The steps of a good man are ordered by the LORD: and he delighteth in his way – Psalm 37:23
Meaning of Psalm 37:23
The meaning of the verse, “The steps of a good man are ordered by the LORD: and he delighteth in his way” is that a Christian who follows and obeys God’s instruction is loved by God. The verse does not mean that an obedient Christian will never fail or stumble. Also, the Bible promises that he or she will always be loved by God and have God’s protection. God chooses to be in control of a righteous person’s life, and He also finds great delight in his or her course of life. A righteous person may fail or make mistakes, but God can always restore him. Hence, the verse is an invitation to Christians to obey and love God in every situation.
Interpretations of Psalm 37:23
The verse of Psalm 37:23 is not a frequently quoted verse in Churches. However, the verse is commonly taken out of context. Here are the examples.
Interpretation #1 People are puppets in God’s hand
The first interpretation of the verse, “The steps of a good man are ordered by the LORD: and he delighteth in his way” is that people are puppets in the hands of God. The reader believes that a person does not have free will and is supposed to follow God’s instructions and commands without question. Additionally, the Ten Commandments were provided to Christians so that they cannot live their lives according to their own wish but have to do everything according to God’s rules. Thus making their life sad or hopeless. The reason why people face hardships is that they defy God’s instructions and take things into their own hands. Hence, the reader understands that a Christian’s life has no independence.
Interpretation #2 Only good people are guided by God
The meaning of the verse, “The steps of a good man are ordered by the LORD: and he delighteth in his way” is that God only chooses to guide good people. Here, the reader believes that people who do bad or wicked things have no possibility to be saved, helped, or loved by God. In other words, such believers have no place in heaven. These people are abandoned by God as they fail to follow His commands. Good people are classified as those who follow God’s commands to the dot, help others, are kind, put others before themselves, give Church offerings and participate in charity. These deeds please God, and He, in turn, protects and guides them in their life. Hence, the reader understands that God is extremely perfect and cannot associate Himself with a sinner or anyone who commits bad deeds.
Interpretation #3 God is unreasonably controlling
In this interpretation, the reader believes that God is controlling without reason, meaning, and necessity. This version comes from someone who views Christianity as a religion with many rules and restrictions. Also, the Bible is filled with numerous dos and don’ts for the readers to read and follow. The Holy Book also includes stories of how people faced troubles due to disobedience and non-compliance. The greatest example would be when there was a lot of sin in the world during the time of Noah, and God decided to end the world by sending a flood. This story is present in the Old Testament. Hence, this leads the reader to understand that God controls believers to a huge extent which is unnecessary.
Interpretation #4 God decides our fate according to our actions
The final interpretation of the verse, “The steps of a good man are ordered by the LORD: and he delighteth in his way” is that God has decided every believer’s fate according to their actions. The reader believes that a person’s actions impacts where they will end up in their afterlife. The Bible, especially the New Testament, talks about two consequences after death, i.e., heaven and hell. A Christian who does good deeds, follows God’s commandments, and does not sin will go to heaven as promised in the scriptures. However, a person who repeatedly sins with no remorse and continues to live a sinful life eventually goes to hell. The Bible also states that a person is given second chances when he or she asks for forgiveness with a repentant heart and is hence reconciled with God.
Historical background of Psalm 37:23
The book of Psalms is a collection of hymns and songs largely composed by King David. The Psalms date between the 15th – 13th centuries BC and 400 BC. Most of the psalms have been turned into songs of worship churches sing. The thirty-seventh chapter is David’s hymn on what a child of God should dwell on and the course they should choose in life. The chapter also draws a contrast between the outcomes of the wicked vs. the righteous actions. The twenty-third verse is David’s message for the ones who choose to walk in the path God sets out for them and how it will bring fruition in their lives.
Literary Devices of Psalm 37:23
The verse of Psalm 37:23 is a promise and also a condition and consists of some significant literary devices. Here are some examples.
Theme – The major themes of the verse Psalm 37:23 are blessings, obedience, and goals.
Consonance – The verse has good use of consonant sounds in repetition with immediate succession. For example, the sound of /r/ and the sound of /d/ in ‘The steps of a good man are ordered by the LORD: and he delighteth in his way’.
Assonance – There is also a good use of vowel sounds in verse. Some are in quick successions. For example, the sound of /o/, the sound of /ee/, and the sound of /i/ in ‘ordered by the LORD: and he delighteth in his way’.
Contrast – The verse uses a contract, one of the lesser-used rhetorical devices in the book of Psalms, as it recognizes the difference between God’s way of protecting His people and a person’s actions.