105 Your word is a lamp to my feet
and a light to my path.
106 I have sworn an oath and confirmed it,
to keep your righteous rules.
107 I am severely afflicted;
give me life, O Lord, according to your word!
108 Accept my freewill offerings of praise, O Lord,
and teach me your rules.
109 I hold my life in my hand continually,
but I do not forget your law.
110 The wicked have laid a snare for me,
but I do not stray from your precepts.
111 Your testimonies are my heritage forever,
for they are the joy of my heart.
112 I incline my heart to perform your statutes
forever, to the end.
Psalm 119:105 is a beloved verse for many and in Hebrew it is a verbless clause. “In Old Testament times, lamps were made of clay in the shape of a shallow cup or saucer pinched on one edge to support a wick [see image above]. They were not carried outside for travel lest oil spill out of the open top; rather, they were used indoors or in a cave where neither sunlight nor moonlight illuminated the darkness” (J. Hilber, “Psalms” ZIBBC, 2009, p. 423).
Ross’s commentary on verse 105 states, “The comparison of the word of God to a “light” and a “lamp” (metaphors) indicates that divine revelation brings spiritual guidance for the faithful who live according to it. The figures of “foot” and “step” (implied comparisons) refer to what Scripture elsewhere calls the believer’s walk, the course of actions in life. The image of light in the Bible also has the connotation of joy and happiness in life. On the other side, the world is enveloped in darkness because of the presence of evil and what it produces” (A Commentary on the Psalms 90-150 KEL, 2016, p. 551).
There is danger in darkness. “Without God’s word [the psalmist] would be walking in the dark, unable to see the path before him” (Estes, Psalms 73-150 NAC, 2019, p. 425). Believers today have the entire canon of Scripture to light their path and we would be wise to read and heed it! The only time that believers are said to be “of the world” is when they shining the Light of the World, Jesus Christ (John 8:12). As this world grows darker and darker by the minute, may believers, like this psalmist not deviate from the Lord’s Word and Path.
The psalmist is so commitment to staying on the Lord’s path that in verse 106 he uses legal language to solemnly swear an oath to keep the Lord’s righteous rules. “Rather than insisting on his freedom to choose as he pleases, he firmly holds to what the Lord decrees” (Estes, p. 425). The Lord’s decrees for the obedient brought life and blessings, but for the disobedient the Lord’s decrees brought consequences.
In verse 107a the psalmist again states he is severely afflicted (see also vv 22-23, 25, 39, 51, 61, 69, 71, 78, 81-83, 85-87, 92 and 95). In his affliction the psalmist knows to cry out to the Lord to give him life (piel, imperative, 2ms with 1 cs suffix) rather than running away from God or becoming angry with Him. The psalmist makes his petitions according to the Lord’s Word (v 107b), offering praises (v 108a) and with a teachable spirit (v 108b).
The psalmist “depicts his praise in the language of sacrifice that is not compulsory but freely given. He knows that to be accepted by the Lord his praise must be genuine and not a cover for his insincerity. As he praises the Lord, he also wants to continue to learn from him, so he approaches the Lord as a humble suppliant and not with a spirit of entitlement” (Estes, p. 425). Oh that the people of God would approach the Lord in the same manner today!
The ESV does a poor job translating verse 109a and in Hebrew it literally says, My life is continually in my palm. Goldingay states, “To take your life into your hand is an image for risking your life (1 Sam. 19:5; 28:21). “Palm,” kap, rather than the general word yād, helps to explain the idea: having your life on your open hand makes it easy for your enemies to take it” (Baker Commentary on the Old Testament: Psalms 90- 150, 2006, 422). Even thought the psalmist’s life is in his palm he does not forget/ignore the Lord’s torah/law (v 109b).
The Lord’s Word is a lamp to his feet and light to his path (v 105) and even though his life is continually in his own palm (v 109), the psalmist does not stray from the Lord’s precepts even though the wicked have laid a snare for him (v 110). “[E]ven when facing threats, he keeps listening to the Lord. He does not allow dangers to deter him from God’s way, but he fixes his compass on the true north of God’s word and does not deviate from it” (Estes, pp. 425-426).
The Lord’s testimonies are the psalmist’s heritage and joy of his heart (v 111). Heart in Hebrew thought encompasses the entire being: mind, will and emotions. The psalmist’s entire being delights in the Lord’s testimonies to the point where he inclines his heart to perform His statutes forever, to the end (v 112). Good theology always moves from the head, to the heart, to the hand; and that is how the psalmist ends this stanza, with active obedience. The psalmist is “intentional about obeying what the Lord has commanded, choosing to live according to the Lord’s way rather than his own way. This commitment to obedience is complete and permanent, extending “to the very end.” As in v. 33, he will obey the Lord all the time throughout all his life” (Estes, p. 426).
Father God, may Your Word be the lamp to our feet and light to our path. Lord God, may we walk in step with You rather than this world. Lord God, at some point for the believer in Christ, they have made a faith declaration, impress on Your people, what that declaration of faith means. May we be reminded that our declaration of faith means that we will no longer live for ourselves but for YOU! Lord God, may we be reminded that faith in Christ is not easy. It is the narrow road. Lord God, for the person who is suffering from affliction I ask that You will give them life according to Your Word. Lord, may we run to You in our affliction and not from You. Lord God, may we offer You authentic and sincere praises with teachable spirits.
Lord God, thank You that for believers in Christ, we know that You hold us in the palm of Your Hand. Lord God, help us even when it seems like we are on our own, in enemy territory, that You are with us. May we never forget Your promises so that when the wicked come and lay traps for us we will not be moved. Lord, may we know Your Word so well Lord that when persecution comes, Your Word will be hidden in our hearts.
Lord God, Your Word is our heritage, our inheritance. You preserve Your Word from generation to generation. It never is far from my mind that Your Word is always one generation away from extinction. Impress on us Lord that You have no grandchildren. Lord God, for the reader who does not know Christ, may today be the day of salvation. Lord God, may Your Word be the joy of our hearts! May we incline our hearts to do Your Will! Lord God, may we obey You forever, not to earn our salvation but out of love and reverence for You. Lord God, for the reader who is on the edge and thinking of giving up, I ask boldly that You revive them according to Your Word. Give them light in their darkness. Thank You Lord for this stanza of Psalm 119. In Jesus’s Name I pray. Amen.