To sum up them: let all be united in outlook and sympathy, with love for the brothers and sisters, in showing compassion, with lowly humility, not repaying evil with evil, or heckling those who heckle you, but on the contrary [freely] commending good will, because it is to this you have been chosen in order that you might [eventually] inherit such a commendation yourselves! For 'Whoever has the earnest desire to lead a full life and to see good days, should hold back the tongue from speaking with bitterness and lips that give tricky utterances. This person should avoid evil, turning back from the wrong way and instead striving only for that which is good, seeking peace and pursuing it persistently. For the eyes of the Lord are watching over the just and His ears are turned to their petitions, however, His face is completely against the doing of wrong.' And who is going to hijack you if you become zealots for good? And even if you have to undergo suffering because you remain upright, happy are you! So do not let their threats frighten you, and avoid being troubled by them. Instead, reverence Christ as Lord in your hearts, always ready with a word to answer every one who asks you about your hope, but do so meekly and with due reverence, keeping a good conscience ….
From the preceding remarks, where Peter has discussed the respective tasks of house-servants, as well as wives and husbands, in God's household, we might well wonder whether he has now entirely covered his readership? We can't know for sure but we can say that he judged this as vital advice for understanding life in the service of Jesus Christ.
Those designated "elders", serving among the community of faith, are addressed later on in the letter (5:1), although that specific responsibility seems to be ascribed by age rather than by any specific "day to day" office. [This admonition to older and younger is also to be understood in terms of Joel's prophecy - see the later discussion.]
One might well ask why Peter has singled out these responsibilities, that of household servants in particular. Clearly servants were a significant proportion among those who were dispersed. We might then suggest that by addressing those united in their faith in Christ, Peter wants to commend the common life style they share, the basic attitude in which they live in the relationships that, by God's grace, come closest to their day-by-day living. In doing so, Peter comes close to restating his Master's teaching. They are to be united in this teaching and to train their most basic instincts in a holy discipline of love for each other. Moreover, by singling out house servants their relative importance in God's Kingdom is underlined, since they too can become a living model of how all members of the household of faith will go about their service of Christ.
Here Peter draws upon the Psalms of David. This Psalm, has already been quoted. Why would he quote from that amazing acrostic, composed when the exiled and refugee king feigned madness before the Philistine war-lord, Abimelech? The Psalm poetically documented what David vividly remembered of God's prevailing goodness when his life hung in the balance, his play-acting enabling him to stay alive in that life or death moment. But now we read this excerpt from David's Psalm in the context of Peter's life, and of what we know of Peter from other New Testament writings, we sense that this Psalm spoke to him also to him at his deepest level - it had become part of his "outlook and sympathy", his own consciousness and conscience. His own grief at his complete failure (Mark 14:26-31; 14:47; 66-72), came after being stretched to breaking point! Unlike David, this failure, and any accompanying breakdown, was no pretence - no play-acting. Here with Psalm 34 we get close to the gut-wrenching moment of Peter's new birth (2:1). He had indeed tasted of the forgiving goodness of the Lord (2:2; Ps 34:8), he had experienced for himself the milk of the pure word from God which decisively overcame the bitterness of sin and failure with mercy, with Divine forgiveness.
Peter's encouragement, for us, goes now like this: who can truly undermine your efforts now, after God has commended the walk of His suffering servant by raising Him from the grave? Who has the power to make your steps falter in your living the right way before the Lord? That, after all, is what living is all about! You may indeed meet vicious, even terrifying, opposition, but your faith in Christ means that your life, from the outset, has been given to you by God for His purposes. Here, Peter affirms what Paul, the former terrorist, had written:
… you are not your own; you were bought with a price.. (1 Cor 6:19-20).
The task of those following Jesus is spelled out: you have been chosen to live in order to enhance the reputation of Jesus Christ and this is done by a life that keeps a good conscience, with meek and due reverence.