Let him who means to love life and see good days…..
“For, ‘Let him who means to love life and see good days refrain his tongue from evil and his lips from speaking guile. And let him turn away from evil and do good; let him seek peace and pursue it. For the eyes of the Lord are upon the righteous, and His ears attend to their prayer, but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.’ 1 Peter 3:10-12
The first epistle of Peter is often referred to as the letter to the submissive, suffering servants in the cause of Christ.
Submission and suffering indeed are the two main themes that run through the first inspired communiqué from Peter “to those who reside as aliens, scattered throughout…” Sandwiched in there though, is some of the most encouraging word pictures painted in Scripture of God’s plan concerning us. Not only the realization of Jesus as the Christ, but the fulfillment of the work of the prophets and angels in serving the true nation of God (1 Pet. 1:10-12), the church, in realizing who we are in Christ and THE TREMENDOUS VALUE He places upon us (1 Pet. 2:4-10).
Having established God’s plan in the church, our purpose is revealed and correspondingly, the walk necessary to lead Gentiles “to glorify God in the day of visitation” (i. e. Christ’s return, J-day, 1 Pet. 2:12), meaning they too have obeyed Jesus Christ and been sprinkled with His blood (1 Pet. 1:2).
The Holy Spirit further “fleshes out” our conduct in this earthly body by moving Peter to cite the necessary submission for the Lord’s sake to human creations of governance, work relationships, marriage, and finally in our text, humble and submissive conduct in all our relationships in the world even if we are insulted or treated with malice. Bearing these character traits when being mistreated is a difficult proposition. However, Peter, through the Helper, reminds the church of the example of Christ, the one worth following, who found favor with God by executing His purpose to the very end with the proper servant’s attitude. Upon these exhortations, the Holy Spirit then moves Peter to quote from Psalm 34:12-16, a psalm of David:
Who is the man who desires life, and loves length of days that he may see good? Keep your tongue from evil, and your lips from speaking deceit. Depart from evil, and do good; seek peace, and pursue it. The eyes of the LORD are toward the righteous, and His ears are open to their cry. The face of the LORD is against evildoers, to cut off the memory of them from the earth. (NAS)
David was no stranger to suffering or submission. His life exemplified submission to the LORD’s plan. As we’ve mentioned in previous installments, David waited for God to place him upon the throne in Israel rather than seeking to take it. David wanted to build a house for God. The LORD said no, and David submitted to God’s will. Instead of getting upset about it, he turned his attention to procuring the materials needed for his son Solomon to build it. David’s suffering is well documented in his trials with Saul, who sought to kill David in an attempt to hold onto the throne, and Absalom who connived and maneuvered his way to the throne, displacing David, forcing him out of his home and on the run for his life. There are other examples we could take into account, but suffice it to say these serve our purpose. With David in mind, who is a type of Christ, let’s consider three timeless principles contained in this inspired utterance of both David and the apostle Peter.
To gain, we must refrain.
David, driven from Israel by Absalom, suffered the humiliation of being cursed by a Benjamite, Shimei. Shimei didn’t just curse David as he passed by, he followed parallel to David on the hillside “and as he went he cursed, and cast stones and threw dust at him.” (2 Sam. 16:13b) When Abishai wanted to cut off Shimei’s head, here was David’s response, “Let him alone and let him curse, for the LORD has told him. Perhaps the LORD will look on my affliction and return good to me instead of his cursing this day.” (2 Sam. 16:11b-12) David was looking to what he would gain by trusting God in these circumstances. Just like Jesus, through all this, with ample opportunity to revile the one who wrongly reviled him, he refrained his tongue. Here is a picture of real faith in God. How about us? “If anyone thinks himself to be religious, and yet does not bridle his tongue but deceives his own heart, this man’s religion is worthless.” (James 1:26)
Don’t just turn, learn to yearn
As we’ve mentioned above, David, while being treated with malice, did not return evil for evil; he turned away from it. Instead he sought good, entrusting himself to the Lord and His will. Jesus, in the face of all that was done to Him, was still looking to give a blessing to those who were His enemies. Hear our King: “But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you,” (Matt 5:44; NKJV)
We don’t cease in seeking peace
And in the end, when David was returned to the throne, he did not seek for revenge, but sought for peace and pursued it in the face of advice to retaliate. When Jesus looked to return to His throne in heaven, didn’t he know that the offering of His blood would bring the opportunity of peace between God and man? Yes! David was the right man used by the Spirit to utter these words that would be passed onto us. Jesus said the sons of God are peacemakers. Remember, “If possible, so far as it depends upon you, be at peace with all men.” (Rom. 12:18)
For the Christian, to love life and see good days means a long life of spiritual growth and usefulness in submission and service to Christ, executing the purpose of bringing the lost into the fold. This is the prescription for His protection. The LORD’s eyes are upon these and His ears open to the cry of those servants executing His purpose with the proper attitude.