Westminster Theological Seminary Devotional - 97-07-08 - Steps

Psalm 37:23 "The steps of a man are established by the Lord. And He delights in his way."

There is an interesting theological tradition regarding this verse. It is common for interpreters of this verse to insert the word "Good" before "man". So it becomes the steps of a good man are established by the Lord. The first reference I can find to this tradition is Thomas Scott who did this early in the 17th century. But he is referencing someone named Green who I do not know about. Scott says, "There is no word in the original for good : this circumstance has led Green to adopt the following reading, "The steps of a man are firmly fixed By the Lord, when he delighteth in his way."

At first I took real issue with this interpretation. Based upon the sovereignty of God, I want to say that even those who are not "good" still have their lives established by God. And I still would maintain that. However, this verse does seem to refer to the good man. There is no way that God delights in the way of the wicked and so while the verse does not say that the steps of a good man are established by the Lord, it can be deduced from the text that this is what is in mind here. In fact the verse literally says, "From Yahweh the steps of a man, and He establishes in whose way he delights." Think about that for a bit and you will see how difficult the Hebrew of the Psalms really is. Some thoughts:

  1. This does not make us puppets. Some would accuse this line of reasoning to mean that, "good men, therefore have no free will". There is no reason for this to be. All the theological positioning that goes on between these two true positions, the fact remains that while we may not understand how, the two function together. God is sovereign and yes, He in his wisdom has given us free will, that does not impinge upon His sovereignty in governing the world or those He has forgiven in Christ. Our steps being established by God does not make us puppets.
  2. What a blessing this is. Who would you like to establish your steps? How about your next door neighbor? Your boss? Your best friend? How about someone your don't even know... No Way! What a blessing it is that we have the comfort that our Creator God, the Almighty of the Universe, establishes our way.

"God is the cause of causes." Christopher Ness

Soli Deo Gloria,