The Amazing Psalm 23 Race 

--for 3-8th grade

Objective: The players, the sheep, must use Psalm 23 as clues for finding seven "sheep pens." At each sheep pen there are instructions for the shepherd to read to his or her flock to follow. The first flock to find all the pens in consecutive numerical order (#1-7), arriving at the seventh pen first wins.

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Setting Up The "Sheep Pens"

Psalm 23 Bible game

Designate seven sheep pens for the players to find. To mark the pens use flags or tie ribbons to poles. Place small boxes at each pen. Inside each box place the  Instructions that coincides with the Psalm clue. For the purpose of this game, Psalm 23 is divided into seven parts or "clues." Therefore, you must set up the pens to coincide with the Psalm-clue. For example, with Pen #4 you are to make a stepping stone pathway. This coincides with the Psalm-clue, "He leadeth me in paths of righteousness." The shepherd will read the clue to his or her team (flock) then they will hunt for a Sheep Pen (marked with a flag) that looks like, or coincides with, that part of the Psalm. The pens do not have to be set up near one another. Spread them out around your church property. 

IMPORTANT: The players must find the numbered pens in consecutive order (#1-7). Players will not know the number of the sheep pen until they open the box. If the number coincides with the number they are looking for, they follow the instructions for that pen. If it doesn't, they continue looking for the correctly numbered pen. When the players find the correct number, their Shepherd reads the instructions, and they in turn obey the Shepherd's voice. 

Amazing Psalm 23 Race Each box must contain instructions for each of the Shepherds. So, if you have three teams, you will have three Shepherds, which means you will have three sets of instructions in each box. 

 


Pen # 1- Begin in the classroom with all players. You will need 2" wide tape.
Pen # 2- A large grassy area.
Pen # 3- If there's a water fountain area, mark the pen there or fill a small kiddy pool with water.
Pen # 4- Create a stepping stone pathway or draw one using chalk.
Pen # 5- Set up an obstacle course. The players will use blindfolds (terrycloth elastic headbands work well).
Pen # 6- Cover a table with a tablecloth. Place seats at the table for only one flock at a time to use. Provide crackers, pitchers of water for each flock, olive oil, cups and napkins.
Pen # 7- The last sheep pen is in the sanctuary. You will need a red, face-paint crayon.

Instructions for the Shepherds (The instructions are placed in the boxes, except for #1)

Pen #1 Instructions: (All the sheep begin in the classroom. You do not need a box for the first pen. The Head Shepherd, the teacher, begins the game; after that the shepherds assigned to each flock instruct their own sheep. Instructions for Pens #2-7, are written below in "How To Play." The flock that gets to a pen first will sometimes have the advantage to perform the required task ahead of the other flocks.)

How To Play: Tell the players the object of the game. Divide children into teams (flocks) of 4-6 players each. Assign one shepherd, preferably an adult, to each flock. 

Give each shepherd a list of the following "Psalm 23 Clues" and a pencil to check off the clues when they find the sheep pens:

1) The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. 

2) He maketh me to lie down in green pastures; 

3) He leadeth me beside the still waters. He restoreth my soul; 

4) He leadeth me in paths of righteousness for his name's sake.

5) Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, 
I will fear no evil; for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff, they comfort me.

6) Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies; 
thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.

7) Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life; 
and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.

To begin, say this to the shepherds and sheep: "Today we will play a fun game to help us remember that Jesus is our Good Shepherd. Players, you are the sheep. Your shepherd will help you find seven sheep pens. You must find them in consecutive numerical order, #1-7. To find the pens you must use Psalm 23 for your clues. At each sheep pen is a box containing the Pen # and instructions for the shepherds to read to you. You must begin with Pen #1 and continue in order, completing the instructions given at each pen until you finish at Pen #7. The first team to arrive at Pen #7 wins the game. If you open a box and find that the pen is not the correct number, close the box and hunt for the correct numbered pen before going on to the next one. If it is the correct number, your shepherd will read the instructions for you to listen and obey.

Now I will read Psalm 23. As I read it, listen closely, because you might discover clues to help you find the sheep pens (read Psalm 23 Clues, above). 

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(The following instructions for each shepherd and flock must be printed, cut apart, and placed inside the matching numbered box.)

Pen #1 Instructions
Shepherds, Pen #1 happens to begin here in our classroom. Please read the first clue out loud to your sheep and have your flocks repeat it: 'The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.'" 

Teacher/Head Shepherd continues, "'The Lord is my Shepherd,' this means that God tenderly cares for his children. The second part says, 'I shall not want.' This doesn't mean it's wrong to want something, but that God will provide all that we need. He wants us to come to him with all of our problems and needs. And because he loves us and is faithful to take care of us, we do not need more things to make us happy. To help us remember this, your shepherd will place tape over your mouths so you won't be able to ask him or her for anything (you may opt to have the players place their hands over their mouths instead.) Once you find Pen #2 you may remove the tape (or hands over mouths). Shepherds, you may now place a check mark next to Clue #1 to indicate it is finished. Do this with all the clues as you find the pens. Now you may read Psalm--Clue #2 and race to find Sheep Pen #2." 

Pen #2 Instructions
(Shepherds, have your sheep lie down in the grass.) Read: "He maketh me to lie down in green pastures;' A good shepherd takes his sheep to the best places to graze and eat grass. He finds the best places for them to lie down and rest because he cares for them. In the same way, our Good Shepherd, Jesus, takes care of us by leading us to himself. He provides for us and knows we can find rest and comfort with him. Now lets find sheep pen #3. First we must read our next clue (read Psalm-clue #3)." 

(Shepherds check off #2 from the Psalm-clues, then race to find Sheep Pen #3.)

Pen #3 Instructions
(Have the sheep sit around the fountain or kiddy pool. Allow them to place their hands or feet into the water.) Read, "He leadeth me beside the still waters. He restoreth my soul;' A good shepherd leads his sheep to the best places to drink water. They don't let them drink from muddy waters because that could harm them. In the same way, Jesus, our Good Shepherd, wants us to stay away from anything that can harm us. He wants to protect us. What are some things that can harm you physically?; Spiritually?" (disobeying your parents, teachers; disobeying God's Word. Spend three minutes discussing.)

(Check off #3 from the Psalm-clues. Read the next clue and race to find the next Sheep Pen #4.)

Pen #4 Instructions
Read, "He leadeth me in paths of righteousness for his name's sake.' A good shepherd leads his sheep along safe trails to find water and green pastures. He is very careful to make sure his sheep are not injured as they travel. In the same way, Jesus, our Good Shepherd, wants to lead us in the right way of living. This is what is meant by, 'He leadeth me in paths of righteousness'. In order to learn the right way to live we must read and obey God's Word. Now follow me as I step along our pathway. As we travel, thank God for leading us and loving us."

(Walk along the pathway, then check off #4 from the Psalm-clues. Read the next clue and race to find Sheep Pen #5.)

Pen #5 Instructions
(Only one flock at a time may proceed through the obstacle course at a time. The first flock to arrive has the advantage over the next players. Blindfold your sheep before proceeding.) Read, "'Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff, they comfort me.' The Bible tells us that Jesus' sheep know his voice and his sheep follow him. No one escapes this planet without passing through the Valley of the Shadow of Death. This valley might be a troubled time, an illness, the loss of a loved one, or our own death. Eventually all of us die. When this unknown day comes, known only by God, we need The Good Shepherd to leads us through the Valley of the Shadow of Death. To remember this, you are to follow me by listening to the sound of my voice while we go through our obstacle course." (Shepherd have your sheep crawl on hands and knees and call them through the course by saying and repeating, "Jesus said, 'Follow Me . . . I will never leave you.')"

(Check off #5 from the Psalm-clues, then read the next clue and race to find Sheep Pen #6.) 

Pen #6 Instructions
(The first flock to arrive has the advantage over the other flocks. Have your flock sit at the table. Before serving the players, dip your finger into the oil and place a mark on each of the players' foreheads, then pray and thank God for them and the food. Serve the players two crackers each. Pour water into their cups allowing the water to overflow.) Read, "'Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies; thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.' Say, 'In ancient times oil was applied to the head of an honored guest. This Psalm tells us we are treated like an honored guest by Jesus, our Good Shepherd. But we are more than a guest in Jesus' house. When we believe and follow him, we become his child! Jesus promises to provide all that we need.'" 

(Check off #6 from the Psalm-clues, then read the next clue and race to find Sheep Pen #7.)

Pen #7 Instructions
(The Head Shepherd, the teacher, will lead the instructions for Pen #7. When the first flock arrives draw a cross on one cheek and a heart on the other of each player on that team. Do not begin until the rest of the players have arrived at Pen #7 in the Sanctuary. Have all the flocks sit down.) 

Teacher says, "Welcome and congratulations for completing the "Amazing Psalm 23 Race"! Our last clue says, 'Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life; and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.' Jesus died and rose again so that we can have eternal life with him. It is by God's mercy that we are saved. Do you know what mercy means? Mercy means that we do not get the punishment we deserve for sinning. God withholds his anger against us. Why? Because God's anger was taken out on Jesus. God punished Jesus for our sins! Therefore, because we have been shown mercy, we should show mercy and goodness to others. I want the flock that arrived first to Pen #7 to come forward and face the other players. Why do you think there are crosses and hearts drawn on their faces? The crosses remind us that Jesus died in our place, taking the punishment we deserve for sinning. And the hearts remind us that because God loves us, we should show love, mercy and goodness to others, even when they don't deserve it. (Team returns to their seats.)

Now I'm going to read the Twenty-Third Psalm to you. As I read it, I want you to close your eyes and think about the game you just played and the challenges you faced along the way:

'The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. 

He maketh me to lie down in green pastures; 

He leadeth me beside the still waters. He restoreth my soul; 

He leadeth me in paths of righteousness for his name's sake.

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, 
I will fear no evil; for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff, they comfort me.

Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies; 
thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.

Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life; 
and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.'

Let's Pray: 'Dear Jesus, Thank you for being our Good Shepherd. Help us to follow and obey you all the days of our lives. Amen.'"

(Optional: draw crosses and hearts on all the players' faces before going home.)

Get more Good Shepherd - Psalm 23 activities, crafts and games.

Copyright 2005 Sarah A. Keith - ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

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