“Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path. I have sworn, and I will perform it, that I will keep thy righteous judgments. I am afflicted very much: quicken me, O LORD, according unto thy word. Accept, I beseech thee, the freewill offerings of my mouth, O LORD, and teach me thy judgments. My soul is continually in my hand: yet do I not forget thy law. The wicked have laid a snare for me: yet I erred not from thy precepts. Thy testimonies have I taken as an heritage for ever: for they are the rejoicing of my heart. I have inclined mine heart to perform thy statutes alway, even unto the end” (Psalm 119:105-112).
To some it might seem that the psalmist has a one-track mind with regards to his personal problems and afflictions, but in fact he is revealing that life is tough for the believer. Despite his troubles he could keep on praising the God he has put his trust in.
We need to keep in mind the “path” the psalmist is referring to, for though the verse is often used to speak of life’s journey, here it is likely to include the road of affliction and persecution. There is no doubt that such a pathway would be dark and fearful without the ever-present illumination and comfort that the word of God brings. The “lamp” of God lights the place where our feet tread rather than the whole of our future. We could say that it illuminates the path one step at a time as we travel through this dark world. It is interesting to note that the word for “lamp” in Hebrew literally means ‘candle’. Even a small flame is enough to lighten the darkness around us.
This is where faith comes in, for as we read, study and meditate upon the Scriptures, the Lord will guide us in our daily walk. The apostle Paul encourages us to “walk in newness of life” (Romans 6:4), but we cannot do so without the light that God’s word brings. 2 Peter 1:19 says, “We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts”. How does the Bible bring light to our path? Is it just a matter of reading it or is more expected of us? Without obedience to the word of God it cannot guide us along our pathway. “For the commandment is a lamp; and the law is light; and reproofs of instruction are the way of life” (Proverbs 6:23). Charles Spurgeon in his commentary on :105 writes, “We are walkers through the city of this world, and we are often called to go out into its darkness; let us never venture there without the light-giving word, lest we slip with our feet. Each man should use the word of God personally, practically, and habitually, that he may see his way and see what lies in it. When darkness settles down upon all around me, the word of the Lord, like a flaming torch, reveals my way”. The God who guided Israel by a pillar of light will give us His light to lighten our darkness. “For thou art my lamp, O LORD: and the LORD will lighten my darkness” (2 Samuel 22:29).
The rest of this passage contains the psalmist’s confession of faith in God’s word and a declaration that he will continue to trust in it no matter what he encounters along the path. He promises to abide by and observe all the “judgements” of God. The Scriptures are given so that we can apply them to every part of our daily lives, for to the true believer there is no distinction between the secular and spiritual, that is, since we belong to Christ everything is His. “For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s” (1 Corinthians 6:20).
The evidence of such persistent faith is seen in his praise and worship of God regardless of what he might be enduring. The “freewill offerings” are sacrifices of praise. “By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name” (Hebrews 13:15). Worship, since through it we are focussing directly upon the Lord, prepares our hearts and makes us receptive to the word of God. If we can praise God even when we are being persecuted and afflicted, it is a sure sign that our faith and trust is in Him. The expression “My soul is continually in my hand” highlights the fact that we are always in danger in this world. “As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter” (Romans 8:36). Paul states this after mentioning all the terrible things that happen to believers in this sin darkened world. “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?” (Romans 8:35). But as with the psalmist he rejoices it the power of the Lord that sustains us through it all. “Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8;37-39).
The psalmist’s persistence is also seen in his promise to obey God to the very end. Nothing was going to hinder or distract him from glorifying the God he served. Yes, the “wicked” would continue to set a “snare” for his feet, but since the word of God is his “lamp” and “light” he would avoid each trap his enemies set for him. “Lest Satan should get an advantage of us: for we are not ignorant of his devices” (2 Corinthians 2:11). These snares were the temptations that others placed in his way, but how could he fall into them if he remains obedient to the truth? We cannot err from the faith if we have the same conviction. Here is a man who believed in the faithfulness and the promises of God, for he speaks of the Scriptures as being his “heritage” or his inheritance. Surely the believer has no greater treasure than all the riches Christ brings into his or her life, and we learn of these in the word of God. Will we sell our inheritance for the fake baubles of sin like Esau sold his birthright for a bowl of stew (Genesis 25)? Let us instead persistently rejoice in the Lord, obey His word and be guided by His light.
The word of God is our daily light for the daily path. By reading, studying and meditating upon it we come to a deeper knowledge of His will and purpose for us. It gives us the strength to continue serving Him even in the severest of afflictions. God’s word not only enables us to “fight the good fight of faith” on earth (1 Timothy 6:12), but reveals our inheritance in the Kingdom of Heaven when this life is over. How will we ever know if we do not bother to open its pages? “In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths” (Proverbs 3:6).