192-Psalm 37 – Ordered
In the interest of full disclosure, I think I should tell you why I put a pause on working my way through the book of Numbers. Why did I choose to focus on Psalm 37 now instead of waiting until I made it all the way through the book of Numbers? Well, quite frankly many of us are quite shaken by what has been transpiring in the world around us. Our sense of security has been replaced by uncertainty. We have front row seats to a most unusual spectacle that feels unique to our time. Many people have committed crimes openly whether it is rioting, looting, election fraud, and in some cases physical harm against persons and or their property without accountability. How could they be guilty of such egregious crimes without repercussion?
In thinking about all of that Psalm 37:1-2 came to mind, which encourages us that even King David experienced some of the same trials.
37:title A Psalm of David.
1 Do not fret because of evildoers,
Nor be envious of the workers of iniquity.
2 For they shall soon be cut down like the grass,
And wither as the green herb.
I starting reading and re-reading the whole chapter. I spent time pondering and meditating on what it says. I began looking up words in the source language. The more time I spent in this Psalm the more I discovered what a deep treasure chest of truth it actually contains.
I think it’s wonderful to follow a reading plan. It’s a great accomplishment to read the whole Bible in a year, for example, but if that’s the only way we encounter the word of God we will most certainly race over essential details. Much of the truth it contains will elude us. If we don’t look up words in a lexicon to discover the possible range of meaning we run the risk of misunderstanding what we read.
That’s why I’m spending so much time in this wonderful work of ancient Hebrew poetry. But you must understand, even if I were to write about this forty verse chapter for a whole year I would miss much of the detail. I really hope you will study it for yourself.
I thank YHWH for educated and godly men who study the Bible thoroughly, then faithfully and expositorily enlighten us from the pulpits week after week. But even if you are, like me, fortunate enough to have such a pastor, it’s not enough. YHWH God wants to have fellowship with you over His word. He wants you to study and meditate for yourself.
Look at verse twenty-three. Seems plain enough, right? Maybe we could just point out that LORD is actually God’s personal name YHWH and move on. Nothing much to discover here.
23 The steps of a good man are ordered by the LORD,
And He delights in his way.
Well, maybe. Why not humor me? It won’t hurt us to spend a few minutes doing our due diligence anyway, right?
Maybe our first observation is the metaphorical nature of this verse. It’s not talking about every physical step I take with my feet is what’s ordered by YHWH. The wording refers to the choices I make, my “way” as it says at the end of the verse.
Next, it should be noted that the word “good” is not in the original Hebrew. Try reading the verse again without using the word “good”. Does the word fit anyway? Yeah, maybe. We certainly would not agree that every man’s way whether they are righteous or wicked would be pleasing to God (“…. and He delights in his way”).
I might note that even though the word “good” does not exist, the word translated man has a possible range of meaning that includes “faithful man”.
What about the word translated “ordered”? What are some of the perspectives we might have on that word? Does ordered by YHWH mean, He placed an order much like we would when we visit the shopping websites? Or does “ordered” refer to ordinal position? You know, like scrabble pieces dumped on a table, then put in alphabetical order? Or maybe ordered means commanded, like a senior officer commanding the troops? Maybe a visit to the lexicon will reveal the truth. A few examples in the possible range of meaning for the word are: prepare, make ready, erect, determine, fix, to confirm, to establish, to maintain.
Look at everything after the comma in the verse, “and He delights in his way”. Tracking down the antecedents for both occurrences for the pronoun “he” we discover that the first one, which is capitalized, is referring to YHWH God. The second “he” is the “good” or faithful man. Can you imagine that God would actually delight in your choices – in the way you conduct your life?
With fear and trembling let me re-render this verse based on the things we’ve learned.
The choices and actions of a faithful man are prepared and established by YHWH God, and furthermore, YHWH delights in that man and his ways!
Just to be clear, I’m not suggesting that we should re-write the Bible as we study through it. Neither am I suggesting that the translators have done a poor job. I’m simply attempting to demonstrate how our understanding of a given verse or passage of scripture might be influenced as we put forth a little study effort.
I love the word of God. Though I certainly fall short, it should be read, studied, meditated upon, obeyed, and communicated to others.
God is worthy of so much more than we could ever give. But shouldn’t we at least give Him our praise, worship, and adoration?
All Scripture quotations from The New King James Version. Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1982. Print.
December 29, 2020 (3:28 pm)
Oops. I assumed he meant “commanded” when I read ordered but after reading the range of meaning from the lexicon it was clear i was wrong and very clear what it actually meant.
Thanks for another very meaningful and helpful article!