Tuesday, 19 November 2019
Peter now completes his quote from Psalm 34. The words here come from a portion of verses 15 & 16 –
Remembering the context of Peter’s words which brought about his citing of the psalm, will help clarify why he is saying this. He had said that believers were called to do what is right, and that in doing so one may inherit a blessing. This is confirmed by the words of the psalmist now. The blessing is that “The eyes of the Lord are on the righteous.”
The meaning here is that the Lord is watching over them. He is the One who protects them and favors them because of their conduct. To have the eyes of the Lord upon you is to receive His favor. This is reflective of what it says in the high priestly blessing from Numbers 6 –
If the Lord’s face shines upon a person, and if the Lord’s countenance is upon him, it is because His eyes are directed toward him. There is favor, grace, and peace to be expected from this most favorable state.
Peter next says, “And His ears are open to their prayers.” Again, it is a note of divine blessing. When one prays, it is in anticipation of having his prayers heard and responded to. The ears of the Lord hear, and in hearing, He returns with his blessing upon the one who has conducted his affairs as prescribed by the word He has already sent forth for instruction.
Now, to contrast that favorable state, Peter finishes his quote with, “But the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.” Here, the same preposition is used that was used in the first clause. There, it said the eyes of the Lord are epi, on, the righteous. Here it says the face of the Lord is epi, against, those who do evil. This follows the Greek translation which Peter is citing. The Hebrew uses two different words.
The intent is that the Lord’s face being epi, or “upon,” those who do evil signifies in a negative way. In other words, there is no change in the Lord, but there is a change in the source of what the Lord sees, meaning man. It is the difference between the two that brings about either favor or disfavor. There is perfect righteousness in the Lord, and His countenance will reveal the true state of the person – whether he does that which is right or that which is evil. The resulting judgment, for good or bad, is perfect because it is the Lord who judges the conduct.
Taking the entire thought now, and looking at what Peter said in verses 8 & 9, and then comparing it to what the psalmist said (and which Peter uses to confirm his words), we see how the conduct Peter admonishes in us, and the resulting blessing for being obedient, is a set standard of the Lord which transcends dispensations. It is how the Lord works at all times as His eyes winnow out the evil from the good –
“Finally, all of you be of one mind, having compassion for one another; love as brothers, be tenderhearted, be courteous; 9 not returning evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary blessing, knowing that you were called to this, that you may inherit a blessing. 10 For
‘He who would love life
And see good days,
Let him refrain his tongue from evil,
And his lips from speaking deceit.
11 Let him turn away from evil and do good;
Let him seek peace and pursue it.
12 For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous,
And His ears are open to their prayers;
But the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.’” 1 Peter 3:8-12
Life application: Unfortunately for humanity, the Bible says, “There is no one righteous, not even one;…” Understanding where righteousness comes from is then a really important matter.
All people are born into the stream of humanity from one common ancestor, Adam. We have all, therefore, inherited his fallen state and lack any righteousness of our own. Therefore, any righteousness in a person is an imputed righteousness – something credited by God. Under what circumstances is a person credited with righteousness then?
The answer, throughout the Bible, is that righteousness is credited because of properly placed faith. It is faith in God’s sovereign workings in humanity by which we are credited with His righteousness. Slowly, throughout history, God worked toward the coming Messiah. And at just the right time, Jesus came. It is by faith in Him and what He has done for us that we are imputed righteousness.
Once this is secured, the Lord is attentive to our prayers. When we call out to God in the name of Jesus, we satisfy the requirement God has chosen for restoration. Unfortunately for humanity, this leaves all people who fail to call on Jesus without a Mediator. In this case, the face of the Lord is against them. Here it says, “…those who do evil.” By default, all people outside of Jesus are in this category. There can be no restoration until the sin problem is dealt with first.
If you would love life and see good days, then get right with Jesus! All else will be in its proper place once this is accomplished.
Lord, You haven’t made it hard for us to be reconciled to You. However, You have made it a narrow path and a limited choice. Thank You that there is the choice though. By faith in Christ Jesus, we are again restored to a right relationship with you. Now, O Lord, hear our prayers and respond to them according to Your great wisdom. This we pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.