by the Rev. Charlie Dupree

We heard a portion of Psalm 119 during worship on Sunday. It’s a long psalm! It has 176 verses in which groups of eight verse begins with each successive letter of the Hebrew alphabet. This particular form is known as an acrostic. “Acrostic poems,” writes scholar Nancy deClasse-Walford, “were the works of highly skilled literary artists and functioned in ancient Israelite literature in a number of ways . . . as memory devices to aid in individual and corporate recitation; and, literarily, they summarized all that could be said or that needed to be said about a particular subject from alif to tav, from A to Z.” If there is something to be said or learned about God, you can probably find it in Psalm 119.

More importantly, though, Psalm 119 is a “wisdom psalm” and offers instructions in right living and how we order our lives and learn about relationship with God and with neighbor.

It makes sense, then, that one of the verses describes God’s word as a lantern (Psalm 119, v. 105).

You remember lanterns, don’t you? Before the “flashlight” on our iPhones . . . before, even, flashlights (the kind that take a million D batteries), there were lanterns. Camping trips and cookouts . . . you raised the little glass thingy and lit the wick, and, there was light. Like a tiny, miniature lighthouse, the lantern provided a source of illumination. But there was a unique, mysterious quality about a lantern, wasn’t it?

It wasn’t as consistent or bright as our modern light sources. The lantern flickered. It glowed. It even had a hum. It was alive. The glow didn’t go very far, but it went far enough to cast an intimacy – a closeness. Using a lantern, we had to huddle close, not straying far from each other or the source of light.

God’s word as a lantern. Makes sense – doesn’t it? Alive, glowing, keeping us close to each other, keeping us close to our Source.

In what ways is God’s word a lantern in your life?

See you in church,

Charlie+ (he/him)