Divine enlightenment comes to us gradually (Proverbs 4:18)

Solomon informs us in Proverbs 4:18 (New Living Translation): ‘The way of the righteous is like the first gleam of dawn, which shines ever brighter until the full light of day.’ Then he contrasts this in Proverbs 4:19 with ‘the way of the wicked [which] is like total darkness. They have no idea what they are stumbling over.’ In travelling the world I have found many interesting contrasts in the timings of sunrise and sunset.

The island of Borneo is near the equator; here I noticed in the month of October that the sun rose at 6 a. m. quite suddenly and set at 6 p. m. with the same immediacy. In fact, it did this all through the year, so the young pastors at the Bible camp got their exercise in games such as football just after the afternoon teaching and before dinner and the evening session when we had to light the oil lamps. They were used to these twelve hours of daylight, and the suddenness of the sun’s rising and setting.

However, in Hammerfest, the world’s most northerly town, situated in the Arctic Circle, I found in early May that there was constant daylight! And as a boy in Scotland, I can remember one year just after World War II when the United Kingdom had double summertime and the Scottish gloaming still allowed daylight at 11.30 p. m. as, on a family holiday in Largs, we watched the rescue of two people from their capsized yacht.

So, it’s as well that Solomon lived in the Middle East, halfway between these two extremes. However, the reference of the verse is on spiritual enlightenment essentially. And just as we were enlightened gradually from babyhood ignorance to adult wide-ranging knowledge, so we have had to increase by stages in our knowledge of God’s ways since new birth.

Compare our Bible text with ‘the last words of David’ in 2 Samuel 23:1-4 where he applied these truths to his reign as king, and passed them on to his young son and successor at Solomon’s coronation (1 Kings 2:1-4): ‘Take courage and be a man. Observe the requirements of the Lord your God, and follow all his ways. Keep his decrees, commands, regulations, and laws written in the Law of Moses so that you will be successful in all you do and wherever you go. If you do this, then the Lord will keep the promise he made to me. He told me, “If your descendants live as they should and follow me faithfully with all their heart and soul, one of them will always sit on the throne of Israel.”’ And we are called to be ‘a kingdom of priests’. Here are his words of counsel to his son and heir: ‘The one who rules righteously in the fear of God, is like the light of morning at sunrise, like a morning without clouds, like the gleaming of the sun after rain.’ Notice that Solomon now teaches his son just as David had taught him as he grew up (Proverbs 4:4-9)!

In two of his psalms David declares that it is the Lord who is his light:

[] The Lord is my light and my salvation – so why should I be afraid?’ (Psalm 27:1); and

[] ‘. . .  you are the fountain of my life, the light by which we see’ (Psalm 36:9).

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