Jeremiah 10:23

O LORD, I know that the way of man is not in himself: it is not in man that walketh to direct his steps.

O Lord, I know that the way of man is not in himself,.... Kimchi and Ben Melech interpret it of that well known man Nebuchadnezzar, whose way was not in himself, and was not master of his own resolutions, but was under the influence and direction of divine Providence: when he set out of Babylon, he thought to have gone against the Ammonites; but when he came to a place where two ways met; the one leading to the children of Ammon, the other to Jerusalem; God changed his mind, and he steered his course to Jerusalem, to chastise Zedekiah for the breach of his oath: but the words seem to have a more general meaning; and the sense to be, that the prophet knew that it was not with him, nor with any of the godly, to escape the judgments that were coming upon them; that they were entirely in the hands of the Lord, to be guided, directed, and disposed of at his pleasure. The words may be accommodated to spiritual things and the affair of salvation; and be rendered thus, "I know, O Lord, that not for man is his way" {d}; his own way is not good for him; not his sinful way, for this is opposite to God's way, and a going out of it; it is not according to his word; it is after the course of the world; and it is a dark and crooked way, and leads to, and ends in, destruction and death, if grace prevent not: nor the way of his own righteousness; this is no way of access to God, no way of acceptance with him, no way of justification before him, no way of salvation, no way to heaven, and eternal happiness; that which is the good and right way, the only way of salvation, is not of man, in him, or with him naturally; it is not of his devising and contriving, and much less of his effecting; it is not even within his knowledge; and so far as he knows anything of it, he does not approve of it: but it is of God; the scheme of it is of his forming; it is a work wrought out by Christ; it is a way of salvation revealed in the Gospel; and the thing itself is savingly made known, and applied by the Spirit of God; all which is known and owned when men are spiritually enlightened:

it is not in man that walketh to direct his steps; as not in natural and civil things, much less in religious ones; a good man is one that "walks", which supposes life and strength, without which there can be no walking; and a progression, a going on in a way; which ways are Christ, and his ordinances the path of doctrine and of duty; yet it is not even in this good man "to direct" and order "his steps" of himself; it is the Lord that must do it, and does; he can take no step aright without him; he is guided by him and his Spirit, both in the path of truth and of obedience; and hence it is that the saints persevere unto the end; see Psalms 37:23.

{d} wkrd Mdal al yk hwhy ytedy "novi, Jehovah, quod non sit homini via ejus", Schmidt; so Vatablus, Cocceius.