Psalm 37:23

King James Version (KJV)

The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord: and he delighteth in his way.

Keep Stepping

The text is one that comes to us from the pen of David. The 37th Psalm is one that theologians refer to as a Psalm of Instruction. David is writing to teach the reader how to live. He is writing to instruct and to impart wisdom.

He tells us to do things like:

v.1 Fret not thyself because of evil doers.

v.3 Trust in the Lord and do good.

v.4 Delight thyself in the Lord

v.5 Commit thy way unto the Lord

v.7 Rest in the Lord

v.8 Cease from anger

v.27 Depart from evil

v.34 Wait on the Lord

The audience that David writes to was struggling with the contrast between the evil doer and the righteous.

It seemed to them that the more wicked a person was, the better life they had.

It seemed to them that the evil doer did better financially and enjoyed life much better than righteous people did.

In a more contemporary way, it seemed that the vulgar language rapper would be rich much quicker than the righteous gospel artist.

It seemed that the easiest job to get and the easiest money to make was selling drugs on the street. After all, the drug dealer did not need a college degree and neither was he required to pass a drug screening exam.

It seemed that there was some illuminati conspiracy in place; some new world order that exalted the wicked and defamed or even destroyed the righteous.

David had to contrast the evil doer and the righteous.

He says of the evil doer------“Fret not thyself because of evil doers. Neither be thou envious against the workers of iniquity. For they shall soon be cut down like the grass and wither as the green herb.”

But the righteous must continue to -----trust in the Lord-----In the midst of evil doers, the righteous must continue to delight in the Lord-------In the midst of evil doers the righteous must commit our ways to the Lord-----Rest in the Lord-----cease from anger-----depart from evil------and wait on the Lord.

As David gives these instructions he anticipates the challenge that would come from the righteous as they respond. They would respond that all of this is easier said than done. Trusting is easy to say but sometimes hard to do. Departing from evil is easy to say but sometimes hard to do. It’s in every humans nature to do evil and to disobey God. Doing that which is wrong is our natural response. We have to train ourselves to do that which is right.

In David’s wisdom, he anticipates the challenge his audience would have with his instructions. So, in the middle of class, in the middle of his instruction……verse 23, he says “The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord. And He delighteth in his way.”

Why does he say this and what does he mean?

(I am often in communication with teenagers and I quickly determine that we speak a very different language. There is a tremendous communication gap between the two. A crib for me is something that babies sleep in. A crib for them is a house. Chips for me are potatoes in a bag marked Lays. Chips for them is money. Boo for me is something you say to startle someone. Boo for them is a girlfriend. A skunk to me is a black rodent with a white stripe down its back. Skunk for them is marijuana. There is a huge communication gap and it often results in misinterpretation. If that gap exists with the few years between me and them, then the gap is even wider when we approach scripture. Writers of antiquity could very easily be saying one thing and we interpret it as another. We have to approach scripture understanding the words of the speaker).

As you all know, I am not always inclined to approach a text based on the traditional understanding. I am not one to read the Bible just for what it says…..I want to see what it means. I read the Bible as if I were a miner searching for precious diamonds. Diamonds don’t sit at the surface of the mine. Some effort and work has to be made to get the diamonds. The student of the bible has to work his way through the semantics (words) and syntax (grammar) and genre (kind of literature) to see what the author is saying. What does he mean?

On the surface, “the steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord” means just that. God tells the good man what to do and where to step. But let’s mine this text for its diamonds.

There are four things I want to extract from this verse:

I. What is God doing?

II. Who is God doing it for?

III. How does God do what He’s doing?

IV. What does God use to do what He’s doing?

I. What is God doing?

He’s ordering steps.

There is something very interesting in this text. David uses the word “steps” twice. In verse 23 he says “the steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord.” Then in verse 31 he says “the law of his God is in his heart, none of his steps shall slide.” In the original Hebrew text, David used two different words. Both are translated in our English bibles as “steps”.

In verse 23, David uses the Hebrew word mitsad. But in verse 31 he uses the word ashuwr. The verse 23 usage, “mitsad” could be better translated and understood as stairs. “Ashuwr” is the word that best refers to walking. When David says that the steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord, he is referring more to steps as stairs than he is as walking. He’s referring to a process, a transition.

When we think of stairs, we think of a strenuous process. We don’t like stairs. We try to avoid stairs. Stairs can be dangerous but they are essential in life. I can’t even get into my house unless I encounter stairs. I can’t go from one level to the next unless I use stairs. Stairs demand focus. Never take a flight of stairs in the dark. It’s the stairs that the Lord has ordered in our lives.

I know you are tired of the process. I know you are tired of climbing. But God ordered these stairs. You wish he had ordered blessings and miracles. But instead He ordered stairs. He could have ordered an elevator and you just got on and pushed a button to get to the next level. But no, He ordered stairs. He plans to take you to a higher place but it’s only accessed by way of stairs.

Stairs are a pathway to destiny. Nothing is accomplished by stopping in the middle of the stairs. Rest if you must. Catch your breath and keep moving. Grab the rails if you have to. They are there for safety and assistance but keep stepping.

There may be times when you get close to destiny and you feel like you can’t go further. Paul said “I press toward the mark.” Keep stepping.

Some people have what looks like elevator ministries and elevator lives. They seem to simply push a button and go to another level. Those of us who have to take the stairs can look at others on their elevators and get jealous or envious. There will be those who say ministry or life should not be so hard. But God has a reason behind the stairs that he has ordered.

That’s what God is doing….He’s ordering steps.

II. Now let’s see who he does it for. The text says “the steps of a good man.”

David says that the mitsad of a good man are ordered by the Lord. “The mitsad of a geber are kuwn by Jehovah”. In you Bible you will notice that “good” is either italicized or in brackets. “Good” is not in the original Hebrew. The Hebrews had no word for “good man” because they did not believe that one existed. Even Jesus later speaks to some Jewish men who called him good and says “why calleth thou me good. There is none good but the Father.”

David actually used the word “geber” and it is a word for “man,” specifically “a strong man…a warrior.” The Hebrews had other words for “man” but David is referring to a certain kind of man. This is a man with tenacity. He’s a man with will power and determination. He’s the one that can be trusted with stairs. The geber man does not break under pressure. The geber man keeps stepping when stepping is not easy. The geber man knows that life is processed one step at a time. The geber man has confidence that every step gets him closer to destiny. He does not turn and go back. Storms do not cancel his plans.

(A few weeks ago I was driving and it started to rain. It was one of those rains where some people pulled to the side of the road and put their flashers on. Rather than stopping on the side of the road, I opted to keep driving. Something inside of me made me feel that if I keep driving, I will drive out of the storm. I kept driving and, sure enough, within a short distance of driving, the rain ceased and the ground was literally dry. I was able to go pass those who were stalled by fear of the storm. Fear has some of us sitting on the side of the road crying. Some of us have parked in the storm. NO!!!! Keep driving. Keep moving. Keep pressing. You have been in these kinds of storms before. Keep driving. You are just a few feet away from dry ground).

We have observed what God is doing. He’s ordering steps. We’ve observed who he does it for. He does it for the geber man.

III. Now let’s see how he does what he’s doing. “The mitsad of the geber are kuwn by Jehovah.” “The steps (mitsad) of a good man (geber) are ordered (kuwn) by the Lord (Jehovah).

“Ordered” here is the Hebrew “kuwn”. It means “to establish…to make firm….to make stable.” He does it by stabilizing the steps, the stairs.

One of the scariest things in the world to do is to walk up some unstable stairs, especially if the stairs extend to a higher level. If a flight of stairs even appears to be loose and wobbly, even the bravest person is likely to say “no”. Can you imagine climbing the Eiffel tower if you thought those stairs were unstable?

The text is saying that Jehovah has stabilized your stairs. The word does not mean that the stairs were stable when the geber got on the stairs. It does not mean that the stairs are already stable. Kuwn means that he causes them to become stable. The geber has the courage to keep stepping even though the stairs are unstable.

I know that the rail looks a little loose but keep stepping. As you are stepping , He will cause the stairs to be stabilized. I know that the next step looks shaky and loose, but keep stepping. The promise of God is that He will stabilize it as you step. The stairs were not stable when you got on them but God will order/stabilize them. The finances look unstable. The relationship is loose. Keep stepping. While you are stepping, He will stabilize it.

That’s what God is doing. That’s who he does it for. That’s how he does it. Lastly,

IV. What does He use to do what he does?

“He delighteth in His ways.” To delight in someone means to favor them. It means to extend favor toward them. If a man has two sons and he delights in one, that means he gives favor to one above the other.

When God delights in a person or a thing it means that he shows it favor. The text is saying that a strong man may have to deal with some unstable conditions, but if we keep going God will stabilize them by extending a greater measure of His favor. He puts favor in our way. Favor produces supernatural increase and promotion. Favor produces restoration of everything that the enemy stole from us. Favor produces honor in the midst of adversity. Favor makes the impossible possible. Favor produces preferential treatment.

Thank God for His favor.

Keep stepping. He uses his favor to stabilize the stairs for the man with tenacity.

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