The happiness factor of God’s light
Light is sown like seed for the righteous,
And gladness for the upright in heart. (Psalm 97:11)
The light referred to in the verse above is the same light that lit the dwellings of the Hebrews when the thick darkness was over the land of Egypt. It is no ordinary light. It is the light of God. It illuminates the lives of the righteous, and as stated in the previous chapter, it gives them enlightenment, happiness and cheerfulness.
When we think about God’s lamp, and subsequently His provision, we usually think about more “practical” things like food, clothing and shelter. But in the light of God’s lamp, we are also provided with gladness. What’s more, we don’t have to manufacture it ourselves. In fact, we couldn’t possibly “manufacture” our own gladness, because as stated above, it is a living thing—it comes from a seed—which God Himself plants for us.
True gladness comes from God. Look at a similar passage:
The righteous man will be glad in the LORD, and will take refuge in Him;
And all the upright in heart will glory. (Psalm 64:10)
Like everything that emanates from God, the light He gives us grows brighter. Because it is “sown” it therefore grows and gets bigger and bigger. Nothing that comes from God remains stagnant. It always grows and bears fruit. In fact stagnance is the absolute antithesis of God. Therefore, the enlightenment and happiness that comes from God will grow within us more and more.
There’s a wonderful story about the ark of the covenant and how it inspired gladness. The ark was a beautiful chest made of acacia wood and overlaid completely with gold. It was very ornate and inordinately beautiful, and inside of it were the tablets of testimony—the stone tablets on which were written the Ten Commandments. The ark was five feet long, three feet high and three feet wide. On the top of the ark was a golden mercy seat and on either end, a golden cherubim—representative of an order of angels who accompany God and His throne wherever He goes. The cherubim faced each other from each end of the mercy seat, their wings were spread upward, covering the mercy seat. But most incredible of all was that above the mercy seat was where God would meet with Moses, to speak with him about all that He would give in commandment for the sons of Israel.
When the ark of the covenant was constructed, God gave the Israelites clear instructions as to what it would be made of, how it would be designed, and how to carry it as they sojourned through the wilderness. God even designated a specific tribe of people who alone could carry it—the Levites. No one could touch it, not even the Levites, and therefore rings were installed on the four corners of the ark, so that poles could be slipped through the rings and mounted on the shoulders of the Levites as they walked. It was absolutely holy, and God would stand for nothing less than absolute reverence and holy fear in regard to the handling of the ark.
Eventually the ark came to rest in Shiloh in the tabernacle after the Israelites crossed over into Canaan, and remained in place for a few hundred years. Then the Philistine army came against the Israelites in battle, and crushed them handily, killing four thousand of their men. The Israelites were stunned, since they still carried with them the stories of the incredible victories of Joshua when he and the Israelites entered Canaan, and vanquished city after city as they took possession of the Promised Land. They knew that Joshua had not done it alone, but God had told him clearly that He would be with him and grant him victory over every place that his foot would tread.
Rather than skulk away, the Israelites decided to come at the Philistines again, but this time, they would bring the ark of the covenant with them. They knew that great power accompanied the ark wherever it went—that Joshua and his army of Israelites had been in possession of it—and so they went and took the ark from Shiloh, and brought it into their camp. What happened next seems to be one of two very different responses when the ark of the covenant is in close proximity:
And it happened as the ark of the covenant of the LORD came into the camp, that all Israel shouted with a great shout, so that the earth resounded. (1 Samuel 4:5)
Think about this. As the ark of the covenant came into the camp, all Israel suddenly shouted with a great shout—not several shouts, but one single shout—a shout so loud that the earth resounded. How was it that everyone—all Israel—men, women and children consisting of hundreds of thousands of people, would be able to shout in unison, and deliver it so loudly that the earth would echo the sound back again? The direct translation from the Hebrew text of 1 Samuel says that the earth was “rumbling”—so much so that the Philistines, normally arrogant and puffed with pride—began to be afraid of the Israelites, because they knew that not only was the ark of the covenant in their camp, but now God was in their camp:
And the Philistines were afraid, for they said, “God has come into the camp.” And they said, “Woe to us! For nothing like this has happened before.” (1 Samuel 4:7b)
We’ll continue in Chapter 5 in the next installment.