The correct understanding and application of scripture is of vital importance. God’s Word is literally life and wisdom incarnate in the form of Jesus Christ. When we seek to grow in our knowledge of the Bible and to go deeper into the study of the Word then we are really seeking to grow our relationship with Jesus. And that is an endeavor that will always be worthwhile and eternally profitable.
As we discussed Psalm 34:19 last week I mentioned that the entire chapter was worth careful study and contains wonderful wisdom and encouragement for the believer. As I originally read through and studied Psalm 34 I completely misunderstood verse 14 and it is that verse (with a few more) that we will be looking at this time.
Come, you children, listen to me;
I will teach you the fear of the Lord.
Who is the man who desires life
And loves length of days that he may see good?
Keep your tongue from evil
And your lips from speaking deceit.
Depart from evil and do good;
Seek peace and pursue it. Psalm 34:11-14
In verses 11 through 13 we have an invitation to listen to the speaker as he imparts Godly wisdom to us. If we heed his instruction then we will learn to fear (respect and admire) the God of eternity who is our creator. His follow-up questions to this bold statement are good ones. Do we desire life? Do we truly want to see “good” during our time on earth?
If so, we must learn to tame our tongues and ultimately depart from evil and towards good. Sounds simple but we know, because of human nature, it really isn’t. Choosing to do good and seek a relationship with God while denying that fallen human nature can only be accomplished with God’s help and through God’s grace.
But what about that very last line of verse 14? “Seek peace and pursue it”. At first glance, this bit of instruction seems to come out of left field. Thus far the speaker has been talking about personal behavior and that which comes from within. If we take “peace” to mean the absence of conflict and violence then that would seem to point more towards our outward behavior towards others. And initially, that is exactly how I read and understood verse 14. But what if the speaker is talking about a different kind of peace? What if he means inner peace that comes only from being in right relationship to God through faith in Jesus Christ?
See, the only way any of us can truly be at peace is when we know our sins have been forgiven and we are walking in the light of His love. And when we sin against Him and do not confess our sins it creates inner conflict and we are doing the opposite of verse 14. To “seek peace and pursue it” is to make confession and repentance a priority!
Once I understood what verse 14 was really saying it really connected the entire thought from verse 11 all the way through verse 14. And because of my initial misunderstanding of verse 14 I almost missed a powerful and life changing truth from God’s Word. (Thank God that He led me to the commentary of Charles H Spurgeon who’s work inspired me to write this and to share what I had learned!)
Ultimately, the most important peace is the peace of God in our hearts and that peace will guard our hearts and minds no matter what this life might bring against us. It is one of God’s most amazing gifts to us but it is an easy gift to miss if we don’t make it a priority and continually seek after it.