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Psalm 23: A Shepherd's Psalm

Music and Movement Workshop


Summary of Lesson Activities:

Children will memorize the psalm by learning to sign it to the music of Jeff Majors “Psalm 23.”


Scripture References: 

Psalm 23, “God is My Teacher and Guide – Psalm 23” page 207 Little Kids’ Adventure Bible  


Memory Verse: 

Psalm 23 



God loves us and cares for us like a shepherd cares for his sheep.l  


Lesson Objectives: 

See Background Information


Preparation and Room Set-Up:

  • Review background information, teaching tips and lesson materials.
  • Photocopy the 23rd psalm onto a transparency to display while learning the signs.
  • Make a copy of the signs for the psalm (see resources above).  
  • Review the Music CD.
  • Practice signing the psalm to the music so you are familiar with the order. This version follows the psalm very closely, but there are a few differences.

Supplies List:

  • Transparency with the words to Psalm 23
  • Overhead projector
  • CD player
  • “Psalm 23” by Jeff Majors





Opening- Welcome and Introduction:

Welcome all children and introduce yourself.  Make sure each child is wearing a nametag.  Give the children a simple one or two sentence synopsis of what you will be doing during the workshop.


Opening Prayer

Dear Lord, We thank You for this day and for all the people who guide and protect us.  Teach us as we read Your word and allow it to guide us also.  Amen.


Dig-Main Content and Reflection:


Introduction: K-3


Begin by asking the children a few questions…

  1. Who can tell me what a shepherd is? (A person, who takes care of a lot of sheep, guides or leads the sheep, and keeps them safe.  He has enough food and clean water for the sheep, keeps the sheep from being scared and makes sure they don’t get lost.  Throughout the lives of the sheep, the shepherd walks with them as they travel from one place to the next.  The sheep are never asked to guide themselves or find their ways alone.)
  2. Who was King David? (He was chosen by God to be Israel’s king long before Jesus was sent to be the King)
  3. If David lived long before Jesus, where would we find the stories about him in the Bible? (the Old Testament)
  4. Does anyone know what David did before becoming king? (He was a shepherd.  That meant he understood how to lead and protect those that he was in charge of.  Additionally, during the time he spent with the sheep, he became very close to God.  He had a lot of time to think about life and all the gifts that God had given him.  He learned patience and kindness and was able to see how God worked in his life.)


As David learned more about God, he realized that God is our shepherd.  He is the one who should guide us.  He is the one we should depend on every day of our lives for safety, for answers and for all that we need.


David had such a wonderful relationship with God that he wrote about it. He wrote songs for people to sing.  In the Old Testament, they were called psalms.  David wrote many psalms during his life.  His most famous is probably Psalm 23.


Let’s read the 23rd Psalm and think about being a little lamb with a shepherd as your leader.


Have the children turn to page 207 in the Little Kids’ Adventure Bible.  Hand out the copy of Psalm 23 and let them read along.  Read the psalm a second time while the children close their eyes.  Ask them to visualize every image described in the psalm.


Discussion Questions:

  • What is a psalm?  (a song or poem written to express emotion to God)
  • Who wrote Psalm 23?  (David)
  • Who did David say is his Shepherd in the Psalm?  (God)
  • What did David do before he became King?  (shepherd)
  • Where in the Bible would we find Psalms?  (Old Testament – about in the middle of the Bible)
  • How is God like a shepherd?  (cares for us, love us, gives us what we need, guides us)
  • How are we like sheep?  (we can be stubborn, want our own way, sometimes we wander off)
  • Do sheep always follow their shepherd?  (no, remember the lost sheep we studied this summer!)
  • Do we always follow where God leads? 
  • What are some things that people do that show us that they’re not allowing God to lead them? (Lying, cheating, hurting others, saying mean things)
  • What helps us get closer to God? (Reading the Bible, praying, coming to church)
  • What are some things that worry you or scare you?
  • Is there anything that bugs you?
  • Did you know that if you pray to God to help you and to guide you, he could lead you away from those fears and frustrations. It doesn’t mean that those things will completely go away, it does mean that if you pray and read the Bible, He can lead you to a point where it doesn’t bother you or scare you as much.
  • What do you think David meant when he said that God “restores his soul?” (He fills your heart with a good feeling, and your mind with happy thoughts)

Bible Study (Grades 2-5)

Follow the same introduction, but add a little more information…


Sheep can easily follow another sheep if they don’t have a shepherd.  The sheep cannot determine if the other sheep are leading them into danger or to a place that doesn’t have any food or water.  They must follow a shepherd and trust him if they are to be safe.  Additionally, sheep would happily follow the same paths over and over again even if it meant they ate all their food and/or if it became a dangerous place.  If the sheep follow a shepherd, he will ensure that they change their path if it is not the best one for them.


A shepherd’s rod is used to protect the sheep.  The shepherd would use it to gently guide the sheep, check for parasites on the sheep that would irritate them, and to gently scold them if necessary.


Have the children locate Psalm 23 in their Bibles. Children with Bible ribbon bookmarks can use their blue ribbon to locate the books of poetry.  The book of Psalms is found in about the middle of the Bible. 


Turn on the overhead projector with the transparency of the 23rd Psalm and read it together.


Read and discuss the following Bible notes:

Words to Treasure:  page 655

Life in Bible Times:  what God is Like page 656

          Let’s Live It:  God is My Shepherd page 657


Discussion questions:

  • How is God like a shepherd?  (cares for us, love us, gives us what we need, guides us)
  • How are we like sheep?  (we can be stubborn, want our own way, sometimes we wander off)
  • How does a shepherd help calm the sheep?  (keeps predators away, helps them stay calm, puts ointment on face to keep bugs away)
  • How can God help to calm you when you are scared?  (prayer, reading about Bible people who were scared and God helped, talking with parents or good friends) 
  • How about when you are “bugged” by people or things?
  • What does it mean to “restore my soul?”  (a good feeling in your heart, a sense of safety and comfort)
  • Has your soul ever been troubled? Talk about sheep getting stuck on their backs and how the shepherd “restores” them to health and to the flock.
  • How did the shepherd “prepare a table” for his sheep?  (got the pastures ready – removed the weeds, rocks and dangerous places)
  • What table do we have here at church in our sanctuary?  (Communion table)
  • How does God prepare this table for us?  (Christ had the Last Supper with his disciples, he died for us,
  • What were the rod and staff used for?  (to protect the sheep, to guide them, to pull them close to the shepherd)
  • What brings us closer to God?  (spending time with God, prayer, worship, study)

Signing the 23rd Psalm:



Optional:  “The Lord is my Shepherd” by Verse 2 Verse (this is a lively version of Psalm 23, but doesn’t include the entire psalm.  Once the children know a few of the signs, they can have fun with this one!)



  1. Gather children around the overhead projector so they can see clearly.  Explain that sign language is used for people who cannot hear.  It is a beautiful language and can express emotion through the way the hands and body are used.  Many people know and love the 23rd psalm.  It is full of meaning for many people.  We will learn to sign it and then share it in worship as an anthem. 
  2. Stand in front of them and demonstrate the signs.
  3. Have the children repeat the signs several times. 
  4. Make sure they use the correct hand.  Most signing is done with the right hand dominant.  If necessary, demonstrate the sign and then turn with your back to the children so they can follow your motions easier.
  5. Demonstrate the signs first without the music.
  6. (Children will not be able to learn the entire psalm in one session. We will be practicing this for the next two months for 10 minutes before class begins).
  7. After the children feel confident with several of the signs, play the music and have them sign along with the song.


Reflection and Journal Time:

The last ten minutes should be reserved for journal time.  This is an opportunity for processing and reflection about what the children have learned.  


Journal Questions:


Grades K-1:  Draw a picture of your favorite part of the psalm. 

Grades 2-6:   What is your favorite part of the psalm?  Why?


Memory Verse:  Each rotation we encourage the children to memorize a verse.  Remind the children to try to memorize as much of Psalm 23 as they can during this month’s rotation. We are also learning to sign the psalm and will be doing this in worship on January 9.  If time allows, review this with the children. 


Clean up: Gather all supplies and encourage each child to clean his/her own work area.



Gather the children together before leaving.  Review with them one word or concept that they learned (sheep, shepherd, lead, guide, love).  Ask for prayer requests and pray together.  Dear Lord, We see Your beauty all around us.  We thank You for shepherding us throughout our lives.  We pray that we will always allow You to lead us, protect us, encourage us and change our paths whenever necessary.  Amen.




  • A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23, Phillip Keller, Zondervan Publishing, Grand Rapids, 1970.

Signing Resources: 

  • “Signing Illustrated:  The Complete Learning Guide, Mickey Flodin, Berkley Publishing Group, 1994; Religious Signing:  A Comprehensive Guide for All Faiths, Elaine Costello, Bantam Books, 1986. 

Music Selections: 

  • “Psalm 23” - Jeff Majors, Sacred, Music One, Inc. 1997
  • “The Lord is My Shepherd” Verse 2 Verse, Power Disc #4:  Keys to the Kingdom, Wonder Workshop, Inc., 2003
  • “He Will Carry Me” Mark Schultz, Stories and Songs, Word Records, 2003
  • “Fear Not” Scripture Rock, Brentwood Kids Company, 1997
  • “You Are My Shepherd” Group’s Singable Songs for children’s Ministry, Volume 4, Group Publishing, 1995
  • “Give Your Worries to the Lord”
  • “Gentle Shepherd” The Ultimate Praise Songbook for Kids, Pilot Point Music, 1995
  • “Draw Me Close To You” Michael W. Smith, Worship, Reunion Records, 2001

A lesson written by Jaymie Derden from: State Street UMC

Bristol, VA


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