“The entrance of Your words gives light; It gives understanding to the simple.”
–Psalm 119:130 (New King James Version)
There is a subtext to these words that is easily missed with a surface and literal reading of this verse, but digging deeper will reveal that this verse is saying a whole lot more than meets the eye and is also pointing toward the coming Messiah, known as the Word – Jesus Christ.
When reading the Bible, one should always resist the temptation to interpret what one reads literally. (In fact, today’s social justice warriors also suffer from taking every statement literally, but that’s another article).
It is vitally important to understand the word in context, not only in the midst of what is said before and after a particular verse, but also within context to the worldview held by the writer and the peoples of the time in which it was written.
Let’s also consider a few different translations of this verse that differ slightly from the King James Bible that will also introduce further subtext.
“The teaching of your word gives light, so even the simple can understand.” (New Living Translation)
“The unfolding of your words gives light; it imparts understanding to the simple.” (English Standard Version)
“The petach (opening, entrance, doorway) of Thy words giveth light; it giveth understanding unto the simple.” (Orthodox Jewish Bible)
Psalm 119:130 is filled with a subtext. If we take the original Hebrew word petach to mean opening/entrance/doorway, then the meaning becomes that God’s words are in the opening, a doorway to understanding.
Light, in this context, means illumination – a complete understanding of those things not easily seen. This light, gives understanding to the simple, meaning the average person.
It does not require scholarly knowledge to understand. When illumination is given by God, it is given so that anyone can understand.
There is a deeper meaning to be found in this Psalm. It means that when we study God’s words, he illuminates us. We don’t need a priest to interpret it for us (as some religious denominations would have you believe).
That is not to say that we cannot benefit from learned people who have studied the Bible. It is only to say that it was God’s intention, as written in this verse, that all may understand his words.
Lastly, the line “your words give light” is Psalm 119:130 has a double meaning. Jesus is known as the word, as well as the light of the world.
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”
Jesus is the living word of God in the flesh, existing even before the earth and mankind were created. Jesus is God in the flesh.
“And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.”
– John 1:14
Jesus is also referred to as “the light of the world.”
“Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, ‘I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.'”
– John 8:12
When Jesus said we live by every word that comes from God, he also had a double meaning.
“But he answered, ‘It is written, ‘‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’'”
– Matthew 4:4
Taken literally, people might think that the word of God provides nutrition, in the same way bread does. But that was not Jesus meaning.
Jesus was talking about eternal life. While bread might sustain physical life, only the word of God will sustain eternal life.
Without God’s word, the redemption through Jesus Christ, there is only death – eternal condemnation to Hell.
“He sent out his word and healed them, and delivered them from their destruction.”
– Psalm 107:20