Light in Darkness; March 22, 2023

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

The section from verse 25 through verse 36 is completely underlined, and there are several songs that run through my mind as I read it. However, this verse particularly catches my attention right now. I’ve written on Discouragement and Depression recently, but we are prone to all kinds of darkness. The human heart can be a dark place indeed! This whole Psalm is a magnificent testimony of David’s relationship with God, appropriately enough since it starts with, “I love You, O Lord, my strength.” However, David had a very limited revelation of God, since he knew nothing of Jesus’ cross and resurrection, even though he prophesied it in amazing detail in Psalm 22. In some ways he had to operate in more faith than we do, because he didn’t have the Bible to guide him. Here, “keep my lamp burning” probably means, “keep me alive,” since that was a common metaphor for life, but the second half of the verse shows a bit of deeper understanding. The Japanese simply says, “The Lord my God shines on my darkness,” but I find the NIV to be quite striking here. Either way, it brings to mind John’s famous declaration: “This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. If we claim to have fellowship with him yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live by the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.” (1 John 1:5-7) In a sense our whole lives are struggles against darkness. We can’t generate light in and of ourselves, but since God is light, we can allow Him to shine through us. That is the only real victory against darkness, in ourselves or in the world around us. Thinking about it, it’s really earthshaking that Jesus said, “You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.” (Matthew 5:14-16) I could keep going for quite a while, since I have preached numerous sermons on this topic! But to come back to the original point, when we recognize spiritual and moral darkness, in ourselves or in society, we are to let God shine His light in order to dispel it. As the song says, “Don’t try to drive the darkness out; you just turn on the light.”

Of course this applies to me as much as it does to anyone. It is easy to spot darkness in society and in others, but I’ve got to be willing to acknowledge it in myself and allow the Holy Spirit to dispel it. I’m not to be like those Jesus spoke of, loving darkness rather than light. (John 3:19) I am never to think I’ve got it all together, because that will lay me open to the traps of the devil. Knowing the truth without applying it is just deceiving myself, just as James said. (James 1:22) Consistency is the key. However, as Paul wrote to Timothy, “If we are faithless, he will remain faithful, for he cannot disown himself.” (2 Timothy 2:13) I am not to be anxious, focusing on my weaknesses but rather, as He has told me to do, rest, relax, and rejoice in Him.

Father, thank You for this reminder. Thank You for Your incredible, sufficient grace. May I be a bright, open conduit of that grace to all so that as many as will may come to Your light, for their salvation and 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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