“The unfolding of your words gives light; it imparts understanding to the simple.”
(Psalm 119:130 ESV)
Last month, we looked the multiple benefits of studying the Word of God from Psalm 119. This month, I’d like to focus on this one verse that stood out to me this week in my reading. As I read through this Psalm, each day, I pick out one verse of the stanza to focus on, and consider; a verse in particular that I can identify with personally.
Let’s look at the first phrase of this verse to begin with. “The unfolding of your words gives light.” The Hebrew term that is translated “unfolding” here can be understood a few different ways. First, it could mean literally, unfolding, as one would unroll a scroll, or open a book—so to opening up His words will give us light. This is incredibly true! The more I read through not just the Psalms, but all of Scripture, the light is shed on who God is, what He is like, how much He loves me/us. I learn every time I open the pages.
It can also be understood metaphorically. For the words to be declared or proclaimed is a light giving exercise. When the Preacher/teacher gets up to declare the Word of God, to open or explain it, light or understanding is hopefully gained by those listening. When Josiah had the book of the Law of Moses read to him, as recorded in 2 Chron. 34, light was shown on the sins of Judah, and Josiah tore his clothes in anguish over it. Josiah was then motivated to make huge reforms in Jerusalem and Judah, to humble themselves before the LORD God, and worship Him as prescribed in the book.
When we read, or unfold the Words of God, aided by the understanding given to us through the work of the Holy Spirit, light shines, and the truth is revealed. Sometimes the truth is painful, as in Josiah’s day, in learning of how far we’ve strayed from the truth. Sometimes the truth increases our faith, as we learn more about the nature and character of God, and how faithful He is. Sometimes the light that is shown brings comfort and healing, because we learn about his patience and forgiveness, and how receptive He is to a repentant heart.
The second part of that phrase is rich as well. “It imparts understanding to the simple.” One of the uses of the word translated “simple” here is someone who is easily persuaded or enticed. I don’t like to think of myself as “simple” in that regard, but perhaps it’s more often true than I would like to admit. But even the “simple” will gain understanding when His Word is opened or unfolded for them.
Another way to think of this is that we are to become teachable, or “simple,” so that we can be taught, even when we think we don’t need to. “Lord, help me become teachable,” should be our prayer when we come to His Word and unfold it. A man who was perhaps 30 or so years older than me taught me that it is good to never stop learning. I’ve remembered that, and have tried to put it into practice, especially when it comes to the Word of God.
I hope you will consider your attitude when it comes to listening to, reading, and studying the Word of God. I pray that you will approach it humbly, knowing that each time you have great opportunity to learn and grow.
By His Grace Alone,
Pastor Bruce Jacobsen