Sabbath School Summary
By ELDER DR MASIMBA MAVAZA
The Shepherd’s Crucible
“He restores my soul; He leads me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake” (Psalm 23:3, NKJV).
Sophie leaned back against her bedroom door and slid to the floor. Tears were welling up fast, and it was only a moment before she was sobbing. “How could he? How could he!” Sophie had just received news that was breaking her heart. Someone she thought was a friend, someone she respected and trusted, was spreading awful gossip about her in order to ruin her reputation and the work she had been doing. Grabbing her Bible off the bed, she suddenly found herself staring at some very familiar words: “He restores my soul; He leads me in the 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 You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me” (Ps. 23:3, 4, NKJV).
“Surely this can’t be!” she blurted out to herself. But the logic seemed inescapable. The Shepherd in the psalm was guiding His sheep in paths of righteousness, but these very paths also seemed to wind their way into the valley of the shadow of death. Could it be possible that even this painful betrayal by a friend, this dark valley, could be used by God to train her in righteousness?
SABBATH: God leads His beloved children by His providence & direct all their affairs for the best. Sophie leaned against her bedroom door, slid to the floor, & wept to stupor. Her trusted friend whom she loved broke her heart by spreading awful gossip about her. She got a Bible & stumbled on Ps. 23:3, 4. Even in the valley of the shadow of death, God still leads His own on the right path. God can turn evil into good!
SUNDAY: Undeniably, every child knows God’s love. When asked to paint an image of God, each child drew a picture with a heart to tell God’s amazing love. The cares of life can paint a negative view of God in us as we age. But God, the Good Shepherd, cares for us (Ps. 23). God is forever good & does not change (Heb. 13:8, James 1:17, Isa. 40:11, Jer. 23:3, 4, Ezek. 34:12, John 10:14-16, 1 Pet. 2:25).
MONDAY: God knows His road, the end of the road, & how to lead us on the road. Our paths might be obscured by hurdles, but those who trust in God are led to the right destination—righteousness. He led Israel from Egypt to Canaan (Ps. 23:3). God’s road is the “right path” because it lead us to God’s home, it leads us to God; the right Person, it makes us right people, & it makes us right witnesses of God.
TUESDAY: The right path that the Shepherd walks on took a surreal detour; “the valley of the shadow of death”; a place we’re not eager to visit (Ps. 23:4). But in this dark tunnel, God guides His own into the light of peace & immortality. The text does not say there’d be no evil, but those who walk with God will fear no evil. Have you any fear even though you walk with the Shepherd? The valley refines us!
WEDNESDAY: Every good man has an enemy. Christ had enemies! The joy of the good man is that God prepares a table before him in the presence of his enemies. When we’re tempted to take a revenge, we should commit everything to God. He is the one who can deal with our enemies & who prepares a banquet for us (Ps. 23:5, Matt. 5:44, Rom. 12:18-21) amid seen & unseen enemies (Eph. 6:12).
THURSDAY: A sure fact is that the sheep that live with the Shepherd enjoys God’s goodness & mercy in all days of life. He’s not left alone in the midst of detours & enemies. God is their guardian angel (Ps. 23:6) & supplies their needs. The unfailing love of God will pursue His sheep forever (Eph. 1:4, 2 Pet. 1:10, & Heb. 11:13-15). There is a certainty in God’s love; this notion sustained Christ on the Cross.
FRIDAY: Victors are victims of sore trials in life who’re disciplined, who trust God, & possess the spirit of endurance. They’re trained in the school of Christ to have the grit to face attacks of the enemy (Satan). If we keep looking up & not down, we’ll soon see Jesus reaching His hand to help when we need Him. We only need to give Him our hands in simple confidence. We shall find in Christ peace & hope!
—Ellen G. White, “Missionaries in the Home,” p. 143, in Testimonies for the Church, vol. 4; “The Divine Shepherd,” pp. 476–484, in The Desire of Ages & Messages to Young People, pp. 63, 64.
Shepherd- The Good Shepherd is Christ (God).
Sheep- The faithful children of God.
Canaan- The Promised Land.
“The path of righteousness”- It’s also called the “right path.” God leads the way.
The valley of the shadow of death- a detour on “the path of righteousness” that refines us & makes us stronger in Christ. Thus, we do not walk “IN” in the valley but “THROUGH” the valley.
“Follow” in Psalm 23:6- It is originally translated as “pursue.”
SUNDAY- A Guide for the Journey: The Shepherd
MONDAY- Locations on the Journey
TUESDAY- Unexpected Detour 1: The Valley
WEDNESDAY- Unexpected Detour 2: The Surrounded Table
THURSDAY- A Certain Promise for the Journey
📌 To what extent have you been aware that the “terrible perplexity and trial” that comes into your life may actually be part of your “discipline in the school of Christ”?
📌 How might our help, comfort, and encouragement to those in the valley be part of the Shepherd’s way of getting people through their crises? What things can you as a church do to be better used by the Lord to help those in need?
📌 In class, go around and have each person talk about how goodness and mercy “pursued” them. What can you learn from one another’s experiences?
📌 Think about the last hours of Christ’s life, as He entered into the crucible. From what you can tell, either from the Bible or Ellen G. White (The Desire of Ages is a great source), how was Jesus, in His humanity, able to endure? What can we take from His example for ourselves in whatever crucibles we face, as well?