1 Peter 5:10
But the God of all grace, who has called us to his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that you have suffered a while, make you perfect…
Some think these words are spoken in the way of a promise from God; others think they are spoken in the way of prayer to God.
1. THE MERCY AND BLESSING PRAYED FOR. It is expressed in four words: "Perfect, stablish, strengthen, and settle you." The first word, which we render "perfect," should, I think, be translated otherwise. It is the same word that is used in Matthew 4:21 and Mark 1:19 for mending of their nets; and the same that is used in Galatians 6:1: "You that are spiritual 'restore' such an one with the spirit of meekness"; and it signifies such a restoring as is of unjointed members. Now these Christians being scattered, the apostle prays that God would please to joint them again. Thus the God of all grace, after you have suffered and been shattered, bring you into order, restore and repair you. It is a great blessing of God, and worthy of all our prayer, to be established and settled in the truth and good ways of God. Settling grace and mercy, in opposition both to outward and inward trouble, is a great mercy and well worth praying for.
1. First, it is a great mercy and blessing for a nation or kingdom to be in a settled state and condition outwardly; for it is the mercy promised, and promised mercies are no small mercies (Jeremiah 24:6; Jeremiah 32:37, 41; 2 Samuel 7:16).
2. Secondly, as it is a mercy for a nation to be settled and established, so for the Church of God; for when the Church hath this rest, then it is edified, walking in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Ghost (Acts 9:31). Establishment is the mercy promised to the Church also (Isaiah 2:2). It is that mercy and blessing which the apostles laboured for continually (Acts 14:21). This they also prayed for; and therefore as the Apostle Peter shuts up his Epistle with this prayer for the dispersed Christian-Jews, so the Apostle Paul doth close up his Epistle to the Corinthians with the same desire and prayer for them (2 Corinthians 13) And Romans 16:25. And as it is the mercy prayed for, so sometimes it is made the signal mercy whereby the Church is declared to be the Church of Christ: "Whose house ye are," saith the apostle to the Hebrews, "if you hold fast the confidence of your rejoicing stedfast to the end."
3. But especially it is a great mercy for a particular soul to be settled in the truth and established in the good ways of God. It is the ground of all our fruitfulness: ye know how it is with a tree or plant, though in itself it be never so good, yet if it be not settled in the earth it bringeth forth no fruit: if the plant be good and the soil good, it may bring forth good fruit; but if you be always removing it from one place to another, it cannot bring forth fruit. It is the bottom of all our praises. The birds do not ordinarily sing till they be set; they do not usually sing flying; but when they are fixed: so saith David, "My heart is fixed, O God, my heart is fixed"; and what then? then saith he, "I will sing and give praise"; but not till then. And what is the reason that many pass so many years of their lives in doubtings and fears, never praising God for any love or mercy to them? but because they are unsettled in their spiritual estate and condition. It is the beginning of our perseverance: then I begin to persevere when I begin to settle and to be established. As instability is the beginning of apostasy, so settledness is the beginning of perseverance. It is that good thing which pleaseth God exceedingly. God was so pleased with Jehoshaphat upon that account that He passed by his infirmities, even because his heart was fixed and established (2 Chronicles 19:2). And it is also the character of a good and gracious person, whereby he is distinguished from the ungodly of the world. A good man lives and dwelleth at the sign of a settled conversation; he is planted by the rivers of water (Psalm 1); the wicked are as the chaff that is driven to and fro, not settled, not planted.
II. IT IS WORTHY OF ALL OUR PRAYERS. It is a great blessing, and worthy of all our prayers, to be settled and established in the good ways of God. It is that mercy, grace, and blessing which we all need. It is God only who doth give out this grace, it belongs unto Him alone to establish nations, churches, and persons. He is able to establish those who do come to Him for it: "Now to Him that is of power to establish you," etc. (Romans 16:25). He is willing to do it: "But the Lord is faithful, who will establish you and keep you from evil" (2 Thessalonians 3:3). He is engaged to do it, for He hath promised to do it, as hath been proved already, and it is His prerogative: "Now He which establisheth us with you in Christ, and hath anointed us, is God" (2 Corinthians 1:21). What shall we do, then, that we may be established?
1. As for a nation or Christian state. It must first settle religion, for religion is the mainmast, and if that be not strengthened all the tackling will be loose (Isaiah 33:23). Then must there be care taken for a succession of godly magistrates. And therefore let them and all the people remember the good counsel of Jehoshaphat (2 Chronicles 20:20).
2. As for a Church. If particular churches would be settled and established, they must have all the officers and ordinances of Christ then; as a ship under sail, with all its sails out, is beautiful and doth move evenly, so shall they also do. Oh, that churches therefore would take heed of these great sins, pride, and covetousness, which will always keep them in an unsettled condition. But especially it is the duty of all the churches to pray much for this great mercy of establishment (Isaiah 62:6).
3. As for particular persons. Wouldst thou be established in the truth and good ways of God? Then observe what those things are which do make others unsettled, and take heed thereof. Surely either it is because they do want primitive breakings; for the stony ground comes to nothing at the last, though it hath much joy at the first, because it wants depth of earth. The stick that is thrust into the earth is more easily pulled up than the plant which is rooted in the earth. So are all those who have no root in themselves. Or because they take up great resolutions without answerable pre-deliberations; whereas we know that the needle must play about the polar point before it comes to stand and settle; he that would hit the mark must take his level before he parts with his arrow. And if men resolve before they have fully considered, they will ere long be unresolved again. Or because men do not walk by a settled rule: he can never be settled that doth not walk by a settled rule. So long as I want the Divine counsel of the Word, my heart is like a vagrant that is most unstable, said Bernard; for whilst I am not subject to God, I am contrary to myself. Or because they are divided in their own hearts. A double-minded man is unstable in all his ways — a heart for the world, yet a good mind to Christ; how is it possible but they should be most unsettled? Or because they are too confident of their own strength and judgment: whereas the only way to be firm and stedfast is to be sensible of one's own infirmity. Or because men do forsake the ministry which Christ hath given to the churches for their edification, perfection, and establishment (Ephesians 9:11-14). Or because they have too fair an opinion of those that are erroneous, thinking that they may be godly, though they be never so unsound in their judgments. Or because that men do not improve their Christian communion for the life and power of godliness, but for light only, and discoursing notions: whereas Paul saith (1 Timothy 6:20, 21). Or because they have not been built on the rock Christ, but on some sandy foundation: whereas the Psalmist saith, "He set my feet on a rock, and established my goings" (Psalm 40:2). But what shall I do that I may be more settled in regard of my judgment, and that I may be established in the present truth? Get a clear and distinct understanding in the things and truths of the gospel: labour, not only to know, but to get a clear and judicious apprehension and clearness in the truths of Christ. Be sure that you do not make any impression the rule and square of your judgment; judge not doctrines by impressions. "We have a more sure word of prophecy, whereunto ye shall do well that you take heed, as unto a light shining in a dark place" (chap. 2 Peter 1:19). The Word of God without is my rule, the light within is my help to understand that rule; but if I judge of doctrines by impressions of the Word on my heart I can never be settled; therefore take heed of that. Get into the house of God; God's house is an house of establishment; there He commandeth His blessing, and life forever more; there the Lord hath promised to make men pillars for stedfastness (Revelation 3:12). Whatever truth you know do not only know it in a spiritual way, but put the same into practice; the way to be established in the truth is to walk therein (Colossians 2:6, 7). But what shall I do that 1 may be more settled in my life and established in the good ways of God? You must be very sensible of your own unsettled ness, and be humbled for it; he is not far from establishment that is very sensible of his own unsettledness. Labour for a solid and a serious spirit: a serious spirit and an established heart go together (Proverbs 4:26). Be sure that you do not live upon your condition itself, but on the God of your condition; that is perpetual which hath a perpetuating cause. The more delight and contentment that you find in the good ways of God, the more your hearts will be fixed, established, and staked down to them; comfort and establishment go together (2 Thessalonians 2:17). Do you desire to be fixed and established? labour more and more, then, to make your way to heaven easy and comfortable to you.
(W. Bridge, M. A.)
Parallel VersesKJV: But the God of all grace, who hath called us unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered a while, make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you.