“A person’s steps are established by the Lord, and he takes pleasure in his way. Though he falls, he will not be overwhelmed, because the Lord supports him with His hand.” – Psalm 37:23-24
Psalm 37:23 is a difficult one to understand. The Hebrew is just ambiguous enough to mean two different things. It could mean that the Lord “takes pleasure” or delights in the life of the person the Lord “establishes” or makes stable. The emphasis in this case would be on the Lord’s personal involvement in the life of His righteous one. Psalm 37:24 would then illustrate that even if the righteous one falls down it does not mean that the Lord has abandoned him or her. The Lord is still holding your hand like a good dad would.
The second way to take the Hebrew of Psalm 37:24 would be understand that the person who “takes pleasure in the Lord’s way” will find his steps “are established by the Lord.” The emphasis in this case would be on the behavior of the righteous one. If a person delights in obeying God, then they can expect that even if they falter they will be held by the hand of God.
Both renderings could fit in the context, though the second one seems to be more closely related to the messages of encouragement found in the rest of Psalm 37. The first one does fit nicely with the New Testament emphasis on grace as undeserved favor from God. Either way, the encouragement is powerful. If you find that you have fallen, that circumstances are stacked against you or that you risked yet failed or that crisis has sneaked up on you like a predator, do not be discouraged. Find the Lord’s hand even if you cannot see His face and hold on. He will not abandon you. He has not forgotten you. Just a touch from His hand is enough to steady you when you are not able to steady yourself, so find the Lord’s hand!
For the glory of God and the good of others,