Who’s Step and Who’s Hand?

The steps of a good man are ordered by the LORD: and he delighteth in his way. Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down: for the LORD upholdeth him with his hand.                                           (Ps. 37:23-24 KJV)

Have you ever noticed, as you are reading the King James Version of the Bible that some of the words are in italics? The biblical translation editors did this to indicate those words were not in the original manuscripts and were added by the translators to clarify meaning. Now, while clarity was the original intent of the translation editors, in some cases, the addition of the italicized words doesn’t clarify, but actually change the meaning of the text completely! I believe such is the case in Psalm 37:23-24.

Note, in Psalm 37:23, the sentence: “The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord.” The word: good is italicized, that means it is not part of the original text. The Hebrew actually translates: “The steps of a man are ordered by the Lord.” Now, this wouldn’t be much of a big deal if it wasn’t for the possibility of an alternate translation of the word “and” in the next phrase. The Hebrew particle conjunction that is translated as “and” in the KJV, can also be translated as; “when.” With these two possible variants, the meaning of the verse is completely different. The translation editors of the English Standard Version recognized this possibility and thus renders the verse: “The steps of a man are established by the LORD, when he delights in his way.”

Now, the last part of the verse is a bit ambiguous in any translation. For instance; Who is “he” and who is “his?” Is the verse saying that because or when the steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord, He; the Lord, delights in his; the good man’s way? Or is the verse saying that because or when the steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord, he; the good man, delights in His; the Lord’s way? Even when the italicized; good is dropped and the “and” is translated as “when,” the verse is no less ambiguous! This is illustrated in how the New International Version (NIV) renders the verse as opposed to how the New Revised Standard Version (NRSV) renders the verse. The NIV says: “The LORD makes firm the steps of the one who delights in him.” The NRSV says: “Our steps are made firm by the LORD, when he delights in our way.” In the NIV; the Lord makes firm the steps of the one (the man) who delights in the Lord’s way. In the NRSV, the Lord makes firm the steps of the man (our) when He (the Lord) delights in (our) the man’s way. Which version is correct? Well, grammatically and theologically; both of them are! The Psalmist states in Psalm 1:1-2, “Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful. But his delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he meditate day and night.” (KJV) In Psalm 18:19, the psalmist said: “He brought me forth also into a large place; he delivered me, because he (the Lord) delighted in me.” (KJV) There are various other places in the biblical text, where man delights in the Lord and the Lord delights in man. By the way, in the two verses of the Psalm I just cited and in the text under consideration, the Hebrew word that is translated as “delight” is the same.

The next verse (Psalm 37:24) says: “Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down: for the LORD upholdeth him with his hand.” (KJV) Note in this verse, the words; “him” and “with” are italicized; meaning they were added by the biblical translation editors and were not in the original text. As the verse stands with the italicized words, the meaning is that the Lord upholds the good man with his (the Lord’s) hand. Without the italicized words, the meaning is; the Lord upholds or holds the man’s hand, as is stated in the New American Standard Bible (NASB): “When he falls, he will not be hurled headlong, Because the LORD is the One who holds his hand.” Once again, this is not a “this-not-that” case, but a “this-and-that” case! Both translations are theologically sound! Surely, the Lord holds us with His hand and I don’t know about you, but I also want the Lord to hold my hand while I run this race!

So, if both are correct and the italicized words don’t make a tremendous amount of difference, what was the point of this post? It was to point out the fact that too often we take for granted what people say the Bible says! We need to learn how to study the word for ourselves! Secondly, to point out the richness of meaning in the biblical text! Although the original authors had “one” meaning in mind when they wrote the text, that meaning is often obscured by language, culture, time, and context. Therefore, reading the Bible should not be just a devotional exercise, nor should it be just an academic exercise; it should be both! We should read the Bible with our minds and with our hearts! But most of all, we should read it, allowing the Spirit of God, through our diligent investigation of the text, to reveal the multifaceted deep thoughts of the mind of God!

Lessons from Buddy!


There is an old familiar saying that says: “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks!”  Well, I really don’t know about that, but I came to realize not long ago that a new dog can teach you some old truths! The adorable pooch your see in the picture is our new dog. His name is Buddy. Buddy likes to run and play: ALL THE TIME!

One day, I was taking Buddy for a walk when he saw a squirrel, broke loose from his leash and took off in hot pursuit. Needless to say, Buddy didn’t catch the squirrel, but he did catch my wrath! After I ran out of breath trying to catch him, I turned around and headed for home. When Buddy finally came out of the woods and came to me, I spanked him and placed him in his carrier. The next morning, when I took Buddy out for his morning walk, I lectured Buddy once again on the error of his ways, in my spirit I heard the Lord saying:  “You can learn some lessons about how I deal with you from Buddy!”

So, here are the lessons I learned from Buddy: First of all, although we allow him to roam freely inside around the house, we put Buddy on a leash when he is outside because he would run away if we allowed him complete freedom. Well, God has a leash (His Law and His Word) on us and although He allows us a certain amount of freedom, if there were absolutely no restrictions, we would run wild! Now even though Buddy doesn’t appreciate it, the leash is really for his good. If Buddy was allowed complete freedom on the outside, he would run away or run into the streets and get hit by a car! The leash that God has on us is for our good, even though we often resist and try to break free from it. The Lord spoke through the Prophet Jeremiah saying: “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.” (Jeremiah 29:11 ESV) Remember those words the next time you feel the Lord is “cramping your style!”

Now although Buddy doesn’t like being on a leash, being on a leash while he is outside is the best thing for him. And while he doesn’t know or appreciate that, I certainly do! Well, there are some things that we can’t and don’t know, but God does! He knows what’s best for us and we need to learn to trust Him and believe that He always has our best interest in mind. Just as my actions and motives are above and beyond Buddy’s understanding, many of God’s actions and motives are above and beyond our scope of comprehension. But we do have an advantage over Buddy! God has given us the revelation of His way and His will through His word in a manner we can understand.

Now, if I could just teach Buddy how to read the Bible, maybe he might understand too! LOL!


The Owner’s Manual

Owners ManualHas this ever happened to you? It’s late Christmas Eve or perhaps early Christmas morning and you are rushing to assemble the toys before the children wake up! As you open a box, you notice a little booklet inside labeled: “Assembly Instructions” or “Directions” or “The Owner’s Manual” or something along those lines. But you really don’t have time to look at it! After all, you’ve assembled some things before and you’re no dummy! At this point, you really can’t afford to waste time reading directions! Well, after a frustrating hour or so, you finally finish; the product is assembled!  Just then, you notice a few spare parts and some extra screws and you think how thoughtful it was for the manufacturer to put in some extra parts! Well, later on in the day, after the Christmas meal, your child staggers into the house, all torn and dirty! “What happened?” You ask! After wiping the tears from their eyes, your child explains that the new toy that you put together fell apart and threw them for a spill! After you pick up the pieces, you try it again, only this time, you read the instructions! It is then that you realize those extra parts and extra screws weren’t really “extra” after all!

Just about every product comes with an owner’s manual or a set of instructions. And it is only when we read the manual and follow the directions that we can be reasonably sure to enjoy the full benefits of the product. And in many cases, it is only after we have carefully operated the product in a manner specified in the owner’s manual, that we can be assured that the manufacturer’s warranty will be valid, should we need to replace the product!

Well, did you know that life comes with an owner’s manual? But for many people, life simply doesn’t work out as well as they would like! For them, life is nothing more than a series of disjointed mishaps and misfortunes! I would like to suggest that perhaps the reason life is not working out for them is because they don’t read “The Owner’s Manual!” Instead of reading the manual, many people pattern their lives after their parents, other people, and the so-called experts who write their own manuals! As a result, their marriages and homes are in shambles and even society as a whole is in a mess! They don’t read the owner’s manual! Their children are rebellious, destructive, and headed for self-destruction! They don’t read the owner’s manual! They are even disconnected from their own selves: They are psychotic and neurotic! They don’t read the owner’s manual!

My friend, if you are among those whose lives are in disarray with pieces scattered across the floor, let me suggest that you stop and take some time to read the owner’s manual! The Manufacturer of Life did not leave its operation to chance! Life comes with a set of instructions! Whatever situation you might be facing, I can guarantee you that there is something in the owner’s manual that will give you some directions!

open bibleRight now, you might be wondering where you can pick up a copy of this manual. Well chances are, you already have one! It’s called, The Bible: “Basic Instructions Before Leaving Earth!” A wise old king once said of the Word of God: “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.” (Psalm 119:105 KJV) Yes! The Word of God is the owner’s manual of life! Pick up your copy today and read it for a more fulfilling and enjoyable life!