Psalms 15–17: Integrity & God’s Paths

Read the Bible in 2023 ◊ Week 6: Wednesday

My steps have held fast to Your paths.
My footsteps have not stumbled.
Psalm 17:5 LSB

Today’s Bible reading is Psalms 15–17. These are all psalms of David. As I was reading I noticed the theme of integrity, and I also noticed the word, shaken.

After I’ve prayed and read the Bible, I like to look up any repeated words. I do this not only to learn their meaning, but also to see the other places in the Bible where the word is used. There are many resources to help you with this, and I want to share a couple I like that are free and available online.

I have the Literal Word app on my phone, and I really love it. If I press on an individual word, its meaning pops up under the verse. The Hebrew word translated as shaken is straightforward: to totter, shake, slip. The window also told me this specific word is found in 38 verses in the Old Testament. (There may be other forms of the word found elsewhere, and that would go into another step). When I pressed on that button, the locations of those verses are shown. Scrolling down the verses in the Psalms, I learned the Hebrew word translated as shaken in Psalm 15 and 16, is also in Psalm 17, and there it is translated as slipped. If you’ve studied languages, then you know the translation of a word can vary depending on word usage and context. It’s why it so important to use a reliable Bible translation.

Here are the three verses:

He who does these things will never be shaken.
Psalm 15:5b LSB
I have set Yahweh continually before me;
Because He is at my right hand, I will not be shaken.
Psalm 16:8 LSB
My steps have held fast to Your paths.
My footsteps have not stumbled.
Psalm 17:5 LSB

Psalm 15:5 is at the end of the psalm and is the concluding statement about the person who walks with integrity.

Psalm 16:8 is at the end of a section of the psalm just before the final part, which begins with, Therefore. Therefore looks back to the previous verses, and tells us why in 16:9, David says,

Therefore my heart is glad and my glory rejoices;
My flesh also will dwell securely.
Psalm 16:9 LSB

At Bible Gateway click on the gear icon  to change the settings to include the cross-references and footnotes scattered within the verses. Click on the (AB) at the beginning of 16:8, and one of the cross references that pops up is Peter’s sermon in Acts 2. In Acts 2:24–28, he quotes Psalm 16:8–11. The context tells you he’s quoting it as a Messianic prophecy of Jesus Christ and His Resurrection.

Psalm 17:5 is not at the end of the psalm or a section, however it does serve as a summary statement of David’s lifestyle.

After doing this I can see that the word shaken is used in various ways with various applications. I have to be careful to look at context and check cross-references.

I can remember times when my personal world might have been stressed with hard times and I felt overwhelmed, but the world at large was fairly stable. In the world today there are a lot of things going on that can shake us up, even if there’s stability in our personal world, because we see the immediate impact on others or the consequences that are coming for us unless something changes. However, if we’re going through a uncertain transition or difficulties, it’s a double hit that can make us feel our feet are slipping.

What does God tell us in these Psalms that will keep us from being shaken? What truths do we need to know? What things do we need to do? In Psalms 15 and 17 David speaks of integrity, and that holding fast to God’s paths means he will not slip or be shaken. That doesn’t mean he wouldn’t suffer or know pain, we obviously know that from David’s life, but it means he won’t lose his moorings and panic, but be secure and stable even when things fall apart.

In Psalm 16 David says:

I have set Yahweh continually before me;
Because He is at my right hand, I will not be shaken.
Psalm 16:8 LSB

M’Caw and Motyer write that this verse:

“presents a beautiful picture of the psalmist hidden behind God, who stands between him and his foe, yet also as a friend as his right hand.”1

Motyer further says,

“Yahweh in front is the one I follow, the standard to which I aspire; Yahweh alongside is the strength on which I draw for life’s journey.”2

God Himself will be our shelter in a time of storm. He is the reason we will not be shaken, we will not stumble, we will not slip.

For a brief overview of the structure and poetry of Psalms see my post, The Five Books of Psalms.
Silvesterzug Laterne: Bk muc. (CC BY-SA 4.0).
Footpath: FreeFoto. Site has been deleted.
1Leslie S. M’Caw, J. A. Motyer, “Psalms,” The New Bible Commentary: Revised, D. Guthrie, J. A. Motyer, eds., A. M. Stibbs, D. J. Wiseman, contributing eds., (Inter-Varsity Press, Downers Grove IL: 1970) 460.
2Alec Motyer, Psalms By The Day: A New Devotional Translation (Christian Focus Publications Ltd, Ross-shire, Scotland, U.K. 2016) 40.

I’m using Michael Coley’s Bible reading plan (one page PDF to print) to read through the Bible in 2023. Each day my posts are on different books because he divides Bible readings into seven categories, one for each day of the week: Epistles, The Law, History, Psalms, Poetry, Prophecy and Gospels. There’s more information on his plan and other ones at Read the Bible in 2023.

Copyright ©2011–2023 Iwana Carpenter

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