What does it mean that 'the steps of a good man are ordered by the LORD' (Psalm 37:23)?Psalm 37:23 says, "The steps of a good man are ordered by the LORD, and he delighteth in his way." This is how the King James Version has translated the text and differs slightly from other translations. For example, the NIV renders this verse as "The LORD makes firm the steps of the one who delights in him." The CSB says, "A person’s steps are established by the LORD, and he takes pleasure in his way." The ESV says, "The steps of a man are established by the LORD, when he delights in his way."
While each of these versions uses slightly different wording, they all speak the same message: God will guide and direct the affairs of the one who faithfully follows what He has written in His Word. Ultimately, Psalm 37:23 is a promise that, if we walk according to God’s ways, we can be confident that He will take care of us no matter what happens.
Other verses from the book of Psalms also teach this principle. Psalm 119:105 says, "Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path." Psalm 119:130 says, "The unfolding of your words gives light; it imparts understanding to the simple." God’s Word is a light—it shows us the way and illuminates our path. If we follow His Word, He will order our steps as we walk the path He has for us.
Of course, God is sovereign and directs the affairs of all people in accordance with His perfect will (Romans 8:28; 12:2). But Psalm 37:23 specifically refers to the one who delights in God and has a desire to follow what His Word says. This is why it is important for a Christian to regularly read and study the Bible—to understand and obey the will of God. Second Timothy 3:16–17 says, "All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work." When we submit to God and live according to His ways, we can trust that God will order our steps.
When Psalm 37:23 says that "the steps of a good man are ordered by the LORD," it does not mean that we will never experience hardships in life. The very next verse in Psalm 37 says, "though he fall, he shall not be cast headlong, for the LORD upholds his hand." In fact, the Bible clearly teaches that believers should expect trials and tribulations as God’s people (see Psalm 34:19; 2 Timothy 3:12; James 1:2). What Psalm 37:23 is saying is that, if we follow God’s Word, God will establish our path. We can have a firm confidence that God will take care of our every need because we are walking in the path of wisdom and seeking first the kingdom of God (see Matthew 6:33).
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