Doing Good to See Good (Psalm 34:12-14)
What man is there who desires life and loves many days, that he may see good? 13 Keep your tongue from evil and your lips from speaking deceit. 14 Turn away from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it. —Psalm 34:12-14
A Bad Rap
Doing good sometimes gets a bad rap.
As Christians, we know the Gospel is about bad people doing bad, being rescued by a good God doing good. We know there’s not enough good any of us can possibly do to save ourselves. And so we rightly resist any notion that doing good earns us favor with God.
But sometimes we can get a bit carried away and think doing good doesn’t matter at all in the Christian life. Or worse yet, that all doing good is simply legalism waiting to happen. But is that true? Is there really no place for “doing good” in the life of Gospel-believing Christians?
The Invitation to See Good
King David helps us see the wisdom and value of doing good in Psalm 34:12–14. Immediately after telling us in verse 11 that he would teach us the fear of the LORD, he poses the question found in verse 12: “What man is there who desires life and loves many days, that he may see good?” Now while this looks like a question, think of it as more of an invitation.
After we’ve tasted and seen that the LORD is good and have taken refuge in Him (v. 8), David promises that those of us who fear him will lack nothing good (v. 9–10). In verse 11 he begins his invitation to come learn the fear of the LORD. Verse 12, then, he amps up his invitation. He says, “Do you want to live life the way it’s meant to be lived? Do you want to see the good I talked about in verses 8–10?”
The Imperative to Do Good
Now he’s got us leaning forward, saying, “Yes! How do I live that life? How do I see good?” His answer: do good. Specifically, do good in three key areas.
First, watch your words (v. 13). In order to see good, we should live lives marked by careful speech that is free from evil and lies. Christians are called to speak what is good and what is true.
Second, actively resist the wrong and do the right (v. 13a). Notice David doesn’t just say, “Don’t do bad things.” He says turn away from evil. Move in another direction. And don’t just avoid bad, do good. Christians should be known more by what we do, than what we don’t.
And third, pursue peace. We are to love peace, to seek it, to run after it. Don’t stop chasing it until you’ve caught it. If you want to see good, relentlessly pursue peace.
The Ultimate “Do-Gooder”
David’s wisdom to us is that if we do good in these ways, we’ll see good. Yet we know that sooner or later, all of us will fail along the way. That is why our hope isn’t in the good we do, but in the good Jesus did. He watched His words and did what was right—“He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth” (1 Peter 2:22). He pursued peace until He caught it, “making peace by the blood of his cross” (Colossians 1:20). So now we do good, not to earn salvation, but to enjoy it. We do good in order to see the good Jesus has won for us.
How have you been neglecting to “do good” lately? What promises of “seeing good” can you remind yourself of this week to fuel your “doing good”?
In what ways do you need to watch your words more carefully? Are there certain scenarios where you’re tempted to say things that are untrue or not good?
Is there an evil that you need to turn away from this week? What is the good that you need to start doing? Are you known more for the bad you don’t do than the good you do?
How does Jesus making peace through His cross motivate you to pursue peace with others? Is there a relationship you need to seek peace in?