Rob Morgan, bestselling author of Then My Soul Sings, explores the rich meaning behind the world’s best-known and most-loved poem—Psalm 23.
The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still waters…
These are the opening lines to one of the most memorized, inspirational, and comforting passages in the Bible—and one of the greatest poems of all time. In six verses, it provides a microcosm of God’s grace. When anxiety robs us of sleep, our most powerful “tranquilizer” is Psalm 23. It’s a soul-soother. It appears in the middle of a trilogy of psalms dealing with our past, our present, and our future needs.
In The Lord is My Shepherd, Morgan teaches Psalm 23 verse-by-verse, explaining its extraordinary power to change lives and ease our troubles. He shares its fascinating context and colorful background, as well as his own charming, real-life stories of herding sheep. You’ll find encouragement to enjoy the “green pastures” of life while becoming strengthened by the “dark valleys.” Furthermore, Morgan maintains that some of the Bible’s richest truths are summarized in these six simple verses of Psalm 23. In knowing the Good Shepherd, we have total resources for all our internal, external, and eternal needs.
Through this clear explanation of the biblical text and great stories that illustrate the love and care of the shepherd, The Lord is My Shepherd will help you rediscover the joy, inspiration, and peace in the green pastures of this beloved psalm.
The Twenty-third Psalm is the greatest poem ever penned in any language. It reigns supreme in circles of highest culture and in the humble homes of the lowly. It sounds all the chords of human experience.
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This reading group guide forThe Lord Is My Shepherd: Practicing the Peace and Power of Psalm 23includes an introduction, discussion questions, and ideas for enhancing your book clubThe suggested questions are intended to help your reading group find new and interesting angles and topics for your discussion. We hope that these ideas will enrich your conversation and increase your enjoyment of the book.
In his book, The Lord Is My Shepherd: Practicing the Peace and Power of Psalm 23, Rob Morgan reflects on the specific ways that this psalm speaks to our lives today. While most people express a deep longing for peace, the distractions and busyness of life often make true peace seem like an illusive goal. Through his years of experience as a shepherd, both with sheep and people, Rob Morgan provides a personal look at this beloved psalm and provides context and commentary on the richness of King David’s timeless words.
Topics & Questions for Discussion
1. What is the first word that comes to your mind when you think of Psalm 23? What has this psalm meant to you in your life? Has there been a specific season of your life when it had special significance? If so, describe.
2. Have you ever owned sheep or known someone who did? Based on your own experience or the reflections of the author, what words would you use to describe sheep? In what ways do you relate to qualities of sheep as a child of God?
3. In the introduction, the author recounts the story of Maurice Pink’s encounter with Psalm 23 as he treaded water in the South China Sea. Pink says: “There are times in your life when things don’t go right and you feel all alone.” (p. 13) Has there been a time in your life when you felt all alone? Was there a scripture passage that you clung to in the midst of that season? If so, how did it influence your state of mind/well-being?
4. What is your favorite section of Psalm 23 and why? When you read the author’s reflections on that section of the psalm, were there any new insights or encouragements you received?
5. On page 47, the author quotes the Living Bible’s paraphrase of the first verse of Psalm 23: “Because the Lord is my Shepherd, I have everything I need.” What is your response to this verse? How does it encourage or challenge you?
6. What is your first instinct when you face seemingly overwhelming need, either in your own life or in the world around you? On pp. 63-65, the author relays two stories in which needs were miraculously provided. What is your response to these stories? Has reading this book impacted how you respond to the needs in your life?
7. One of the observations the author makes about sheep is that they don’t run very much and that they prefer a tranquil life. Do you prefer busyness or tranquility? What is it like for you to spend time alone with God or to be still? When you read the verse, “He makes me lie down in green pastures, He leads me beside still waters,” what do you find yourself wanting?
8. In chapter 5, the author describes God’s restoration of our souls from sin, stress and sorrow. Which one of these weighs most heavily on you right now? How did the reflections of this chapter speak to your specific burden?
9. On pp. 103-111, the author describes seven principles for being led by the Good Shepherd in decision-making. Which of these comes most easily to you when you are facing a decision? With which do you struggle most?
10. On pp. 120-121, the author highlights the word “shadow” in the verse, “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death…” How does highlighting this word impact your reading of this verse?
11. Have you ever had an enemy? On p. 137, the author quotes Edith Pouquette, a veteran shepherdess from Arizona as saying: “When sheep are oppressed, they become silent as death.” When you are oppressed, how do you respond? How does the image of God preparing a table before you in the presence of your enemies impact you? 1
2. On p. 152, the author recounts advice he gave a young man entering the ministry: “Always remember that ministry is overflow.” How does this statement impact you as you think about your life? What is flowing out of your life with God to pour out into your relationships and the work before you each day? Are there changes you want to make to enhance the flow of His Spirit’s life into your soul?
13. In the verse, “Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life,” the author explains that the word “follow” is usually translated “pursued,” “chased,” or “hunted.” How does the idea of being pursued by God’s goodness and mercy compare to the image you have of God’s posture toward you?
14. What story or reflection from the book stands out in your mind the most? How did it expand or transform your understanding of Psalm 23?
Enhance Your Book Club
1. If geography allows, visit a farm or ranch where sheep are tended. If not, check out a book or video from your library about sheep. Make a list of qualities you observe about sheep that are relevant to your life as a child of God. Discuss at your next book club.
2. Write a paraphrase of Psalm 23, personalizing it to reflect the unique ways God has cared for and tended you. Discuss what this experience was like at your next book club.
3. Research the possibilities for directed silent retreats in your area (monasteries, retreat centers, etc.) and schedule a weekend retreat. If a weekend retreat isn’t an option, consider taking a weekend day of solitude at an area park or lake. Take only a journal and a copy of Psalm 23 with you for the time. Immerse yourself in the psalm and invite God to speak to your specific life needs and circumstances as you open up the space to fully be with Him.
Rob J. Morgan is the pastor of The Donelson Fellowship in Nashville, Tennessee, where he has served for thirty-three years. He has authored more than twenty books, including The Lord Is My Shepherd, The Red Sea Rules, and Then Sings My Soul. He conducts Bible conferences, family retreats, and leadership seminars across the country. He and his wife, Katrina, live in Nashville. His website is RobertJMorgan.com.
“I rarely read the introduction to a book, much less a prologue. But when asked to review Rob’s latest book, I wanted to be responsible and read every page, so I dutifully began with the prologue and introduction. By the time I finished, I was quite surprised by how much of a deeper understanding I had gained about a very familiar Psalm. And that paled in comparison to what I received from the rest of the book! Not only do I know Psalm 23 better, but I better know the Lord as my shepherd.”
– Dr. Bill Jones, President, Columbia International University
“In this medicinal book, Rob Morgan offers an alternative to anti-anxiety medications. Even if your life is not stressful, The Lord Is My Shepherd brings soothing peace.”
– Benjamin S. Carson, Sr., M.D., author of Gifted Hands
“Robert Morgan has chronicled an insightful and inspirational journey through the 23rd Psalm. His personal accounts, meaningful illustrations, and biblical references provide a unique and enriching approach to this well-known Psalm. The work gives a fresh, heartfelt interpretation of the text and truths of Psalm 23. He has skillfully shown how Psalm 23 can be applied to our everyday lives. Robert Morgan has given the Christian community a great treasure which I will use often.”
– James Flanagan, President of Luther Rice University and Seminary
“Through his powerful and evocative weaving of words, Rob has gifted the global church with a treasure. His insight into this most popular passage is compelling, clear and concise. His personal stories appropriately give a robust understanding of the most loved and quoted psalm. This book invites you back to your heart’s true home . . . where you will be welcomed, embraced, comforted, and celebrated by the Good Shepherd. Not only will I read and give copies of this book away, I will recommend it to my Ethiopian friends and mission colleagues around the world.”
– Bill Harding IV, missionary to Ethiopia
“The Lord Is My Shepherd by Robert Morgan is a phenomenal book and will be a great comfort to people who are walking through valleys. This in-depth look at Psalm 23 sheds new light on the familiar passage. Having raised several sheep, Morgan has plenty of insight. Every phrase is an illustration from the life of the shepherd and the life of the sheep. It is an extremely encouraging read!”
– Reese Kauffman, president, Child Evangelism Fellowship, Inc.
“Rob uses Psalm 22, 23, and 24 to show a triad picture of how the Great Shepherd of the sheep wants to take care of our past, present, and future needs. Rob’s insight into Psalm 23 is spot on, because of his relationship with the Sovereign Shepherd and his experience both shepherding and sheepherding. His personal stories will have you gripping your heart, weeping, rejoicing and ultimately ruminating upon Psalm 23.”
– U.S. Army Chaplain (CPT) W Lee Frye, 442nd Battalion Chaplain, Fort Gordon, GA
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