Wednesday, June 05, 2019

Life and Light

'For with you is the fountain of life; in your light do we see light' Psalm 36:9.
When David sang to God, 'For with you is the fountain of life', he was not thinking of life in the ordinary sense of that word. Similarly when he said, 'in your light do we see light', he had a different idea about light also.
Life is not just a mere existence. Generally speaking, we associate life with the state of creatures to have an existence. When an animal dies it's life is taken from it. However, the word life means more than mere existence.
Life also means that vitality and vigour with which we lead our lives. Two people join us at the party. We say one is lifeless because she is not enjoying our company or contributing anything to enhance the enjoyment that we are all looking forward to. Maybe she is a party pooper by her presence. The other person is altogether different. We may also even say that she is the 'life of the party.' She not only keep the party going, but makes it enjoyable by her active presence, and by the way she contributes to the spirit of the party.
Our earthly existence has ups and downs. There are times when the vitality and vigour are drained out of our lives. We can say that we live because we walk, talk, work and earn a living, etc. However, most of the time, we do it without real life in us. Our relationships, our talk and even our work are 'lifeless.'
However, it is possible to lead our lives without unrealistic ups and depressive downs. It is possible to live on a higher plane but still on level ground. We can maintain a healthy, steady level of vitality and vigour of life even in the most trying circumstances.
The secret of how much life we have in our lives depends on where we draw our life from. There are two sources of life. One like all nature we draw our sustenance from the surroundings and ourselves. That is how trees and animals live. They draw their food and nutrients from their surroundings. When they have nothing to draw, they use what they have stored up for the difficult days. They survive in arid places in dry summer until the refreshing rain arrives. Human beings too keep going using their built-in coping mechanisms.
The other source as the psalmist has discovered is to draw our life from God who is the source of life. When there is nothing that the surroundings can offer and there is no inner strength left, godly people look up to God. Then God who is the source of life provides new vigour in abundance like a fountain refreshing those who parched with the heat of the day.
Jesus told made it more clear to the Samaritan woman. He told her that the water that Jacob's well offers makes a person come back to it every time they thirst. And the heat of the day makes them thirst again and again. The trying circumstances of our earthly existence are like the heat of the day. However, he offers living waters that never causes thirst. The water that Jesus offered the Samaritan woman is qualified as 'living' in two senses. First of all, it is not stagnant as the water in Jacob's well. It is like a stream that flows with water because it originates from a spring that keeps gushing out fresh water. It is also living waters because it gives life.
On the last day of the festival, Jesus said something that elaborates this truth. He said, 'If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink' (John 6:37). He was calling all those who lead lives like the beasts of burden, heavy-laden and lifeless. He promises all those who drink from him a life that doesn't thirst but also becoming streams of life for themselves and others. That is the message hidden in the words that Jesus spoke to the Samaritan woman:' ... but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty forever. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life' (John 4:14).
The concept of light also is similar. David uses it in this verse metaphorically to illustrate its spiritual aspects. Bible associates light with the truth. This is clear in some passages where light is lumped with truth, wisdom, knowledge etc. Having light means having the ability to avoid what is false and to know what is true. The psalmist would say, 'The unfolding of your words gives light;it imparts understanding to the simple' (Psalm 119:130). In a similar vein, the Book of Daniel lumps it with 'light and understanding and excellent wisdom'  (Dan 5:14).
However, this is not just an inner illumination that we possess. The source of this life is God because God is light. It is one of the powerful statements in the Bible: 'God is light; in him, there is no darkness' (1 John 1:5).
This leads us to this truth: Without God being the source of light, we will not every discern truth from falsehood. Without God the light guiding us we will never be able to find the pathways to everlasting life.
David thus in a poetic manner expounds this truth that life and light or vitality of life and wisdom for living comes from the living God, the God of the Bible.

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