For the eyes of the Lord are over the righteous - That is, he is their Protector. His eyes are indeed on all people, but the language here is that which describes continual guardianship and care.
And his ears are open unto their prayers - He hears their prayers. As he is a hearer of prayer, they are at liberty to go to him at all times, and to pour out their desires before him. This passage is taken from Psalm 34:15, and it is designed to show the reason why a life of piety will contribute to length of days.
But the face of the Lord is against them that do evil - Margin, upon. The sense of the passage, however, is against. The Lord sets his face against them: an expression denoting disapprobation, and a determination to punish them. His face is not mild and benignant toward them, as it is toward the righteous. The general sentiment in these verses 1 Peter 3:10-12 is, that while length of days is desirable, it is to be secured by virtue and religion, or that virtue and religion will contribute to it. This is not to be understood as affirming that all who are righteous will enjoy long life, for we know that the righteous are often cut down in the midst of their way; and that in fire, and flood, and war, and the pestilence, the righteous and the wicked often perish together. But still there is a sense in which it is true that a life of virtue and religion will contribute to length of days, and that the law is so general as to be a basis of calculation in reference to the future:
I. Religion and virtue contribute to those things which are favorable to length of days, which are conducive to health and to a vigorous constitution. Among those things are the following:
(a)acalm, peaceful, and contented mind - avoiding the wear and tear of the raging passions of lusts, avarice, and ambition;
(b)temperance in eating and drinking - always favorable to length of days;
(c)industry - one of the essential means, as a general rule, of promoting long life;
(d)prudence and economy - avoiding the extravagancies by which many shorten their days; and,
(e)aconscientious and careful regard of life itself.
Religion makes men feel that life is a blessing, and that it should not be thrown away. Just in proportion as a man is under the influence of religion, does he regard life as of importance, and does he become careful in preserving it. Strange and paradoxical as it may seem, the lack of religion often makes people reckless of life, and ready to throw it away for any trifling cause. Religion shows a man what great issues depend on life, and makes him, therefore, desirous of living to secure his own salvation and the salvation of all others.
II. Multitudes lose their lives who would have preserved them if they had been under the influence of religion. To see this, we have only to reflect:
(a)on the millions who are cut off in war as the result of ambition, and the want of religion;
(b)on the countless hosts cut down in middle life, or in youth, by intemperance, who would have been saved by religion;
(c)on the numbers who are the victims of raging passions, and who are cut off by the diseases which gluttony and licentiousness engender;
(d)on the multitude who fall in duels, all of whom would have been saved by religion;
(e)on the numbers who, as the result of disappointment in business or in love, close their own lives, who would have been enabled to bear up under their troubles if they had had religion; and,
(f)on the numbers who are cut off from the earth as the punishment of their crimes, all of whom would have continued to live if they had had true religion.
III. God protects the righteous. He does it by saving them from those vices by which the lives of so many are shortened; and often, we have no reason to doubt, in answer to their prayers, when, but for those prayers, they would have fallen into crimes that would have consigned them to an early grave, or encountered dangers from which they would have had no means of escape. No one can doubt that in fact those who are truly religious are saved from the sins which consign millions to the tomb; nor is there any less reason to doubt that a protecting shield is often thrown before the children of God when in danger. Compare Psalm 91.
The eyes of the Lord are over the righteous - That is, He is continually under God's notice and his care; God continually watches for him and watches over him, and he is under his constant protection.
And his ears are open unto their prayers - The original is very emphatic: The eyes of the Lord are upon the righteous, and his ears to their prayers. The righteous man ever attracts the Divine notice, and wherever he is, there is the ear of God; for, as every righteous man is a man of prayer, wherever he prays, there is the ear of God, into which the prayer, as soon as formed, enters.
But the face of the Lord - Far from his eye being upon them, or his ear open to their requests, (for prayer they have none), his face, his approbation, his providence and blessing, are turned away from them; and he only looks upon them to abhor them, and to turn the arm of his justice against them.
No superiority of rank, dignity, or worldly wisdom, no position in sacred office, will preserve men from sacrificing principle when left to their own deceitful hearts. Those who have been regarded as worthy and righteous prove to be ring-leaders in apostasy and examples in indifference and in the abuse of God's mercies. Their wicked course He will tolerate no longer, and in His wrath He deals with them without mercy. 5T 212.1
It is with reluctance that the Lord withdraws His presence from those who have been blessed with great light and who have felt the power of the word in ministering to others. They were once His faithful servants, favored with His presence and guidance; but they departed from Him and led others into error, and therefore are brought under the divine displeasure. 5T 212.2
The day of God's vengeance is just upon us. The seal of God will be placed upon the foreheads of those only who sigh and cry for the abominations done in the land. Those who link in sympathy with the world are eating and drinking with the drunken and will surely be destroyed with the workers of iniquity. “The eyes of the Lord are over the righteous, and His ears are open unto their prayers: but the face of the Lord is against them that do evil.” 5T 212.3Read in context »
The sin of evilspeaking begins with the cherishing of evil thoughts. Guile includes impurity in all its forms. An impure thought tolerated, an unholy desire cherished, and the soul is contaminated, its integrity compromised. “Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death.” If we would not commit sin, we must shun its very beginnings. Every emotion and desire must be held in subjection to reason and conscience. Every unholy thought must be instantly repelled. To your closet, followers of Christ. Pray in faith and with all the heart. Satan is watching to ensnare your feet. You must have help from above if you would escape his devices. 5T 177.1
By faith and prayer all may meet the requirements of the gospel. No man can be forced to transgress. His own consent must be first gained; the soul must purpose the sinful act before passion can dominate over reason or iniquity triumph over conscience. Temptation, however strong, is never an excuse for sin. “The eyes of the Lord are over the righteous, and His ears are open unto their prayers.” Cry unto the Lord, tempted soul. Cast yourself, helpless, unworthy, upon Jesus, and claim His very promise. The Lord will hear. He knows how strong are the inclinations of the natural heart, and He will help in every time of temptation. 5T 177.2
Have you fallen into sin? Then without delay seek God for mercy and pardon. When David was convicted of his sin, he poured out his soul in penitence and humiliation before God. He felt that he could endure the loss of his crown, but he could not be deprived of the favor of God. Mercy is still extended to the sinner. The Lord is calling to us in all our wanderings: “Return, ye backsliding children, and I will heal your backslidings.” The blessing of God may be ours if we will heed the pleading voice of His Spirit. “Like as a father pitieth his children, so the Lord pitieth them that fear Him.” 5T 177.3Read in context »
The consciousness of rightdoing is the best medicine for diseased bodies and minds. The special blessing of God resting upon the receiver is health and strength. A person whose mind is quiet and satisfied in God is in the pathway to health. To have a consciousness that the eyes of the Lord are upon us and His ears open to our prayers is a satisfaction indeed. To know that we have a never-failing Friend in whom we can confide all the secrets of the soul is a privilege which words can never express. Those whose moral faculties are beclouded by disease are not the ones to rightly represent the Christian life or the beauties of holiness. They are too often in the fire of fanaticism or the water of cold indifference or stolid gloom. The words of Christ are of more worth than the opinions of all the physicians in the universe: “Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.” This is the first great object—the kingdom of heaven, the righteousness of Christ. Other objects to be attained should be secondary to these. 1T 502.1
Satan will present the path of holiness as difficult while the paths of worldly pleasure are strewed with flowers. In false and flattering colors will the tempter array the world with its pleasures before you. Vanity is one of the strongest traits of our depraved natures, and he knows that he can appeal to it successfully. He will flatter you through his agents. You may receive praise which will gratify your vanity and foster in you pride and self-esteem, and you may think that with such advantages and attractions it really is a great pity for you to come out from the world and be separate, and become a Christian, to forsake your companions, and be alike dead to their praise or censure. Satan tells you that with the advantages which you possess you could to a high degree enjoy the pleasures of the world. But consider that the pleasures of earth will have an end, and that which you sow you must also reap. Are personal attractions, ability, or talents too valuable to devote to God, the Author of your being, He who watches over you every moment? Are your qualifications too precious to devote to God? 1T 502.2
The young urge that they need something to enliven and divert the mind. I saw that there is pleasure in industry, a satisfaction in pursuing a life of usefulness. Some still urge that they must have something to interest the mind when business ceases, some mental occupation or amusement to which the mind can turn for relief and refreshment amid cares and wearing labor. The Christian's hope is just what is needed. Religion will prove to the believer a comforter, a sure guide to the Fountain of true happiness. The young should study the word of God and give themselves to meditation and prayer, and they will find that their spare moments cannot be better employed. Young friends, you should take time to prove your own selves, whether you are in the love of God. Be diligent to make your calling and election sure. It depends upon your own course of action whether you secure to yourselves the better life. 1T 503.1Read in context »