Lamps for our feet: gaining godly wisdom

Oil Lamp

Oil Lamp

Psalm 119:105 reminds us that God’s word is a lamp to our feet and a light on our path. Let’s not let the familiarity of that verse turn it into a cliché. What is a lamp for? To chase away darkness. Wherever it’s dark, we need a lamp, or maybe more than one, to see well. Perhaps we’re trying to find something, trying to see something, or just trying to avoid obstacles as we move.

No matter how many lamps we have, none will do us any goodin the dark until we turn one of them on. In Bible times, lamps were made of clay to contain oil. They had a wick, which needed a spark to light it. Nowadays, we have electric lamps, which must be plugged into a power source and turned on with a switch.

Gaining godly wisdom

If the Bible is a lamp, how do we turn it on? How do we plug into its power? The second chapter of Proverbs provides one answer by explaining how to get wisdom, which we can think of as an enlightened heart and mind. It is expressed as a set of conditions: if we

  • listen carefully for wisdom
  • open our hearts to understanding
  • seek discernment as diligently as we try to earn a living or get great deals at the store

then we will discern the fear of the Lord and discover the knowledge and wisdom of God.

In other words, in discerning the fear of the Lord, we will understand his awesomeness, which thrills the human spirit and makes our flesh, our sin nature, shudder. But in doing all of that, we have been driven by the desires of our spirit and will be further driven to worship God’s magnificent transcendence. As at least part of discovering the knowledge of God, we will become intimately acquainted with his astounding love.

But take a look at the scripture again and look at the verbs:

  • listen
  • treasure
  • tune
  • concentrate
  • cry
  • ask
  • search
  • seek

Those words add up to a lot of work. If we do it all with a whole heart, then we have plugged into the power source. We can turn on our lamp. The light will shine in dark places and enable us to see how to get through the minefield that is life under the sun.

What happens if we don’t do these things? Or if do them only half-heartedly? Nothing. If you don’t seek, you won’t find. The double-minded person can’t expect to receive anything from God. You won’t have a lamp in the dark if you don’t plug it in. You can’t plug your lamp in if you don’t look for the outlet. And you can’t see without the lamp.

Yes, God’s word is a lamp to our feet and a light on our path. Don’t forget to turn it on!

Photo credit: Oil Lamp Some rights reserved by Ohr-O’Keefe Museum of Art

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