Nun (n) Stanza (105-112)
In the dark things are deceiving. One morning, while it was still dark, I was getting ready to go to the gym. I looked down next to my bed and saw what looked like my iPod charger (this was a few years ago). In the dark I reached down to pick it up and realized that it was furry, mushy, and wet. I immediately let go! I turned on the light and saw a dead kangaroo rat, with its long stringy tail. One of our cats brought it in for a present. In the dark I couldn’t see what it really was, only what I thought it was. In the dark, things are deceiving.
In the dark we can lose our way. We can stumble. We can fall. The dark can be dangerous. There are hidden dangers in the dark. There are inaccurate perceptions in the dark, like power cords and dead rats with stringy tails! What we need in the darkness to protect us and guide is light. Light gives us perception, it gives us sight.
One of the Psalmist’s strengths is that he doesn’t trust himself or his own perceptions, instincts, or decisions. Far too many people have too high of an opinion of themselves and think they can trust their instincts for the important things of life. The reality is that there is darkness inside of us and outside of us and we dare not trust in our abilities to navigate the darkness. We need the light of God’s Word.
Guidance from and Obedience to the Word (105-106)
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.
The Word is a lamp and a light. The light of the Word gives knowledge, understanding and wisdom (Prov. 6:23). But it is not the kind of light that one gets just from reading a textbook. It is not the kind of light which is nothing more than a collection of wise sayings or principles. Rather the light of the Word comes to us because of our relationship with the One who is light (Psa. 27:1; Jn. 8:12). Through this relationship with Jesus, the Light of the World, His Word gives us the light we need to navigate the darkness.
In light of this Light, the Psalmist makes a commitment to determined obedience (106). He swears and will confirm it. Swearing an oath was an act of worship (Deut. 21:21-23). By this determined oath, he is going to obey all of God’s righteous rules. In the dark we don’t know how to obey. We may be like a pilot flying in the dark. We may feel like we are right-side up but are really upside down. The instrument panel may seem counterintuitive but going with your gut in the dark isn’t safe. The Word is the infallible instrument panel and wisdom dictates that we commit to following the light it gives.
Afflicted Yet Praising and Learning Still (107-108)
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.
The Psalmist confesses that he is suffering terribly. He makes his desperate plea. “Oh God, sustain my life and revive my heart according to Your promises!” Matthew Henry says, “With humble boldness, he begs God to make good His Word to him.” Then without skipping a beat, he pleads that God would accept the praise of his mouth which he freely offers and then pleads that God would teach him. What should be remarkable to us is that the Psalmist, in the midst of terrible suffering, is so quick to praise God and ask for more light. He runs to God, with a praising heart and learning mind. How often do we settle in our suffering, asking for nothing more than deliverance? Suffering can be a dark place. Praise the God of life and light!
At Risk but Undaunted (109-110)
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.
These two verses form two parallel thoughts. 109a corresponds with 110a, and 109b with 110b. The imagery of having one’s life in one’s hand is to be conscious of the danger of death (cf. 1 Sam. 19:5; 28:21). The NIV translates it, “Though I constantly take my life in my hands.” The parallel statement is in v. 110a, “the wicked have laid a snare for me.” The Psalmist risks his life and his life is at risk, but he remains undaunted in his obedience. The structure here emphasizes the truth that the Psalmist knows the danger but refuses to give up on the light of the Word.
Joy from and Obedience to the Word (111-112)
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.
Usually in the OT the land was the inheritance. If we read Daniel here, he is in a strange land, under foreign control, separated from the inheritance of the land. The inheritance shifts from the land to the Law of God. The Psalmist sees that the joy of his heart is the Word of God. For exiles, they need to know the source of joy and drink from it often. With affection for the Word kindled, so is his affection for obedience. What is better for an exile than to know that the Word, the whole Word, is his, and there is no greater joy in a dark world than to live according to its light.
There are times when the darkness encroaches upon us. We can easily be deceived in the dark. We can easily stumble and fall. But God has provided us with His Son-saturated Word. Knowing Christ as the Light of the world, knowing His Word is a light to our path and lamp to our feet, can give us the navigating skills in a dark world. With confidence in the light of the Word, we can be undaunted in our obedience and undeterred in our joy.