When Light Is Not Light

The anonymous author of Psalm 119 used each letter of the Hebrew alphabet to form a stanza in his great song extolling the virtues of God’s word.  In our Bibles this psalm covers one hundred seventy-six verses.  One of the most well-known of these is verse 105, where the psalmist said, “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.”

This short statement perfectly summarizes the psalmist’s view of God’s word, and perfectly illustrates how God’s word functions in the lives of those who utilize it as He intended.  For the psalmist God’s word was an essential element in his daily life.  He understood that as a man of God he lived in a world that is shrouded in the darkness of sin.  The only way he could safely traverse life was to let God’s word shine on his path.  In this way he would never stumble.

This attitude toward God’s word is timeless in its application.  As long as the world stands, it will be shrouded in the darkness of sin.  This is because most people choose to ignore the light of God’s word as they pursue their own selfish and worldly desires.  As long as the world stands, those who wish to please God must open up His word and allow it to light their pathway each day.  The promise of God, implied by the psalmist’s statement in Psa. 119:105, is that every time we open God’s word and live by it our path will be enlightened by it.  On the other hand, the opposite is also true.  As long as we leave God’s word closed, we will continue to be enshrouded in the darkness of sin.

These truths prompt the question, “When is light not light?”  The answer, of course, is obvious.  Light is not light when one fails to utilize it.  In the physical realm we have no problem understanding this.  After the sun goes down we instinctively turn on the lights in our houses, offices, or places of business.  We turn on the lights on our cars when we drive at night and when clouds and rain darken the skies.  We would not think of trying to drive at night, to read a book, or to work on some project after dark without first turning on the lights.

At the same time, however, countless numbers of us are trying to walk through the darkness of life without the benefit of God’s light, His holy word.  Obviously those who have no interest in spiritual things are walking in darkness because they have rejected God and His word, or have no knowledge of either.  Many of these, though, when introduced to the light of God’s word, eagerly take hold of it in order to shine it on their path.  We see this attitude portrayed in Eastern Europe where Bibles were outlawed under the Communist regimes that formerly ruled these nations.  Today, Bibles are eagerly sought and welcomed in many of these nations.  In other places, like the Bahamas, the government often requests Bibles in order to distribute them in their schools, where part of the curriculum involves reading the scriptures.

Sadly, in the United States, where there are more Bibles per capita than anywhere in the world, our government is doing all it can to remove God’s light from our culture.  In addition to this, many of our people walk in the darkness of sin while the light of God’s word sits unopened on their bookshelves.  This great nation, which once shined the light of God’s word into the world, is becoming increasingly dark with sin, because God’s word lies unread and unfollowed by our people.  Even among professed Christians the light of God’s word is often unused as we stumble along in darkness.  Truly, light is only light when we use it.