To the upright there rises light in the darkness: he is gracious, and full of compassion, and righteous.
There is, of course, some specific reference and application intended here, such as will harmonize with the general drift of the psalm. But we cannot fail to notice that this is a general proposition — a broad assertion which covers the whole of life for the persons of whom it is said. And I want now to show how true the text is; and how, being true, it practically works, and holds good, in the different spheres of human existence.
I. MATTERS OF FAITH — those revealed truths which are to be apprehended by us, and accepted, and turned to perpetual use for guidance, health, salvation. Concerning those truths we may be said to begin in the darkness. And we get into the "light" — not in an easy, natural, irresistible manner, but — by hints and suggestions at first, by help of broken gleams, and through falling shadows; through doubts and uncertainties, and frequent misconception; by gropings, and hesitations, and discoveries: held often in the restriction of our own narrowness, circumscribed always by necessary limits, liable always to mistakes, and at no time holding the complete and perfect truth. The doubts that may arise, in particular minds, and at particular stages of the development of some human souls, are not to be numbered, can hardly indeed be described, they are so delicate and changeful. Yet to a sensitive mind, to a mind full of spiritual anxiety, they are very distressing. How are you to make light arise in the darkness? And how are you to have the assurance that it is light, and not some fatal splendour as transient as it is misleading? Now, here the principle of this text is of direct application, and of priceless force and value: "Unto the upright there ariseth light in the darkness." Sincerity: an honest desire to know the truth: readiness to make any sacrifice in order to the knowledge: obedience to the truth so far as it is known already — these will bring the light when nothing else will bring it. "Light is sown for the righteous;" and the harvest from God's sowing never fails. First conceptions and lower knowledge is the seed of the higher; and that again of higher still. Mistakes and misconceptions fall off and die if only there be the fruitful ground of "an honest and good heart."
II. MATTERS OF EXPERIENCE. Say then that the chief intellectual difficulties are now solved; or say that they have never existed, and that "the Gospel," in much of its Divine simplicity, stands clearly before the apprehension, and, as far as the intellect is concerned in the operation, is received in the faith — what will then be the inward condition? Why, a true faith ought to produce a true feeling. And the feeling ought to be a happy one. Faith in "glad tidings" ought to make glad hearts. But at this point be sure you do not mistake. Be sure you seek heart-light "lawfully." It is fruit, and not root. It is consequence, not cause. Seek first the righteousness of the inward kingdom, and the light will come out of that.
III. MATTERS OF PRACTICE. Religion in its organized forms in this world, and in its practical operations, is not exempted from the ordinary laws and vicissitudes of human life. Societies and Christian Churches have their times of darkness, their trials, their disappointments. They fall upon the best methods they can think of to extend the cause — the very truth of God — among men. And you would think that God is almost bound by the terms of His own covenant to lift an endeavour like that quite above the ordinary plane of things, and into a realm of visible clearness and certainty. But no. God has time enough, and He takes it. He takes it, and teaches His people to take it; to take — not "their time," which is indolent unfaithfulness, but His time. He educates by trial, by delay, by defeat. "Light is sown for the righteous," but, like all living seed, it takes a while to spring. The days of sowing are sometimes chill and dark. The bright harvest days will make amends for all.
(A. Raleigh, D.D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Unto the upright there ariseth light in the darkness: he is gracious, and full of compassion, and righteous.