We are continuing on a journey to expand on some of the practical applications of God’s word to our life. In a previous post (read it here), I listed eight:
The word gives us direction for life.
The word gives us peace.
THE WORD GIVES US DIRECTION FOR LIFE.
Psalm 119:105 – Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.
This little verse contains so much inspiration, comfort and encouragement! I’m sure it is familiar to you, and if you grew up in church, you probably have it memorized.
We know that the psalmist’s reference to Your word primarily refers to the first five books of Scripture, the Torah. It contained the Law of Moses, and all of the civil and religious laws set out by God for His people to be in covenant with Him. As New Testament believers, we have the privilege of the entire Word of God, all of the writings of the prophets, the history books, and the treasure of doctrine and theology in the New Testament. How blessed we are to have this rich resource to be our lamp and our light!
Let’s consider the two descriptive words lamp and light.
The word lamp is translated from the Hebrew [niyr] and simply means a lamp or a candle. The word is introduced in Exodus 25:37, as God gave the details for the golden lampstand that would light the tabernacle: Then you shall make its lamps seven in number; and they shall mount its lamps so as to shed light on the space in front of it.
The psalmist was a worshipper. He was very familiar with the temple, and I believe that this is the picture of a lamp that came to his mind as he wrote this psalm.
The golden lampstand was not a candelabra as we think of it, with wax candles burning down, and then being replaced, but an oil lamp, continually filled, and continually burning. In fact, God instructed the priests that were never to let the lamp go out. In Exodus 27:20, God tells Moses, You shall charge the sons of Israel, that they bring you clear oil of beaten olives for the light, to make a lamp burn continually.
The Hebrew word used for light is [owr] and means light, or illumination. The lamp gives light.
What did the golden lampstand represent in the tabernacle?
The tabernacle was enclosed by dark, heavy fabric curtains, so the only light the priest would have would have been the golden lampstand. What intimacy God created as He designed this place, where the priest would quietly go about the daily routines. The lampstand would have cast a golden glow over the table of showbread, and the altar of incense. It would have provided the light needed to enter the Holy of Holies on the Day of Atonement, carrying the blood for the people’s sins.
In John 8:12 Jesus said, “I am the Light of the world; he who follows Me will not walk in darkness, but will have the Light of life.”
The lampstand represents Christ, as does every piece of the tabernacle! Jesus shows us the way to God, as we stumble about in the darkness of our sin and humanity. Consider these verses:
2 Samuel 22:29 – For You are my lamp, O LORD; and the LORD illumines my darkness.
Job 29:3 – When His lamp shone over my head, and by His light I walked through darkness.
Psalm 18:28 – For You light my lamp; the LORD my God illumines my darkness.
What a beautiful picture!
Not only is Jesus the lampstand, He is the light that comes from the lamp.
Hebrews 1:3 – And He is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature, and upholds all things by the word of His power.
Psalm 27:1 – The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The LORD is the defense of my life; whom shall I dread?
Proverbs 6:23 – For the commandment is a lamp and the teaching is light; and reproofs for discipline are the way of life.
And I love this one…
Psalm 36:9 – For with You is the fountain of life; in Your light we see light.
It is only in the light of Christ that we understand what light is!
Why is it significant that the lampstand was an oil lamp?
Oil in the Bible was used in lamps, but it was also used for anointing, and for healing. Kings were anointed with oil. Priests were anointed with oil. Scripture uses oil as a picture of the Holy Spirit. Consider these verses.
1 Samuel 16:13 – Then Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed him in the midst of his brothers; and the Spirit of the Lord came mightily upon David from that day forward.
Luke 4:18 – The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because He anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor. He has sent Me to proclaim release to the captives, and recovery of sight to the blind, to set free those who are oppressed, to proclaim the favorable year of the Lord.
Acts 10:38 – You know of Jesus of Nazareth, how God anointed Him with the Holy Spirit and with power, and how He went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with Him.
We know that Jesus is referred to as the Word in scripture (John 1). The written Word of God, and the spoken word of God become light to us, as the Spirit of God enlightens us to understand it. Jesus, as the lamp and the light, and the Spirit as the oil, makes the word alive to us.
John 16:13-15 – But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come. He will glorify Me, for He will take of Mine and will disclose it to you. All things that the Father has are Mine; therefore I said that He takes of Mine and will disclose it to you.
How does the lamp give light to our path?
How does the Word give direction to our life?
The word path in Psalm 119:105 is not just a reference to our singular way of life. It is a path in the truest sense; the Hebrew word [nathiyb] from the root word meaning to tramp. It refers to a beaten track, a pathway. It is where others have gone before us, where the grass is worn down and the way is, if not clear, at least indicated!
Hebrews 12:1-2 – Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
Our path is well-trod. All the saints of ages past have experienced the same things we are experiencing today. Christ, as our lamp, gives light, as His Holy Spirit allows us to understand scripture and the will of God, so that we can follow the same path – this mortal life lived out day by day on our journey towards heaven – just like those saints who have gone before us.
We have great examples to follow, as well as learning what mistakes to avoid. We learn from their victories, as well as their failures.
1 Corinthians 10:11 – Now these things happened to them as an example, and they were written for our instruction, upon whom the ends of the ages have come.
Wouldn’t we be foolish to ignore all the wisdom in Scripture? To ignore the lessons of those who have gone before us? And do we realize that we, too, are treading down the path so that others can follow behind us? So that our children, and our grandchildren, and our great grandchildren, will know how to follow closely after God?
God’s Word gives us direction for life in many ways. He directs our steps as His Spirit speaks truth to us, enlightening the written Word and giving us understanding for life’s decisions, choices and activities. Christ is alive, and indwells us – we have the light of life within us to guide us. And He has written down the history of all those who have walked this well-traveled path we call “human life” before us, so that we learn from their experiences and avoid their mistakes.
Is this practical, or is just nice thought that has no effect on my day to day life?
Well, we get to decide that. We can just say that Jesus is the light of our life, or we can open our Bibles and live our life by the truth. We get to decide if we want to live in the light, or stumble in the darkness.
I pray that you are living in the light today!