The Source of Light
Dr. Joe Temple

Introduction

Open your Bibles to Psalm 119, for that is the portion of the Word of God we are studying together at this particular hour. May we remind you that in our study of Psalm 119, we have found individual paragraphs presented under individual letters of the Hebrew alphabet because in the original text, each sentence begins with that particular letter and also because the letter in question oftentimes refers to the subject of the paragraph which it heads.

We have found that Psalm 119 is particularly the Psalm of the Word of God because it is dedicated to a declaration of the effectiveness of the Word of God in the believer's life. We have noticed that each individual paragraph represents some practical application of the Word in the life of the believer.

We now come to the paragraph which is presented to us under the Hebrew letter NUN and begins with verse 105:

Psalm 119:

105 Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.
106 I have sworn, and I will perform it, that I will keep thy righteous judgments.
107 I am afflicted very much: quicken me, O LORD, according unto thy word.
108 Accept, I beseech thee, the freewill offerings of my mouth, O LORD, and teach me thy judgments.
109 My soul is continually in my hand: yet do I not forget thy law.
110 The wicked have laid a snare for me: yet I erred not from thy precepts.
111 Thy testimonies have I taken as an heritage for ever: for they are the rejoicing of my heart.
112 I have inclined mine heart to perform thy statutes alway, even unto the end.

Source of Light on Pilgrim's Pathway

As we begin to think about this paragraph, may I remind you that we have noticed a similarity of subject matter in the paragraph. For example, back in the paragraph which began with verse 33 and continued on through verse 40, we found that the Word of God was the basis of all guidance in the believer's life. As we look at the paragraph which we have just read, we find the subject treated again—the Word of God, the basis of guidance in the believer's life. But in the paragraph which began with verse 33, we found it was a declaration of the need on the part of the Psalmist for guidance in relation to the path that he traveled because in verse 35, he said:

Psalm 119:

35 Make me to go in the path of thy commandments; for therein do I delight.

When we come to the paragraph under consideration, we find him not asking for guidance, but declaring that the request of the previous paragraph had developed into a reality to such an extent that he could say, “Thy Word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.” So we are able to think together today of the Word of God as the source of light on the pilgrim's pathway.

I would suggest that we consider the paragraph by first noticing in detail the pronouncement which is given in verse 105. Look at it again as we read:

Psalm 119:

105 Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.

An Unchartered Path

When we notice the word path in this pronouncement, we are reminded again of the pilgrim character of the believer's life, a characteristic which we often forget. We are on a pilgrimage. In verse 54, the Psalmist said, “Thy statutes have been my songs in the house of my pilgrimage.” You will remember the Apostle Peter, recognizing the possibility of our forgetting the character of our earthly sojourn, said in I Peter, chapter 2, verse 11:

I Peter 2:

11 Dearly beloved, I beseech you as strangers and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul;

“Don't ever forget that you are a pilgrim,” he said, “and as you are traveling through this world, then it is possible for contamination to set in.” But we are interested in the fact that as pilgrims, we are traveling along a path. It would be wise for us to remember as the patriarch Abraham realized that the path we travel is an unchartered path. You will remember in Genesis, chapter 12, the story of how Abraham was called to be a pilgrim and the Holy Sprit's comment on that experience in Hebrews, chapter 11, to which I suggest you turn. There are two passages of Scripture at which we wish to look. We read in Hebrews, chapter 11, verse 8:

Hebrews 11:

8 By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed; and he went out, not knowing whither he went.

This was Abraham's approach to the promise that God gave. He went out not knowing whether he went, and I would like to suggest to you, as the Holy Spirit suggests down in verse 13 of this same chapter, that every one of us who have based our faith and trust in the Lord Jesus Christ might travel the same pathway, for in Hebrews, chapter 11, verse 13, we read:

Hebrews 11:

13 These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth.

Notice the last part of that statement: “…they confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth.” Such confession is needed by every follower of our Lord Jesus Christ.

To suggest that we are strangers and pilgrims as the same ilk of Abraham, traveling along a path that we do not know, is not to suggest that the path is an unchartered one, for God has a purpose in relation to every life and He has chartered paths for us as individuals as we shall see before long. Because it is unknown to us, it is an unlighted path; and since it is an unlighted path, we need illumination for it. That is the reason the Psalmist could say, “Thy Word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path.”

Twofold Illumination for our Journey

Recognize the words lamp and light , as I point out to you that the Word of God provides a twofold illumination for our pilgrim journey in the sense that the Word of God is a lamp unto our feet and, secondarily, in the sense that it is a light unto our pathway. There is as much difference between these two words as there is between a candle and a searchlight or a flashlight. You have traveled along a path in the darkness, and you know what happens if you spend all of the energy of your flashlight on the distant part of the path. You could step into a hole immediately at your feet. If you have only one source of light, better it is to shine it on the ground at your feet so that each step that you take will be a well charted step and no errors will be made.

Thank God the illumination of which we speak is not limited to one immediate area. It lights up the next step and, in that sense, it is a lamp; but it also illuminates the path ahead of us so that the farther we go, the brighter the path. The wise man, Solomon, recognized this and expressed it in much better terms than I possibly could, so will you turn in your Bibles to the book of Proverbs and notice chapter 6, where we have the wise man's comment on this very fact of which we speak. Notice verse 23:

Proverbs 6:

23 For the commandment is a lamp; and the law is light; and reproofs of instruction are the way of life:

He recognized the same thing that the Psalmist did—the Word of God is a lamp and a light. The commandment is a lamp. The word commandment here refers to individual commands in the Word of God which are needed for a specific instance, but the law here refers to the complete Word of God, so that he speaks of individual reproof providing the light that we need for the immediate situation, and the whole Word of God lighting up the entire pathway.

Turn back to Proverbs, chapter 4, and notice in verse 18 how when we travel in the pilgrim path, walking in the light that we have, this light becomes an increasing guide. We read:

Proverbs 4:

18 But the path of the just is as the shining light, that shineth more and more unto the perfect day.

“The path of the just,” he said, “is characterized by a shining light that continues more and more as you approach the end of the path.” Herein is a principle. God has promised that He will give to every one of us the light that is needed but only if we walk in the light that we have. The reason why some folk are still stumbling about, even though they have been on the pilgrim journey a long time, is they are not walking in the light they have, so increasing light is never presented. The way to have increasing light is to walk according to God's order in obedience to His command.

Description of the Psalmist's Path

That leads me to suggest that we notice another thing about this paragraph. The pronouncement of the Psalmist that he was a pilgrim, walking along a certain path, is followed by a description of his particular path. Notice what I am saying—a description of his particular path. Though the Bible does speak of a well chartered path for all believers in a general fashion, by using terms such as “the path of the just,” “the way of the righteous,” “the broad way,” “the narrow way,” and etc., within that narrow way, within the way of the just, within the way of righteous are innumerable individual lanes so that though all who are born again are on the path of the just, they each as individuals have their own paths which they should follow.

Therefore, it is a very serious thing for us to sit in judgment on other people on the basis of our own experience. God has a path for you to follow and your individual path may lead you on the mountaintop in the bright sunshine all the time; and if that be true, then a person who is led through the valley has no right to criticize you and say, “Why doesn't something bad ever happen to him? It looks as if it always happens to me.” Your path may be on the mountaintop while another path may be through the valley. Likewise, the individual whose path is over the mountain should not sit in judgment on the individual whose path is through the valley by saying, “What is wrong with him anyway? He is always in trouble. Nothing ever seems to go right. Why is God treating him like He is?” All that we should be concerned about is knowing the path in which we should walk and walking in that path in accordance with the commands of God.

The Path of Physical Suffering

The Psalmist, because this Psalm is his personal testimony, describes his path. Perhaps it will be similar to your path today. Notice the first thing that he says about it in verse 107, as he points out to us that his path led him into the valley of physical suffering because in verse 107, he said:

Psalm 119:

107 I am afflicted very much: quicken me, O LORD, according unto thy word.

“I am afflicted,” he said, “and not occasionally, but very much. I have had a great deal of physical suffering in my lifetime.” Some of you may be able to say, “That is the way my path has led. It has led through the valley of physical suffering.” Others of you may say, “My path hasn't led that way. I have been in good health for a long time.” Thank God, but thank God for the valley of physical suffering, too, because if it is the path that God has marked out for you, there is a purpose in it. Notice verse 109, as he presents the second characteristic of the path which he traveled, and he tells us that his path led him in dangerous places of peril because in verse 109, he said:

Psalm 119:

109 My soul is continually in my hand: yet do I not forget thy law.

The word soul here could be translated “life,” and refers to physical life, so what the Psalmist is saying is. “My life is continually in my hand.”

Path of Peril and Persecution

Once again we have a comparison between the Scripture and colloquialism. How often have we used the colloquialism, “I took my life in my hand.”? How often have we said, “My life is in my hands when I do this.”? What we mean by that is danger . Whatever it is, it is dangerous. We are taking our lives in our hands, for that is what the Psalmist said. He said, “My path is so arranged that oftentimes my life is in my hands.”

He did not describe what his peril was, and time will not permit us to assume what it might have been, but his path led him along perilous precipices, and perhaps yours does as well. Notice in verse 110, the Psalmist said that his path led him into the face of persecution because in verse 110, he said:

Psalm 119:

110 The wicked have laid a snare for me: yet I erred not from thy precepts.

“The wicked have put traps out in front of me. They want to trip me up.” Don't think that everybody loves you. This love bit has been run in the ground. Everybody doesn't love you, and don't think that nobody is out to get you. There are plenty of people out to get you, and especially if you are living a testimony for the Lord Jesus Christ. You can expect the children of the devil to be opposed to you for no other reason than that Christ has chosen you out of the world. Some of you may live without any persecution at all. Your path may not ever lead you into anything that can be likened to the snare which the Psalmist faced, but some people are led that way and the Psalmist was. His path was marked by physical suffering. His path was marked by peril and his path was marked by persecution, but I hope you noticed, as we read these verses, something that I noticed; and that is, in each area through which his path led him, the Word of God provided the light that he needed, and he took advantage of it.

The Word Provides Needed Light

Notice the last statement of each one of those verses. In verse 107, he said: “I am afflicted very much. Lord, I have suffered about all I can suffer.” What does he do? “Oh Lord, renew me, restore me, quicken me according to your promise.”

What is the promise? There are many of them, but the one that comes to mind at this particular moment is, “…that there is no time of testing taken you, but such as is common to man, and God will with the testing make a way of escape that you may be able to bear it.”

How many times have children of God, worn and burdened by a particular time of testing, felt the darkness encroach upon them and found light in the midst of their darkness by resting upon that promise? Notice in verse 109:

Psalm 119:

109 My soul is continually in my hand: yet do I not forget thy law.

“My life is in my hands. I am not thinking straight. This is an emergency. Pressures are all about me. What am I going to do? I am going to remember God's Word. I am not going to forget what the Word of God says to do in this given instance.”

What a relief! How many burdens have been lifted when the individual realizes that in the face of emergency, he was about to take a step that would have ruined his future life and the Word of God immediately came to his rescue, shined light on the situation, enabled him to see it in its right perspective, and he was able to make the decision that needed to be made.

Look again at verse 110, as the Psalmist said:

Psalm 119:

110 The wicked have laid a snare for me: yet I erred not from thy precepts.

“Oh, they made it easy for me to detour, but the thing that kept me on the right track was the Word of God. The light of the Word, the lamp of the Word illuminated the snare which they had laid for me and I didn't fall prey to it.”

How many snares the enemy lays for the children of God, and how many of God's dear children are overtaken in those snares because they have not learned to use the Lamp. A lamp, if it is not used, is of very little value; and the light that will go out in a moment's notice, indicating its utter undependability is more dangerous than it is helpful, and so it is with the Word of God. If the Word of God is not put to practical use, then it can't be as effective as it should be as a lamp and a light. The Psalmist made his pronouncement that it was a lamp and a light. He described the path upon which he had put it to use, and how he would describe the practice related to it, how he used this lamp as a light to his path.

Pledge to Keep Righteous Judgments

The first thing that I notice is brought to my attention in verse 106, when he makes a pledge. Folk tell you that you shouldn't make pledges. I'm not thinking about money, now. They say you shouldn't make promises and you shouldn't make vows, but the Bible is full of many, many folk who did it. So don't be afraid to promise God something. The Psalmist said in verse 106:

Psalm 119:

106 I have sworn, and I will perform it, that I will keep thy righteous judgments.

This is in relation to the path. “No matter what that path holds for me. No matter how many valleys, no matter how close the path veers to the precipice, no matter how many snares there are in that path, God, I swear to you, and I intend to keep my pledge, that I will keep thy righteous judgments. I will abide by your decision.”

That is the very literal rendering of the verse. Know how important that is. It is no problem for us to abide by the decisions of the Word of God if we are not faced with the problem. As long as the other man is faced with the problem, we can quote the Scripture. As long as the other man is faced with the decision, you can tell him where to find the answer, and we can tell him that he ought to obey, and we can tell him that he ought to follow, but when we come face to face with the thing ourselves, then what? Oh, it is so easy for us to veer off to the left. It is so easy for us to say, “I know that and I have known it all my life, but I don't think it applies to me at this particular time.” Or, we say, “I know that. I have known that since I was a child, but I have given some additional thought to it and I have prayed about it and I feel like it really doesn't apply to me.”

The Psalmist said, “God, I want to make you a promise. I don't know what I am going to find down that pathway, but whatever I find, when you have made your decision, I am going to abide by it.”

Oh, I wish that we could all say that and I wish we could say with the Psalmist, “Lord, I am not only telling you this, but I am going to do it.” You know, it is so easy for so many of us to tell God something and have some mental reservations in the telling of it, but the Psalmist didn't. He said, “I told you and I am going to stand by it.”

Offer Praise Continually

The practice that he followed was not only related to a pledge, but it was related to praise, and this is the secret of finding it easy to obey the Word of God. Look at verse 108, where he said:

Psalm 119:

108 Accept, I beseech thee, the freewill offerings of my mouth, O LORD, and teach me thy judgments.

We have often told you that the best commentary on the Scripture is the Scripture itself. When he said, “Accept, I beseech thee, the freewill offerings of my mouth, as I travel along this pilgrim pathway,” what was he talking about?

We will let the Holy Spirit tell us in the book of Hebrews, chapter 13, where we have this appeal:

Hebrews 13:

13 Let us go forth therefore unto him without the camp, bearing his reproach.

Of course, the individual related in this verse is the Lord Jesus Christ. He is without the camp. He is shut out. He is traveling a pilgrim pathway. Notice verse 14:

Hebrews 13:

14 For here have we no continuing city, but we seek one to come.

We have no permanent dwelling place. We are traveling toward that dwelling place, and as we travel, and look at verse 15:

Hebrews 13:

15 By him [the Lord Jesus Christ] therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name.

“Let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God…” What sacrifice? The fruit of our lips, and what is this that the Psalmist said? “Accept I beseech thee the freewill offerings, the sacrifice of my lips.” What is that sacrifice? Continuous praise.

I am sure that you realize that the path is always easier if you don't pay too much attention to the rough spots. The path is always easier if you are not always talking about how hard it is. You know, there are some believers so geared that you would think God expected them to offer to Him the freewill offering of complaints continually because that is all they do. They complain continually. If you ask them how they feel today, they will tell you that they don't feel very good and there is every evidence that they should. You ask them what is wrong and they say, “I know tomorrow I will feel bad.” They are continually complaining. No wonder they have no victory.

The path will be hard. I would not mislead you in relation to that, but I would say to you that one of the ways to make the path brighter is to offer continuously the offering of praise to God. There is much truth in the little chorus singing, “I go along the way praising the Lord.”

Performance Becomes Reality

One last thought I would leave with you and that is to make the practice a reality in the life of the Psalmist, he not only said that he would perform the pledge that he did, but he gave his attention to that performance. Notice verse 111, where he said:

Psalm 119:

111 Thy testimonies have I taken as an heritage for ever: for they are the rejoicing of my heart.
112 I have inclined mine heart to perform thy statutes alway, even unto the end.

The Psalmist describes how his performance became a reality. First, he placed a great value on the Word of God. Did you notice what he said? “Thy testimonies have I taken as an heritage…”

We talk about the heritage that is handed down to us. What do we mean by that? Well, when we are speaking politically and historically, we are talking about the heritage of freedom that was handed down to us by our forefathers, and we are encouraged to reverence it as a very precious thing and to guard it so that we will not let it go astray and not lose what is ours.

When we are talking about the Word of God being a heritage, we are reminded that this book is more available today than at any other time in all the world's history, and it has been handed down to us as something precious. The Psalmist said, “I am going to consider the Word of God as my heritage, the most precious thing that has been handed down to me. I am going to place a great deal of value on it.”

May I suggest to you, Beloved, that your adherence to the commands of this Word of God will be commensurate with the value that you place upon it. If you think it is of great value, then you will obey. If you think it isn't, then you won't, and your obedience will be in relation to the value you place upon it.

Bend Your Life Toward the Word

I want you to notice something else. He not only placed a great value upon the Word of God, but he trained his heart to obey, for he said here in verse 112:

Psalm 119:

112 I have inclined mine heart to perform thy statutes alway, even unto the end.

Notice the word inclined . It comes from the Hebrew word natah , which means “to bend.” You see, your heart isn't naturally inclined toward the Word of God. Your heart is inclined to your own desires. Your heart is inclined to your own will. You do what you want to do, and if you are going to obey the Word of God, then you are going to have to bend your heart toward the Word. That is why God tells parents to train up the children in the way they should go. They won't naturally go that way. You need to do a little bending with your child every now and then and bend them in the right direction.

You can't spend all of your time on your children. One of the reasons it is difficult to bend the children is they haven't seen enough bending in our own lives. It is a matter of our standing ramrod straight and demanding of them what we think they ought to be. If they could recognize a bending in our own lives, if they could recognize that the reason we want to bend them toward the Word is because we are consistently bending our own lives toward the Word, then there would be a greater willingness to do what they are asked.

Conclusion

The Psalmist said, “The way that I have performed my pledge that I made in the beginning is to recognize that the Word of God is the most valuable thing in my life and then bend my life to it, whether my life wants to be bent or not.” Then and only then will the Word of God become a lamp unto our feet and a light to our path. May I remind our hearts that if we are walking in darkness, we don't need to.


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