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1 Peter 3:12 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)
12 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.”
For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous. That is, he is their Protector. His eyes are indeed on all men, but the language here is that which describes continual guardianship and care.
And his ears are open to their prayers. He hears their prayers. As he is a hearer of prayer, they are at liberty to go to him at all times, and to pour out their desires before him. This passage is taken from Psa. 34:15, and it is designed to show the reason why a life of piety will contribute to length of days.
But the face of the Lord is against those who do evil. Marg., upon. The sense of the passage, however, is against. The Lord sets his face against them: an expression denoting condemnation (disapproval) and a determination to punish them. His face is not mild and harmless towards them as it is towards the righteous. The general sentiment in these verses (10–12) is that while the length of days is desirable, it is to be secured by virtue and Christianity or that virtue and Christianity will contribute to it. This is not to be understood as affirming that all who are righteous will enjoy a long life, for we know that the righteous are often cut down in the midst of their way; and that in fire, flood, and war, and the pestilence, the righteous and the wicked often perish together. But still, there is a sense in which it is true that a life of virtue and true Christianity will contribute to the length of days and that the law is so general as to be a basis of calculation in reference to the future. I. True Christianity and virtue contribute to things that are favorable to the length of days, conducive to health, and to a vigorous constitution. Among those things are the following: (a) a calm, peaceful, and contented mind—avoiding the wear and tear of the raging passions of lusts, greed (selfishness), and ambition; (b) temperance in eating and drinking—always favorable to the length of days; (c) industry—one of the essential means, as a general rule, of promoting long life; (d) prudence and economy—avoiding the extravagancies by which many shorten their days; and (e) a conscientious and careful regard of life itself. True Christianity makes men feel that life is a blessing and that it should not be thrown away. Just in proportion as a man is under the influence of Christianity, does he regard life as important, and does he become careful in preserving it. Strange and paradoxical as it may seem, the want of Christianity often makes men reckless of life and ready to throw it away for any trifling cause. True Christianity shows a man what great issues depend on life and makes him desirous of living to secure his own salvation and the salvation of all others. (Note that one does not earn his own salvation it is an underserved gift from God. This means remaining faithful until the end) II. Multitudes lose their lives that would have preserved them if they had been influenced by true Christianity. To see this, we have only to reflect (a) on the millions who are cut off in war as the result of ambition and the want of Christianity; (b) on the countless hosts cut down in middle life, or in youth, by overindulgence, who would have been saved by Christianity; (c) on the numbers who are the victims of raging passions, and who are cut off by the diseases which gluttony and licentiousness engender; (d) on the multitude who fall in drunken bouts, all of whom would have been saved by Christianity; (e) on the numbers who, as the result of disappointment in business or in love, close their own lives, who would have been enabled to bear up under their troubles if they had had Christianity; and (f) on the numbers who are cut off from the earth as the punishment of their crimes, all of whom would have continued to live if they had had true Christianity. III. God protects the righteous. He does it by saving them from those vices by which the lives of so many are shortened; and often, we have no reason to doubt, in answer to their prayers, when, but for those prayers, they would have fallen into crimes that would have consigned them to an early grave or encountered dangers from which they would have had no means of escape. No one can doubt that, in fact, those who are truly religious are saved from the sins which consign millions to the tomb, nor is there any less reason to doubt that a protecting shield is often thrown before the children of God when in danger. Comp. Psa. 91.
By Albert Barnes and Edward D. Andrews