By Rev Dr Edward Goh
In encouraging us to conduct ourselves honourably before others by putting our trust in God, 1 Peter 3:10-12 cites Psalm 34, which has a subtitle suggesting it was written by David when he feigned madness before Abimelech, the king of Achish. If so, Peter might have intended his readers to remember what led to some of David’s most desperate moments in 1 Samuel and how eventually, God in His faithfulness delivered David. David could have written this Psalm after he escaped to the cave of Adullam in 1 Samuel 22.
There, 400 fighting men came to join David. They would become some of David’s mightiest warriors. Psalm 34 could be David’s reflection and thanksgiving to God for His deliverance from Abimelech. But it also reminds us of David’s lack of faith in running to the Philistines, who were Israel’s enemies, who did not believe in Yahweh.
The words of this Psalm must have helped David refrain from evil when twice he was given the chance to kill Saul but he did not. God also protected him from shedding the blood of Nabal. However, David would become afraid again and seek refuge in King Abimelech. This would lead to another dark moment in David’s life. The Amalekites came and burned down Ziklag. They carried away their families while David and his men were with Abimelech. His men spoke of stoning him. In his desperation, David turned to God. God heard David’s prayer and eventually, enabled David and his men to rescue their families.
These events illustrate the truths of 1 Peter 3:10-12. To get away from troubles, David ran to God’s enemies. He landed himself and others in bigger troubles. Only in God could he find true deliverance. Christians likewise are to conduct their lives in godliness, by not conforming to the ways of the world. We are to put no confidence in external appearances and the riches of this world. Neither should we lie nor return evil for evil to avoid troubles and sufferings. Rather, we are to look to Christ. Like Him, we are to entrust ourselves to God in seeking to do right (1 Pet. 2:23).
The good life spoken of in verse 8 is as Romans 14:17 says, is not a life of just eating and drinking. It is not pleasing ourselves but living under God’s kingship in righteousness, peace and joy of the Holy Spirit. Our peace and joy come from living rightly in God’s sight. This is the essence of the good life in God’s eternal presence, now and in the age to come.