"Whoever of you loves life and desires to see many good days, keep your tongue from evil and your lips from telling lies. Turn from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it.” (NIV) Psalm 34:12-14
It is the desire of many people to enjoy life to the fullest and have fulfilled dreams. This is usually understood to be going beyond meeting basic needs to living in luxury, pleasure and fulfilled dreams. The Psalmist discusses three basic things that affect our lives –the things we say, the things we do and our relationships with other people.
To enjoy this transient life on earth and the eternal one promised by God, we are admonished to keep our tongues from evil and our lips from telling lies. Men cannot spit forth poison without feeling some of the venom burning their own flesh. Deceit must earnestly be avoided by the man who desires happiness. Clean and honest conversation, by keeping the conscience at ease, promotes happiness. Lying and wicked talk stuffs our pillows with thorns, and makes life a constant whirl of fear and shame. Jesus admonishes us in Matthew 12:37 that- "For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned". Let us value our speech towards ourselves, our fellow workmates and children as it can mar the enjoyment of our lives. In Ephesians 4:29, we are once again advised to protect our tongues with diligence. “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.”
From verse 14 of Psalm 34, we are entreated to shun evil. This denotes that evil is immediate to us; it keeps close to us, and should be declined and shunned. In order to see many good days, we must avoid all sorts of evil: - evil men and their evil company, evil things, evil words and works, and all appearances of evil (Gal. 5:19-21). In departing from evil, we are implored to do good. Negative goodness is not sufficient to entitle us to heaven. There are some of us who live upon negatives; we are not drunkards, we are not swearers, we are not fornicators, we do not lie and for this we pride ourselves. That’s how the Pharisee was living in Luke 18:11, "God, I thank you that I am not like other people—robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector". We are bid, not only to cease from evil, but to do good. In this year, let us not become weary in doing good; we should do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers, as often as we have the opportunity (Gal. 6:9-10).
The final part of verse 14 of Psalm 34, entreats us to seek peace. Not merely prefer it, but with zeal and care we should endeavour to seek peace. Jesus is the Prince of Peace, we should seek Him and He will put His peace in our hearts. In John 16:33, Jesus comforted the disciples with these words: “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” Only God can grant the calmness in our hearts to face the challenges in this world. When we get hold of this stillness in our hearts, we are admonished to promote it to our fellow men. Nothing can more effectively promote our own happiness than the peace we seek with others. Strife awakens passions which eat into the heart with corroding power. Although peace may soon be lost between us and others, we must do our best to retain it. The word of God continues to beseech us that, “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone” (Rom. 12: 18). The peace which we thus promote will be returned into our own bosom, and be a perpetual spring of comfort to us.