BY PASTOR T. O. BANSO
“Does anyone want to live a life that is long and prosperous?” (Psalm 34:12 New Living Translation).
The Bible contains many questions that different authors of the books of the Bible ask. It is important to pay attention to these questions and the answers that follow, where the authors provide the answers.
In Psalm 34:12, David, the writer, asked a very important question and provided the answers. He asked, “Does anyone want to live a life that is long and prosperous?” (Psalm 34:12 New Living Translation). Note that what the psalmist is talking about is beyond being rich or wealthy. A long and prosperous life is more than that.
The New King James Version renders Psalm 34:12 thus: “Who is the man who desires life, and loves many days, that he may see good?” The New Century Version says, “You must do these things to enjoy life and have many happy days.” God has pleasure in your prosperity (Psalm 35:27).
The question David asked is how to enjoy a long and prosperous life. Everyone desires this. Unfortunately, not everyone enjoys it. Desiring it is not enough. There are requirements to be fulfilled – keys that will open the doors to a long and prosperous life.
Do you want to enjoy a long and prosperous life? David told us how, immediately after his question in Psalm 34:12. Other passages of the Bible tell us more. What are these keys?
1. Love the Lord and obey His Word. Obedience to God should flow out of love for Him, not because of the fear of punishment. Those who truly love God, obey not because of the fear of punishment. Love of God and obedience open you to a long and prosperous life. Proverbs 3:1-2 says, “My son, do not forget my law, but let your heart keep my commands; for length of days and long life and peace they will add to you” (NKJV).
Also, Moses told the Israelites to walk in all the ways which the LORD had commanded them so that they might live and it might be well with them, and they might prolong their days in the land they would possess (Deuteronomy 5:33). Other verses in Deuteronomy also link the love of God and obedience to Him to a long and prosperous life (Deuteronomy 6:1-2; 30:19-20).
Jesus said you should love God with all your heart, soul, and mind (Matthew 22:37). He said a similar thing in Luke 10:27 and Mark 12:30. Obey God out of love and you will live a long and prosperous life. Hear what Psalm 91:14-16 says: “Because he has set his love upon Me, therefore I will deliver him; I will set him on high, because he has known My name. He shall call upon Me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble; I will deliver him and honor him. With long life I will satisfy him, and show him My salvation” (NKJV).
Part of loving the Lord and obeying His word is honouring Him with your possessions and giving to others. “Honor the LORD with your possessions, and with the firstfruits of all your increase; so your barns will be filled with plenty, and your vats will overflow with new wine” (Proverbs 3:9-10 NKJV). Obey God’s word on sowing and reaping. Whatever you sow, you will reap (Galatians 6:7). Give to God and to others, especially the poor and needy.
When you give to others, you also give to God, and He’ll reward you. “He who has pity on the poor lends to the LORD, and He will pay back what he has given” (Proverbs 19:17 NKJV). The generous soul will be made rich, and he who waters will also be watered (Proverbs 11:25). Give as you purpose in your heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver (2 Corinthians 9:7).
2. Fear the Lord. This is not negative fear but reverence for the Lord. The fear of the Lord has great benefits. One is that it will prolong your life. The opposite is also true. The fear of the LORD leads to life (Proverbs 19:23a). Proverbs 10:27 says the fear of the LORD prolongs days, but the years of the wicked will be shortened. The New Living Translation renders Proverbs 10:27 thus: “Fear of the LORD lengthens one’s life, but the years of the wicked are cut short.”
3. Avoid speaking evil and deceit. To enjoy a long and prosperous life, don’t say evil things; keep your tongue from speaking evil. Similarly, keep your lips from speaking deceit. In other words, don’t tell lies. Hear what David said on this: “Keep your tongue from evil, and your lips from speaking deceit” (Psalm 34:13 NKJV).
Also, the apostle James warns, “If anyone among you thinks he is religious, and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his own heart, this one’s religion is useless” (James 1:26 NKJV). Furthermore, the apostle Peter says Christ never sinned or deceived anyone (1 Peter 2:22). We should follow His example. Speaking evil and deceit will rob one of a long and prosperous life. Proverbs 18:21 says death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruit. You are snared by the words of your mouth; you are taken by the words of your mouth (Proverbs 6:2). Be careful what you say. You will have whatever you say (Mark 11:23). Pray for a long and prosperous life and speak it into your life.
4. Depart from evil, do good, and seek and pursue peace. David also gave this as another key to a long prosperous life. He said in Psalm 34:14, “Depart from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it” (NKJV). He also said in Psalm 37:27, “Depart from evil, and do good; and dwell forevermore” (NKJV). Do good (Psalm 37:3; Isaiah 1:17; Luke 6:35; Galatians 6:10; Hebrews 13:16; James 4:17; 1 Peter 2:20).
To enjoy a long and prosperous life, stop doing evil; turn away from or depart from evil or wickedness. Do good; seek peace and pursue peace. Desire peace; look for it, work for it, and safeguard it. “Therefore let us pursue the things which make for peace and the things by which one may edify another” (Romans 14:19 NKJV). The author of Hebrews says we should pursue peace with all people, and holiness, without which no one will see the Lord (Hebrews 12:14).
The mockery of the prophet Elisha by forty-two youths at Bethel was evil. They told him, “Go up, you baldhead! Go up, you baldhead!”(2 Kings 2:23b NKJV). They had no regard for an older person, more so a servant of God. Elisha turned around and pronounced a curse on them in the name of the LORD. Two female bears came out of the woods and mauled them. They died prematurely just as the two sons of Aaron and Eli died before their father (and before the LORD) for offering profane fire before the LORD (Numbers 3:4; 1 Chronicles 24:2; 1 Samuel 4:11).
This does not mean that some wicked persons cannot live long. Ecclesiastes 7:15 says there is a just man who perishes in his righteousness, and there is a wicked man who prolongs life in his wickedness. However, hear Ecclesiastes 8:12-13: “But even though a person sins a hundred times and still lives a long time, I know that those who fear God will be better off. The wicked will never live long, good lives, for they do not fear God. Their days will never grow long like the evening shadows” (NLT). The prosperity of the wicked is for a short time (Psalms 37:7-11; 73:1-20).
5. Honour your parents. This is the fifth in the Ten Commandments. “Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long upon the land which the LORD your God is giving you” (Exodus 20:12 NKJV). Deuteronomy 5:16 also refers to this commandment. The apostle Paul notes that this is the first commandment with promise (Ephesians 6:2). If you honour your parents, it will be well with you and you will live long. This is one of the keys to a long and prosperous life.
6. Ask God for wisdom. James 1:5 says if anyone lacks wisdom, he should ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him. Divine wisdom (wisdom from above) is different from earthly/fleshly wisdom (James 3:15, 17; 1 Corinthians 2:7; 3:19; 2 Corinthians 1:12).
Wisdom is personified in the book of Proverbs. Proverbs 3:15-18 says, “She is more precious than rubies, and all the things you may desire cannot compare with her. Length of days is in her right hand, in her left hand riches and honor. Her ways are ways of pleasantness, and all her paths are peace. She is a tree of life to those who take hold of her, and happy are all who retain her” (NKJV). This is not earthly wisdom, but divine. It will give you a long and prosperous life.
Wisdom says, “For by me your days will be multiplied, and years of life will be added to you” (Proverbs 9:11 NKJV). Foolishness will deprive someone of a long and prosperous life. Proverbs 1:32b says the complacency of fools will destroy them. But wisdom says whoever listens to me will dwell safely, and will be secure, without fear of evil (verse 33). Divine wisdom will guarantee you a long and prosperous life.
7. Work hard but don’t abuse your body. Some people rob themselves of a long and prosperous life through laziness, lack of rest, inadequate sleep, sexual sin, gluttony, and substance abuse. All this will reduce someone to penury and cut short his life because of all kinds of illness.
Psalm 127:2 says it is useless for you to work so hard from early morning until late at night, anxiously working for food to eat; for God gives rest to his loved ones. You must work hard but you must also have sufficient rest to refresh yourself.
After Jesus’ disciples had given Him the report of their mission work, He told them to get away from the crowd to a deserted place and rest for a while (Mark 6:31). Rest; don’t kill yourself. God worked for six days and rested on the seventh day and commanded us to do the same (Genesis 2:1-3; Exodus 31:15-17; 34:21; 35:2). Rest doesn’t mean sleeping when you should be working. Proverbs 20:13 warns, “Do not love sleep, lest you come to poverty; open your eyes, and you will be satisfied with bread” (NKJV).
Also, eat well but avoid gluttony. Drunkenness, drug or substance abuse, etc. have robbed some people of a long and prosperous life. “Do not mix with winebibbers, or with gluttonous eaters of meat; for the drunkard and the glutton will come to poverty, and drowsiness will clothe a man with rags” (Proverbs 23:20-21 NKJV).
Avoid gluttony. Jesus says life is more than food (Luke 12:23a). Proverbs 25:16 says, “Have you found honey? Eat only as much as you need, lest you be filled with it and vomit” (NKJV). Laziness and gluttony were two of Sodom’s sins (Ezekiel 16:49). Get rid of them in your life. Also, exercise your body. 1 Timothy 4:8 says that physical exercise has some value, but spiritual exercise is much more important.
Believers are the temple of God and the Holy Spirit dwells in them. God will destroy anyone who destroys His holy temple (1 Corinthians 3:16-17). Sexual immorality defiles the temple of God. Avoid it (1 Corinthians 6:18-20). Don’t defile your body. Cleanse yourself from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God (2 Corinthians 7:1). Present your body a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service (Romans 12:1).
Conclusion: God’s will for you is to live a long and prosperous life. But He won’t force it on you. Use the keys He has provided in His Word to access it and it shall be well with you in Jesus’ name.
If you are not born again, you need to give your life to Jesus now. I urge you to take the following steps: *Admit that you are a sinner and you cannot save yourself and repent of your sins. *Confess Jesus as your Lord and Saviour. *Renounce your past way of life – your relationship with the devil and his works. *Invite Jesus into your life. *As a mark of seriousness to mature in the faith, start attending a Bible-believing and Bible-teaching church. There they will teach you how to grow in the Kingdom of God.
Kindly say this prayer now: O Lord God, I come unto You today. I know I am a sinner and I cannot save myself. I believe that Jesus is the Son of God who died on the cross to save me and resurrected the third day. I repent of my sins and confess Jesus as my Lord and Saviour. I surrender my life to Jesus now and invite Him into my heart. By this prayer, I know I am saved. Thank You, Jesus, for saving me and making me a child of God.
I believe you have said this prayer from your heart. Congratulations! You will need to join a Bible-believing and Bible-teaching church in your area where they will teach you how to live your new life in Christ Jesus. I pray that you flourish like the palm tree and grow like the cedar of Lebanon. May you grow into Christ in all things and become all God wants you to be. I will be glad to hear from you. The Lord be with you.
T. O. Banso is the President, Cedar Ministry International, Abuja, Nigeria.
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