Psalm 119:105-112, “105 Your word is a lamp to my feet
and a light to my path.
106 I have sworn an oath and confirmed it,
to keep your righteous rules.
107 I am severely afflicted;
give me life, O Lord, according to your word!
108 Accept my freewill offerings of praise, O Lord,
and teach me your rules.
109 I hold my life in my hand continually,
but I do not forget your law.
110 The wicked have laid a snare for me,
but I do not stray from your precepts.
111 Your testimonies are my heritage forever,
for they are the joy of my heart.
112 I incline my heart to perform your statutes
forever, to the end.”
Books that are filled with knowledge and sound advice might fill our library shelves, but if we cannot understand what they are saying, their wisdom will do us no good. Whether the problem is that the text is written in a language that we do not know or the prose is too complex, all of the understanding found in a book that promises wisdom is useless to us as long as we cannot actually read and comprehend the work.
That is precisely what we do not find in the case of sacred Scripture. Psalm 119:97-104 praises God’s law for its ability to grant wisdom and understanding to those who will read and meditate upon it. Verse 105, in particular, talks about how this biblical truth is a lamp to our feet. We use lights and lamps to illumine the darkness and help us find our way in a dark room, on a road at night, and in similar settings. Scripture functions in the same way when it comes to spiritual and ethical matters. It shows us the way to go, not because leaders and teachers can make it do so but because the capacity of Scripture to give clear direction is inherent in the text itself. Consequently, the teaching that the Bible is a lamp to our feet contradicts any individual or system that would say that God’s Word is too complicated for the ordinary person to figure out. John Calvin comments, “Were their such obscurity in God’s word … the commendation with which the prophet here honors the law would be altogether undeserved. Let us, then, be assured that an unerring light is to be found there, provided we open our eyes to behold it.”
Rightly understanding and applying divine revelation requires a desire to do what Scripture says. Paul makes this point in 2 Thessalonians 2:9-12 when he writes that the Lord will blind those who refuse to love the truth. Psalm 119:12 makes essentially the same point. The wisdom-granting capacity of God’s Word is realized only in those whom God has regenerated and given a desire to love and serve Him. After all, the psalmist’s praise of Scripture’s ability to grant him wisdom cannot be separated from his inclination to do what our Creator has said “forever, to the end” (v. 112).
Such a resolve means determining to do what the Word of God teaches even when it is difficult. The psalmist wrote Psalm 119 when he was under great duress, but he would not buckle under his enemies’ demands. He was determined to remain faithful to the Lord (vv. 106–111). May we all do the same.
By the Spirit’s work in our hearts, we should regularly renew our commitment to remain faithful to our Creator. As we seek to understand the Lord’s ways as they are revealed in His Word, He will grant us comprehension as we determine to do what He says. We will not be perfect in this, of course, but we should see a general determination to do all that the Lord has commanded us to do throughout our lives. May God grant us the grace to do what He commands.