Psalm 97:11 Light is shed upon the righteous
and joy on the upright in heart.
The Japanese is very specific about the original Hebrew figure of speech here. It says, “Light is scattered like seed for the righteous, and joy for those with an upright heart.” Not only is the image of scattering seed striking, it also specifies “for,” rather than simply “upon.” I know that in English we say, “shed light on,” but it seems to me that sometimes that doesn’t seem to be for the benefit of the one so illuminated. What God does is for our good, even when it’s punishment! (If we weren’t punished we wouldn’t correct our ways, and that would be the greater tragedy.) The image of scattering seed immediately brings to mind Jesus’ famous parable of the sower and the soil. (Matthew 13:3-9, etc.) Here, the quality of the soil isn’t in doubt, because it specifies “righteous” and “upright in heart.” That said, seed still has to be taken into the soil for it to germinate properly. Just yesterday I realized that some leftover beet seed that I had simply scattered in a planter has finally germinated, even though we ate all the beets out of the garden itself some weeks ago! God does plant His light, His joy, in our hearts but we don’t always realize it immediately. In any case, the benefits of righteousness and having an upright heart are limitless, just as I preached on a few weeks ago.
As a pastor I am constantly exhorting people to live lives of righteousness with upright hearts, but I must not think that because I do so, my heart is always right. I’ve got to walk in all humility, allowing the Holy Spirit to shed His light on every dark corner in my heart and life. Any time He turns up something not pleasing to God, I’ve got to repent immediately! I am never to fear His light, because I know it is always for my benefit, whatever it turns up. Like ultraviolet light is sometimes used as a disinfectant, God’s light has deadly effect on anything that is not of Him. I am to rejoice in that, not trying to protect or hang onto anything that His light might destroy. Sometimes I have been surprised, discovering that He had prompted something I had thought was just me! And here’s the tricky part: I’m not to be righteous and upright for the sake of the benefits, but because my Lord is certainly worthy of nothing less. As He spoke to me a little while back, I serve the Lord of glory! His servants, His children, have everything supplied, so my relationship with Him must be my focus, rather than anything else. (Matthew 6:33)
Father, thank You for this reminder. Thank You for the incredible privilege of being Your child, (John 1:12) Your servant. Help me live that out in all faithfulness, so that all of Your purposes for me may be fulfilled on Your schedule for Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!