A Light to My Path

Your word is a lamp to my feet

   and a light to my path.

-Psalm 119:105

Our Bibles are full of poetry, advice, community guidelines, letters, and history. These words have been passed down for millennia, beginning as oral accounts or worship resources, then finally being assembled into the Bibles we know and use about 1700 years ago. Because we trust that God speaks to us through the words of our Bibles, we often call the Bible the “Word of God.” 

Sometimes the words we encounter in the Bible are straightforward and easy to understand across the centuries: “You shall not steal” comes to mind. Often, though, we need context to make sense of a world very different from our own. Knowing more about the people who first spoke and wrote these words helps us to hear what God is speaking to us today.

Take the poetry of Psalm 119:105. God’s word is compared to a lamp, lighting the walker’s path. Here’s the thing about walking in the night three thousand years ago in Palestine (or anywhere, for that matter): it was truly dark. There were no street lights. No warm glow spilled out of open windows. Certainly no one could pull a cellphone out of their pocket to light up the path. If you didn’t bring a light, you didn’t have a light.

Do you carry God’s word with you wherever you go? A lamp in the house is no help on a dark path. It needs to be close by to do any good. That’s another thing about the lamps they used three thousand years ago: they were not floodlights. A lamp offered just enough light to take the next step clearly. God’s word doesn’t illuminate our whole lives from start to end, convenient as that would be. When God’s word is close to us, though, it offers the light we need to take the next step. Then, once that step is taken, the light of God’s word with us illuminates the next step, and the next, and on and on until we reach our journey’s end.

God, let your word always be near me to guide me and give light to each step I take. Amen.