Teach me your way, O Lord,
and lead me on a level path
because of my enemies (Psalm 27:11)
We must beware a tendency to think that the Christian life is primarily about knowing the right things, that we just need to really understand the gospel and we’ll be ok. The Scriptures consistently call us to walk in God’s ways. Right thinking is essential, but it is not the sum of the Christian life. Jesus calls his followers to ‘believe in me’, but he also calls them to ‘follow me’.
David wants to walk in God’s ways – to pursue the moral virtues that God desires in his people. The second line of this verse continues this idea; the ‘level path’ is not so much about comfort, but has a moral sense: it could be translated ‘upright paths’. David isn’t looking for the easy road, he is wanting to walk in holiness.
This is a prayer for all circumstances. It would be a good way for us to start each day: ‘Teach me your way, O Lord, and lead me on a level path.’ We can pray the same thing for other people as well, perhaps family members: ‘Lord, teach my grandchildren your way today, and lead them on a level path.’ We don’t know what the day may hold, but we can pray that in our decisions we would seek God’s way, and we would pursue level paths of holiness.
If the Christian life is a path, we might also ask what habits and patterns will help us as we walk. At times, I think I’ve been so afraid of legalism that I’ve not cultivated healthy habits and practices; I’ve minimised this aspect of the Christian life as a ‘walk’. What habits could you cultivate to help you walk in God’s paths? What habits might help you increasingly ‘gaze upon the beauty of the Lord’?
Did you notice here that David prays to be led in upright paths because of his enemies. David prays these things while still being surrounded by enemies, wild beasts who would do him harm. We might expect David to ask God to lead him in paths of escape, rather than paths of righteousness. We might expect David even to turn to illicit paths. But David pursues God. He realises that more than ever he needs to walk God’s way.
I can so often think that walking in God’s ways is something for when times are easy. When life calms down a bit, I’ll start praying more, I’ll devote myself to reading the Bible, I’ll pursue holiness. Maybe I think that these are optional extras, only for when life is under control.
No matter how limited our choices and options may be, the Lord’s way is always open to us. What an encouragement this is. The Lord is far more concerned with us seeking him, and seeking his way, than the actual circumstances we find ourselves in. We don’t need to wish we were in a different situation, where we could serve the Lord better. Every day we can pray, ‘teach me your paths’, and seek to honour God where we are.
This article has been taken from Be Still – Psalm devotions by Matt Searles and published by 10Publishing. It is reproduced with permission.