Falling but not Failing

Can you imagine David, King of Israel, as an old man? Perhaps he’s sitting with his grandchildren gathered around him, plus his favourite servants, his old soldier-friends, and close family. He’s reciting Psalm 37; maybe singing it. He wants them to know the way to live well. 

Songs are such a valuable way to remember important truths. This week I was repeating verse 23 of that same psalm. I’d learnt it as a song many years ago, and it came back to me exactly when I desperately needed its words of encouragement:

The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord, and he delights in his ways…’.

That sentence gave me strength. In fact the whole verse made me think about many things.

When Eugene Peterson translated Psalm 37:23 into The Message Bible, he didn’t use the words ‘good man’. The single word he chose isn’t in common use these days, but I really like stalwart. Its synonyms are strong: staunch, faithful, committed, devoted, dedicated. Dependable, reliable, loyal, stable, and hard-working. They describe a person whom David admired. And so does God.

In my mind, I see ‘good man’ standing tall. His name is Stalwart. David personalised his examples, not only as Wicked and Stingy, but Righteous, Generous, and Good – or Stalwart. That last one gives us plenty of virtues from which to choose if we want to be good. Which one would you select? I want to be all of them!

The next part of the verse says, ‘… though he fall, he shall not be cast down…’

Now that’s hard when you’re going along at a brisk pace, and before you know it, down you go, with a concrete path coming up to meet your falling body faster than you expected. That was me last week.

As I lay there for a mini-second, I wondered, ‘Is this going to be like it was six years ago when I fell and broke my hip, and couldn’t get up? I knew I had to try this time, so, like a toddler, I scrabbled up onto all fours, and managed to rise. There was no-one in sight, so I put one foot forward, and with lots of praise to God for his promise in the rest of that Bible verse, I proceeded to complete the other half of my daily walk. My ribs were a bit sore, but I was upright. 

Now, do you know what those last inspiring words are? They’re a wonderful reassurance that says: … for the Lord upholds him with his hand. 

Over that last kilometre, I kept going, longing to reach home so I could tend to any injuries. On the way, I wondered if I should see a doctor, but decided I couldn’t possibly have any broken bones because here I was, walking. All the way home!

Then it was time to begin preparing our hot dinner, so I set to and did it. I stayed up all day, but by evening I was feeling shaky. I think God was suggesting a good rest would be in order. He believes in rest, but not on a lonely path way out beyond the electricity pylons! 

That was last Thursday. I’m sporting some bruises, one grazed knee, sore ribs that are healing, and a song I can’t get out of my head. Here’s The Message Bible version:

Stalwart walks in step with God;
    his path blazed by God, he’s happy.
If he stumbles, he’s not down for long;
    God has a grip on his hand.

I’m sure you’d like to read the whole psalm and enjoy God’s hand around yours. 


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