June 9, 2016

Psalm 18:28 You, O Lord, keep my lamp burning;
my God turns my darkness into light.

This whole Psalm switches back and forth between talking to God and talking about Him. That might reflect a flaw in David’s grammar or it might just blur the distinction between prayer and other speech, since God knows everything we say. In any case David is overwhelmed by the goodness and greatness of God, and that’s certainly a good thing. If we were to talk about God’s attributes more often, and not just in church, I think our lives would definitely change for the better. This particular verse is a reminder that God keeps us going. The Japanese says, “The Lord illuminates my darkness,” but I do like the turn of phrase in the NIV, “turns my darkness into light.” The first part of the verse brings to mind the song, This Little Light of Mine. That is actually based on Matthew 5:14-16, but the imagery is the same. We don’t really like darkness (unless we’re trying to hide something, as in John 3:19-21) but this says two things about that. It says that God illuminates our darkness, but more strikingly, He often does it through us, causing our lamp to burn. When that happens we illuminate those around us as well, just as Jesus was talking about. When our circumstances seem dark, we need to check our wick and our oil level! Jesus’ story of the foolish virgins (Matthew 25:1-13) indicates that we can indeed run out of oil. We need to keep our oil supply up by staying in intimate fellowship with God by His Spirit (who is often spoken of as oil). The better our oil supply, the more light we will shed on everyone around us.

This is something I have tried to live by for quite a few years now, but God is the judge of how well I succeed. There is a secular proverb that says, “It is better to light one candle than to curse the darkness.” I am never to curse the darkness, but rather realize that “God is light; in Him there is no darkness at all.” (1 John 1:5) The darkness in and around me is defeated, not by my railing against it, but by God filling me and illuminating through me. Darkness is a negative, the absence of light, so the way to overcome it is by applying light. Even in physics there is no measure for darkness, only measures for light. Sometimes for scientific purposes you need a “total black.” That is achieved in various ways, but all of them strive to reflect nothing. The easiest way to do that on a small scale is to bind together a group of razor blades, which actually are quite shiny, but when viewed edge-on, none of the reflections go back to the light source. I’ve got to be careful that I’m always reflecting Jesus; otherwise it won’t matter how shiny I might be.

Father, this is an important truth. Help me communicate it effectively and live it out consistently, so that the darkness may indeed be defeated by Your light in and through Your children, for Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!


About jgarrott

Born and raised in Japan of missionary parents. Have been here as an adult missionary since 1981.
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