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Small Group Bible Study - Participant Handout

Psalm 23:4

Overview

Our shepherd protects us with His rod (His word) and comforts us with His staff (His Holy Spirit) as we walk through the valleys of life.

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Ch 7 Even though I walk through the valley

“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.” (Psalm 23:4)

  • David knew from firsthand experience about all the difficulties and dangers as well as the delights of the treks into the high country. Nothing took him by surprise. He was fully prepared to safeguard his flock and tend them with skill under every circumstance. (99)

 

  • We speak of mountaintop experiences and we envy those who have ascended the heights. As with ordinary sheep management so with God's people, one only gains higher ground by climbing up through the valleys. (100)

 

  • There is a second reason why sheep are taken to the mountaintops by way of the valleys. Not only is this the way of the gentlest grades, but also it is the well watered route. (102)

 

  • The simple fact is that just as water can only flow in a ditch or channel or valley- so in the Christians career the life of God can only flow in blessing through the valleys that have been carved and cut into our own lives by excruciating experiences. (104)

 

  • I know of nothing which so stimulates my faith in my Heavenly Father as to look back and reflect on His faithfulness to me in every crisis and every chilling circumstance of life. (107)

 

  • Storms may break about me, predators may attack, the rivers of reverses may threaten to inundate me, but because He is in the situation with me I shall not fear. (107)

 

  • The person with a powerful confidence in Christ, the one who has proved by past experience that God is with him in adversity, the one who walks through life's dark valleys without fear, his head held high, is the one who in turn is a tower of strength and a source of inspiration to his companions. (108)

1. What can we learned in difficult times that can be learned in no other way?

 

2. What should our attitude be in such situations?

 

“God allows us to experience the low points of life in order to teach us lessons that we could learn in no other way.” C.S. Lewis

2 Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. 4 Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. (James 1:2-4)

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Ch 8 Your rod and your staff, they comfort me.

“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.” (Psalm 23:4)

  • The rod was, in fact, an extension of the owner’s right arm. It stood as a symbol of his strength, his power, his authority in any serious situation. The rod was what he relied on to safeguard both himself and his flock in danger. And it was, furthermore, the instrument he used to discipline and correct any wayward sheep that insisted on wandering away. (113)

 

  • The rod speaks therefore of the spoken word of God, of the expressed intent, the extended activity of God's mind and will in dealing with men. It implies the authority of divinity. It carries with it the convicting power and irrefutable impact of “thus saith the LORD. Just as for the sheep of David's day there was comfort and consolation in seeing the rod in the shepherds skillful hands, so in our day there is great assurance in our own hearts as we contemplate the power, veracity and potent authority vested in God's word. For, in fact, the scriptures are His rod. (114)

 

  • The staff is essentially a symbol of the concern and compassion that a shepherd has for its charges. (119)

 

  • Just as the rod of God is emblematic of the word of God, so the staff of God is symbolic of the spirit of God. (120)

 

  • In the Christian life we find the gracious Holy Spirit , the comforter drawing folks together into a warm, personal fellowship with one another. It is also He who draws us to Christ. (121)

3. How can God’s word be used as a rod in tough times?

 

“And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God” (Ephesians 6:17)

Apply

In response to today’s lesson, we can:

  • Remember that it is in life’s valleys that we often closest to God.

  • Know that God’s word protects us and His Holy Spirit comforts us.

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