Brian D. Dykstra, a teacher at Hope PRCS in Walker, MI
Psalm 119:130: “The entrance of thy words giveth light; it giveth understanding to the simple.”
In fifth grade, we have just finished our study of astronomy. When we studied the moon and the planets, students could understand how scientists know of what those heavenly bodies are made. Astronauts and various space probes have gone to the moon returning with rocks and soil. These samples have then been examined in laboratories. Other probes have been sent to all the planets except Pluto.
Yet, students often wonder how scientists know so much about the stars. No probes have ever gone to the sun and certainly we have not gone anywhere near any other star. How, then, do we know so much about them? In fact, there was a time in the twentieth century when astronomers knew more about stars than the other planets of the solar system! Scientists were able to gain knowledge about stars by studying the light which comes from them.
The tool astronomers use to study starlight is the spectroscope. Spectroscopes might have changed since my source of information was published in 1978. The spectroscope takes starlight and spreads it out into a spectrum. The most familiar example of a spectrum is the rainbow. In a spectroscope, first, the light is passed through a narrow slit, generally less than 1/500 inch in width, and then through a prism or series of prisms. The resulting spectrum may be directed into an eye-lens for actual viewing or projected onto a photographic plate.
Rather than seeing a continuous band of color, as in the rainbow, the spectroscope revealed bands, either dark or light, with the colours of the rainbow as a backdrop. Scientists then learned that these lines were as fingerprints. Each element, such as hydrogen, helium, oxygen, carbon, etc., when heated enough produces its own peculiar pattern of lines. By examining the lines in the spectra of stars, scientists were able to determine what elements were in stars.
This information was used to determine many things about stars. By studying starlight, astronomers could determine the temperature of stars. They learned that the cooler stars were red, while the hotter stars were blue. The light could also be used to find the distance to the stars. Light entering a spectroscope can reveal much about stars.
The verse at the top of this page speaks of a different light. This is the light of truth by which we can discern the difference between what God says is right and what He says is wrong.
I always find it interesting that in Acts, where we read of the work of missions, and here in this verse, there is no room for the “free will” of man. We read that God’s Word enters. We do not read that we must “accept” the light, nor do we read that we “choose” the light. Those two words, so valued and used by today’s “evangelists,” are conspicuously absent.
Instead, we are reminded of the sovereignty of God. When He is so pleased, His Light will enter the hearts of His people. The Almighty does not wait until we give Him permission.
In our day and age, it must also be noted that the Word in this verse is exclusively Jehovah’s. We are not speaking of Allah’s word or the word of the Hindu god. Those gods have no true word to enter men’s hearts. The word of such gods cannot give knowledge in the ways which please God. Nor do such words instruct in the only way of salvation, the cross of the only Son of God.
How much do the spectra reveal to us about stars? I cannot recognize one pattern of lines from another. They tell me nothing. What of the entering of God’s light? It gives understanding to the simple. Even the smallest of our children, as they learn Bible stories and the Ten Commandments, become able to discern between what is pleasing to God and what is not.
Scientists have gained much knowledge of the stars. Yet, because for so many there is no faith in their hearts, although they are very intelligent, they have no understanding of things spiritual. The evolutionist will not get down on his knees before the God of creation who makes Himself so evident in His handiwork. We, the simple, however, can be found daily at the foot of the cross beseeching God to be merciful to us and blot out our sins in Christ’s blood.
Yes, the spectroscope can use physical light to give knowledge of the heavens. How much better is the light of the Word which will lead us and our covenant children to the experience of heaven!
As Charles Spurgeon says in his commentary of this verse, “Oh, that Thy words, like the beams of the sun, may enter through the window of my understanding and dispel the darkness of my mind!” May our gracious God make it so by His grace for all His children.