Neil Evans - Portadown Special Meetings, Ireland - 2011

Psalm 27, This was a prayer of David and we have all prayed this prayer at some time or another.  Verse 11, "Teach me Thy way, plain path."  The Philistines were coming every day to attack the people of God and they were getting no victory. They were not going forward and it seemed no one was able or willing to go against this giant.  No doubt it troubled David to see this giant defying the people of the living God.  He asked who Goliath was.  Maybe we have seen giants who come against us and they seem to have the power to stop us.  We are afraid to fight and maybe we don't have the ability to fight.  God was no doubt putting it into David's heart that he could stand against this giant.  David asked if there was not a cause.  The cause was that this man was defying the armies of Israel.


David went to the king and said, (1 Samuel 17:32) "Let no man's heart fail.... this Philistine."  Saul thought that David could not face Goliath.  David then told how he saved the flock from the lion and the bear.  He knew God would deliver him out of the hand of the Philistine.  David could look to hard experiences where he had fought an enemy and God had delivered him.  It wasn't his first battle, although he was young.  David would have been alone watching the sheep and a lion or a bear could have come at any time.  He wasn't sheltered at home.  He was out in the wild.  We are thankful that whether we are in the work place or the school place we are relying on God to help us against the enemy.  If David hadn't fought the lion or the bear, he wouldn't have had the confidence to face the giant.


He told Saul that he would go and God would deliver him.  He had no confidence in the armour Saul offered him.  He took what he had confidence in, the power of God.  He took a sling and five smooth stones, just natural tools.  They were just natural but he went with them and with the power of God to face the enemy. David did not just say to God, "You take care of this giant for me."  David did his part and he took the five stones.  We don't face the enemy and expect God to take care of things for us.  We have a part to play, also.  We do the best we can with that we have.  When the giant fell, David finished the job.  The people chased the Philistines and there was great victory just because one man trusted that God would deliver.  If we get victory, it is a great encouragement to others to get victory also.


The next enemy David faced was one he would not have expected.  The enemy was Saul.  A man who was anointed by God but he lost his way and lost God's Spirit.  He hated David because David had victory.  Psalm 27:11, "Lead me in a plain path because of mine enemies."  What path did David take at that time?  1 Samuel 18:12-14, "David behaved himself wisely."  David just behaved wisely.  The more wisely he behaved, the more Saul hated him.  It is a sad story.  A man of God hating a man who loved God.  It was a long hard path David took, possibly ten years.  He fought the Philistines, he spent time in the wilderness, he spent time in the cave.  It was a rough path but God was with him.  He just kept his place and in time God over-ruled and he became king.  When he became king he still had enemies.  He spent most of his life fighting the Philistines.  It is like that with us.  We don't just get one victory and that finishes off the enemy.  The enemy keeps coming but, if we behave wisely, God will give us strength to face the enemy .


Another enemy David faced later in life and maybe it was the hardest enemy of all.  His human nature got the best of him and he sinned.  But this led to repentance.  He admitted all his wrong and he prayed for a clean heart and a new spirit.  Sometimes we fail, but there is a path from that point.  It is the path of repentance.  Confessing our fault before God and before others and then begging again for a clean heart.  After this, David was useful again for God was with him.


The next enemy was one who should have been his closest friend:  his son, Absalom.  Absalom stole the hearts of the people and took authority that was not his.  He was going to put David out of the kingdom.  David's path this time was a path of weakness.  He fled.  David found out who his friends were and who were his enemies.  Sometimes if we are in a weak state we find out who really are our true friends.  Jesus had the same experience.  One of His own disciples betrayed Him.  In that little group standing round the Cross, He would have known who really loved Him.  We will have many enemies but I like how David prayed, "Lead me in a plain path."  A plain path is not one that we can follow it for ten years ahead and see all the choices to make.  A plain path is one where we can just see the next step.  When we take that step, we see the next step.  If we do this, we are safe.


When I was in Alaska, there is a place called the Wangle Narrows.  It is just a narrow strip of water between the ocean and the inside passage.  It is about twenty-two miles long but along that stretch, a ship has to make forty-six different turns.  It is a very dangerous stretch.  There is shallow water on each side and the ship has to be in just the right place.  I was travelling on it once, at night.  The channel is marked by buoys, green on the left and red on the right.  As long as the ship stays between these it is safe.  If you look ahead at night, you could not make any sense out of it.  It is just a mass of red and green.  As the ship travelled on, the buoys appear in order red on the right and green on the left.  We don't need to see very far ahead.  We just need to see the next step and we will be safe.  If we have faith just to take the next step then in time we will see the rest of the steps. In a very narrow part of the channel there are three lights right ahead.  If the ship is in the right place, all three of the lights would line up straight.  We know we are safe when everything lines up.  When what we hear in the meeting lines with what we read in the Bible and it lines up with what we see of the Spirit, we are safe.  If these don't line up, we are in dangerous waters.  If they do, we are safe.  David just wanted to be led a step at a time.  Abraham had a plain path.  God led him out of his land and didn't tell him the whole plan.  He just said, "Follow Me."


When he offered Isaac, God showed him the mountain and Abraham was satisfied with that.  God didn't show Moses the whole journey from the beginning.  He just led him out of Egypt, then across the sea, and when the cloud moved, they moved. Just a step at a time, the whole journey.  If we trust God for the next step, we will be safe and there will be victory over our enemy and we are very thankful for that.


In a Bible study, we read 2 Timothy 3 and all five of us spoke on the same verse 14, "But continue thou in the thing is which thou hast learned... "  If we just continue in the things that we know, we will be safe.  In that area in Alaska, there are very high tides, as much as thirty feet, and there is a very strong current in the channel.  It is just like a river.  For six hours, it runs one way and then it turns and runs the other way.  Sometimes a tugboat drawing a barge travels up that channel.  It is going at full power and because it is travelling against the current it is not moving at all.  You would think they would be discouraged. Then the tide changes and they travel twice as fast as they normally would.  Sometimes in life, we may be trying our hardest and not getting anywhere.  If we keep doing our best, the tide will change and we will get ahead.  We want to be patient, to continue doing what we know is right and God will give us victory.