“Our steps are made firm by the Lord,
when he delights in our way;
though we stumble, we shall not fall headlong,
for the Lord upholds us by the hand.”
― PSALM 37:23-24 (NRSV)
Years ago a CEO of a large and reputable investment bank lost everything when it was discovered he was involved in organised crime – albeit disconnected with the financial sector. By day he seemed in control, running a conglomerate; by night he swindled, coerced and bullied small time operators by stealth. Eventually his world unravelled and a horrendous fall from grace ensued.
He was a broken man – and, as it would occur, broken beyond fixing. He suicided.
This executive-come-criminal epitomised what we all know is true; if you are dodgy, eventually you get caught out. Wisdom is that clanging warning bell in us that rings when we even consider getting involved in impropriety. Wisdom is when we hear the gentle tinkle of that bell even midway through a dangerous manoeuvre. Wisdom counsels us against taking that slightly attractive risk that has a faint chance of ending badly. Wisdom is that sense for hearing that bell. Wisdom means we will stumble but we won’t ultimately fall, for even in falling there is a response to jump back up.
Those who are favoured by God – those he delights in – are those who commit their way to the Lord (verse 5). He upholds them by his hand. God gives these the ability to discern their way, and a moral conscience that is an asset.
Falling headlong is a metaphor for plunging uncontrollably toward a fatal end; by a spiritual modality. It is both ungainly and unnecessary. Falling toward an abyss makes forlorn the status of the future. That was our CEO – who had everything in the world but the contentment to enjoy everything he had, or even some of what he had. He was bound to eventually and ultimately fall.
But it is different for us who know we cannot get life right without the sponsorship – the hand – of the Lord; to be humble enough to seek guidance on this serendipitous journey of life.
Great is the comfort to know, that, to be upheld by God, we may stumble but we will not fall. He who loves us, who delights in each of his servants, never leaves nor forsakes us. Wisdom is in knowing truth from lies, and living according to the Voice of Warning ushered through our spirits, by the Spirit.
© 2013 S. J. Wickham.