As the Shining Light
Brian D. Dykstra, teacher at Hope PR Christian School
Proverbs 4:17-18: “But the path of the just is as the shining light, that shineth more and more unto the perfect day. The way of the wicked is as darkness: they know not at what they stumble.”
Solomon has just warned us not to enter the path of the wicked. We should not set even a first footstep on that path. Our sinful flesh would find it appealing and, having tasted the way of evil, we would find it difficult to leave. Solomon also warned us about the character of those on the wicked path. They do not seek our good, for their motivation is their desire to see others fall.
Through Solomon, God now encourages us by displaying the antithetical contrast between the path of the just and the way of the wicked. Keeping this instruction in mind will help us to walk the right path.
Solomon speaks first of the path of the just. The just are those who are upright. They can stand before God as those who have no guilt of sin clinging to them.
Some claim they have attained justification before God themselves. They have performed an abundance of good works and fought successfully against their sinful natures. Their remaining flaws are mere foibles which make them no worse than others. They have subdued the man of sin and now are without sin. They have finally conquered sin in their flesh.
The Reformed believer knows better. Yes, we are just and can stand before God the judge as those who have no sin. However, we know this is all of Christ. The perfectly righteous One took all our sins upon Himself and carried them to the cross where His shed blood covered our every sin. That was not all. God then took Christ’s perfect obedience and credited that to our accounts. We are just by the faith which joins us to our perfect mediator.
These just have a manner of living their lives. There is no boasting in self-righteousness. They do not carry themselves as holier than others. They live humbly before God knowing they have been saved by grace alone. They are prayerful, confessing sin and its origin in themselves, then giving thanks for what God has done for their salvation.
This path is as a shining light. Although this light is bright, not being as a candle or firefly, it is not harsh. It is not the type of light which makes one cover one’s eyes with the hands for protection. It is not annoying or blinding. It is not as the early morning or late evening sun which blinds you as you drive to or from work causing you to lower your car’s visor.
This light sparkles pleasantly and glitters with joy. This light brings out brilliant colours making the Creator’s world glorious and a joy to behold. It’s the light that puts the velvety glow on a violet’s petals, the playful, myriad sparkles on a mountain lake and varies the emerald hues of green on the verdant hills of Northern Ireland.
This light shines more and more. It is as the dawning of a new day. The first faint glow of light filters into the eastern sky. Then the sun appears and rises higher in the sky until it reaches its zenith. Strangely, there the sun stops and we have the perfect, complete and finished, light of the noon sun. God’s children will reach that point on the path of the just. God will give us joy and blessing. Our sorrows will be gone. We will walk in the perfect day of God’s kingdom in the new heavens and the new earth.
We know all too well that the increasing shining of the light does not mean that our lives are characterized by steady spiritual growth and constant improvement in living in the fear of our great God. Clouds of trouble, anxiety and discontent sometimes gather. We avert our furrowed faces from the light. There are eclipses of the sun for God’s people. David fell into the sins of adultery and murder. Peter denied his Lord. We can all look at our lives and see that it is so. We give thanks that God promises grace for each day and also works repentance in our hearts. Our God’s countenance is gracious and forgiving, an ever faithful, healing light.
The way of the wicked is not anything close to the path of the just. It is dark there, completely dark. God does not strategically place mirrors of common grace to reflect a bit of His light on the way of the reprobate wicked to show them He desires their salvation if only they would accept His gracious offer of salvation. It is only darkness. It is a way of gloominess where the dismal darkness never lifts. It is the darkness of sin. They love to have it so. Their spiritual father is Satan who cannot abide the light. They love the lie, prefer to hear the lie and desire to walk the path of the wicked either in wilful ignorance or bold defiance.
The darkness of the wicked way causes them to stumble. They fall into sin since they have no light and truth. It is foolishness! If you are in the dark and keep falling, find some light for your safety! It is obvious! When my children were very young, they would sometimes neglect to put away some of their toys. As a father of little children, it did not take me long to learn that one should never walk into a dark room. Turn on the light first! Stepping on a small metal aeroplane or Lego building block is not pleasant in bare feet. It was a lesson quickly learned.
Still, the wicked will have nothing to do with light. They hate it. They would prefer to walk over hot coals on their way to destruction than to dip their feet in God’s stream of cool, living water. Such is the nature of fallen man.
Those are the two paths. They have nothing in common. They do not intersect and they certainly do not end in the same place. God has warned us not to set foot upon the way of the wicked for it brings certain ruin. He understands as well our weakness and our frailty in that our flesh finds the way of the wicked appealing. He has graciously placed us on the path of the just. He has promised us that even our worst sins cannot separate us from His love. He will walk with us on this path as our Father.
May God work in the hearts of our children so they discern the differences of these two paths, and live and walk the way of the just, the way illuminated by the life-giving light of their faithful Father’s face.