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He Holds My Hand

Psalm 37:23-24

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        David knew about strong adversaries seeking his life.  But David also had a very strong faith in God to lead him every day of his life.  Consider Psalm 37:23-24, which David wrote.

The steps of a man are established by the LORD, and He delights in his way. When he falls, he will not be hurled headlong, because the LORD is the One who holds his hand.

Psalm 37:23-24

In Psalm 37:23,  we learn that the steps of a man are established by the LORD. 1The Hebrew term for “steps of a man” (“מִצְעֲדֵי-גֶבֶר”) has several interesting features.  First, the term “steps of a man” also appears in the same construct form in Proverbs 20:24 (“Man’s steps are ordained by the LORD, How then can man understand his way?”). We see that God establishes the steps of a man, but that only God ultimately understands the path of life for a man.  Second, the Hebrew term for “man” in this construct identified a strong man, as distinguished from a woman or a non-combatant. God emphasized with these words that God establishes the steps of very strong men, who trust in Him. As a soldier prepares for battle, by being on strong, stable ground, so also the LORD established the steps of the warrior-strong man. As a believer, I should rest in the certain knowledge that God has a carefully crafted plan for my life.  God established the steps of my life. 2The Hebrew term “established” (“כּוֹנָנוּ”) occurs in the polal (intensive) stem. This same word helps us understand how the term “established” describes our lives under God’s hand.  In Exodus 15:17, within the Song of Moses, God declared that He would bring His chosen people into the dwelling place of the LORD, a sanctuary established (“כּוֹנָנוּ”) by His hands. In Psalm 11:2, this same word “established” described the arrow placed (“כּוֹנָנוּ”) upon the bowstring. In Ezekiel 28:13, God described the covering with precious stones “prepared” (“כּוֹנָנוּ”) by God for satan, the covering cherub, before he fell in sin. Not only that, God “delights” 3The Hebrew term for “delights” (“יֶחְפָּץ) indicates that God truly loves to control the paths of our lives, so that we will glorify Him. God has prepared good works for us, that we should walk in them (Ephesians 2:10), so that we may walk by faith, not works in my way. The LORD has a very personal and powerful interest in every single step I take, and in every move I make. The God of the Old Testament has an intense interest in every believer, and the God of the entire universe delights in the steps of man following His paths. When we tend to struggle with small faith and troubles, we can always look to these verses for strength and encouragement. The LORD delights in our ways, and establishes our steps. He knows, He cares, and He arranges every step according to His perfect, all-knowing plans for our lives.

       In Psalm 37:24, God revealed that all believers should expect to fall. The original language translated “When he falls” means that even the strong man, in whom the LORD delights, will still fall. 4The Hebrew phrase “When he falls” (“כִּי-יִפֹּל”) describes the certainty of falling, just as 1 John 1:8, 10, in the New Testament express the same theme: even believers still sin. We learn here that God has a wonderful plan for our lives, and establishes the steps we take. But even strong, mature believers still fall into sin. God promises, however, that He would hold on to my hand, so that I would not be hurled headlong. 5The Hebrew term for “shall not be hurled headlong” (“לֹא-יוּטָל”) appears in the same Hophal form in Proverbs 16:33, where the dice are caused to be thrown into the lap. The mental picture there and in Psalm 37:24, brings to mind the idea of dice tumbling and rolling.  So also would be the man thrown down, tumbling and rolling. Instead, the believer never tumbles and rolls as the unbeliever because God holds the believer’s hand. The same root word also described the LORD as He hurled a great wind upon the sea, causing a great storm for the boat carrying Jonah away from Nineveh (Jonah 1:4). Again, the LORD hurled the Egyptians pursing the people of Israel into the depths of sea, “like a stone into raging waters” (Nehemiah 9:11).  These images show that the LORD preserves the believer even when he sins, so that the LORD does not hurl him as wind arousing a storm, or a stone cast into raging waters to be tossed about underwater.  Instead, Jesus tells us that He will hold our hand, and we will never be hurled headlong. What a blessing for all of us! As a teenager, I used to surf in some rough waves.  At times, I would be hurled by the wave underwater, and tossed about. Fortunately, I always came back to the surface in time for a breath. In the same spiritual sense, God will never allow you to be pulled so far underwater that you cannot come up for a breath. In fact, God emphasizes in this verse that when you sin as a believer, God will always hold your hand, so that you will never drown spiritually, no matter how great the waves breaking over you.


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