Psalm 34:14
Depart from evil, and do good; seek peace, and pursue it.
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(14) And do good.—Negative goodness is not sufficient. Practical good must be added.

34:11-22 Let young persons set out in life with learning the fear of the Lord, if they desire true comfort here, and eternal happiness hereafter. Those will be most happy who begin the soonest to serve so good a Master. All aim to be happy. Surely this must look further than the present world; for man's life on earth consists but of few days, and those full of trouble. What man is he that would see the good of that where all bliss is perfect? Alas! few have this good in their thoughts. That religion promises best which creates watchfulness over the heart and over the tongue. It is not enough not to do hurt, we must study to be useful, and to live to some purpose; we must seek peace and pursue it; be willing to deny ourselves a great deal for peace' sake. It is the constant practice of real believers, when in distress, to cry unto God, and it is their constant comfort that he hears them. The righteous are humbled for sin, and are low in their own eyes. Nothing is more needful to true godliness than a contrite heart, broken off from every self-confidence. In this soil every grace will flourish, and nothing can encourage such a one but the free, rich grace of the gospel of Jesus Christ. The righteous are taken under the special protection of the Lord, yet they have their share of crosses in this world, and there are those that hate them. Both from the mercy of Heaven, and the malice of hell, the afflictions of the righteous must be many. But whatever troubles befal them, shall not hurt their souls, for God keeps them from sinning in troubles. No man is desolate, but he whom God has forsaken.Depart from evil - From all evil; from vice and crime in every form.

And do good - Do good to all people, and in all the relations of life.

Seek peace - Strive to live in peace with all the world. Compare the notes at Romans 12:18.

And pursue it - Follow after it. Make it an object of desire, and put forth constant efforts to live in peace with all human beings. There can be no doubt that this is appropriate advice to one who wishes to lengthen out his days. We have only to remember how many are cut down by indulging in a quarrelsome, litigious, and contentious spirit - by seeking revenge - by quarrels, duels, wars, and strife - to see the wisdom of this counsel.

13, 14. Sins of thought included in those of speech (Lu 6:45), avoiding evil and doing good in our relations to men are based on a right relation to God. Depart from evil, i.e. from all sin, and especially from all wicked and injurious acts and practices against try neighbour.

Do good; be ready to perform all good and friendly offices to all men, as thou hast opportunity.

Seek peace; study by all means possible to live peaceably and quietly with all men, avoiding grudges, debates, dissensions, strifes, and enmities.

Pursue it; do not only embrace it gladly when it is offered, but follow hard after it when it seems to flee away from thee, and use all possible endeavours, by fair words, by condescensions, and by the mediation or assistance of others, to recover it, and to compose all differences which may arise between thee and others. It is here observable, that whereas he said he would teach them the fear of the Lord, Psalm 34:11, the lessons he teacheth them, Psalm 34:13,14, are only such as concern men. Not that he meant to exclude duties of piety towards God, which he every where enjoineth and presseth as most necessary, but only to teach us what is oft inculcated both in the Old and New Testament, that sincere religion towards God is always accompanied with a conscientious discharge of our duties to men; and to convince the hypocritical Israelites, and particularly his adversaries, that so long as it was their daily course and practice to speak and act all manner of evil against him, and other good men, all their pretences to religion were but vain. Depart from evil,.... This denotes that evil is near to men; it keeps close to them, and should be declined and shunned: and it regards all sorts of evil; evil men, and their evil company; evil things, evil words and works, and all appearance of evil; and the fear of the Lord shows itself in an hatred of it, and a departure from it, Proverbs 8:13;

and do good; not only acts of beneficence to all in necessitous circumstances, but every good work; whatever the word of God directs, or suggests should be done; and which should be done from right principles of faith and love, and to right ends, the glory of God, and the good of his interest; and Christ should be looked and applied unto for grace and strength to perform; all which are evidences of the true fear of God;

seek peace, and pursue it; in the world, and with all men, as much as possibly can be; in neighbourhoods, cities, and states, and in the churches of Christ, and with the saints, as well as with God through Christ; and which in every sense is to be pursued after with eagerness, and to be endeavoured for with diligence; see Romans 12:18.

Depart from evil, and do good; seek peace, and pursue it.
14. The first line recurs in Psalm 37:27. Comp. the character of Job, the ideal righteous man (Job 1:1; Job 1:8; Job 2:3); and Job 28:28; Proverbs 16:17.

pursue it] Do not be discouraged if it should need prolonged effort to overtake it. Cp. the pursuit of righteousness (Proverbs 21:21; Isaiah 51:1); and see Romans 14:19; Hebrews 12:14. In P.B.V. eschew and ensue are archaisms for avoid and follow after.

15ff. The fear of the Lord is commended by the consideration of His favour toward the righteous, which is contrasted with His displeasure against the wicked.Verse 14. - Depart from evil, and do good. From words the psalmist proceeds to acts, and, in the briefest possible way, says all that can be said. First, he enjoins negative goodness - "depart from evil," i.e. do nothing that is wrong; break no laws of God, no command of conscience; have a conscience void of offence, both towards God and towards man. Secondly, he requires positive goodness - "Do good;" i.e. actively perform the will of God from the heart; discharge every duty; practise every virtue; carry out the precepts of the moral law in every particular. Seek peace, and pursue it. It is not clear why this virtue - one of many - is specially enjoined; but probably some circumstances of the time made the recommendation advisable. (Heb.: 34:8-11) This praise is supported by a setting forth of the gracious protection under which God's saints continually are. The מלאך יהוה, is none other than He who was the medium of Jahve's intercourse with the patriarchs, and who accompanied Israel to Canaan. This name is not collective (Calvin, Hupfeld, Kamphausen, and others). He, the One, encampeth round about them, in so far as He is the Captain of the host of Jahve (Joshua 5:14), and consequently is accompanied by a host of inferior ministering angels; or insofar as He can, as being a spirit not limited by space, furnish protection that covers them on every side. חנה (cf. Zechariah 9:8) is perhaps an allusion to מחנים in Genesis 32:2., that angel-camp which joined itself to Jacob's camp, and surrounded it like a barricade or carrago. On the fut. consec. ויחלּצם, et expedit eos, as a simple expression of the sequence, or even only of a weak or loose internal connection, vid., Ewald, 343, a. By reason of this protection by the Angel of God arises (Psalm 34:9) the summons to test the graciousness of God in their own experience. Tasting (γεύσαστηαι, Hebrews 6:4., 1 Peter 2:3) stands before seeing; for spiritual experience leads to spiritual perception or knowledge, and not vice versa. Nisi gustaveris, says Bernard, non videbis. David is desirous that others also should experience what he has experienced in order that they may come to know what he has come to know, viz., the goodness of God.

(Note: On account of this Psalm 34:9, Γεύσασθε καὶ Ἴδετε κ. τ. λ., Psalm 33 (34) was the Communion Psalm of the early church, Constit. Apost. viii. 13, Cyril,. Catech. Myst. v 17.)

Hence, in Psalm 34:10, the call to the saints to fear Jahve (יראוּ instead of יראוּ, in order to preserve the distinction between veremini and videbunt, as in Joshua 24:14; 1 Samuel 12:24); for whoso fears Him, possesses everything in Him. The young mature lions may sooner lack and suffer hunger, because they have no prey, than that he should suffer any want whatsoever, the goal of whose striving is fellowship with God. The verb רוּשׁ (to lack, be poor, once by metaplasm ירשׁ, 1 Samuel 2:7, root רשׁ, to be or to make loose, lax), elsewhere used only of men, is here, like Psalm 104:21 בּקּשׁ מאל, transferred to the lions, without כּפירים being intended to refer emblematically (as in Psalm 35:17; Psalm 57:5; Psalm 17:12) to his powerful foes at the courts of Saul and of Achish.

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