This article is about the Word of God as the light in our lives. The author also looks at Psalm 119:105.

Source: The Outlook, 1988. 3 pages.

A Light Upon My Path

Your Word is a lamp to my feet and a light upon my path.

Psalm 119:105

The month of October is often as­sociated with the Reformation that occurred in western Europe in the 17th century.

The Reformation gave to the church basically three important things. First was the truth of the sufficiency of Christ's sacrifice. Closely connected with this was the truth of salvation by faith alone in this Christ — not by works nor by faith and works, but only by faith in the work of the Lord Jesus Christ. And last but not least, the Reformation gave back to the church the precious Word of God, which teaches this sal­vation only by faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.

At the beginning of the Reforma­tion time, some people paid $500.00 for a handwritten copy of the Bible and others might rent one for a few hours at a time. How different from today! Bibles can be purchased al­most anywhere in our countries for a reasonable price, in many different sizes of print. Many of our homes have at least a half dozen Bibles in them. But at the same time there is a great dearth of knowledge of the Word and often very limited use of it! Many people in the 17th century and later became faithful to the Word and the confessions of it, at times in the face of strong opposi­tion. Many suffered persecution be­cause they confessed the truths of the Word. And many even sealed their faith with their own blood.

Throughout the ages, from the beginning of time to the present, the devil has opposed the Word, attack­ed and distorted it and denied its reliability and its authenticity.

The battle of the Bible continues in almost every denomination today. But the true children of the church have always clung tenaciously to the truth of the Bible and the confession of its infallibility and inerrancy.

A real Reformation requires that we properly use the Word. This means good preaching from the pul­pit which members of the church have a right to expect from their pas­tor. It also means that church mem­bers must individually and personally use the Word. In many of our homes when we were young the entire fami­ly ate the three meals of the day together, and at each meal the Word was faithfully read. That was a good custom. But times have changed, and many families with children, especial­ly with teenagers, find it difficult to have even one meal together per day. The result is that the custom of regular family reading of the Word is disappearing. In many families and circles, there has come as a "sub­stitute," personal devotions, in­dividual Bible reading and prayer. This in itself is encouraging and should be strongly recommended. Personally I am of the opinion that every Christian should have his own Bible, beginning with children.

In Bible times people didn't have their own Bibles. Fact is, especially in early Old Testament times, many people could not read or write. Moses was possibly the first Israelite to learn to read and write. That may have been one of the purposes of the Lord in providing that Moses go to school in Egypt. Later he had to write the first five books of the Bible, by Divine inspiration, of course. The masses of the common people for centuries had only oral tradition, the "Word" being handed down from parents to children, orally. Even so, the Scriptures do speak of the at­titude God's people had towards the Word. The author of Psalm 119 may have had in some kind of handwrit­ten form the first books of the Bible. At any rate he says in the Psalm that he has hidden the Word of God in his heart, and here in vs. 105 that the Word is "a light upon his path."

The words of this verse remind me of pictures of miners who work in pitch darkness beneath the surface of the earth. They have lamps at­tached to their caps or helmets. These lamps shine in front of those carrying them, and show where they have to go.

Imagine yourself in total darkness, able to see absolutely nothing. And in a strange place, you would not know where to go. Imagine that along your way there were sharp drop-offs, precipices, hairpin cur­ves, rises and falls and tunnels that led in a wrong direction.

We live in that kind of spiritually dark world. All people do by nature. It is totally dark, so that man does not know the way to light and life. Men may be intellectual giants or geniuses in the exploding world of science. Others may be kings, presi­dents or other political leaders, but none of them can lead us out of the darkness into the light and bring us to God. This, the apostle Paul had in mind when he asked ''Where is the wise man? Where is the scholar? Where is the philosopher of this age?" The implied answer is that no one has the answer.

Only Jesus Christ is the light of the world. Jesus Himself emphasized this many times during His earthly sojourn with us. Already in the O.T. the prophet Isaiah spoke of this when he said that men in darkness have seen a great light (Isaiah 9:2).

Light gives life, even in the natural world. Where there is darkness there usually is no life but death. But where there is light, there is life. God in the beginning created light. And with the spiritual life that light gives, come joy, peace, love and all the other gifts of the Spirit. All this is im­plied when it is said that Jesus Christ, as the Son of God, is the Light of the world.

This light, Jesus Christ, is found in God's Word. Jesus is the heart and center of that Word, from Genesis to Revelation.

Only the Word can be our guide, as we are led in it by the Spirit who inspired it. Not mysticism, not feel­ings or special revelations or ex­periences or psychic powers. Not what I personally think, or what somebody else's opinions may be. God's Word alone is our light upon the path of life. Only that infallible and inerrant Word can be our guide. That's one of the first principles of the Reformation. Someone might ask, isn't prayer also important? Of course it is. But it is not first. Often when mention is made of the need of the guidance of the Lord, or where there is special need of the guidance and presence of the Spirit, people speak only of prayer. And the Word is seldom mentioned. However, we must first listen to God speaking to us in His Word, and then in response, we can go to Him in prayer. It is the Word that first directs us. We are not led in some mystical way without the Word. His Word is "a lamp for our feet and a light upon our pathway."

Through the Word, the Holy Spirit works. The Word has been called the sword of the Spirit (Ephesians 6:17). The Spirit always works through the Word. This cannot be overemphasized. The Word teaches us and directs us in every situation and need. Although the Bible is not like a dictionary or encyclopedia to which we can turn as an index with a cer­tain page for an easy answer, the principles of the Word apply to every situation and need in this dark world. It has been that guide in all of the ages before us; it is the same amid all the scientific knowledge and confusion of today. In our dark world, Jesus Christ is the only Light, as He speaks to us in His Word, ap­plied by His Spirit.

That Word guides us in every situa­tion and decision. It shows us how we should live, what kinds of homes we should have, how we should edu­cate our children, of what kind of church we should be members, what our priorities should be and many more things we need to know for Christian living. It gives us comfort and encouragement in sorrow. God promises in Christ Jesus, that His mercies will never fail.

What the psalmist says is personal. He speaks here about his own at­titude towards the Word, and His use of it. He lived with it as his com­panion. We must not only read the Word regularly, but feel the need of reading it daily, have it with us at all times in our homes, take it with us when we go on vacation, to the hospi­tal, or anywhere else. Many of us have heard older church members or parents recite the Dutch psalms which they learned when they were young. Their souls were fed by that Word, as it comforted and led them in life's evening.

Using the Word as our light makes us familiar with our Bible and its books. We will not be like one elder who desperately tried to find the book of Hezekiah in the Old Testa­ment. We learn to know what is found where, what a particular Psalm teaches and where other truths are found.

If we have the spirit of the psalmist we live with our Bibles. I've heard (not often) of retired people, who having little to do in the winter, would memorize some psalms. How good it is that not only our children, but also older members, memorize the Scriptures. People like the psalm­ist may recall what the pastor preached on last Sunday and some­times discuss it with spouses or friends. As they grow older, the Word with its promises become more precious to them.

An old father, when he died, had nothing to leave for his children in material possessions. But what the children did cherish was his old, al­most worn-out Bible. It was full of markings, underscorings and mar­ginal notes.

What the light on the helmet is for the miner, God's Word must be for us in this dark world. The light of the Word must always show us the way ahead. Then the end is not a dark grave. The Word shines beyond the grave, for Jesus Christ has con­quered death for His people and promises greater glory, and He's coming again.

May we with our children practise what they and we have learned:

I have a wonderful treasure
The gift of God without measure.
And so we travel together,
My Bible and I.

Add new comment

(If you're a human, don't change the following field)
Your first name.
(If you're a human, don't change the following field)
Your first name.

Plain text

  • No HTML tags allowed.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.