The Lord Upholds the Stumbling Saint

The steps of a man are established by the LORD, when he delights in his way; though he fall, he shall not be cast headlong, for the LORD upholds his hand (Psalm 37:23-24 ESV).

I am walking into the world again this morning. There are many afflictions, temptations, and stumbling stones that would keep me from walking after Thee, O Christ. I desire to obediently follow Thee, but how?

I thank Thee for the promise of Psalm 37:23-24 and I do now apply this to my life, and through these words, to others who listen and read. May Your name be glorified and Your people blessed, as we see how the Law of God, here shown in its “third use,” to follow the Law out of love and enjoy the blessings of God, is given in such comfort to our souls.

I read these words and affirm these truths as it relates to how I should follow Thee and what tremendous blessings follow.

1. My daily, ordinary journey in life is governed to my good and God’s glory, when I follow the Lord’s will, His revealed commandments and laws in Christ.

2. My heart should be set on the ways of the Lord, in all of my life, that I may, indeed, enjoy the success of God in my life.

3. My obedience in the Lord will not guarantee my success in the ordinary things of life. I may fall. Thus my obedience is tied to delight in Him whatever the consequence.

4. When I do fall in life, it is not a final fall, but a temporary one. The fall itself is governed by God.

5. When I do fall in life, I am steadied by the covenant name of God, my Lord Jesus Christ, who promises to uphold me. He shall uphold me in life. He shall uphold me, in that last great fall in this earthly journey, the fall of death. He shall bring me into His presence. He shall uphold even my decayed remains and resurrect them as He did His only Son.

6. In all of this, I take note that this Psalm describes the life of my Lord Jesus. His life was established so that even when He was crucified and ascended, His ways continued and were multiplied to the ends of the earth through others. He delighted in His Father through prayer, praise, and even regular enjoinment with the faithful in synagogue worship. I note that He did “fall” even as Genesis 3:15 prophesied that He would. Yet His fall was not one in which He was “cast headlong,” that is ultimately destructive and towards annihilation, but He was wounded for our transgressions and then dead, buried and rose again. He was upheld by the Covenant of His Father that many might enjoy the blessings of the heavenly Covenant and be with His people forever.

7. May I be so satisfied and confident in this Covenant of Grace that as my life is hidden in Christ, the benefits of this passage are activated in my life. Let me therefore remain in Him, using all of the ordinary means of grace that He has given me in the Church:

Word: in preaching, Bible study, family and secret devotions, a life of prayer and meditation, fellowship with others around the Word in the congregation of the faithful called the Church

Sacrament: both in contemplating the words of Institution, the teaching of the spiritual presence of Christ at His table and through His elements, and then feeding upon Him with thanksgiving by faith, that in remembering Him, I am healed over and over again in my life, and reminded of how I am saved: by grace alone, through faith alone, in the blood of Jesus Christ alone

Prayer: that is, that I take full advantage of the invitation of Jesus to come to Him in prayer, expecting His presence and power will be give to me, work through me to fulfill His will in the world and in my life, and that this drawing near may be both in public, private, family and smaller circles of prayer with other believers.

Through these means, then, my steps are established by the covenant God of Israel, the LORD, for I would delight in His way. May I live in the light of this promise that though I fall, and I have before and surely will again, yet it will not be unto desperate unbelief. God shall improve every misstep and cover my sins with the blood of His Son. Through Christ Jesus, communicated to me through Word, Sacrament and Prayer, I shall be safe, now and unto eternity.

In this promise I do go forward this day. I thank you Lord for this glorious revelation of Your grace in Psalm 37:23-24. I do cling to this as I take my first steps of the day, and forevermore. Amen.

About Michael A. Milton, Ph.D.

Michael A. Milton, Ph.D., MPA (University of Wales; University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill), is an American Presbyterian pastor, theologian, and author.
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