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Psalm 119:103-105 – Your Word Is a Lamp to My Feet

Summary

God's words are sweet and provide a lamp to show God's people the way.

Analysis

Psalm 119 is an extended acrostic poem (see Introductory Issues) that prays for help in following God's law and praises the law as better "than thousands of gold and silver pieces" (v. 72). The synonyms for law (Torah, instruction) seem endless: law, decrees, ways, precepts, ordinances, statutes, word, commandments, works, judgments, promise. In all of this the psalmist delights--which can seem strange to Christian readers, especially modern ones. Why delight in laws and commandments that tell you what to do? But Israel knew that God gave the law out of mercy so that God's people might have life (v. 77). The law even brings salvation (v. 81)--not in a legalistic way, such that one gains eternal salvation by keeping the law; but joyfully, for in this life one is "saved" from death and destruction by following the precepts that God has graciously given. The law serves life; God, like a loving parent, teaches people how to get from today to tomorrow without killing and being killed. This is a good thing, and the psalmist knows it. These words are "sweeter than honey" and "a lamp to my feet." God's law (torah), or word, includes more than commandments, of course; it is all of God's instruction, including God's promises and judgments. All God's people know that this word is worthy of love and of meditation all day long (v. 97).


103 How sweet are your words to my taste,
   sweeter than honey to my mouth!
104 Through your precepts I get understanding;
   therefore I hate every false way.


105 Your word is a lamp to my feet
   and a light to my path.

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10 February 2011

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