The meaning of Psalm 119:105 is richer and deeper than we know. We already know that the word of God is seen as a source of light to our feet and our path. But why did the Psalmist use a lamp to represent God’s word? And why did he say God’s word is light? Psalm 119:105 uses a powerful metaphor that has rich meaning when you understand the context in which they wrote. In this post, we will explore the deeper meaning
Psalm 119:105 Bible verses
Before delving into studying the passage, let’s read it from two vastly different versions. It will get our minds turning.
Thy word is a lamp unto my feet KJV
Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.
Psalm 119:105 the message
By your words I can see where I’m going; they throw a beam of light on my dark path.
What is the meaning of your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path?
As I said before, Psalm 119:105 is rich with metaphoric meaning. We will now break down the verse into parts and explore it.
What is the meaning of “your word is a lamp to my feet”
There are many different words for word in Scripture.
The Hebrew for word in this verse is dabar. It refers to words spoken by God himself or divine revelation.
It is important to keep the primary context in mind.
It is important to know that the person who wrote Psalm 119 was not referring to the 66 books of the Bible as we have it today. They were referring to the Torah which is the first five books of the Bible, also called the Torah. That is what was available to them at the time.
Through these inspired writings, God shared His character with His people so that they could get to know who he was really. I’ll talk some more about this later.
What is the Lamp Unto My Feet?
Time travel with me.
The writer of Psalm 119 is penning these words during a time when electricity did not exist. There was no such thing as a street lamp or street lights. The invention of the battery was quite a few centuries away so there was no such thing as a flashlight.
When night fell, a fire needed to be started to produce light and heat.
Imagine having to travel on a moonless night. All there is is pitch blackness. You wouldn’t be able to see your nose if you tried.
How then would you even be able to see your feet to know where to put them down in the dark? This is why they needed portable lamps.
The lamp was a very small saucer-like bowl with a small sprout that had a wick made of flax sticking out of it. The bowl area held the oil and the other end of the wicked was dipped in it.
This lamp wasn’t big. It was small enough to hold on the palm of your hand. Therefore, the amount of light it could provide was quite limited. There was just enough light for you to take the next step.
And that’s why the Psalmist says God’s word is a lamp for his feet.
What is the difference between light and lamp in the Bible?
Psalm 119:105 talks about both lamp and light. We just learned that the lamp was an object or instrument that people and night travelers used to help them see where to put their feet.
The reason they were able to see was because the lamp was fulfilling its purpose. You see, the lamp is the object that produces light.
The light is the thing that chases away the darkness and illuminates the pathway of the traveler. A lamp is only as useful as the light it provides. And light represents God and the truth about him.
Walking a path in light is similar to walking in the truth as revealed by God in Scripture:
This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. 1 John 1:5-6 (ESV)
What is the message of Psalms 119 105?
Let’s put together what we have learned so far.
The writer of Psalms is using his words to paint a picture of someone walking in the pitch blackness of the night with a tiny lamp to light their way.
He is using this entire picture to tell us how the Word of God has affected his life. The writer uses figurative language to talk about God’s word. He compares the Word of God to a lamp that produces light.
For him, the path of life on earth is extremely dark but God’s word has helped him walk the path of life without stumbling.
If you read the rest of this portion up to verse 112, you will notice that the writer mentions some difficulties they faced in life. But even in the middle of those dark situations, they were committed to God’s word.
The wicked have laid a snare for me, but I do not stray from your precepts. Psalm 119:105 ESV
In this Psalm, the individual is expressing complete devotion to God and His words because they know how valuable it is in helping them through life.
How is God’s word a lamp unto my feet and light to my path?
When you think about the primary context of Psalm 119, the Psalmist is actually referring to the Torah as the Word of God. Those were the Scriptures available at that time in history.
Today, we have so much more than that. There was a time when stories about God were memorized, told, and retold.
The Word of God has been expanded because we went from just retelling the stories to writing them down so more can be preserved.
We went from sending oral messages to writing letters. We went from reciting poetry and singing songs to writing stanzas and verses.
The Bible itself was being written as history unfolded. To think that the whole book of Psalms had not yet existed when the Psalmist was putting pen to paper in Psalm 119.
I said all of that to say this: God has allowed His Words to be preserved and compiled for a reason. Just like the Psalmist had the Torah, we have the Bible.
Now, God’s Word isn’t just what God himself said but it is also revelations that have been open to men as they walked with God through life.
How can we allow God’s word to be a lamp to our feet and a light to our path?
There are more ways than we can talk about here but I will just mention 4 ways.
Psalm 119: 105 meaning #1 – The Word of God teaches us about God
When sin entered the world, we humans lost something valuable. We used to be able to talk with God face to face. We had the privilege of learning about God from God himself.
Because of sin, this earth is covered in darkness and God cannot dwell here because his holiness would destroy us.
The enemy is taking advantage of this situation by planting lies about God in our hearts and minds.
But God still wants us to get to know Him. And that’s one reason He has allowed Scripture to be preserved.
Through the Bible we learn about the various names of God and why He has these titles. For example, when we feel like the hard things we are going through don’t matter, Scripture tells us that He is Jehovah El Roi, the God who sees us. We see this in Hagar’s story.
When the enemy tries to convince us that nobody loves us, we learn from Scripture about God’s love for us in John 3:16 that made Him die for us. We learn that His love is unconditional and everlasting.
Although the enemy would want you to believe that you are alone, we learn that God promised never to leave us nor forsake us and that the Holy Spirit is right here beside each of us because He promised (Deutoronomy 31:6-8).
Although the enemy would want us to believe that God is dreadful and is ready to punish us as soon as we mess up, Scripture tells us he is full of compassion, mercy and grace, he is long-suffering towards us and wants none of us to perish (Psalm 145:8-9; 2 Peter 3:8-10).
Despite the enemy’s attempts to make us believe that God is bad, Scripture tells us that God is good despite all the darkness we see around us (Psalm 107:1).
There are so many lies about God that the enemy has sold as truth. Those lies bring darkness to our lives. As you read Scripture, you are giving God the opportunity to teach you about Himself.
In this way, He can shine the light in your path so you can walk in truth and confidence about the God you believe in.
Psalm 119: 105 meaning #2 – The Word of God shows us mistakes and situations to avoid
I saw a quote one day that stuck with me. It was on the wall in an office on a college campus. It said:
Learn from the mistakes of others. You cannot make them all.
As I said, it stuck with me.
One good way to allow God’s word to guide your life is by studying the lives of Bible characters. We tend to see the men and women in Scripture as flat and colorless.
But they were real people with real problems who made real mistakes that had real consequences.
The Bible isn’t just for building your faith. What we can learn from the mistakes of Bible characters is applicable to practical aspects of life. We can learn principles to live a practical Christian life.
Feeling jealous of the accomplishments of one of your siblings?
From Jacob, we learn that telling lies and scheming can destroy your family before it even starts. And even worse, one act of selfish ambition can affect your family for generations.
Desperate to get married to your boyfriend because your biological clock is ticking?
From Leah, women can learn that having children for a man to secure his love and affection doesn’t usually work. The result is a difficult spiritual and emotional life.
Feeling overly proud of your blessings as you look at others whose lives haven’t worked out as nicely as yours?
We can learn from Hagar that pride has terrible consequences and that God rewards humility.
Drowning in debt and you are desperate to get out?
From the story of Elisha and the widow with the oil we can learn that debt brings trouble to our life and puts our family in trouble. But God can bring a miraculous but practical solution if you are willing to have Him show you.
By studying the lives of Bible characters, our path gets light and we can live from a place of wisdom instead of folly.
The Word of God tells us when we are going the wrong way and points us in the right direction.
We don’t have to repeat the mistakes that they made. It saves us so much pain. And it saves time because it’s takes time to recover from every mistake you make
Psalm 119: 105 meaning #3 – The Word of God tells us the secrets to good decisions and righteous living
Not only does the Bible reveal to us what not to do but it also tells us what to do.
For example, through the stories of Bible characters, through the wisdom books, and the epistles (letters) we can learn exactly what to do in our lives.
The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight. Proverbs 9:10 (ESV)
Many people stumble through life without a map. You can create a plan for your life from the Scriptures to help you live with purpose and righteousness.
If you are trying to make a decision and you don’t know the next step to take, there are Bible stories that can help. The story of the 4 lepers in 2 Kings 7 and Paul’s approach in Acts 16:6-9) are two examples to explore.
Not sure you’re if you’re making the right decision? Philippians 4:7 tells us that God’s peace will guard our hearts. 1 Corinthians 10:23-33 tells that no matter what we do, God must be glorified by it.
Not sure how to live a life of meaning and purpose? Read the story of Dorcas. Review the mandate that Jesus gave His disciples in the last chapter of Matthew. Study the gifts of the Spirit and figure out which one God has poured out in your life. Knowing your spiritual gift is a great place to start in discovering your purpose.
Do a deep study of the Gospels and pay attention to all of what Jesus said and did. Use that as a starting place to set personal goals for growing in all aspects of your life.
The Word is light and lamp when it jumps off the printed or digital pages and makes into our daily lives: into the conversations we have, the way we resolve conflicts, the way we treat each other, how we choose to earn and spend money, how we use our time, the books we read, the entertainment we engage.
The Word of God is powerful only when it is used.
Psalm 119: 105 meaning #4 – The Word of God uplifts and encourage in dark times
When we are discouraged, depressed, and in despair it can feel like we are in a very dark place. The Word of God can reach us in those places no matter how dark.
There are many examples in the Bible of God showing up in dark situations.
God talked with Job during the darkest season of his life.
When Elijah became depressed to the point of suicide, an angel came to him, fed him, and encouraged him to get some rest.
Jesus met the Widow of Nain on one of the darkest days of her life.
When Paul lost his sight because of the Damascus road experience, God sent Ananias to encourage him and get him on track.
Here are some useful Bible verses for when you need some light in dark times.
For his anger is but for a moment, and his favor is for a lifetime. Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes with the morning. Psalm 30:5 ESV
Those who sow in tears will reap with shouts of joy. Psalm 126:5 ESV
Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Matthew 11:28 ESV
God’s word is powerful. It can dry your tears and put a smile on your face. It can make you see the sun even through the clouds.
For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope. Romans 15:4
Your word is a lamp unto my feet quotes
There are many other verses in the Bible that carry the same idea as Psalm 119:105. Here are a few to use to extend this study:
The precepts of the LORD are right, bringing joy to the heart; the commandments of the LORD are radiant, giving light to the eyes.
For the commandment is a lamp and the teaching a light, and the reproofs of discipline are the way of life,
2 Peter 1:19
And we have the prophetic word more fully confirmed, to which you will do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts
Psalm 119 105 prayer
Whenever I do a study of God’s word, I am always moved to prayer. Join me if you are not sure what to pray:
Heavenly Father, thank you for preserving your words throughout history. Thank you for revealing yourself to us. Please help me to use what you have revealed about yourself to live a practical, purposeful, and holy life that will bring glory to your name. As I read your Word, open my spiritual eyes so that I will discern Your truths. Send me your Holy Spirit whom you said would lead me into all truth. Make them the Scripture relevant to the time in which I live. Empower me to walk in the light of your truth. Amen.