Sunday, 17 November 2019
“He who would love life
And see good days,
Let him refrain his tongue from evil,
And his lips from speaking deceit. 1 Peter 3:10
Peter has just spoken about not returning evil for evil, or reviling for reviling. He then said, “knowing that you were called to this, that you may inherit a blessing.” To support this, he now cites Scripture, specifically the Greek translation of Psalm 34 –
“Who is the man who desires life,
And loves many days, that he may see good?
13 Keep your tongue from evil,
And your lips from speaking deceit.” Psalm 34:12, 13
The idea of the first words of the psalm, as quoted by Peter, are explained by the scholar Bengel as, “Who wishes to live so that he will not weary of life.” In other words, “How will a man pursue life so that it is really worth living? How will a man’s days be built up and blessed instead of those which are tedious and toilsome?” Peter, following the psalmist, is showing how to live what would be considered a truly abundant life.
Will he write about fast donkeys, big bank accounts, and the last iRock to scratch out messages to friends on? No! Rather, he brings it all back to the state of the heart. Despite specifically referring to the mouth and what it puts forth, the words which flow from there are only a reflection of the heart, as the Lord notes –
“A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart brings forth evil. For out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.” Luke 6:45
Peter heard those words and certainly remembered them as he cited the psalm by saying, “Keep your tongue from evil.” The word signifies to stop or to cease. There should be a complete cessation of evil proceeding from the tongue. Along with this, “And your lips from speaking deceit.”
Here the psalmist, and Peter also, use what is known as parallelism. It is saying the same thing a second time in a different way. The tongue is used as a part of the speech process. Likewise, the lips are also used in speaking. Here, deceit is used to describe the “evil” of the first clause. The word translated as “deceit” is one of baiting and hooking another person, or catching them in a snare. Peter is saying that if a person wants to live a life which is full, abundant, and without woes, this is an appropriate step to take in order for that to happen. He will continue citing the psalm in the next verse to further refine this.
Life application: Peter provides us with a general guideline for a love of life and an expectation of living days of happiness. As a way of confirming what he has said, and the benefits of following his advice, he cited Scripture. This accomplishes several things.
1) It gives credence to the advice he has given. Just as a Christian counselor or pastor will cite Scripture in order to support his advice today, Peter did the same while writing his epistle.
2) It verifies the authority and value of the Old Testament, including the psalms, in the Christian’s life. As Paul said to Timothy – “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:16). Paul said this when only the Old Testament existed, thus confirming its continued validity in the life of the believer.
3) It is telling us that what was cited in the Old Testament has found its fulfillment in the New. Peter is applying Scripture from the Jewish culture to the testimony about Jesus – indicating He is the reason for what was previously written.
Because of these points, let us take his advice. Let us always refrain from using our tongue for evil, and may our lips never speak falsely or deceitfully. Although this should be obvious to us, it is not always easy for us. Stay close to God, walk in the Spirit, and rely on the Son for your life and conduct, and these difficult pronouncements will be made attainable.
Lord God, just as Isaiah said he was “a man of unclean lips,” and he dwelt among a society of people whose lips were impure, we too have mouths which don’t always utter blessings. Instead, we bite back, speak falsely, and revile when we should bless. Help us in our fallen state to overcome these things and thus bring honor to You. Amen.