THE SMOOTH PATH
By Wayne S. Walker
"Teach me Your way, O LORD, and lead me in a smooth path, because of my enemies" (Psalm 27:11). The familiar King James Version reads, "Lead me in a plain path." Albert Barnes, in his commentary on the Psalms, gives the footnote, "way of plainness," and says that the term means "a straight or smooth path." The first thing that might come to our minds is that the Psalmist is asking for an easy way to go in life, but that is not the case. Jesus told us that it is the straitened gate and the narrow or difficult way that leads to eternal life (Matthew 7:13-14). Fanny J. Crosby reminds that "Not for ease or worldly pleasure" should our prayer be.
Barnes gives Psalm 26:12 as an explanation of the meaning of the plain or smooth path. "My foot stands in an even place; in the congregations will I bless the LORD." The plain path is not just one that is easy to see. The smooth path is not just an easy way to go. Rather, it is an even or level path on which one can stand firmly. Have you ever noticed that quite often on hilly, rocky ground it is difficult to get a good footing to stand? In our battle with evil, we need to stand firmly. "Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness" (Ephesians 6:13-14).
Barnes continues his explanation of the verse by saying, "In other words, he prayed that he might be enabled to act wisely and right; he desired that God would teach him what he should do." In fighting the good fight of faith, we need to stand up for what is right and stand up against that which is wrong. This takes both wisdom and courage. Thus, to pray that the Lord would lead us in the plain or smooth path is to ask that He will help us have the wisdom and the courage to walk in His way no matter how difficult it may be. "You therefore must endure hardship as a good soldier of Jesus Christ" (2 Timothy 2:3).
However, there is one essential ingredient that enables us to be led in the smooth path, and that is being taught the way of the Lord to begin with. Otherwise, we would not know where to go or where to stand in the first place. How does the Lord teach us His way? David knew. "Oh, how I love Your law! It is my meditation all the day….Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path" (Psalm 119:97, 105). What path are you on?