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  Your word is a lamp to my feet 
  and a light to my path. (ESV)

has similar wording to John 1:1,4.

In the beginning was the Word... In him was life, and the life was the light of men. (ESV)

Is there any connection? The traditional interpretation is His Word in Psalm 119:105 is the Scriptures and the Word in John 1:1 is Jesus Christ.

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  • This feels a bit backwards - perhaps there's a question as to whether the author of John was drawing a parallel to the Psalm, but asking about whether the Psalm has a connection to a much later writing doesn't seem right?
    – Steve can help
    Jan 22, 2023 at 21:21
  • I agree - the question might be better posed as something like, "Does John 1:1, 4 allude to Ps 119:105?" However, I think we still understand.
    – Dottard
    Jan 22, 2023 at 22:37
  • Yes, but there seems more uncertainty about His Word in Psalm 119:105, especially if one tries to equate it to John 1:1.
    – Perry Webb
    Jan 23, 2023 at 0:33

3 Answers 3

1

To start, we should understand that "the word of the Lord" and similar constructs in OT Scripture, has several meanings. These include:

  • A communication from God to a prophet or patriarch
  • The agency of God's creation
  • God's teaching to human beings as expressed in the Law and other scriptures

In the case of Ps. 119:105, the context of the Psalm itself is the best guide to the meaning of the term. The are numerous references to God's word in this Psalm. Here is a representative sampling:

9 How can a young man keep his way pure?
By guarding it according to thy word.
10 With my whole heart I seek thee;
let me not wander from thy commandments!

11 I have laid up thy word in my heart, that I might not sin against thee.
12 Blessed be thou, O Lord;
teach me thy statutes!..

43 ...And take not the word of truth utterly out of my mouth,
for my hope is in thy ordinances.
44 I will keep thy law continually,
for ever and ever.

66 Teach me good judgment and knowledge,
for I believe in thy commandments.
67 Before I was afflicted I went astray;
but now I keep thy word.

105 Thy word is a lamp to my feet
and a light to my path.
106 I have sworn an oath and confirmed it,
to observe thy righteous ordinances.

160 The sum of thy word is truth;
and every one of thy righteous ordinances endures for ever.

170 Let my supplication come before thee;
deliver me according to thy word.
171 My lips will pour forth praise
that thou dost teach me thy statutes.

Reading these excerpts, it seems obvious that the term "God's word" is meant primarily in the third sense above: as God's teaching to humans, expressed in the Torah Law. God's word is repeatedly related to his "commandments," "ordinances" and "statutes." It is in this sense that the writer says:

Thy word is a lamp to my feet
and a light to my path.
I have sworn an oath and confirmed it,
to observe thy righteous ordinances.

Since God's word is also the agent of creation we may certainly interpret the passage as relating to that agency, whether it is understood as Torah, Logos or Christ. But if we look at it in the immediate context and in the sense of the psalm as a whole, the meaning of "God's word" here is his Torah, his "righteous ordinances," which serve to light the psalmist's way.

2

In Ps 119:105 the Hebrew דְבָרֶ֑ךָ (debareka) is translated "Your Word" by most versions, from the root word דָבָר (dabar) = "speech, word". It is used in the following circumstances when denoting God's word:

  • God's message via a prophet, eg, 1 Sam 15:10, 2 Sam 7:4, 1 Kings 6:11, etc.
  • the 10 commandments, Ex 34:28, Deut 4:13, 10:4, etc
  • God's promises, Deut 9:5, 1 Sam 1:23, 1 Kings 2:4, 6:12, etc
  • God's covenant commands, Ex 24:3ff, 34:7, Deut 17:19, etc

In the NT John's choice of "word", "Logos", in John 1:1-18, was brilliantly chosen to appeal to both Jews and Greeks.

To the Greeks, the "Logos" was supremely important as noted here >> https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Logos [The Greeks placed great emphasis on their triplet of Logos, Ethos and Pathos, but I will not be distracted by this discussion here. https://www.lsu.edu/hss/english/files/university_writing_files/item35402.pdf ]

To the Jews, the Logos became the equivalent of the Hebrew דָבָר (dabar) - which, coincidentally (?!?) had a similar meaning in Hebrew thought as the Greeks - God's original creative power when we read, "And God said ..." in Gen 1. Further, this same "word" was the divine enlightenment available to all God's followers. Thus, the fact that John's prologue asserts that the Word was the light is a direct allusion to the following:

  • Ps 27:1 - The LORD is my light and my salvation- whom shall I fear?
  • Ps 18:28 - For You, O LORD, light my lamp; my God lights up my darkness.
  • Ps 36:9 - For with You is the fountain of life; in Your light we see light.
  • Ps 119:105 - Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.
  • Ps 119:130 - The unfolding of Your words gives light; it informs the simple.
  • Prov 6:23 - For this commandment is a lamp, this teaching is a light, and the reproofs of discipline are the way to life,
  • Isa 8:20 - To the law and to the testimony! If they do not speak according to this word, they have no light of dawn.
  • Isa 53:11 - After the anguish of His soul, He will see the light of life and be satisfied. By His knowledge My righteous Servant will justify many, and He will bear their iniquities.
  • Hos 6:5 - Therefore I have hewn them by the prophets; I have slain them by the words of my mouth, and my judgment goes forth as the light.
  • Micah 7:9 - Do not gloat over me, my enemy! Though I have fallen, I will arise; though I sit in darkness, the LORD will be my light.
  • Job 33;10 - to bring back his soul from the Pit, that he may be enlightened with the light of life.

John's prologue is not the only place this association exists between God's word and light:

  • John 1:1, 4, 9 - In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. ... In Him was life, and that life was the light of men. ... The true Light who gives light to every man was coming into the world.
  • John 8:12 - "I am the light of the world ..." (note the unmissable allusion to Ps 27:1 and Ps 53:11, etc).
  • 2 Peter 1:19 - We also have the word of the prophets as confirmed beyond doubt. And you will do well to pay attention to it, as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts.
  • 2 Tim 1:10 - and which now has been manifested through the appearing of our Savior Christ Jesus, who abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel,
  • 1 John 1:5 - And this is the message we have heard from Him and announce to you: God is light, and in Him there is no darkness at all.

Conclusion - there appears to be definite connection between Jesus as the Word and Jesus as the Light of the world and the word of God as the light.

APPENDIX - John 1:1-4 and Gen 1:1-3

The opening of Genesis and the gospel of John share a large number of verbal parallels such as:

  • "beginning"
  • word/spoken/said
  • God
  • created
  • light
  • darkness
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John 1:14

And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.

That is Jesus who became flesh and dwelled among us.

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