Why is light given to a man whose way is hid, and whom God has hedged in?
How immediately this question speaks to us! How it seems to describe that mental and moral incongruity of which we are more or less the subjects — that feeling in which we are so often disposed to say to our Maker, Why hast Thou made me thus? This is the subject of the Book of Job — the mystery of life — the vanity of knowledge — the mysterious conflict of what man feels he is, and what he feels he might be, and desires indeed to be. In the text is —
I. A GREAT CERTAINTY. "Light is given." Man is the subject of supernatural light. The light of nature, as it is called, is not generated and developed in the order and course of mere nature. The light within the soul falls from other worlds, from unseen, unrealised heights beyond the soul God lights up the faculties, kindles the imagination, informs the judgment, and animates the hope. I take it as a great certainty that we have a strange light kindled within our being, unaccountable and awful. How is Christ "the light of the world"? It is as He imparts to the world by His words a new consciousness. Christ deepens the springs and widens the horizons of our knowledge. God has never left Him. self without a witness. "Light is given."
II. A GREAT PERPLEXITY. "The way is hid." It seems that the light only reveals itself, neither the objects nor the way. It seems as if our consciousness became paralysed at the touch of speculation, a dark, black wall rises where we anticipated we should find a way. The great conflict now, as ever, waging here, is the conflict between light and will. The light faculty in us disports itself over a wide field of intelligence, and scans and comprehends all objects; but the will finds itself powerless, and inquires of the light, To what good is it that thou art here? Man's happiness is in the equilibrium of these two. In human life there are heretics of the understanding; these are those properly called such — heresiarchs: and heretics of the will; the infirm of purpose. How happy are they who, small as their circle of light and life may be, find no disharmony; small, but a state in which the understanding is in harmony with the will. Does it not seem to thee, frequently, that thou art a man whose way is hid? This smiting perplexity, why, it occasionally strikes us all. God is love, but what a world of pain! Man is free, but what a hemming in of his being in every direction! Then come the errors and mistakes of actual life.
III. THE GREAT SOLUTION — THE CONSOLATIONS OF THE LIGHT. I advance beyond the text. Light can only be seen in Christ. God only known in Him.
1. It is so from the very nature of the soul. The soul in its nature is light. Divinely derived, it can never forfeit its light power, but it is in eclipse. God has made the soul the fountain of light in its intentions, in its innate power to reason correctly on natural data. There is a light within, but it is unavailing without help from without; for the corruptions and the powers of the senses all tend to embase the light.
2. Why is light given? This is comfort — some light is given. He who has given some will give more.
3. Why is light given to a man whose way is hid? To enable him to find his way, and to escape beyond the hedge. Light is not its own end. It has an end beyond itself. Light is given to teach a man his dependence; to teach him to look beyond himself. Is it not humbling to find our entire inadequacy to even the most ordinary occasions of life? We step constantly into a labyrinth where our greatest cunning will not avail for us.
4. That which is naturally illegible to sense, and to the apprehension of sense, is legible to faith. Life, hidden still to the spirit of speculation, is revealed to the spirit of prayer.
(E. Paxton Hood.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Why is light given to a man whose way is hid, and whom God hath hedged in?