1 Peter 2:18-25
Servants, be subject to your masters with all fear; not only to the good and gentle, but also to the fraudulent.…
In these words we have a brief and yet clear representation of the wretchedness of natural conditions and of our happiness in Christ. It imports indeed the loss of a better condition, the loss of the safety and happiness of the soul, of that good which is proper to it, as the suitable good of the brute creature here named is safe amid good pasture. That we may know there is no one exempt in nature from the guiltiness and misery of this wandering, the prophet is express as to the universality of it: "All we like sheep have gone astray." Yea, the prophet adds, "We have turned every one to his own way." We agree in this, that we all wander, though we differ in several ways. Truth is but one; error endless and interminable. Thy tongue, it may be, wanders not in the common path road of oaths and curses, yet it wanders in secret calumnies, in defaming of others, or, if thou speak them not, yet thou art pleased to hear them. It wanders in trifling away the precious hours of irrecoverable time, with vain unprofitable babblings in thy converse; or, if thou art much alone, or in company much silent, yet is not thy foolish mind still hunting vanity, following this self-pleasing design or the other, and seldom and very slightly, if at all, conversant with God and the things of heaven, which, although they alone have the truest and the highest pleasure in them, yet to thy carnal mind are tasteless and unsavoury? Men account little of the wandering of their hearts, and yet truly that is most of all to be considered. It is the heart that hath forgotten God, and is roving after vanity: this causes all the errors of men's words and actions. A wandering heart makes wandering eyes, feet, and tongue: it is the leading wanderer that misleads all the rest. "But are now returned." Whatsoever are the several ways of our straying, all our wandering originates in the aversion of the heart from God, whence of necessity follows a continual unsettledness and disquiet. The mind tumbles from one sin and vanity to another, and finds no rest; or as a sick person tosses from one part of his bed to another, and perhaps changes his bed in hope of ease, but still it is further off, thus is the soul in all its wanderings. But shift and change as it will, no rest shall it find until it come to this returning. But is not that God in whom we expect rest incensed against us for our wandering? and is He not, being offended, a consuming fire? True; but this is the way to find acceptance, and peace, and satisfying comforts in returning: come first to this Shepherd of souls, Jesus Christ, and by Him come unto the Father. There be three things necessary to restore us to our happiness, whence we have departed in our wanderings.
1. To take away the guiltiness of those former wanderings.
2. To reduce us into the way again.
3. To keep and lead us in it.Now all these are performable only by this great Shepherd.
1. He did satisfy for the offence of our wanderings, and so remove our guiltiness.
2. He brings them back into the way of life — "Ye are returned." but think not it is by their own knowledge and skill that they discover their error and find out the right path, or that by their own strength they return into it. Men may have confused thoughts of returning, but to know the way and to come, unless they be sought out, they are unable. This is David's suit, though acquainted with the fold, "I have gone astray like a lost sheep; Lord, seek Thy servant."
3. He keeps and leads us on in that way into which He hath restored us. He leaves us not again to try our own skill, whether we can walk to heaven alone, being set into the path of it, but He still conducts us in it by His own hand, and that is the cause of our persisting in it and attaining the blessed end of it (Psalm 23:3). Are we led in the paths of righteousness? Do we delight ourselves in Him and in His ways? Can we discern His voice, and does it draw our hearts so that we follow it? "The Shepherd and the Bishop." It was the style of kings to be called shepherds, and is the dignity of the ministers of the gospel to have both these names. But this great Shepherd and Bishop is peculiarly worthy of these names as supreme.
Parallel VersesKJV: Servants, be subject to your masters with all fear; not only to the good and gentle, but also to the froward.