“Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.” [Psalm 119:105]
We’ve all been there … stumbling through the middle-of-the-night darkness. Reaching, grasping, feeling tentatively with our outstretched hands only to bang our shins, stub a toe, step on something sharp and painful, or worse, squishy and unpleasant. As we stumble and bumble our way around the kitchen or to the bathroom we curse the darkness and all its subtle dangers which weren’t there in the daylight.
Have you ever stopped in the inky blackness, toe throbbing or shin aching, and considered that only moments before the darkness was not the least bit of a problem. In fact, most sleepers welcome the darkness. For those laying safely in bed the dark is rarely a fearful or dangerous thing (if you’re over six years old). But when you’ve got somewhere to be or something to do … well that’s when the darkness becomes something very different.
It is an equally interesting thought when applied to the light of God’s Word in this sin-darkened world around us. If we are not going anywhere, not doing anything, we can easily put up with the dark. If you want an acid test, just try listening to your favourite music, watching your favourite TV shows, or movies with that same six-year-old. If the thought makes you hesitate, perhaps you have gotten too comfortable in the dark. No, the dark is not always scary. Indeed, we can often welcome it! But if, in our lives, we’re going somewhere important or doing something worthwhile, well then, light is what we desperately need.
Luther notes in his commentary on this very well-known passage from the Psalms that the Word’s light is not for our eyes and our seeing but for our feet and path. God’s Light – God’s Word – is there for walking in! We read God’s Word so that God’s promises in Christ may have their way in our hearts, and in our lives. Not just so that we would see, or know, but so that believing we would walk and do!
As Luther went on to say, our feet cannot be lit and our paths cannot see. So this verse describes the Word’s work of faith. “It guides the feet and the heart, and faith does not require understanding … Thus faith does not enlighten the understanding, indeed, it blinds it, but rather the heart. Faith leads it where it will be saved, and it does so through the hearing of the Word” (AE 11:485)
What this means in a practical sort of way is that if you find yourself stumbling around in the dark of this world, there is a light that can keep you from hurting yourself. A light to shine into those dark corners and illuminate those sharp edges just waiting to trip you up. A light that shows the dangers of this world for what they are, and brings them down to size. That light is God’s Word. That Light is Christ. And what’s more, just like you don’t have to know exactly how an LED bulb works to appreciate the safe passage your light gives … you don’t always have to understand every “why” behind God’s Word for your life for it to lead you to better things. You just have to follow where He leads.
May the continued daily reading of God’s Bright Word lead you in faith through paths as yet unseen, and dangers as yet unknown … down the path, and through the life that He would have you live in His Word, and as His beloved child.