At first, Peter seems to refer to the rest of the flock of God as the ‘younger’ who need to submit to the ‘elder’ (1Peter 5:5a). While 1Peter 5:1 does seem to refer specifically to the pastors and officers of the local bodies of believers throughout Asia Minor, I have to wonder if the use of the word ‘younger’ in verse-5 doesn’t modify verse-1 to include the elder and more mature believers of the community. Their lives are meant to be examples to the whole body of believers. They may not be the ‘official’ elders, but their lives do influence what is done by their respective local church groups to a great degree. So, Peter calls upon the younger to have a submissive attitude toward their elder brethren in Christ and consider them as examples to follow.
Immediately afterward, however, Peter calls for the whole body of believers to have a submissive attitude toward one another—whether elder or younger. This may call to mind Jesus’ admonition of his disciples in Luke 22:25-26. In the world the one in authority lords it over those under his power, but it should not be so among believers, because Jesus is King over all, yet he came to us as one who serves the needs of others (Luke 22:27). The younger should never be made to believe he has no future with his elder brethren, as the prodigal was made to feel in the presence of his elder brother (cf. Luke 15:12). On the other hand, neither should the elder brethren be so service minded in his ministry (Luke 15:29-30) that he fails to recognize the love his Father has for him, which needs to be shared with his younger brother (Luke 15:31-32).
At this point (1Peter 5:5c) Peter quotes Proverbs 3:34 just as it is in the Septuagint. His point is that God resists those causing the unrest (i.e. the proud in Proverbs 3:34) for the believing community. If believers wish for God to act on their behalf, they must humble themselves in the face of the persecution going on and not strike back. Rather, wait on the Lord, because he gives grace to (i.e. he favors the cause of) the humble. The Lord will act on our behalf and destroy the efforts of the proud, if we are obedient, not resisting the evil done to us (cf. Matthew 5:39).
Not retaliating against our persecutors may seem to be an inglorious path to take (1Petr 5:6), but it is inglorious only in appearance (cf. 2Corinthians 2:14-16). In reality, expressing humility before the arrogance of others allows God to act in our favor, and if he does, success on our part is guaranteed. All that needs to be done is to wait for it. God is faithful and will bring it to pass.
Although 1Peter 5:7 may have many applications, the context of Peter’s advice is our involvement in persecution. We may be tempted to strike back, but the Lord tells us we shouldn’t resist the proud, because in doing so, it only hardens their resolve to hurt us even more. So resistance only furthers the cause of the wicked. Standing fast in the Lord, trusting him to take our part opens the door for God to do just that. He will not act on our behalf, if we choose to take our cause in our own hands. He will act for us, if we cast our cares upon him and trust him to stand against those who oppose us. And, it is fitting that we should do this during those times when we find our faith being challenged by others who belittle us or otherwise abuse us, because Christ has proven that he cares for us (cf. 1Peter 4:19).