Order My Steps
The title of this song is taken from the KJV of Psalm 119:133a, “Order my steps in Your Word.” The NIV renders it, “Direct my footsteps according to Your Word;” then follows with, “let no sin rule over me.” In this simple verse we have the key to living a godly life: If we align our lives with the Word of God, no sin will rule over us.
This principle was so strong in the hearts of Israel that their kings were supposed to write out a copy of the Scriptures themselves, then read it every day. We can only imagine that if they had actually done this there would have been more righteous kings in Israel and Judah who ordered their steps in His Word.
The Bible has a lot to say about walking. It is a major metaphor for living our daily lives. We each go through life step by step, but how we do so varies from person to person, and even from season to season in the same individual. The Scriptures call us out to walk intentionally—to order our steps—with purpose and direction, but all too often we walk (or perhaps wander is a better word) aimlessly, distracted by the world more than being an influence for God in it.
The Bible, not surprisingly, also has a lot to say about the Word, and there is probably not a better place to see that than in this very psalm, which is not only the longest psalm in the Bible, but mentions the Word of God (as law, statutes, commands, decrees, precepts, etc.) in virtually all of its 176 verses. One could get writer’s cramp listing all of the things this psalm says about the Word of God, so we’re only going to look at some of them and how they relate to ordering our steps.
First, while words like law, statute or command, and the like, can seem rather cold and judicial, one of the major themes of Psalm 119 is how much of a delight they are (vss. 16, 24, 35, 47, 70, 77, 143, 174). While God’s Word is life or death in its seriousness, it is meant to be delighted in, treasured (v. 72), desirable (vss. 20, 40, 131, 174), and even sweet (v. 103) to us! “How sweet are Your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth.” Psalm 1 tells us that the blessed man finds “his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on His law he meditates day and night.” So, it is good for us to question ourselves as to just how much we are delighted by the words of God. If they are precious to us, then we are more likely to spend time in them and want to obey them and order our steps in them.
Another major theme of this psalm is how many times the writer prays that God will reveal Himself and the truth of His Word. The reality is that despite all of the truth that is contained in the Word of God, we will not really understand it apart from the revelation of God through the teaching of His Holy Spirit. What gifts are both the Word and the Spirit in our lives! In the Word God reveals Himself, His will, His truth, and what pleases Him. He reveals His many precious promises, the mystery of the gospel, and gives us His words of comfort and hope. And the Spirit we each received at our spiritual birth indwells us to make all this known to us. How often do we pray for the Lord to open our eyes to see the wonderful things in His law? How often do we ask for spiritual understanding and wisdom to come to us through His Word? We might be more enabled to order our steps in His Word if we were more diligent to ask Him to supply that revelation.
These “are not just idle words for you—they are your life” (Dt. 32:47a). Combined with the Spirit, they enable us to order our steps in ways that are pleasing to the Lord and effective in the world. The Word is vital to us because “it is the power of God that brings salvation” (Rom. 1:16a). Indeed Psalm 119 talks repeatedly about how God’s Word saves and preserves us. That means that it not only brings us to the point of salvation, but preserves us along on our daily walk in this world—saving us pain and preserving us despite pain, keeping us from sinning, preserving our purity and holiness. It gives us the strength and sustenance we need to keep our steps on the path of God’s choosing, and not wander off. Have we understood the saving preserving power of God’s Word?
The Word of God is full of hope in a hopeless world. In the past I’ve mentioned a friend of mine who is in end-stage metastatic cancer. She has maintained her hope by keeping her focus on the Lord and on His Word. It is getting more difficult for her to absorb Scripture as much, now that the pain and the medications to fight it dull her ability to process, but I try to send her a verse or two of encouragement each day. She often says, “I needed to hear that today. I’m keeping my focus on the Lord’s promises. He is always faithful to keep them.” Even (and maybe especially) when our steps are leading through the Valley of the Shadow of Death, having our steps ordered by His Word is essential. They are our one true source of hope and encouragement to which to cling. And we need to build up that war chest of promises and hope in the Word now so we have it to draw on in those dire times. Let’s pray for the Lord to show us how to order our steps in His Word!