The Scriptural Parent/Teacher

By James Beeke

"Thy Word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path" (Psalm 119:105).

Picture a person walking toward a certain city in biblical times. Darkness falls before he or she reaches the desired destination. How critical it is for this person to have an oil lamp with them! Flashlights, streetlights or any other type of night lights do not exist. Without a lamp this person could not continue without stumbling into potholes, tripping over rocks, falling into ditches, colliding with unseen objects and becoming hopelessly lost.

As parents and teachers we are called to instruct children and young people in a fallen, sinful, dark world. We are sinners and so are our children. A dark world of sin exists outside but also dwells within us. How can we possibly guide children and teens without stumbling, falling, and becoming hopelessly lost? We can only proceed upon the right parenting and teaching path if we use the light God has provided - Holy Scripture. "Thy Word is a lamp unto my feet, and light unto my path."

Whose word do you parent by? Do you teach by? Do you go by? "Thy Word" is very different from "my word is a lamp unto my feet." Which is foundational to your instructing and guiding? Are you walking in the light of God’s Word or man’s teachings and your own ideas?

How bright is your lamp? If the glass of a lantern is not kept clean it soon becomes cloudy and darkened. Its light dims. Its user will begin to stumble and grope for he or she cannot see the path so clearly anymore. How is your daily Bible reading, prayer and holiness? If the glass is not kept clean continually, the light of God’s Word is dimmed in our life. How can we effectively counsel, correct, and lead our children and students if we hesitate, stumble and grope when attempting to respond to their questions and to direct them in the way they should go? Are we continually cleaning the glass of our lamps, by avoiding sin and employing God’s means of grace under the Holy Spirit’s blessing?

"Thy Word is a lamp." This is present tense. It applies to today’s questions, problems and concerns. As parents, as teachers, is God’s Word presently enlightening and guiding our thoughts, words, and actions?

"Thy Word is a lamp unto my feet." Light at your feet is close by. It is immediate. With this light you have sufficient light to safely take the next step or two. "And a light unto my path." This implies a more distant focus. This light reveals the direction you are to go. Teachers, is God’s Word "a light unto your path," providing light by which you plan? Is it revealing the direction you are to go, the goal for which you are to aim? Parents, is God’s Word "a lamp unto your feet?" Do you seek God’s wisdom before disciplining your child or speaking with your teen? Without this light, we will stumble and miss the path. There is no better "Teacher’s Guide" or "Parenting Manual" than this Word of God.

There are two pronouns in Psalm 119:105. "Thy" and "my." "Thy Word" and "my feet." Are these two connected in your life? Do your children, do your students see the connection? Do they observe God’s Word and its guiding principles providing light and direction in your life?

Finally, this verse contains rich comfort. It is meant to reduce anxiety in the hearts of parents and teachers who are praying and striving, by God’s grace, to walk in its light. When you are driving to a certain place at night, the head- lights of your car do not shine all the way to your destination. They enlighten only a few hundred feet ahead of you. When you reach the point that formerly was a few hundred feet ahead, however, your headlights reveal the next turns and sections of roadway. As you drive, do you fear because you cannot see the entire road all the way to your destination? Do you not trust that your headlights will show you the way gradually as you progress, section by section, until you reach your destination?

Seek grace, as parents and teachers, to trust that God’s Word, under the enlightening blessing of the Spirit, will continue to provide light for your feet, light for the decisions needed today. Do not be filled with unbelief and doubt because you cannot see the entire road all the way to the desired destination for your children or students.

It is God’s way to lead His children in this life by the lamp of His Word until they reach their ultimate destination, a land of eternal light. There no lamp will be needed. "And there shall be no night there; and they need no candle, neither light of the sun; for the Lord God giveth them light" (Rev- elation 22:5). But until then, we are called to walk by the light He presently provides, personally, but also in our callings as parents or teachers. This light is Scripture. "Thy Word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path."

Are you a scriptural parent? A scriptural teacher?