Sunday School Lesson: The Lord Is My Shepherd (Psalm 23)
Published: February 13, 2020
Introduce your kids to The Lord Is My Shepherd and take your kids on a journey from fear to faith with this Sunday school lesson from the new Kids’ Travel Guide to the 23rd Psalm. Find more great Sunday school lessons to help kids grow in their faith.
Psalm 23 is one of the most well-known and often-quoted psalms in the Bible. Its message of comfort and reassurance is welcome at any time in life.
Use this lesson to help kids realize that the 23rd Psalm speaks directly to them. Show them that God knows what they face in their lives, and that he’s right there with them—whether they’re tired, facing decisions, or even afraid.
Help your kids see that God, our loving shepherd, loves and watches over us and wants us to be with him forever.
Sunday School Lesson: The Lord Is My Shepherd (Psalm 23)
Departure Prayer (up to 5 minutes)
Items to Pack:
- scrap paper
- pens or pencils
- a beach towel
Set out a supply of scrap paper, and have kids form a circle.
Say: Think about some problems you’re facing right now; then take a few pieces of paper, and on each one write a word that describes a different problem. When you’re done, scrunch each paper into a ball. You’ll need these in a minute.
Choose two kids to hold the ends of the beach towel up in the air so it’s flat.
Say: Our towel-holders will hold the towel in the air like a bridge for us to go under. After each person ducks under the towel, he or she will pause a moment or two, and the rest of us will toss our paper “problems” in the air over the towel. When you toss, just call out a problem, then pick up another paper problem and do the same thing. Keep doing this until everyone has gone under the towel. Remember, we’re tossing up into the air, not throwing at anyone. Okay? Here we go.
Form a line on one side of the towel, and let kids take turns ducking under the towel, pausing, and moving to the other side. As each child goes under the towel, other kids will toss their paper wads into the air, pick up new paper wads from the floor, and continue to throw them into the air and call out problems. During the game, rotate kids to hold the towel so everyone gets a chance to walk under it.
After a few minutes, call time. Ask kids to gather the paper problems and sit in a circle with you. Make sure everyone has at least one.
Debriefing the Activity
- What was it like to be under the towel when the paper problems were flying?
- How is this like the way God loves and cares for us?
Say: Just as the towel gave us protection in our game, God’s love for us gives us protection in real life. Of course, some of you got bonked on the head in our game. And in life, we all face problems sometimes. But even if God allows problems, he’s always, always with us. God loves and watches over us.
Let’s thank God for his wonderful and powerful love. We’ll go around the circle, and each person will place a paper problem in the middle of the circle and thank God for loving us when we face that particular problem. You may want to say something like, “Thank you, God, for loving us when we face problems at school.” I’ll start.
Begin the prayer by placing a paper wad in the circle and thanking God for being with us when we face the problem you name. Then go around the circle and let each child contribute. Close the prayer by thanking God for his love and care for us.
Keep the paper wads for use in the Story Excursion experience.
1st Stop Discovery (10 minutes)
In this experience, kids will discover that God has a plan for their lives, just as he did for David.
Items to Pack:
- white paper
- white or light-colored crayons
- dark crayons
- paper clips
Gather kids and say: Let’s look at Psalm 23 and find out more about how . God loves and watches over us. A man named David wrote the 23rd Psalm. David was an important person in the Bible. He was even a relative of Jesus—he lived many years before Jesus, of course. But David didn’t start out so important. He started out as a simple shepherd boy, and he ended up being king!
None of the good things in David’s life would’ve happened without God’s love and care. It’s the same way with us.
God loves and watches over us throughout our entire lives.
Right now, you’re still young. But God has big plans for your life. The Bible says so. Listen to what the Bible says.
Read aloud Jeremiah 29:11. Now think of a dream or hope you have for your life. While you’re thinking, I’ll pass out supplies.
Give each person a sheet of white paper, a white or light-colored crayon, a dark crayon, and a paper clip.
Say: Use your light-colored crayon to write a word or draw a picture that shows something good you hope for in your life. Maybe someday you’d like to be a great athlete, a person who works with animals, someone who teaches children, or someone who tells others about God’s Word. Or maybe there’s something you’re hoping for right now, like doing better in school!
Give kids time to write or draw. When everyone has finished, say: Now use your dark-colored crayon to color over all of what you just wrote or drew. (You may need to reassure younger kids that their drawings won’t be lost—that they’ll reappear in a cool way.)
As kids color, say: Sometimes we face worries and think God isn’t caring for us. David wrote some psalms that asked God to hurry up and protect him or that asked God not to forget him. But God never forgot David, and he never forgets us. God is always watching out for us.
God loves and watches over us, even when we can’t quite see it.
I’ll show you what I mean.
Show kids how to use the edge of a paper clip to scratch away the dark crayon coloring on their paper. What they wrote or drew with the light-colored crayon will reappear.
Say: Look! Your hope for something good is still there, even when you couldn’t see it.
- How is the dark coloring like our problems or worries?
- What can we do to help us remember that, no matter what’s going on in our lives, God’s still watching over us?
Say: God’s love and care are always with us. Sometimes we get so caught up in our own problems or worries that we don’t see God. But God loves and watches over us in every situation, just as he did for David. Let’s find out more about this guy who wrote the 23rd Psalm.
Story Excursion (20 minutes)
This experience will take kids on a quick tour of David’s life, helping them discover how his words in Psalm 23 apply to their lives.
Items to Pack:
- download instructions for each of the four Travel Stops
- paper wads from the Departure Prayer
- sticky notes
- a basket
- yellow construction paper
- 2 pieces of white poster board
- blue poster paint
Ahead of time, cut apart the instructions for each of the four Travel Stops, and then create these stations in your room. At each Travel Stop, place the appropriate instructions (face down) and a Bible. Kids will need to add their paper wads from the Departure Prayer. You’ll also need to draw a fierce face on one poster board to represent Goliath and paint a blue lake or stream on the other. Set up each Travel Stop as follows:
Travel Stop 1
Close to a wall, place markers and a basket to hold about half the paper wads from the Departure Prayer. On the opposite wall, place something to represent “still water”—such as a large piece of white poster board with a blue lake painted on it.
Travel Stop 2
Place markers and a pad of sticky notes.
Travel Stop 3
In a corner of the room, place markers and the rest of the paper wads. High up on the wall, tape the poster board with the fierce Goliath face drawn on it.
Travel Stop 4
Place yellow construction paper (one sheet per person), markers, scissors, and tape on a flat work surface.
Open your Bible to Psalm 23, and show kids the passage.
Say: David wrote the 23rd Psalm, and a bunch of the other psalms in the Bible, too. I’m not sure when he wrote this psalm, whether he was young or old. But it’s a great example of how
God loves and watches over us, no matter what age we are.
Form four groups, and assign each group to one of the Travel Stops. Tell kids not to turn over the instructions until you say “go.”
Say: At each of these stops, you’ll explore a part of Psalm 23 and a part of David’s life. You’ll have a few minutes at each Travel Stop, and I’ll let you know when it’s time to move to the next stop. Are you ready? Turn over your instructions and begin!
Give kids a few minutes at each Travel Stop. When kids have rotated through all four stops, have them sit in a circle with you.
- Talk about your favorite Travel Stop.
- Tell why you chose to write what you did on your crowns.
- What’s the favorite thing you learned about David?
- How does this help you understand Psalm 23 better?
- What feelings did David express in just this one psalm?
Say: David expressed many feelings in just this one psalm. (Mention the following feelings if kids don’t bring them up: He acknowledged God for all God provides. He talked about how God guided him in making right decisions. He said that even when he was scared, God was with him. And he said that God not only gave him blessings here on earth, God offered him eternal life, too.)
Say: That’s a lot to say in such a short space! There are all sorts of ways to talk to God. We can speak to him, write to him as David did, sing to him, and even dance for him. David did that once, but that’s a whole different part of the Bible.
Home Again Prayer (10 minutes)
Use this experience to reinforce how much God loves kids.
Say: For now, let’s combine a few methods as we pray to God. I’ll say verses of Psalm 23, adding a motion. Then you’ll repeat the words and motions.
Here we go.
Have kids stand in a circle with you. Say Psalm 23 aloud and lead kids in the following motions.
The Lord is my shepherd (point to self);
I have all that I need (stretch arms out wide).
He lets me rest in green meadows (put palms together at one side of face);
He leads me beside peaceful streams (make wavelike motions with hands).
He renews my strength (make muscles).
He guides me along right paths (walk in place),
Bringing honor to his name (point up).
Even when I walk through the darkest valley (cup hands over eyes),
I will not be afraid (hug self),
For you are close beside me (point left and right).
Your rod and your staff protect and comfort me (cross fists in front of you).
You prepare a feast for me in the presence of my enemies (pretend to eat).
You honor me by anointing my head with oil (touch hands to head).
My cup overflows with blessings (cup hands in front of you).
Surely your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me all the days of my life (turn in a circle),
And I will live in the house of the Lord forever (stretch arms up high).
Adapted from Kids’ Travel Guide to the 23rd Psalm (group.com)
Looking for more lessons? Check out these ideas!
© Group Publishing, Inc. All rights reserved. No unauthorized use or duplication permitted.