When a man's ways please the LORD, he makes even his enemies to be at peace with him.
These words contain two blessed fruits of a gracious conversation. The one more immediate and direct, acceptance with God; the other more remote, and by consequence from the former, peace with men.
I. THE SUBJECT. "A man's ways." His whole carriage in the course of his life, with all his thoughts, speeches, and actions, good or bad. When a man walketh in the beaten track of the world, without ever turning his feet unto God's testimonies, neither that man nor his ways can please the Lord. When a man walketh conscionably and constantly in the good ways of God both the man and his ways are well pleasing unto God. When a man in the more constant course of his life walketh uprightly, and in a right way, but yet in a few particulars treadeth awry, the man may be accepted, though his ways are not altogether pleasing.
II. THE ACT. "Pleasing." This hath reference to acceptation: wherein the endeavour is one thing, and the event another. A man may have a full intention, and make due endeavour, and yet fail of his end. This is apparent when we have to deal with men. To please signifieth rather the event in finding acceptance than the endeavour in seeking it. In a moral sense, however, not so much the event as the endeavour and intention. But there may be a good assurance of the event where the desire of pleasing is unfeigned and the endeavour faithful.
III. THE OBJECT. All men strive to please; but some to please themselves; some to please other men; and some to please the Lord. We should endeavour so to walk as to please God. For He is our Master, Captain, Father, and King. There is one great benefit attached to pleasing the Lord in the text, — "He will make our enemies to be at peace with us." We may add, He will preserve us from sinful temptations. He will answer our prayers. He will translate us into His heavenly kingdom. The wicked man, who displeases God, strengthens the hands of his enemies; exposes himself as a prey to temptations; blocks up the passage against his own prayer; debars himself from entering the kingdom. How can pleasing the Lord be done? By likeness and obedience. The godly love what God loveth. They desire and endeavour to be holy as He is holy; perfect as He is perfect, merciful as the heavenly Father is merciful. Obedience is the proof of our willing and cheerful subjection to His most righteous commands. It is vain to think of pleasing God by the mere outward performances of fasting, prayer, almsdeeds, hearing God's Word, or receiving the Sacrament. How comes it about that such poor things as our best endeavours are should please God? Our good works are pleasing to God upon two grounds.
1. Because He worketh them in us; and —
2. Because He looketh upon us and them in Christ. In the consequent of pleasing God there are three things observable. The persons — a man's enemies. The effect — peace. The author — the Lord. The scope of the whole words is to instruct us that the fairest and likeliest way for us to procure peace with man is to order our ways so as to please the Lord. The favour of God and the favour of men is joined together in Holy Scripture, as if the one were a consequent of the other.
Parallel VersesKJV: When a man's ways please the LORD, he maketh even his enemies to be at peace with him.