As the nights draw in, we’re in that time of year when light is at a premium. Nowadays this affects us much less than it would have done in ancient societies, lacking access to artificial light. Then, a full (or nearly full) moon and a clear sky made a huge difference. Otherwise, fire was pretty much the only source of light on a dark evening.
We sometimes experience the effects of true darkness. Last year there was a power-cut in Wavendon one evening, and for the first time in years we were in a dark house, at the end of a dark drive. We found our torches and realised that only one had batteries which actually worked! Eventually we found some matches and a bag of tea lights and lit as many as we could find. The whole process took so long it was probably only about 5 minutes later that the power came on again!
Navigating a dark house, trying not to trip on furniture, was a useful lesson in what walking in the dark really looks and feels like. It’s a healthy reminder that light is precious. Therefore, reliable sources of light are of immense value.
Today’s passage begins with this famous image about God’s word being a light to our path (v105), but truthfully I suspect most of us in the West don’t really connect with it to the same degree that our ancestors would have done. It’s easy for us to take light for granted. Similarly, our ease of access to Scripture is likewise a privilege that many Christians around the world are denied.
How we need both! Scripture and light. And here we see the two combined. God’s word lights our way. It is our reliable guide for life.
Light is often connected with truth and wisdom. The writer of this psalm goes on to outline some of the practical reasons why this wisdom is so valuable – for example, it preserves our life (v107) and acts as our inheritance (v111). Elsewhere in the psalm we read that it gives us hope, sustains us daily, rescues us from oppression and besetting addictions, and brings us delight. No wonder the writer concludes: ‘To all perfection I see a limit, but your commands are boundless.’ (v96)
Today, let’s pray to recapture a sense of wonder at God’s word, the true and enduring source of light. And let’s also pray for that light to shine on any particular needs and challenges we have. May that word be a lamp to our feet and a light to our path today.