If I say, “Surely the darkness shall cover me, and the light about me be night,” 12even the darkness is not dark to you; the night is bright as the day, for darkness is as light with you. —Psalm 139:11-12
Darkness is one of the most commonly used images in the Scriptures. As such, it is almost always a negative and fearful image. Darkness makes it impossible to find one’s way: “He has walled up my way, so that I cannot pass, and he has set darkness upon my paths” (Job 19:8). Darkness provides a cover for those who would seek to cause harm: “The murderer rises before it is light, that he may kill the poor and needy, and in the night he is like a thief” (Job 24:14). Darkness conceals the pursuit of sin: “The eye of the adulterer also waits for the twilight, saying, ‘No eye will see me’; and he veils his face” (Job 24:15). The Scriptures speak generally and fearfully of “the terrors of deep darkness” (Job 24:17).
From one perspective, David’s meditation on the unceasing, inescapable presence and knowledge of the Lord in the midst of darkness serves as a warning for the evildoer. For though we may fool ourselves into thinking that under the right circumstances we can pursue sin away from the Lord’s notice, this will never be the case. There is no darkness in the world that can serve as a “cover” for sin and wrongdoing so that it escapes the Lord’s notice. We may successfully conceal our sin before others, but “even the darkness is not dark” to the Lord. Our efforts at finding a cover for wrongdoing will always prove futile before Him in the end. As Jesus said, “Nothing is covered that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known” (Matthew 10:26). David’s words should humble us before our all-knowing God and motivate us to flee sin.
From another perspective, David’s meditation on the unceasing, inescapable presence and knowledge of the Lord in the midst of darkness serves as a profound comfort to the one who has fled to Him for protection. For there is no situation or circumstance dark enough to hide us from the Lord’s unfailing care. Of course, this does not mean we will experience His deliverance from every earthly trouble. Thieves may break in and steal in the night. Evildoers may prosper against us for a season. Perhaps most fearful of all, we still face the dark terror of the grave looming before us. However, even the darkness of the grave is as light to the Lord (139:8)! If this is the case, there is ultimately nothing left for us to fear. There is truly no darkness that puts us out of reach from the Lord’s tender, protective hand.
Our confidence in the Lord’s unfailing care in the midst of darkness is grounded in the cross of Jesus Christ. For our sake, Jesus faced the darkness of sin and death and the power of Satan. Most fearful of all, he submitted himself to the darkness of God’s own wrath deserved by sinners. And yet through it all, he proved the certainty of the Father’s unfailing care toward those who trust in Him, and emerged from darkness into the light of everlasting life. Now this same promise holds true for all those who repent and believe in Jesus, “the true light, which gives light to everyone” (John 1:9).
When are you tempted to think that the Lord will not notice your sin?
When are you tempted to think that the Lord is not present to protect and care for you?
How do these verses address our unbelief in both cases?