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“THE UNFOLDING OF YOUR WORDS GIVES LIGHT”
by Philip Owen

            “The unfolding of Your words gives light” (Psa. 119:130a).   A simple, unequivocal, declarative statement.  And since the words [in the autograph] are inspired and authoritative, we ought to consider them carefully.

            The second part of the verse from which we have taken our text illuminates the meaning of the term light as used here; the psalmist explains that “it [i.e., “the unfolding of Your words”] gives understanding to the simple.”  In other words, the psalmist is using the metaphor of “light” to explain the concept of spiritual understanding.  To be given light is to understand God’s ways, purposes, requirements, and blessings.  It enables the believer to view the world from God’s perfect perspective rather than from a flawed human perspective.

            We must note the exclusive nature of the statement in our text.  The only way we can know what God knows (or at least as much of it as He wishes us to know and we need to know) is via the unfolding of His words.  Scripture offers no alternative to obtaining understanding apart from what is revealed in this verse.  God sets forth not what is preferable, not even what is optimal, but what is exclusive:  if we are to receive light, we must do so via the “unfolding” of the words of God.  Human philosophy, science, and reason, whether individually or in some combination, fail to give light.

            The statement explains the existence of a process by which this illumination occurs, a process the psalmist calls “the unfolding of Your words.”  The process entails two essential ingredients.  First is “Your words,” by which we understand the God-breathed words of the Bible.  It is God’s words that provide understanding; man’s words cannot do that.  Certainly, gifted men may be involved in the process, but their words, whether spoken in casual conversation or formal preaching or teaching, have no power to enlighten; such power is reserved for the Word of God.  Anything spoken, recorded, or authored by a human being has spiritual value only to the extent that it is faithful to the text and serves to properly expose that truth. 

            The psalmist describes the second ingredient in the process as “unfolding” or “opening.”  The Holy Spirit is the essential Actor in this aspect of the process.  It is He who may be said to illuminate the heart and mind, enabling all of us who are simple to truly understand what the Bible reveals regarding the nature and work of God, man’s lost state, the means of salvation, and God’s eternal purpose in saving lost men and women.  In addition to the essential element of the Spirit’s work, those who preach and teach the Word may be used to open its truths.  And, of course, the individual believer by prayerful study may discover truths directly for himself with the aid of the indwelling Spirit.

            In conclusion, our text contains several significant ramifications.  God has graciously provided what we need to be wise in all things “pertaining to life and godliness” (II Pet. 1:3).  There is no alternative to that which is provided through His Word.  We must avail ourselves of that understanding:  the alternative is to be simple, i.e., “a silly person, one easily persuaded or enticed.”   We should be actively thankful that God has provided us with all essential truth and the means of understanding that truth.  In short, we should be under the sound of the preaching of the Word, reading it ourselves, studying it, believing, and obeying it.

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