Proverbs 6:23

In the KJV, Proverbs 6:23 reads:

“For the commandment is a lamp; and the law is light; and reproofs of instruction are the way of life:”

You’re probably much more familiar with another rendering of this same thought quoted in Psalm 119:105 and other places:

Psalm 119:105 – NUN. Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.

This bit of verse is a great encouragement, and I have used it and thought on it often, but when I recently came across this variant reading in Proverbs, it struck home much differently.

Rather than instilling a feeling that was light and joyful (which it should), it had a much more serious tone and mood. Good example of how which words we use affect what we say to people!

Proverbs 6:23 – For the commandment is a lamp; and the law is light; and reproofs of instruction are the way of life:

The ‘commandment’ it says. In Hebrew, the word is mitzvah (mits-vaw) and it means law, ordinance, or precept. So “Thy word”, God’s word, is law. And if we back up a few verses in Psalm 119, verses 98-100 say:

“Thou through thy commandments hast made me wiser than mine enemies: for they are ever with me. (99) I have more understanding than all my teachers: for thy testimonies are my meditation. (100) I understand more than the ancients, because I keep thy precepts.

God’s word teaches us all we need to know to overcome our enemies rightly, we understand more than our teachers and philosophers of God because we meditate on what God says, what it means, like we’re doing right now, AND…very importantly…AND we obey His laws.

The verse in Proverbs says that His commandments, His Words, are a lamp to us. There are several variations in the Hebrew, – nîyr nir nêyr nêr nêrâh – that come out as neer or nay-raw. But the primitive root, the proper meaning is “to glisten”, as a candle, a lamp (which means “the burner”).

In Revelation 2:5, Jesus says very flatly: “Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent.”

Whoa! Don’t forget, we fell from grace, we must repent AND do the first works (i.e. live out our faith by our works for His Kingdom), or else! Or else what?

God puts light into us, he sends the Holy Spirit into us to light the dark hole of our souls – fills them with Holy light – saves us. Right? Right.

Well Jesus says here that if we do not repent – if we do not submit to Him, be changed by Him, live for Him, BE HIS…He will remove our candlestick. Our candlesticks (which hold the light they are given) are our souls. Jesus will remove our souls out of His place – His presence, removed from the light – Jesus Himself, forever and ever.

This is heavy stuff. Encouraging? Yes. Uplifting? Yes, when we look at it properly; but “bouncy”? Not on your life. Let’s go back to the verse:

Proverbs 6:23 – For the commandment is a lamp; and the law is light; and reproofs of instruction are the way of life:

So the commandment is a lamp to us, and the lamp is filled with light, and we know that Jesus is light. Light, ‘ôr (ore) in Hebrew, illumination, luminary – bright, clear in every sense.

The last half of the verse says that “reproofs of instruction” are the way Jesus leads us through this life and into eternal life. Well, what does “reproof” mean? Going again to the Hebrew this verse was written in, reproof means: tôkêchâh tôkachath (to-kay-khaw’, to-kakh’-ath) is chastisement, correction. Psalm 141:5ab says, “Let the righteous smite me; it shall be a kindness:”. And delving back into Proverbs where we started, Chapter 15, verse 31 says: “The ear that heareth the reproof of life abideth among the wise.”

Has anyone ever been more righteous than Jesus Christ? No. Has anyone ever been wiser than God is? No. Who better than Jesus Christ to show us the correct way to go, the right thing to do, the proper way to think and act? Right?

And yet, too often when He is kind to us, offering us correction and forgiveness rather than the sentence and damnation we deserve, we refuse it. We refuse to even acknowledge it. We ignore His holy word, or we pick and choose bits we like while we cast away or worse still – create weak interpretations – of the parts that make us uncomfortable, that make us feel bad, that make us look at ourselves in the light, His light.

Proverbs 6:23 is a glorious verse that speaks great and powerful truth to us; it should be inspiring, it should be uplifting, and it should be serious and somberly meditated on; often. It should not ever be candy-coated, it’s light taken too lightly.

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life; and the life was the light of men. And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.” (John 1:1-5)

I pray that we not have the light that is within us be a temporary one only which Jesus removes at the end of days. That we not have our candlesticks extinguished because we grasped only the little flicker that the Holy Spirit placed in us, and never truly took hold and stoked it into the mighty flame it was sent into us to become: salvation.

I pray that we be truly His, and look to His light as the only good and true way to live, to life.

I pray that we be Godly men, and not stumbling around in our own darkness only to find ourselves forever lost when we finally see His beautiful face.


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