Friday, February 29, 2008

Lamps and Light

“Your Word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path.” (Psalm 119:105 NIV)

If people living today need to get up in the middle of the night, other than the fact of having to get up, is that a problem for us? Usually, it is not. We have “night lights” stationed around the house, energized by electricity. Or, we can just flip on the light switch. But what if you needed to go outside for some reason? Again, you can either flip on the porch light, or you can pick up your flashlight and go out into the dark. It’s not a problem.

Life was no so simple in ancient times. They had none of our modern conveniences. No light switches and no electricity. They did not even have indoor plumbing. Imagine that. If someone needed to go outside during the night, they faced the possibility of stepping on a scorpion, or a snake, or stumbling over a half-buried rock. So, some enterprising Israelite developed an oil-lamp flashlight. The normal hand-held oil lamps could provide a little bit of light, but you had to hold those up high. The only way to get enough light on the path to see what was ahead was to hold the oil lamp down near the ground. So, this Israelite entrepreneur made a very small clay oil lamp, just big enough for a little bit of oil, put a wick in it, and made the lamp with a protrusion on the side with a hole in it. You could then insert leather thongs into the holes and tie the lamp to your ankles. That would put the light more directly on the pathway and light it for one or two steps ahead of you so you could see your way better. This was a lamp for your feet to light your path in front of you.

This ancient flashlight is what the psalmist was referring to when he wrote, “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path.” He was saying that God’s word is like that for us. It provides light to help us see the way. It provides for our protection against that which might harm us. It helps us to get where we need to go.

Today, may the word of God do all of this for each of us as it lights the way.

Lord, We thank You for Your word, and for the way You use it to show us Your way, to keep us on the path that leads us where You want us to go. Amen.

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