Study notes: get the PDF – with study questions.
Light is perhaps the most extensive of all metaphors or symbols of Scripture used in the Bible. It is the light of Scripture that brings sinners out of the darkness of sin, guides saints through life, and leads them into that perfect day of eternal glory (Proverbs 4:18).
The Psalmist (119:105) says that the Word is a “lamp” and a “light.” The Psalmist clearly uses the two words synonymously, but it is possible to have the lamp but no oil to give light (cf. Matthew 25:1–13). The Jews had the Scriptures, but they did not see Christ there (John 5:39). John speaks of Christ as the light shining in darkness, but the rays of light did not penetrate the darkness (John 1:5)—they did not understand Christ. The oil of the Spirit of God is needed to give effect to the Words of Scripture (John 16:13; 1 Peter 1:22).
The Scripture light dispels darkness (2 Corinthians 4:6)
The darkness of the natural heart is dispersed by the light of the gospel. This darkness was like the chaos of the earth before light and order were established so that salvation is referred to as the creation of a “new creature” in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17). John speaks of the darkness blinding the eyes (1 John 2:11), but the light of the gospel opens the eyes of our understanding (Ephesians 1:18). As the sun’s rising in the morning and shining through the window wakens us, so Christ as the “Sun of righteousness arise[s] with healing in his wings” (Malachi 4:2) and awakens sinners.
The Scripture light directs saints (Numbers 9:15–23)
As the mariner uses the light of the lighthouse to direct his course and the miner his headlamp to direct his steps, so the Scripture directs both our course and our steps. The distinction between our course and our steps is an important one. Many have been correct in the general direction of life, but they miss a step or, to put it in the words of Paul, are “overtaken in a fault” (Galatians 6:1). Others may be entirely off course in life—in their family, in vocation, or in social life—but in particular incidents of life they do right and appear to be godly individuals.
Abraham was on the right course so that it could be said of him generally that he staggered not at the promises (Romans 4:20), and yet there were times in his life that his steps faltered (e.g., Genesis 16). Lot, on the other hand, lived a large part of his life off course when he pitched his tent towards Sodom, and yet he knew the correct action to take in a given situation when the angels visited. There was an aspect of Eli’s life that was horribly off course (how to train his sons) and yet he could direct the steps of the young Samuel in the temple.
The lesson is twofold: a man may do certain Christian actions but that does not mean that his life is going in the right direction. Conversely, one’s life may be on course, but he may falter in his step as David did when he sinned with Bathsheba. The Scripture speaks to the whole man—to his life in general life and to all the details of life—and the psalmist brings both into sync when he said, “The steps of a good man are ordered by the LORD: and he delighteth in his way.” (Psalm 37:23).