Tending to Your Lamp

Psalm 119:105 reads:

נֵר-לְרַגְלִי דְבָרֶךָ; וְאוֹר לִנְתִיבָתִי

“Your Word is a lamp to my feet, and light to my well-worn path.”

In Proverbs 6:23we find an echoing verse:

כִּי נֵר מִצְוָה, וְתוֹרָה אוֹר

“For the commandment is a lamp, and the instruction (Torah) a light.”

The lamp, in the ancient Near-East, was either a metal or clay dish filled with oil, with a wick of some fashion set in the oil. In order for the lamp to burn properly, both the oil and the wick had to be tended: one filled, the other trimmed or replaced. It was a process that all in a household would know well; because of this familiarity, both the psalmist and Solomon make use of this imagery. Why? The days we are living in should give us a clue.

In this week’s double Torah portion of Vayakhel/Pekudei (Ex. 35:1-40:38), concluding the Book of Exodus, the Tabernacle that has been designed and described, is now constructed in painstaking detail. As this instruction unfolds, we find details regarding the Menorah: a hammered work, with cups, bulbs, flowers and branches, made in the fashion of an almond tree. The Menorah had seven lights in all. Located in the holy place, the inner chamber, it was the only source of light in the Tabernacle. Like smaller household lamps, the Menorah must be tended to: the oil filled and the wicks trimmed and replaced.

The Menorah symbolized: His Presence, His stirring presence, light overcoming darkness, His enduring Word, and His people.


In the Middle East, the Almond tree is the first tree to awake after winter, quick to respond to changing conditions. The word almond comes from the root שָׁקַד, meaning: to be alert, on the lookout, sleepless, watchful; and in the image of the Menorah, the almond branches, cups and flowers speak to His watchfulness, and the quickening of life and His Word. Aaron’s rod/staff was an almond branch – it springing to life (resurrection) signified the Lord’s choice of High Priest – the Almond Branch of Resurrection – by a sleepless branch.

When Titus sacked the Temple in Jerusalem, he took with him the furnishings of the Temple – a scene famously depicted in Rome (see included picture). When he carried away the Menorah, he believed he was taking away, not only the light, but also the Word and hope of God’s people. The enemy attempted to steal the symbol of light and hope. Why? What are many peope facing today? Fear and hopelessness.

To the point.

In Jeremiah chapter 1, as the Lord calls him, He explains that the words given to Jeremiah will either bring judgment or blessing, and the Lord confirms this in an unusual way:

וַיְהִי דְבַר-יְהוָה אֵלַי לֵאמֹר, מָה-אַתָּה רֹאֶה יִרְמְיָהוּ; וָאֹמַר, מַקֵּל שָׁקֵד אֲנִי רֹאֶה

“And it happened that the Word of the Lord came to me saying, ‘What do you see Jeremiah?’ And I said, ‘I see a rod of an almond tree.’”

וַיֹּאמֶר יְהוָה אֵלַי, הֵיטַבְתָּ לִרְאוֹת: כִּי-שֹׁקֵד אֲנִי עַל-דְּבָרִי, לַעֲשֹׂתוֹ

“And the Lord said to me, ‘You have seen well, for I watch over My Word do to it.”

The word “almond” and “watch” come from the same root: שָׁקַד, to be alert, on the lookout, sleepless, watchful. The Lord is watching over His Word, to do it: either judgment or blessing. We need to walk in it, and as we do we are quickened in life.

Applying Psalm 119 and Proverbs 6

The Word/commandment is the lamp, needing to be tended to in us. They are a lamp to our life/walk, they inform the way we should go. Usually, Psalm 119:105, the second clause, is translated “and a light to my path,” yet, the Hebrew speaks of the well-worn way that others in faith have gone before: patterns of faith to follow.

The light, the lamp illuminated and set in place informing our walk becomes our worldview – directing us to avoid the same circumstances that once ensnared us. The instruction of the Father aids our walk: look both ways before you cross the street.

The scene of Psalm 119:105 is obviously in darkness, at nighttime, a place of fear. Dear reader, it’s past time to light our lamps: to see and avoid the old trap of fear. As He has commanded, by His Word, He is also watching over it to fulfill it. He is not sleeping or slumbering, and He does not take time off. Therefore, we can take steps with confidence (Heb. 11:1). How so?

Coming together.

The Word, the light, the Resurrected One, the Branch, has not only come, but has joined us to Himself, and sent us the Holy Spirit. Do not let the enemy to carry away your light and hope, extinguishing it.

Now is the time to walk in what we have been studying for, praying about, and rejoicing in; that He: will not leave us, nor forsake us, He is with us always, even to the end of the age, He will be in us. The apostle John writes, “Greater is He that is in me, than he who is in the world” (I Jn. 4:4); and, “There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out all fear” (I Jn. 4:18).

The Word must be the way we view the world around us, not just when things are well, but when everything is falling to pieces. This is the Word of Jeremiah: “I am still doing My Word.” And as we abide in Him, we can rest in this promise, “Forever, O Lord, Your Word is settled in heaven” (Ps. 119:89).

Meditation: Matthew 25:1-13

Be well. Shalom.

One thought on “Tending to Your Lamp

  1. John Looper

    A word of insight and blessing! We are all in the process of keeping our wick trimmed so that we can reflect the burning light of Messiah through the oil of the Holy Spirit.


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