“You will light my lamp” Psalm 18:28
When I was a young boy on the farm we did not have electricity. I recall the hurricane lamps we used to go out to the stable at night. Four of them hung on the wash stand in the kitchen. Three were adult sized ones and one was little like me. I used to call that one my special lamp. I loved to push down the lever to raise the chimney and expose the wick so that it could be lit with a wooden match. I felt very important walking behind my uncle or grandmother to the stable at night to milk the cows.
When you consider the modern Mag lights we have with their powerful beams our lamps were a poor second by comparison. But they were much better than stumbling around in the dark. To a little boy the darkness was something to be feared, especially if the little boy had an imagination like my overactive one happened to be.
Hebrew people in Bible times had a particular sensitivity to darkness. To them it was foreboding and intensely undesirable. When a Hebrew person wanted to tell you off they might say something like, “May your lamp go out in darkness.” That would make the one who heard it cringe. They would feel that they had really been told off.
When the biblical writer wanted to describe the state of those who had not believed on the Lord they would say, “They sit in darkness and the shadow of death.” Nothing worse that that could be imagined.
We use the imagery of darkness in our time as well when we talk about being in the dark about something. Or we ask someone to shed a little light on the matter. We mean that we are uninformed about the situation. We are ignorant of the circumstances and need assistance to get the picture. So even today this idea about light and darkness prevails in our speech.
When we are “in the dark” concerning a situation we search for answers to “enlighten” us. It is impossible to live in the dark if we wish to move forward in an acceptable manner. Facts to inform us will help us make intelligent decisions. Moving forward when we cannot see our way can be very dangerous.
The Psalmist talks about pure bliss when it is God who shines the light on his path. God turns his darkness into light. What can be better than that? We can try to make the way clear in front of us but sometimes we make errors of judgment, we do not see all the factors in the matter, or we miss seeing the bend in the road and go off track.
This reality of limited perception argues very forcefully for the need of supernatural revelation if we are to navigate our way through life successfully. A few people have enough gall to think they are totally self sufficient but in our better moments we all recognize we need help from above. Hence we resort to prayer when we panic.
In another place the Psalmist says that God’s Word, the Bible, is a lamp to his feet and a light to his path. So it is. I call the Bible the user’s guide to life. It is the ultimate resource for getting information on how to live the good life. It explains much about the difficulties we face and how to cope with them. Sometimes we learn from the Bible how to navigate our way around problems and sometimes we learn how to integrate the issue into the rest of our life.
Do you use the Bible to show you how to deal with the common problems in life? Do you seek the resource written by those whose thoughts were guided by our Creator? Or do you stumble on relying on your own resources?
Many people who are given a car and its keys can get in and drive off. But when something goes wrong they resort to the owner’s manual in the car to tell them what the flashing red light in the dash means etc. It only makes sense to read the user’s guide to life that God has given us if we really want to get the most out of life and make sense of it all.
Pick up your Bible today and get started reading. Perhaps you could look up the Gospel of John in the table of contents and start there. You will be amazed at how relevant the Bible really is!