Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.
We made our ascent to the pinnacle just before dark and with plenty of time to set up camp. After the tent was up, we decided to walk around the mountain top and check out the view as the sun set. On our way we encountered three people who had taken another trail to that point and did not know how to get back to their car. Fortunately for them, we had a map of the trails. We were able to guide them to the correct one, but the map and our guidance were useless without light. The sun had gone down by then, and no one would be able to see the blazes on the trees in the dark. Not only that, but the trail was not smooth in the least. Trying to navigate it without some type of illumination could result in a fall and an injury miles up the trail and far from help.
I have read this passage a number of times, and the picture I envision is usually the same. I see a light that breaks the darkness, and it shows me a path to give me the direction in which I should go. However, I have begun to realize that the path itself is not all that this light shows us. As we walk along it, there will be obstacles and pitfalls that we must avoid. The smallest of stones can turn into a sprained ankle, causing slow and painful progress. The light of God’s word illuminates not just the path but anything that could interfere with our walk and delay it, make it ineffective or even injure us. The illumination of God’s word shows not just the way we should go but also the impediments which lay in the terrain and the manner in which are to navigate them.
Anyone who hikes or climbs can tell you that knowing the path is only half of it. One also must be aware of the terrain and prepared for it. A hike on the Appalachian Trail will require different technique and equipment than a climb to the summit of Mount Everest, and no two climbs are made on the same exact terrain. There will be different obstacles over time, and one trail can be easier or more difficult on different occasions. The important thing is to be able to see those obstacles up ahead and have a plan for attacking them. The word of God illuminates both for us. Father, thank You that You not only guide us along the correct path, but You also show us the challenges and pitfalls ahead so that we will be prepared to overcome them.