by Lois Tverberg
“Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path.” Psalm 119:105
What does it mean that God’s Word is a light to ones’ path? Imagine what this metaphor would mean if you were traveling in Israel’s rocky, mountainous terrain. Its narrow, rocky paths are tricky even in the day time. At night they become absolutely treacherous. It is an utter necessity to have an lamp to light the way, to avoid twisting an ankle or losing one’s footing and crashing down a hill.
A poignant Hasidic story expands on this metaphor:
A man walking through a forest one night without a light, alone and afraid. He stumbling along slowly, straining to find the winding path ahead, tripping over branches and rocks all the while. Then he encountered another man with a bright lantern on the path and together they walked easily and quickly together until they came to a crossroads. They bade each other well and went their separate ways. Then the man without the light went back to groping and stumbling down the path, while the man with the lamp receded into the distance, moving forward smoothly, with no trouble.
The point of the story is to teach us that everyone must have his or her own knowledge of God’s word to guide them – achieved through personal study and effort to know the Scriptures. We can’t be lazy and let our pastor, wife, husband or friends be the ones who learn while we can’t be bothered. The difference is between worrying and stumbling through each situation, or walking sure-footedly by God’s word, as a compass that always points towards his will.
(1) A Hasidic story relayed in Old Testament Words: Reflections for Preaching, by Mary Donovan Turner, Chalice Press, 2003, p. 8. The Jewish Hasidism (hah-SEED-ism) movement arose in Poland in the 18th century. See this article for more.
Photos: Roman Poberezhnik on Unsplash, *sax