This article is about guidance in the will of God. The author discusses the speaking of God and the Word of God, and prayer and the Word of God. Psalm 119:105 is also examined in this article.

Source: Clarion, 1999. 2 pages.


Thy word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path

Psalm 119:105

“As I was praying, the LORD said to me, ‘Marry the next girl you meet!’ I walked out of my room the next day, and this is the first girl I met!”

Though this kind of talk might not be heard too often in our midst, it will not be altogether strange to our ears. When we encounter others who confess to be Christians, sooner or later we will meet those who claim that the LORD speaks to them directly. It is very well possible that questioning this claim might be met with a comment like, “Are you saying that God can’t speak to us today?” Or, “Are you trying to put the Holy Spirit in a box?”

It is undeniable that there is a strong appeal to the idea that the LORD speaks to us directly, giving answers to very specific questions, telling us what vocation to choose, which person to marry, etc. Further, it is not hard to think of examples in Scripture where people received direct answers. Did the LORD not give Israel the Urim and Thummim, and was it not possible to seek the LORD? We can read how David on a number of occasions did exactly that, and the LORD gave very clear and direct answers.

Though it would be convenient to have such direct access to the LORD, and it would make life a great deal easier for us, we should not be misled. When the LORD spoke directly in response to a question, it had to do with the state of the church (Israel) as a whole. We do not read of David approaching the LORD on personal business. He sought the LORD’s guidance in his capacity as the LORD’s anointed; he needed to know what he should do next. We should keep in mind that God was still unfolding his promises. Revelation was in progress. It was only in matters of national significance, in matters of God’s promises, where there was no revelation, and not in mere private matters, that the LORD was to be consulted.

When we let our mind run through the Bible, then it should strike us that the farther along we are in salvation history, the more we have of the Bible, the less we read of these extraordinary means by which God gives revelation to his people. When it comes to inquiring of the LORD via this means of special revelation, we do not read of it after David’s life. After the exile, there are no Urim and Thummim anymore. This means of revelation was no longer necessary. Even the prophets ceased for nearly 400 years, until John the Baptist appeared. After the fullness of God’s self-revelation in Jesus Christ, and the work of the apostles and prophets in the early church, when the written word of God comes to fullness, there is no further special revelation from God.

Though we confess that there are no further special revelations to guide us, that does not mean that the LORD does not speak to us today. He speaks to us very loudly and clearly in his holy Word, which He has preserved for the Church. It is the written Word, which is there for the foundation, regulation and confirmation of our faith. As the volume of God’s self-revelation increased, that became increasingly clear. Think of the well-known Psalm 119:105,

Thy word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.

That was written when the Bible was much smaller than it is today! Perhaps only the Five Books of Moses and Joshua and Judges existed. In that respect, the first five books of the Bible give us much direction not only in learning about God as Creator but also God as Redeemer and Sanctifier. The books that follow show us how the LORD further unfolded his promise, until it came to fulfillment in the Lord Jesus Christ. When it comes to the New Testament, what is new is how we are shown the fruit of Christ’s work as the gospel went to the nations. Though Scripture clearly teaches that the work of the Lord Jesus has put an end to the many ceremonies and sacrifices of the law, it certainly has not put an end to living in holiness and obedience before the LORD.

We have that same Word to guide us in how we then should live today as God’s children. Think of Paul’s words to Timothy. He refers to the Old Testament part of Scripture when he writes that Timothy had been acquainted from childhood with the sacred Scriptures which were able to instruct him for salvation (2 Timothy 3:15, 16). Since God speaks to us through his written Word, rather than through some whispered word, we will have to do some hard work, studying what the Word says. The answers are not always spelled out for us in our particular situations. Rather, the Word will give us the general principles to guide us in our lives. We find these principles summed up especially in the Ten Words of the Covenant. Those principles will guide us as we reflect on questions like, “Whom should I marry” or, “What kind of career should I pursue.”

This does not, however, eliminate the need for prayer. Actually, we cannot live a day without prayer. But we should pray appropriately. That means, not a prayer for revelation, but for illumination of our mind. Take note of that: illumination. When we ask for illumination, we ask the LORD to enlighten our understanding so that we may receive wisdom to rightly apply his Word to our lives.

Thus, we will not be seeking the sound of an audible voice. Rather, filling our mind prayerfully with his Word, we can rest assured we will be guided in our choice. We will find that God’s Word truly is a lamp to our feet and a light to our path. Often the problem is not that we do not know what the LORD requires of us. The hard part is humbly walking on the path lit up by God’s Word.

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