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*Light for my Path and Joy for my Heart (Psalm 119:105-112)*
/Preached by Pastor Phil Layton at Gold Country Baptist Church on January 18, 2009/
www.goldcountrybaptist.org
Our study today brings us to one of the great statements of Scripture about itself, words we have already sung of today.
The Bible has been given many tributes and descriptions.
Thomas Guthrie said, “The Bible is an armory of heavenly weapons, a laboratory of infallible medicines, a mine of exhaustless wealth.
It is a guidebook for every road, a chart for every sea, a medicine for every malady, and a balm for every wound.
Rob us of our Bible and our sky has lost its sun.”[1]
The Bible within its own pages refers to itself by various images:
-         The book of James compares the Word of God to a *mirror*
-         Ephesians 6 and Hebrews 4 call it the *Sword* of the Lord
-         God Himself says in Jeremiah 23:29 “‘is not my word *like a fire*,’ says the Lord, ‘and *like a hammer that breaks the rock to pieces*’”
-         Psalm 119 has already called a *treasure* and compared it to *riches* and *honey*.
*105 **Your word is a lamp to my feet And a light to my path**.**
**106 **I have sworn and I will confirm it, That I will keep Your righteous ordinances.**
**107 **I am exceedingly afflicted; Revive me, O Lord, according to Your word.** **108 **O accept the freewill offerings of my mouth, O Lord, And teach me Your ordinances.** **109 **My life is continually in my hand, Yet I do not forget Your law.** **110 **The wicked have laid a snare for me, Yet I have not gone astray from Your precepts.**
**111 **I have inherited Your testimonies forever, For they are the joy of my heart.**
**112 **I have inclined my heart to perform Your statutes Forever, /even /to the end.*
* *
During the dark ages the Roman Catholic Church for centuries had kept the light of Scripture under a bushel, away from the people, restricted to only the elite church leaders (and even they were in dark ignorance of its teachings).
This year marks the 500th anniversary of the birth of John Calvin, a shining star of Protestant Reformation from France along with Martin Luther in Germany and Ulrich Zwingli in Switzerland, and later John Knox in England.
They recovered God’s Word as a lamp that led them out of the darkness, and they shone it as a light on the path for the feet of many others, the lost path of the true gospel of God’s grace.
The light-giving life-giving Scriptures led their way, as v. 105 says.
Scriptures were being translated and taught again in verse-by-verse illuminating exposition, the darkness of false religion was exposed.
You may have heard me refer before to their motto, /post tenebras lux, /which in English means “After darkness, light.”
The spiritual darkness of the times was overcome by the lamp and light of God’s illuminating Word that kindled fires of lasting bright burning Reformation, unstoppable spreading blazes.
This phrase /post tenebras lux ‘/was subsequently adopted as the motto of the entire Protestant Reformation, and also of John Calvin's adopted city of Geneva, Switzerland.
As a mark of its role in the Calvinist movement, the motto is engraved on the Reformation Wall.’[2]
The statue of Calvin has both hands on the open Bible, the lamp and light of the Reformation.
The Reformers understood the truth of verse 105: “Thy Word is a /lamp/ unto my feet and a light unto my path.”
We’ve all experienced being in a room of total darkness, and then having even a light turned, and that metaphor is used spiritually in Scripture of God’s Word as the only thing that can bring /post tenebras lux /(after darkness, light) whether it was in the days of OT Israel, or middle-age Europe, or an individual’s life in any day.
Sadly, here in America, if things continue as they are, the motto of our country will prove to be “After light, darkness” –  following the pattern of much of Europe – /remaining “religious” but returning to darkness after having so much light in the past/.
We can be thankful that God always has “elect from every nation” and we can rejoice that in other places of the world, there is great light coming to the darkness of Asia and the Muslim world, but we want to pray for a modern Reformation of our nation bringing them truly back to the Word of God, including churches that have abandoned God’s Word and their past heritage of Scripture’s authority and sufficiency.
The prayer of verse 107 should be our prayer: “Revive us, O Lord, according to Your Word.”
Will you revive us again?
Will you at least revive /me, /according to Your Word?
/Sola Scriptura, /the Reformation principle “Scripture Alone” (that the Bible is sufficient for salvation and all of life and godliness)is really not something the Reformers made up.
It is the message of Psalm 119.
/In our text today, Scripture Alone is the Source of:/
1.      Supernatural Light (v.
105-106)
#.
Supernatural Strength (v.
107-110)
#.
Supernatural Joy (v.
111-112)
* *
*/#1: Scripture Alone is the source of Supernatural Light/*
v. 105 “Thy Word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path”
* *
In the past two sections, the psalmist has been basking in and bathing in the fountain of living water of God’s Word in a refreshing and revitalizing spring at the top of this Mount Everest of the Psalms.
Now he begins his descent on the other side of his journey through dark and dangerous paths, which not only verse 105 alludes to, but in v. 108 (“I am exceedingly afflicted”), in v. 109 he says his very life is continually in his hand (i.e., in danger), and v. 110 says there are enemies all around trying to capture him.
In dark times, the torch of God’s Torah lights up the pitch-black terrain, reveals to us the dangerous places where not to step and illuminates the path way where we should step in the jagged journey below.
Sometimes going back down the mountain can be more dangerous than going up, especially as darkness sets in.
Here verse 105 has been compared to ‘a grappling hook that is securely anchored on that high plateau of stability and sufficiency (i.e.
vv.
89-104), but at the same time, attached to it is the first length of fragile cord for the disciple’s dangerous descent downwards.
In verse 105 God’s Word … is regarded as both a focused (v.
105a) and a diffused light source (v.
105b).
As a “lamp” it is like a flashlight’s beam aimed at the next step of one’s feet on life’s dark path.
As “light,” it is like a floodlight which penetrates the murky shadows surrounding the meandering highway ahead.’[3]
In the highways of life today, Scripture is both our headlights and our foglights, and we should be especially able to appreciate the image on roads in our context and community as recently the evening fog has especially dense and thick and very hard to see through very far in front of you and you have to go slowly and carefully.
In the original context, the lamps or lanterns they used at this time would have illuminated only the next step in front of you.
So God’s Word is a step-by-step light, and it’s not enough to have it, we must use it and follow it every step of the way as we go.
The imagery is summed up this way: ‘When an ancient traveler journeyed at night he carried an oil lamp with him.
As he walked along, swinging the lamp out in front of him, he could see the rocks and ruts directly ahead of him in the road, and he could avoid them.
Sometimes he actually strapped a small clay lamp to his ankle and it illuminated the path before him, one step at a time, as he walked.
That is how God uses his Word to guide us.
He does not promise a brilliant blaze of light to illuminate the road for miles ahead.
He promises a lamp to our feet, enough light for the next step … The headlights on our automobiles do not expose the dangers a mile or so ahead.
They merely divulge the next bend in the road.
God knows that it may not be best for us to see too far down the highway of our lives.
If he showed us the whole plan at the outset, we might decide that we do not want to follow it.
It might involve more sacrifices than we are willing to make at this stage of our spiritual maturity, or it might look too difficult for us to handle at this point in our spiritual growth … [think of a time camping and us walking with a group of people in the dark to the bathroom with just one person in the group carrying a flashlight] If we run ahead of the light to see what lies beyond the next step, we shall find ourselves in the dark again.’[4]
J.
I. Packer writes: ‘This pictures what God’s word does for us, showing us how to [walk] … The psalmist’s cry is one of praise, thanks, admonition, testimony and confidence—praise that God glorifies his grace by giving men so precious a gift as his word; thanks because he knows how much he himself needed it, and how lost he was without it.’[5]
The writer of this Psalm that refers so often to God’s Law (Torah) knew how that Torah scroll begins, the first word recorded of God:  “Let there be light” (Gen.
1:3).
This is God’s specialty, light from darkness, and this is what God’s Word continues to do, His written Word, in our everyday lives, bringing light to life’s darkness.
He also would have been well familiar with the Torah’s story of Israel under Moses being led for nighttime journeys by a pillar of fire that would light up the way they should go, illuminating their path as a large lamp or torch giving them light for their feet.
They were led by it on a day-by-day basis (a pillar for both day and night) wherever it went.
When it moved, they moved.
When it stopped, they set up camp.
If it remained one day, they stayed one day.
If it remained a year, they stayed a year.
But then when it lifted, they broke camp and followed.
They had to trust and follow every day.
Prov 6:23 “the commandment is *a lamp* and the teaching is *light*; And reproofs for discipline are the *way of life”*
2 Peter 1:19  “/So /we have the prophetic word /made /more sure, to which you do well to pay attention *as to a lamp shining in a dark place* …”
In John 8:12, [the Incarnate Word] Jesus says “I am the Light of the world; *he who follows Me will not walk in the darkness*, but will have the Light of life.”
2 Samuel 22:29 “For *You are my lamp*, O Lord; And the Lord *illumines my darkness*.”
Our Lord Himself in His Word provides a light that far surpasses any human lamp then or now.
As one pastor said it: ‘The Bible is a /reading/ lamp, with which we can read the very thoughts of God.
It is a /miner’s/ lamp, which illumines the darkest places in the pit but also reveals the gems that are buried there.
It is a /safety/ lamp, which, like the one used by miners many years ago that prevented the lamp flame from igniting dangerous gases, protects us from the dangers lurking unseen around us.
It is the /lighthouse/ lamp, which lights the shore and reveals the rocks of ruin that await.
It is a /hurricane/ lamp, which … can never be blown out no matter how strong the wind.
It is a /street/ lamp, which illumines the shadows of the night and reveals enemies that hide there.
And it is the /hand/ lamp …simple flashlight, that we can easily carry and point …’[6]
Think of times you’ve walked in the darkness without a lamp or light.
Have any of you experienced the pain of hitting your shin on a coffee table?
Or stepping on legos or little toys?
A lamp or light not only shows us where to walk but where not to walk.
It provides both direction and protection.
The illustrations of this verse go on and on.
Verse 105 is undoubtedly the most famous verse of this psalm and perhaps the most famous throughout history.
This verse ‘is the text prefixed to a little book called /The Lantern of Light, /which was the favorite reading of the Lollards before the Reformation … these children of the dawn [of light as they considered themselves.
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