedly even to our own disadvantage. There is something almost terrifying about the destructive self-determination of a human being. It is inexorably interlocked with personal pride and self-assertion. We insist we know what is best for us even though the disastrous results may be self-evident. (88)


  • Just as sheep will blindly, habitually, stupidly follow one another along the same little trails until they become ruts that erode into gigantic gullies, so we humans cling to the same habits that we have seen ruin other lives. (88)


  • Most of us possess a formidable amount of factual information on what the master expects of us. Precious few have either the will, intention or determination to act on it or comply with his instructions. (95)


3. We know what God wants us to do and yet we refuse to do it. Why?


4. What can we do to avoid going down the same familiar paths to our peril?

For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. 19 For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. 20 Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it. 24 What a wretched man I am! (Romans 7:18-20, 24)




In response to today’s lesson, we can:

  • Remember that when we fail or are discouraged or depressed, all is not lost, for our Shepherd is willing and able to set us on our feet again.

  • Know that daily obedience to God will safeguard us from following our own selfish desires, which in the end lead to ruin.








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