So I heard an explanation recently of some symbolism in a hymn I like titled Brightly Beams Our Father’s Mercy. I guess I hadn’t ever really thought too much about the words of this particular hymn, but I now have a greater understanding after hearing a bit more about the meaning of the words. The hymn states, “Brightly beams our Father’s mercy from his lighthouse evermore, but to us he gives the keeping of the lights along the shore.”
If I had thought about it I probably would have been able to figure out that Christ is the lighthouse. What I would not have figured out, though, is what the “lower lights” were all about. Well, a lighthouse is good to warn ships to keep away from dangerous areas, but when used to guide ships into a harbor, another set of lights is required to help the captain make the right approach as he comes in. These lights are the lower lights.
This connects with something I read recently in the New Testament. In the Sermon on the Mount, Christ taught, “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven” (Matthew 5:16). So in the context of the hymn, we can be the “lower lights” for others and guide them safely to their heavenly home through our example, teaching, and invitation to follow Christ.
You can read some more about the story of the hymn here.