This is lesson 13 of 33 in a series of lessons called “Praise God Through the Psalms.” These lessons are designed to point children to the fullness of God’s character and lead them to see Him as the One who deserves all praise and worship. These lessons work well in Sunday School or mid-week Bible study groups or even family devotion times.
“Praise God Through the Psalms” – Psalm 23
Lesson focus: Through the book of Psalms and the worship of the people of Israel, we get a glimpse into the character of God and how we should rightly respond to Him in worship. In the familiar Psalm 23 we are introduced to God as the Good Shepherd. As we think about what it means that God shepherds His people and look forward to John 10, where Jesus talks about laying down His life for His sheep, we are reminded that we are all sheep who have gone astray and need the faithful guidance of a Good Shepherd.
Passage: Psalm 23
Target Audience: Kindergarten-4th Grade (can be adapted for older or younger children)
Teaching Time: 45 minutes – 1 hour
Materials Needed: Bibles, a set of Bible book cards
Optional Materials: if you want to be able to send the kids home with something each week, you can print the text of the Psalm on one side of a piece of paper and on the back print “I should praise God because He is ____________” (leave the rest of the page blank for drawing.
Early Arriver/ Opening 10 minutes- have a few board games out and play with kids as they arrive. Don’t underestimate the conversations that happen while playing “Jenga” or “Uno” with a group of kids.
Intro. – – Play a quick game of “follow the leader” letting the kids take turns being the leader. After playing, talk about things that the leader might have done that were hard to follow and what you have to do to follow…you need to know who the leader is and you need to watch and listen to them. Ask kids to tell you who some of the leaders are in their lives and how and when they follow them (or why they might not always follow them like they should).
Read the Text. . .Psalm 23 ….
- Have one of the kids in the group read Psalm 19, or have the whole group read it from their handout.
- As you go through the Psalm, have a signal for the kids in the group to make (like a time-out signal- – a T with your hands) every time they hear another truth about who God is and/ what God is like/ or what God has done. Each time you take a time-out, briefly talk about that characteristic of God. As you go through the Psalm focus on these questions/ thoughts… (1) What has God done?, (2) Who does God want to praise Him?, and (3) Why should we praise God?
- Take a few minutes to talk about (or even draw on a large piece of art paper- make a mural together as a group) what this Psalm teaches us about who God is. Talk about what it means that God is our shepherd. Talk about the roles of a shepherd – care for the sheep, protect the sheep, feed (lead to food) the sheep, rescue the sheep from danger, etc.Ask the kids in the group what they know about sheep. Explain that sheep aren’t very intelligent and that they need a shepherd to guide them. Talk about how by calling God our shepherd, that the Psalmist (David) wants us to see ourselves as sheep. Talk about the shepherd like things that David points out and says that God does….go back through the psalm and talk about how God provides everything we need (so we don’t have to be in want), God leads us to where we need to be (green pastures- – so we don’t need to be looking for something better, b/c we can trust that God’s plan is the best plan), etc.
- Cross- Connection– – Ask the kids in the group if they can think of another time in the Bible where God’s people are compared to sheep and who is held up as the Good Shepherd. Either read or be prepared to summarize John 10:1-18. Talk about the additional duties of the shepherd that we see here…the shepherd knows His sheep and calls them out (and the sheep know and follow His voice), the shepherd lays down His life for His sheep, etc. Focus on John 10:11 and talk about how as the Good Shepherd, Jesus laid down His life for His sheep, by dying on the cross so that His people could live.
Worship Time- After discussing the passage, distribute the paper and markers or pages printed with the text for the week. Explain that each week you want them to do three things in response to the Psalm…
- write a verse from the passage that they want to remember
- write a reason to praise God that they see in the Psalm
- draw of something from the passage that they think is important.
Give kids time to work on their pages and then have them share what they have drawn or written with the rest of the group.
Prayer- – Close in prayer by praying for the kids in the group that they would realize that we are all like sheep who have wandered away and would understand that Jesus came to earth to rescue His sheep and bring them to the Father. Also pray for yourself and the kids in the group that just like sheep submit to and follow their shepherd that you would follow Jesus with your whole life.
Extra Time – – If you have any extra time at the end, play the name game again, or play OT/NT– – Have all the kids stand up in the middle of the room. Call out a book of the Bible. If it’s in the Old Testament they have to go to your left side and if it’s New Testament they have to go to your right side. To make it even more challenging, you could call out names that aren’t books of the Bible and have them freeze for those.