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1 Peter 3:10 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)
“Whoever desires to love life
and see good days,
let him keep his tongue from evil
and his lips from speaking deceit
For Whoever desires to love life. Gr., ‘He willing, (θέλων,) or that wills to love life.’ It implies that there is some positive desire to live; some active wish that life should be prolonged. This whole passage (verses 10–12) is taken, with some slight variations, from Psalm 34:12–16. In the Psalm, this expression is, ‘What man is he that desires life, and loves many days, that he may see good?’ The sense is substantially the same. It is implied here that it is right to love life and to desire many days. The desire of this is referred to by the psalmist and by the apostle, without any expression of disapprobation, and the way is shown by which length of days may be secured. Life is a blessing, a precious gift of God. We are taught to regard it by the instinctive feelings of our nature; for we are so made as to love it and to dread its extinction. Though we should be prepared to resign it when God commands, yet there are important reasons why we should desire to live. Among them are the following: (1.) Because, as already intimated, life, as such, is to be regarded as a blessing. We instinctively shrink back from death as one of the greatest evils; we shudder at the thought of annihilation. It is not wrong to love that, in a proper degree, which, by our very nature, we are prompted to love; and we are but acting out one of the universal laws which our Creator has impressed on us, when, with proper submission to his will, we seek to lengthen out our days as far as possible. (2.) That we may see the works of God and survey the wonders of his hand on earth. The world is full of wonders, evincing the wisdom and goodness of the Deity, and the longest life, nay, many such lives as are allotted to us here, could be well employed in studying his works and ways. (3.) That we may make preparation for eternity. Man may, indeed, make preparation in a very brief period, but the longest life is not too much to examine and settle the question whether we have a well-founded hope of heaven. If man had nothing else to do, the longest life could be well employed in inquiries that grow out of the question of whether we are fitted for the world to come. In the possibility, too, of being deceived, and in view of the awful consequences that will result from deception, it is desirable that length of days should be given us that we may bring the subject to the severest test, and so determine it, that we may go sure to the changeless world. (4.) That we may do good to others. We may, indeed, do good in another world, but there are ways of doing good that are probably confined to this. What good we may do hereafter to the inhabitants of distant worlds, or what ministrations, in company with angels, or without them, we may exercise towards the friends of God on earth after we leave it, we do not know, but there are certain things which we are morally certain we shall not be permitted to do in the future world. We shall not (a) personally labor for the salvation of sinners, by conversation and other direct efforts; (b) we shall not illustrate the influence of religion by example in sustaining us in trials, subduing and controlling our passions, and making us dead to the world; (c) we shall not be permitted to pray for our impenitent friends and kindred, as we may now; (d) we shall not have the opportunity of contributing of our substance for the spread of the gospel, or of going personally to preach the gospel to the perishing; (e) we shall not be employed in instructing the ignorant, in advocating the cause of the oppressed and the wronged, in seeking to remove the fetters from the slave, in dispensing mercy to the insane, or in visiting the prisoner in his lonely cell; (f) we shall not have it in our power to address a kind word to an impenitent child, or seek to guide him in paths of truth, purity, and salvation. What we can do personally and directly for the salvation of others is to be done in this world; and, considering how much there is to be done, and how useful life may be on the earth, it is an object which we should desire, that our days may be lengthened out, and should use all proper means that it may be done. While we should ever be ready and willing to depart when God calls us to go, while we should not wish to linger on these mortal shores beyond the time when we may be useful to others, yet, as long as he permits us to live, we should regard life as a blessing, and should pray that, if it is his will, we may not be cut down in the midst of our way.
“Love not thy life, nor hate; but what thou livest
Live well; how long, or short, permit to heaven.”
And see good days. In the Psalm (34:12) this is, ‘and loves many days, that he may see good.’ The quotation by Peter throughout the passage is taken from the Septuagint, excepting that there is a change of the person from the second to the third: in the psalm, e.g., ‘refrain thy tongue from evil,’ etc.; in the quotation, ‘let him refrain his tongue from evil,’ etc. ‘Good days’ are prosperous days; happy days; days of usefulness; days in which we may be respected and loved.
Let him keep his tongue from evil. The general meaning of all that is said here is, ‘let him lead an upright and pious life, doing evil to no one but seeking the good of all men.’ To refrain the tongue from evil is to avoid all slander, falsehood, obscenity, and profaneness and to abstain from uttering erroneous and false opinions. Comp. James 1:26; 3:2.
And his lips from speaking deceit. No deceit: nothing that will lead others astray. The words should be an exact representation of the truth. Rosenmüller quotes a passage from the Hebrew book Musar, which may not be an inappropriate illustration of this: ‘A certain Assyrian wandering through the city, cried and said, “Who will receive the elixir of life? “The daughter of Rabbi Jodus heard him and went and told her father. “Call him in,” said he. When he came in, Rabbi Jannei said to him, “What is that elixir of life which you are selling?” He said to him, “Is it not written, What man is he that desires life and loves days that he may see good? Keep thy tongue from evil, and thy lips that they speak no guile. Lo, this is the elixir of life which is in the mouth of a man!”’
By Albert Barnes and Edward D. Andrews