Come, my children, listen to me;

    I will teach you the fear of the Lord.

12 Whoever of you loves life

    and desires to see many good days,

13 keep your tongue from evil

    and your lips from telling lies.

14 Turn from evil and do good;

    seek peace and pursue it.

Blessed are the peacemakers,

    for they will be called children of God (Matthew 5:9);

Peacemakers who sow in peace reap a harvest of righteousness (James 3:18).

‘At the court of Achish David had wangled his freedom by falsehood and compromise, but a life of reverential fear of the Lord respects his truth and honours his values’ (Alec Motyer: ‘New Bible Commentary’, p.507).

It may surprise us to discover the ingredients of the good life, but we will be wise to reflect carefully on these words, and adjust our behaviour accordingly. I find them ironic, set against the backdrop of the Tory leadership contest. At the heart of this lovely paragraph there is a call to live in repentance. For a believer, repentance is not a one-off experience, it is a lifestyle. At the outset of the Christian life we walk through the doorway of repentance; but, in a sense, we then find ourselves living in a house that goes by the same name.

In his early days, David lived by the principles of these verses and urged them on others (e.g. v11, see 1 Sam.24:7; 26:9, 23), at least he did in his dealings with Saul. 1 Peter 3:10-12 quotes 12-16 in a similar context of provocation and persecution. (Also compare verse 13 with 1 Peter 2:1,22).

“Men cannot spit forth poison without feeling some of the venom burning their own flesh” C.H.Spurgeon. (See James 3:1-12).

“That religion promises best which creates watchfulness over the heart and over the tongue. It is not enough not to do hurt, we must study to be useful, and to live to some purpose; we must seek peace and pursue it; be willing to deny ourselves a great deal for peace’ sake.” Matthew Henry