“Whoever desires to love life and see good days, let him keep his tongue from evil and his lips from speaking deceit; let him turn away from evil and do good; let him seek peace and pursue it. For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and his ears are open to their prayer. But the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.” Taken from Psalm 34:12-16a
This is a quote from Psalm 34 and it speaks to the kind of outward conduct that Peter has been promoting. This is what “doing good” looks like; this is what “submitting” looks like. When I flipped over to read the entire Psalm I made a happy discovery. This Psalm is about addressing fear.
Almost every commentary will tell you 1 Peter is about suffering. It is going to happen. Jesus suffered. You are going to suffer. You are even called to suffer. Suffering is not some random thing without purpose. God plans to use suffering.
I don’t’ have time to take the broad view is so this is not the entire story on suffering, but Peter has been talking about two kinds. There is the suffering that comes from doing bad stuff. This is like “well, what did you expect – if you throw rocks, someone is going to throw them back.” And then there is the suffering you may “suffer” because you were doing the right stuff – the God ordained stuff – you were “doing good.”
Oh yeah –I was going to talk about fear. Well, here’s the deal. We are afraid of suffering – that’s what I think. That being the case, we might decide it would be better to avoid things that might draw it upon us. We might think harsh and deceitful words will protect us, as might evil gain. And peace-seeking is just inviting a sucker punch.
But, let’s face it – we don’t want to be in the position where the face of the Lord is against us. So how am I going to overcome the fear? David invites us to learn from his testimony: “Come, you children, listen to me; I will teach you the fear of the Lord.” Ps. 34:11
I could summarize but let me just put Ps 34 right here for my future reference.
Psalm 34 (NASB)
1 I will bless the Lord at all times; His praise shall continually be in my mouth. 2 My soul will make its boast in the Lord; The humble will hear it and rejoice. 3 O magnify the Lord with me, And let us exalt His name together.
4 I sought the Lord, and He answered me, And delivered me from all my fears. 5 They looked to Him and were radiant, And their faces will never be ashamed. 6 This poor man cried, and the Lord heard him And saved him out of all his troubles. 7 The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear Him, And rescues them.
8 O taste and see that the Lord is good; How blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him! 9 O fear the Lord, you His saints; For to those who fear Him there is no want. 10 The young lions do lack and suffer hunger; But they who seek the Lord shall not be in want of any good thing. 11 Come, you children, listen to me; I will teach you the fear of the Lord. 12 Who is the man who desires life And loves length of days that he may see good? 13 Keep your tongue from evil And your lips from speaking deceit. 14 Depart from evil and do good; Seek peace and pursue it.
15 The eyes of the Lord are toward the righteous And His ears are open to their cry. 16 The face of the Lord is against evildoers, To cut off the memory of them from the earth. 17 The righteous cry, and the Lord hears And delivers them out of all their troubles. 18 The Lord is near to the brokenhearted And saves those who are crushed in spirit.
19 Many are the afflictions of the righteous, But the Lord delivers him out of them all. 20 He keeps all his bones, Not one of them is broken. 21 Evil shall slay the wicked, And those who hate the righteous will be condemned. 22 The Lord redeems the soul of His servants, And none of those who take refuge in Him will be condemned.