Proverbs 20:27

The spirit of man is the candle of the LORD, searching all the inward parts of the belly.
– Proverbs 20:27

The wording of this proverb is difficult and interpretations vary. The word for candle means to glisten, and so means a lamp or light. The word for belly means hollow, or the abdomen. It can be used more figuratively to speak of the body, or simply the inner parts. The image of the proverb is light searching out the inner parts and hidden recesses by shining light in the dark places. The image corresponds to Proverbs 18:4 & 20:5, where hidden things are understood by wisdom. The “inward parts of the belly” is identified elsewhere as a covert place of evil within, requiring stripes to expunge it (Proverbs 20:30). This proverb complements the other by showing wisdom to be an effective alternative to stripes. A man of understanding fears the Lord, has wisdom, and can see within himself what a fool cannot (Proverbs 3:7; 12:15; 16:2; 21:2; 30:12).

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Proverbs 6:23

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

Solomon is not merely speaking of the homespun wisdom of the older generation. He is talking about God’s word and the wisdom in it. Commandment, law, and instruction are references to God’s word (Psalm 119:105). He is still mentioning benefits of wisdom and this verse explains the previous one. Lamp, light, and way of life speak of illuminating and guiding in the wise course of life. Reproofs are corrections that come through instruction, so wisdom provides a continual course corrective as we proceed through life.

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Psalm 119:25

My soul cleaveth unto the dust:
quicken thou me according to thy word.

~ Psalm 119:25

The Psalmist begins this stanza with a statement of great lament and grief. He doesn’t seem grieved with troubles from without, but rather with those within. This cry reminds us of Paul’s wrestle with the body of death in Romans 7. Of course, the Apostle knew that his victory and deliverance came through Jesus Christ (Romans 7:24-25).

Though he doesn’t point to the exact source of trouble, he seeks remedy in life through the Word. Quickening is first mentioned in this verse and will be mentioned again eight times. The word here means to live or to make alive, which is the sense here.

The Psalmist repeatedly prays to be quickened and we should not confuse that with being born again. New birth is a quickening, but not what the Psalmist is seeking. He is seeking life and vitality through the Word. He wants the Word made alive to him. He wants better light and motivation from the Word. He wants understanding and that understanding to energize him in life.

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Psalm 119:18

Open thou mine eyes,
that I may behold wondrous things out of thy law.
~ Psalm 119:18

Life has been sought and now he seeks light. Life is a first thing. You cannot do anything without life. Having life makes light a first thing. When there is little or no light, you don’t know what life you have nor what to do with it. The request here is a naturally and logically ordered request.

Open thou mine eyes
God formed the eye (Psalm 94:9) and He opens the blind eyes (Psalm 146:8). The Psalmist seeks eye-opening from God. If the light of truth and wisdom is sought, it is best sought from the source of truth and wisdom, God. He begins at the right starting point in acknowledging God as the One who opens eyes.

The words of this verse come from the mouth of a humble learner. Humility is required in learning anything. You have to acknowledge that you don’t know something and seek out someone who does know that you may be instructed (Proverbs 1:7). If you’ve ever taught a class, coached a team, or tried to train someone on a job, you know that if they are proud and stubborn, they are unteachable. Many such come to hard knocks that wisdom could have prevented. The fool thinks he knows everything, or at least all he needs to know, and so sets wise instruction aside (Proverbs 12:15). The sluggard, who is a special brand of fool, knows better in his own mind than seven men who actually know what they are talking about (Proverbs 26:16). The fool’s folly is his own undoing.

That I may behold wondrous things out of thy law
The Psalmist manifests wisdom in this request. He knows God’s law is filled with wondrous things. The word signifies depth, beauty, hidden, high, and wonderful. You could also infer valuable from the description, like a prize treasure (Psalm 19:10). He will go on to speak of God’s Word as something he savored (Psalm 119:103).

His desire is to the Word of God and not something else. He is not bored and clamoring after something new and different. He assumes the posture of a humble disciple at the feet of the Master. Too often we approach the Word of God like we do a dictionary. We want to turn to the precise page to find only the definition of the word we are interested in. Thumb tabs help and so does alphabetical arrangement. God’s Word is not alphabetized nor indexed. It is meant to be read, savored, and treasured.

This is the proper posture of the humble learner. “God, open my eyes. Teach me what You would have me learn.”

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