I lead a retreat called “A Walk with Good Shepherd.” I developed this in 2004 and have used it since then, most recently with a group at the Prince of Peace Abbey. You can use this handout to guide you in a time of Scripture meditation and prayer for a personal retreat or to lead a group on retreat.
Jesus Christ is the Good Shepherd of Psalm 23. And throughout the Bible we see that truly, “The Lord is our Shepherd I shall not want.” So I’ve organized the Shepherd and sheep Bible passages according to the spiritual journey in Psalm 23, relating each Bible verse to David’s beloved Psalm, phrase-by-phrase. (All Bible verses are from the NIV84 unless indicated otherwise.)
“When Jesus arrived, he saw this huge crowd. At the sight of them, his heart broke — like sheep with no shepherd they were. He went right to work teaching them” (Mark 6:34, MSG; see also Matthew 9:36).
WINTER: BLESSING OF RESTING IN GOD
The Lord is my Shepherd I shall not want: Worship
“Because my shepherds did not search for my flock but cared for themselves rather than for my flock… I am against the shepherds and will hold them accountable for my flock. I will remove them from tending the flock… I will rescue my flock: (Ezekiel 34:8b-10a, NIV).
“I came so they can have real and eternal life, more and better life than they ever dreamed of. I am the Good Shepherd. The Good Shepherd puts the sheep before himself, sacrifices himself if necessary” (John 10:10b-11, MSG).
“Jesus is the great Shepherd of the sheep by an everlasting covenant, signed with his blood. To him be glory forever and ever. Amen” (Hebrews 13:20b-21a, NLT).
He makes me to lie down in green pastures: Trust
“I myself will tend my sheep and have them lie down, declares the Sovereign LORD” (Ezekiel 34:15, NIV).
“Know that the LORD is God. It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, the sheep of his pasture” (Psalm 100:3, NIV).
“I am the Gate. Anyone who goes through me will be cared for – will freely go in and out, and find pasture” (John 10:9, MSG).
He leads me beside the still waters: Acceptance
“The LORD their God will rescue his people, just as a shepherd rescues his sheep. They will sparkle in his land like jewels in a crown. How wonderful and beautiful they will be!” (Zechariah 9:16b-17a, NLT).
“You were lost sheep with no idea who you were or where you were going. Now you’re named and kept for good by the Shepherd of your souls” (1 Peter 2:25, MSG).
“For the Lamb at the center of the throne will be their shepherd; he will lead them to springs of living water. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes” (Revelation 7:17, NIV).
SPRING: BEGINNING ANEW
He restores my soul: Confession
“I was sent to the lost sheep” (Matthew 15:24a, NIV)
“I myself will search for my sheep and look after them… I will search for the lost and bring back the strays. I will bind up the injured and strengthen the weak” (Ezekiel 34:11b, 16a NIV).
“Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Does he not leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep’” (Luke 15:4-6, NIV).
He guides me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake: Guidance
“When Jesus arrived, he saw this huge crowd. At the sight of them, his heart broke – like sheep with no shepherd they were. He went right to work teaching them” (Mark 6:34, MSG; see also Matthew 9:36).
“[Jesus] calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice… My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me” (John 10:3b-4, 27, NIV).
“He tends his flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart; he gently leads those that have young” (Isaiah 40:11, NIV).
SUMMER: GROWTH THROUGH STRUGGLE
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for you are with me: Perseverance
“He brought his people out like a flock; he led them like sheep through the desert. He guided them safely, so they were unafraid” (Psalm 78:52-53a, NIV).
“Stay alert. This is hazardous work I’m assigning you. You’re going to be like sheep running through a wolf pack, so don’t call attention to yourselves. Be as cunning as a snake, inoffensive as a dove” (Matthew 10:16, MSG).
Your rod and your staff, they comfort me: Discipline
“And as for you, my dear flock, I’m stepping in and judging between one sheep and another, between rams and goats. Aren’t you satisfied to feed in good pasture without taking over the whole place? Can’t you be satisfied to drink from the clear stream without muddying the water with your feet? Why do the rest of my sheep have to make do with grass that’s trampled down and water that’s been muddied? Therefore, GOD, the Master, says: I myself am stepping in and making things right between the plump sheep and the skinny sheep. Because you forced your way with shoulder and rump and butted at all the weaker animals with your horns till you scattered them all over the hills, I’ll come in and save my dear flock, no longer let them be pushed around. I’ll step in and set things right between one sheep and another. I’ll appoint one shepherd over them all: my servant David. He’ll feed them. He’ll be their shepherd (Ezekiel 34:17-23, MSG).
Your rod and your staff, they comfort me: Accountability
“I will judge you, declares the Sovereign LORD. I will take note of you as you pass under my rod, and I will bring you into the bond of the covenant” (Ezekiel 20:36b-37, NIV).
You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies: Forgiveness
“We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all. He was oppressed and afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth; he was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth” (Isaiah 53:6-7, NIV).
AUTUMN: GIVING TO OTHERS
You anoint my head with oil; my cup runs over: Ministry
“After breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, ‘Simon, son of John, do you love me more than [fishing]? … Feed my lambs… Shepherd my sheep… Feed my sheep’” (John 21:15, 16b, 17b, MSG).
“Be shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care, serving as overseers–not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not greedy for money, but eager to serve” (1 Peter 5:2, NIV).
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: Maturity
“I want everyone back… I’ll get them together in one place – like sheep in a fold… a milling throng of homebound people!” (Micah 2:12b, MSG).
“Then we your people, the sheep of your pasture, will praise you forever; from generation to generation we will recount your praise” (Psalm 79:13, NIV).
And I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever: Oneness
“I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me – just as the Father knows me and I know the Father…” (John 10:14, NIV).
“Frolic like spring lambs… You’re in the Lord’s presence!” (Psalm 114:6b-7a, MSG).
“The wolf will live with the lamb… and a little child will lead them” (Isaiah 11:6, NIV).
More Psalm 23 Resources
You may be interested to check out our other Scripture meditations, prayers, and experiences inspired by Psalm 23.