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Sunday, August 21, 2016

PSALMS 106-109 | Treasures from God’s Word: week starting August 22-28

BIBLICAL TEXTS AND REFERENCES: TREASURES FROM GOD’S WORD | PSALMS 106-109

“GIVE THANKS TO JEHOVAH”: (10 MIN.)

Why did the Israelites quickly forget Jehovah’s saving acts?
106:7, 13, 14
• They shifted their focus from Jehovah to their immediate comforts and fleshly concerns
How can you cultivate a grateful heart and maintain it?
106:1-5
• Focus on the many reasons you have to be thankful
• Meditate on the hope for the future
• Thank Jehovah in prayer for specific blessings

Ps 106:1-3—Jehovah deserves our thanks (w15 1/15 8 ¶1; w02 6/1 18 ¶19)

The Watchtower (2015)Give Thanks to Jehovah and Be Blessed
1. Why is Jehovah worthy of our thanks?
JEHOVAH, the Giver of “every good gift and every perfect present,” is indeed worthy of our thanks. (Jas. 1:17) As our loving Shepherd, he tenderly cares for all our physical and spiritual needs. (Ps. 23:1-3) He has proved to be “our refuge and strength”—especially in times of distress! (Ps. 46:1) Surely we have many reasons to agree wholeheartedly with the psalmist who wrote: “Give thanks to Jehovah, for he is good; his loyal love endures forever.”—Ps. 106:1.
Our yeartext for 2015: “Give thanks to Jehovah, for he is good.”—Psalm 106:1
The Watchtower (2002)Find Delight in Jehovah’s Righteousness
19. What blessings can be ours if we find delight in God’s righteousness?
19 In these perilous and uncertain days, taking delight in Jehovah’s righteousness is a source of security and protection. To the question: “O Jehovah, who will be a guest in your tent? Who will reside in your holy mountain?” King David answered: “He who is walking faultlessly and practicing righteousness.” (Psalm 15:1, 2) By pursuing God’s righteousness and finding delight in it, we can maintain a good relationship with him and continue to enjoy his favor and blessing. Thus, ours is a life of contentment, self-respect, and peace of mind. “He that is pursuing righteousness and loving-kindness will find life, righteousness and glory,” says God’s Word. (Proverbs 21:21) Furthermore, trying our best to do what is just and right in all our endeavors means happy personal relationships and an improved quality of life—morally and spiritually. The psalmist declared: “Happy are those observing justice, doing righteousness all the time.”—Psalm 106:3.

Ps 106:7-14, 19-25, 35-39—The Israelites lost appreciation and became unfaithful (w15 1/15 8-9 ¶2-3; w01 6/15 13 ¶1-3)

New World TranslationPsalm 106:7-14
7 Our forefathers in Egypt did not appreciate your wonderful works.
They did not remember your abundant loyal love,
But they rebelled at the sea, by the Red Sea.
8 But he saved them for the sake of his name,
To make his mightiness known.
9 He rebuked the Red Sea, and it dried up;
He led them through its depths as through a desert;
New World TranslationPsalm 106:19-25
19 They made a calf in Hoʹreb
And bowed down to a statue of metal;
20 They exchanged my glory
For the representation of a grass-eating bull.
21 They forgot God their Savior,
Who did great things in Egypt,
22 Wonderful works in the land of Ham,
Awe-inspiring deeds at the Red Sea.
23 He was about to order their annihilation,
But Moses his chosen one interceded with him
To avert his destructive anger.
24 Then they despised the desirable land;
They had no faith in his promise.
25 They kept grumbling in their tents;
They did not listen to the voice of Jehovah.
New World TranslationPsalm 106:35-39
35 But they mingled with the nations
And adopted their ways.
36 They kept serving their idols,
And these became a snare to them.
37 They would sacrifice their sons
And their daughters to demons.
38 They kept spilling innocent blood,
The blood of their own sons and daughters
Whom they sacrificed to the idols of Caʹnaan;
And the land was polluted with bloodshed.
39 They became unclean by their works;
They committed spiritual prostitution by their deeds.
The Watchtower (2015)Give Thanks to Jehovah and Be Blessed
2, 3. (a) What are the dangers of taking our blessings for granted? (b) What questions will we consider in this article?
2 Why is it important for us to consider this matter of giving thanks? As foretold, people in these last days have become increasingly unthankful. (2 Tim. 3:2) Many take their blessings for granted. Influenced by the commercial world and its advertising, millions of people strive to obtain more instead of being content with what they have. We too can be affected by this unappreciative spirit. Like the ancient Israelites, we could become ungrateful and lose appreciation for our precious relationship with Jehovah and for the blessings that we have received from him.—Ps. 106:7, 11-13.
3 Then, too, consider what can happen when we undergo difficult trials. At such times, we could easily become overwhelmed and lose sight of our blessings. (Ps. 116:3) Therefore, how can we cultivate a grateful heart and maintain it? And what will help us to remain positive even when we are undergoing severe trials? Let us see.
The Watchtower (2001)Do Not Become Forgetful Hearers
1. What miracles were the people of ancient Israel privileged to witness?
“UNFORGETTABLE” would be a good word to describe the miracles performed by Jehovah in ancient Egypt. Each one of the Ten Plagues was undeniably awesome. Those blows were followed by the amazing deliverance of the people of Israel through the parted waters of the Red Sea. (Deuteronomy 34:10-12) If you had been an eyewitness of those events, hopefully you would never have forgotten the One responsible for them. Yet, the psalmist sang: “They [the Israelites] forgot God their Savior, the Doer of great things in Egypt, wonderful works in the land of Ham, fear-inspiring things at the Red Sea.”—Psalm 106:21, 22.
2. What shows that Israel’s appreciation for God’s mighty acts was short-lived?
2 After crossing the Red Sea, the Israelites “began to fear Jehovah and to put faith in Jehovah.” (Exodus 14:31) The men of Israel joined Moses in a victory song to Jehovah, and Miriam and other women responded by playing tambourines and dancing. (Exodus 15:1, 20) Yes, God’s people were impressed with Jehovah’s mighty acts. But their appreciation for the One who performed those acts was short-lived. Soon afterward many of them behaved as though they had suffered a major memory loss. They became murmurers and complainers against Jehovah. Some engaged in idolatry and sexual immorality.—Numbers 14:27; 25:1-9.
What Could Make Us Forget?
3. Because of our imperfect nature, what could we forget?
3 Israel’s lack of appreciation is indeed perplexing. Still, the same thing could happen to us. True, we have not witnessed such divine miracles. In our relationship with God, however, there surely have been occasions that were unforgettable. Some of us may remember when we accepted the truth from the Bible. Other joyful times may include our prayer of dedication to Jehovah and our water baptism as true Christians. Many of us have experienced Jehovah’s helping hand at other points in our life. (Psalm 118:15) Above all, through the sacrificial death of God’s own Son, Jesus Christ, we have received the hope of salvation. (John 3:16) Nevertheless, because of our imperfect nature, when faced with wrong desires and the anxieties of life, we may too easily forget the good things that Jehovah has done for us.

Ps 106:4, 5, 48—We have many reasons to thank Jehovah (w11 10/15 5 ¶7; w03 12/1 15-16 ¶3-6)

New World TranslationPsalm 106:4, 5
4 Remember me, O Jehovah, when you show favor toward your people.
Take care of me with your acts of salvation,
5 So that I may enjoy the goodness you show your chosen ones,
That I may rejoice along with your nation,
That I may proudly praise you along with your inheritance.
New World TranslationPsalm 106:48
48 May Jehovah, the God of Israel, be praised
Throughout all eternity.
And let all the people say, “Amen!”
Praise Jah!
The Watchtower (2011)Let Us Rejoice Together!
The situation of fellow Christians, however, is different, and so is their spirit. The apostle Paul wrote: “Always be rejoicing.” (1 Thess. 5:16) There are many reasons for us to be joyful and to rejoice together. We worship the Most High God, Jehovah; we understand the Bible’s message of truth; we have the hope of salvation and eternal life; and we can also help others to attain the same blessings.—Ps. 106:4, 5; Jer. 15:16; Rom. 12:12.
The Watchtower (2003)“Show Yourselves Thankful”
3. For what are we thankful to Jehovah?
3 It is to Jehovah God, our Creator and Life-Giver, that we owe our gratitude, especially as we consider some of the bounteous gifts he has showered upon us. (James 1:17) Daily, we thank Jehovah that we are alive. (Psalm 36:9) Around us, we observe abundant evidence of Jehovah’s handiwork, such as the sun, moon, and stars. Our planet’s rich storehouse of life-sustaining minerals, the atmosphere’s finely balanced mixture of vital gases, and the intricate cycles in nature all testify to the debt we owe our loving heavenly Father. “Many things you yourself have done, O Jehovah my God,” sang King David, “even your wonderful works and your thoughts toward us; there is none to be compared to you. Were I inclined to tell and speak of them, they have become more numerous than I can recount.”—Psalm 40:5.
4. Why should we thank Jehovah for the happy association we enjoy in our congregations?
4 Though far removed from a physical paradise, Jehovah’s servants today relish living in a spiritual paradise. In our Kingdom Halls and at our conventions and assemblies, we experience the fruitage of God’s spirit at work in our fellow believers. Indeed, when preaching to people who have little or no religious background, some Witnesses refer to what Paul described in his letter to the Galatians. They first draw attention to “the works of the flesh” and ask their listeners what they have observed. (Galatians 5:19-23) Most readily agree that these characterize human society today. When shown the description of the fruitage of God’s spirit and upon being invited to the local Kingdom Hall to see evidence of this for themselves, many quickly acknowledge: “God is really among you.” (1 Corinthians 14:25) And this is not limited to the local Kingdom Hall. Travel where you may, when you meet any of the more than six million Witnesses of Jehovah, you find the same happy, joyous spirit. Truly, this upbuilding association is reason for giving thanks to Jehovah, the one who supplies his spirit to make it possible.—Zephaniah 3:9; Ephesians 3:20, 21.
5, 6. How can we show ourselves thankful for God’s greatest gift, the ransom?
5 The greatest gift, the most perfect present that Jehovah has bestowed, is that of his Son, Jesus, by means of whom the ransom sacrifice was provided. “If this is how God loved us,” wrote the apostle John, “then we are ourselves under obligation to love one another.” (1 John 4:11) Yes, we show ourselves thankful for the ransom not only by expressing love and gratitude to Jehovah but also by living our lives in a way that manifests love for others.—Matthew 22:37-39.
6 We can learn more about showing gratitude by considering the way Jehovah dealt with Israel of old. By means of the Law, which he gave to the nation through Moses, Jehovah taught the people many lessons. Through “the framework of the knowledge and of the truth in the Law,” we can learn much that will help us follow Paul’s counsel: “Show yourselves thankful.”—Romans 2:20; Colossians 3:15.

DIGGING FOR SPIRITUAL GEMS: (8 MIN.)

Ps 109:8—Did God predestine Judas to betray Jesus in order to fulfill prophecy? (w00 12/15 24 ¶20; it-1 857-858)

New World TranslationPsalm 109:8
8 Let his days be few;
His office of oversight let someone else take.
The Watchtower (2000)Stand Complete With Firm Conviction
20. If a relatively few deflect from the Christian way, why need this be no cause for discouragement?
20 You should not be distracted or discouraged by the fact that not all stand complete and with firm conviction. Some may fail, be deflected, or simply give up. That happened among those closest to Jesus, his apostles. But when Judas turned traitor, did the other apostles slow down or quit? No, indeed! Peter applied Psalm 109:8 to show that another would take Judas’ place. A replacement was selected, and God’s loyal ones actively got on with their preaching assignment. (Acts 1:15-26) They were determined to stand complete with firm conviction.

Ps 109:31—In what way does Jehovah “stand at the right hand of the poor”? (w06 9/1 14 ¶8)

New World TranslationPsalm 109:31
31 For he will stand at the right hand of the poor
To save him from those who condemn him.
The Watchtower (2006)Highlights From Book Five of Psalms
109:30, 31; 110:5. The sword-wielding right hand of a soldier normally lacks the protection of the shield, which was held on the left. Metaphorically, Jehovah is “at the right hand” of his servants, to fight for them. Thus he gives them protection and help—a fine reason for us to “laud [him] very much”!

What does this week’s Bible reading teach me about Jehovah?

What points from this week’s Bible reading can I use in the field ministry?

PSALMS 106-109 | SUGGESTIONS FOR YOUR PERSONAL COMMENTS

PSALM 106:1)
“Praise Jah! Give thanks to Jehovah, for he is good; His loyal love endures forever.”
yb15 pp. 2-3 2015 Yeartext
2015 Yeartext
“Give Thanks to Jehovah, for He Is Good.”—Psalm 106:1
After being delivered from Pharaoh and his armies at the Red Sea, the Israelites had every reason to give thanks to Jehovah. We too can gladly give thanks to Jehovah. True, when we undergo trialsome circumstances, we can easily become discouraged. At such times, we can be comforted and strengthened by reflecting on our blessings.
Among our most cherished blessings is our sure hope of deliverance from everything that causes us pain and distress. Whatever hardships may come our way, we know that Jehovah will not abandon us. Our loving Shepherd provides everything we need to serve him faithfully. He never fails to be a “refuge and strength, a help that is readily found in times of distress.” (Ps. 46:1) Our keeping focused on such blessings will help us cope with even the most grievous ordeals. Throughout the coming year, may we reflect joyfully on our blessings and be moved to “give thanks to Jehovah, for he is good; his loyal love endures forever.”—Ps. 106:1.
PSALM 106:7)
“Our forefathers in Egypt did not appreciate your wonderful works. They did not remember your abundant loyal love, But they rebelled at the sea, by the Red Sea.”
w95 9/1 pp. 19-20 Can You Cultivate More Discernment?
Israel’s Lack of Discernment
The danger of failing to exercise discernment is seen in an event in the early history of Israel. Looking back on that time, the inspired psalmist said: “As for our forefathers in Egypt, they did not show any insight into your wonderful works. They did not remember the abundance of your grand loving-kindness, but they behaved rebelliously at the sea, by the Red Sea.”—Psalm 106:7.
When Moses led Israel out of Egypt, Jehovah had already shown his power and his determination to free his people by visiting ten plagues on that mighty world power. After Pharaoh let the Israelites go, Moses led them to the banks of the Red Sea. However, the armies of Egypt marched after them in pursuit. It seemed as though the Israelites were trapped and that their newfound freedom was to be very short-lived. So the Bible record says: “The sons of Israel got quite afraid and began to cry out to Jehovah.” And they turned on Moses, saying: “What is this that you have done to us in leading us out of Egypt? . . . For it is better for us to serve the Egyptians than for us to die in the wilderness.”—Exodus 14:10-12.
Their fear may seem understandable until we remember that they had already seen ten outstanding demonstrations of Jehovah’s power. They knew firsthand what Moses would remind them of some 40 years later: “Jehovah brought us out of Egypt with a strong hand and an outstretched arm and with great fearsomeness and with signs and miracles.” (Deuteronomy 26:8) Hence, as the psalmist wrote, when the Israelites turned against Moses’ direction, “they did not show any insight.”
w89 3/15 p. 17 par. 1 Insight That Jehovah Has Given
THE people of ancient Israel knew that Jehovah was the only true God. They had been told of his dealings with their forefathers, and they had personally experienced his loving-kindness. But on more than one occasion, they acted with a gross lack of insight. They “behaved rebelliously” toward Jehovah and his representatives. Why? Because “they did not remember” what he had done for them. (Psalm 106:7, 13) It was not that they did not know these things; they failed to ponder over them appreciatively. As a result, they proved to be “persons desiring injurious things.”—1 Corinthians 10:6.
PSALM 106:13)
“But they quickly forgot what he did; They did not wait for his counsel.”
w88 7/1 p. 8 par. 5 “Show Yourselves Thankful”
5 The 106th Psalm gives a poetic summary of the mighty acts Jehovah performed in behalf of his people, Israel. God’s dealings with them were in addition to the goodness and normal blessings of life that he bestows upon mankind in general. Despite these advantages, however, the psalmist points out that the Israelites did not continue to show appreciation for their unique blessings. Verse 13 states: “Quickly they forgot his works; they did not wait for his counsel.” No, it was not the passing of time that gradually diminished their thankfulness, so that decades later they no longer remembered what God had done for them. Instead, they forgot quickly—within weeks of Jehovah’s outstanding miracles in their behalf at the Red Sea. (Exodus 16:1-3)
PSALM 106:16)
“In the camp they grew jealous of Moses And of Aaron, the holy one of Jehovah.”
it-1 p. 25 Abiram
Abiram and his brother Dathan supported Korah the Levite in his rebellion against the authority of Moses and Aaron. A third Reubenite, named On, is also included in the initial stage of the rebellion but thereafter receives no mention. (Nu 16:1) Having gathered a group of 250 chieftains, who were “men of fame,” these men accused Moses and Aaron of arbitrarily elevating themselves over the rest of the congregation. (Nu 16:1-3) From Moses’ words to Korah it is clear that Korah and his followers among the Levites sought the priesthood that had been conferred on Aaron (Nu 16:4-11); but this was evidently not the case with Abiram and Dathan, who were Reubenites. Moses dealt separately with them, and their rejection of his call for them to appear before him contains accusations directed solely against Moses, with no mention made of Aaron. They decried Moses’ leadership of the nation and said that he was ‘trying to play the prince over them to the limit,’ and that he had failed in making good the promise of leading them into any land flowing with milk and honey. Moses’ prayer to Jehovah in answer to these accusations likewise contains a defense of his own actions, not those of Aaron.—Nu 16:12-15.
From this it would appear that the rebellion was two-pronged and aimed not only at the Aaronic priesthood but also at Moses’ position as administrator of God’s instructions. (Ps 106:16) The situation may have seemed opportune for organizing popular sentiment toward a change, since shortly before this the people had severely complained against Moses, had talked of appointing a new head to lead the nation back to Egypt, and had even talked of stoning Joshua and Caleb for upholding Moses and Aaron. (Nu 14:1-10) Reuben was Jacob’s firstborn son but lost his right to the inheritance as such because of wrong action. (1Ch 5:1) Thus, Dathan and Abiram may have been expressing resentment at Moses the Levite’s exercise of authority over them, because of desiring to regain the lost primacy of their forefather. Numbers 26:9, however, shows that their struggle was not only against Moses and Aaron but also “against Jehovah,” who had divinely commissioned Moses and Aaron to occupy positions of authority.
PSALM 106:32)
“They provoked Him at the waters of Merʹi•bah, And it went badly for Moses because of them.”
it-2 p. 379 Meribah
2. The name “Meribah” was later also given to a location near Kadesh, the reason for the name likewise being Israel’s quarreling with Moses and Jehovah about the lack of water. (Nu 20:1-13) Unlike the place near Rephidim, where the Israelites encamped less than two months after coming out of Egypt (Ex 16:1; 17:1; 19:1), this Meribah did not bear the name Massah. The Scriptures sometimes distinguish it from the other location by referring to “the waters of Meribah” (Ps 106:32) or “the waters of Meribah at Kadesh.” (Nu 27:14; De 32:51)
PSALM 106:48)
“May Jehovah, the God of Israel, be praised Throughout all eternity. And let all the people say, “Amen!” Praise Jah!”
it-1 p. 90 Amen
Each of the first four books, or collections, of the Psalms concludes with this expression, perhaps indicating that it was customary for the congregation of Israel to join in at the end of the song or psalm with an “Amen.”—Ps 41:13; 72:19; 89:52; 106:48.
it-1 p. 91 Amen
The prayer expressed at 1 Chronicles 16:36 and those contained in the Psalms (41:13; 72:19; 89:52; 106:48), as well as the expressions contained in the canonical letters, all indicate the correctness of the use of “Amen” at the close of prayers. It is true that not all the prayers recorded show such conclusion, such as David’s closing prayer for Solomon (1Ch 29:19) or Solomon’s dedication prayer at the inauguration of the temple (1Ki 8:53-61), although such expression may well have been made. (Note 1Ch 29:20.) Similarly, its use is not recorded in Jesus’ prayers (Mt 26:39, 42; Joh 17:1-26) or in the prayer of the disciples at Acts 4:24-30. However, the weight of the prior evidence presented strongly indicates the rightness of the use of “Amen” as a conclusion to prayer, and Paul’s statement at 1 Corinthians 14:16 in particular shows that it was customary for those in Christian assembly to join in the Amen to a prayer. Additionally, the examples of those in heaven, recorded at Revelation 5:13, 14; 7:10-12; and 19:1-4, all give support to its use in subscribing to prayers or solemn statements and thereby, through the use of this one word, expressing the confidence, strong approval, and earnest hope that is in their hearts.
PSALM 107:23)
“Those who travel on the sea in ships, Who ply their trade over the vast waters,”
w05 10/15 p. 32 “They That Go Down to the Sea in Ships”
“They That Go Down to the Sea in Ships”
FACING the outer harbor of Gloucester, Massachusetts, U.S.A., stands a bronze statue depicting a helmsman, intent on steering his ship through a storm. The statue commemorates the thousands of Gloucester fishermen known to have died at sea. On the statue’s base and a nearby plaque are the words of Psalm 107:23, 24: “They that go down to the sea in ships, that do business in great waters; These see the works of the Lord, and his wonders in the deep.”—King James Version.
Working on the rich undersea banks of the Atlantic is perilous business. Over the years, as many as 5,368 men from Gloucester, which now has a population of some 30,000, are known to have lost their lives while fishing at sea. Says the memorial: “Some were overtaken by the howling winds and mountainous seas of a catastrophic northeaster. Some met their fate in the solitude of a small dory gone astray from the schooner that brought them to the banks. Some ships collided in storms and tragically sank. Others were run down by steamers in shipping lanes.”
The memorial stands as a sad witness to the toil and dangers that fishermen have faced over the centuries. Imagine the tears of desperation shed for lost husbands, fathers, brothers, and sons. Yet, Jehovah God does not forget the widows, the orphans, or those who lost their lives at sea. The apostle John pointed to this future development: “The sea gave up those dead in it, and death and Hades gave up those dead in them.” (Revelation 20:13) At the time of their resurrection, those who went “down to the sea in ships” will see wonderful “works of the Lord” indeed.
PSALM 107:24)
“They have seen the works of Jehovah And his wonderful works in the deep;”
w05 10/15 p. 32 “They That Go Down to the Sea in Ships”
“They That Go Down to the Sea in Ships”
FACING the outer harbor of Gloucester, Massachusetts, U.S.A., stands a bronze statue depicting a helmsman, intent on steering his ship through a storm. The statue commemorates the thousands of Gloucester fishermen known to have died at sea. On the statue’s base and a nearby plaque are the words of Psalm 107:23, 24: “They that go down to the sea in ships, that do business in great waters; These see the works of the Lord, and his wonders in the deep.”—King James Version.
Working on the rich undersea banks of the Atlantic is perilous business. Over the years, as many as 5,368 men from Gloucester, which now has a population of some 30,000, are known to have lost their lives while fishing at sea. Says the memorial: “Some were overtaken by the howling winds and mountainous seas of a catastrophic northeaster. Some met their fate in the solitude of a small dory gone astray from the schooner that brought them to the banks. Some ships collided in storms and tragically sank. Others were run down by steamers in shipping lanes.”
The memorial stands as a sad witness to the toil and dangers that fishermen have faced over the centuries. Imagine the tears of desperation shed for lost husbands, fathers, brothers, and sons. Yet, Jehovah God does not forget the widows, the orphans, or those who lost their lives at sea. The apostle John pointed to this future development: “The sea gave up those dead in it, and death and Hades gave up those dead in them.” (Revelation 20:13) At the time of their resurrection, those who went “down to the sea in ships” will see wonderful “works of the Lord” indeed.
PSALM 107:26)
“They rise up to the sky; They plunge down to the depths. Their courage melts away because of the impending calamity.”
it-1 p. 1060 Heaven
Thus, in the physical sense, the term “heavens” covers a wide range. While it may refer to the farthest reaches of universal space, it may also refer to something that is simply high, or lofty, to a degree beyond the ordinary. Thus, those aboard storm-tossed ships are said to “go up to the heavens, . . . down to the bottoms.” (Ps 107:26)
PSALM 107:27)
“They reel and stagger like a drunken man, And all their skill proves useless.”
w06 9/1 p. 14 par. 7 Highlights From Book Five of Psalms
107:27-31. The wisdom of the world will ‘prove confused’ when Armageddon strikes. (Revelation 16:14, 16) It cannot save anyone from destruction. Only those who look to Jehovah for salvation will live to “give thanks to [him] for his loving-kindness.”
w87 3/15 p. 24 Happy God, Happy People!
♦ 107:27—How did ‘their wisdom prove confused’?
Like sailors caught in a destructive storm, the Jews’ wisdom proved futile during their captive state in Babylon; all human means of delivering them had failed. But by turning to Jehovah in the midst of this stormy situation, deliverance had come. He caused the symbolic storm to abate and delivered them to a safe “haven”—the land of Judah.—Psalm 107:30.
PSALM 107:30)
“They rejoice when these grow still, And he leads them to their desired harbor.”
w87 3/15 p. 24 Happy God, Happy People!
♦ 107:27—How did ‘their wisdom prove confused’?
Like sailors caught in a destructive storm, the Jews’ wisdom proved futile during their captive state in Babylon; all human means of delivering them had failed. But by turning to Jehovah in the midst of this stormy situation, deliverance had come. He caused the symbolic storm to abate and delivered them to a safe “haven”—the land of Judah.—Psalm 107:30.
PSALM 108:9)
“Moʹab is my washbasin. Over Eʹdom I will throw my sandal. Over Phi•lisʹti•a I will shout in triumph.””
it-2 p. 420 Moab
Also apparently with reference to this victory, the psalmist spoke of God’s regarding Moab as his “washing pot.”—Ps 60:8; 108:9.
it-2 p. 861 Sandal
By the expression “over Edom I shall throw my sandal” (Ps 60:8; 108:9) Jehovah may have meant that Edom would be brought under subjection. It possibly had reference to the custom of indicating the taking of possession by throwing one’s sandal on a piece of land. Or, it could have indicated contempt for Edom, since Moab is called “my washing pot” in the same text. In the Middle East today, throwing the sandal is a gesture of contempt.
PSALM 108:10)
“Who will bring me to the fortified city? Who will lead me as far as Eʹdom?”
it-2 p. 891 Sela
2. A major Edomite city that was captured by Judean King Amaziah and renamed Joktheel. (2Ki 14:7) Sela may be the unnamed “fortified city” referred to at Psalm 108:10.
PSALM 109:8)
“Let his days be few; His office of oversight let someone else take.”
it-1 pp. 857-858 Foreknowledge, Foreordination
Did God predestine Judas to betray Jesus in order to fulfill prophecy?
The traitorous course of Judas Iscariot fulfilled divine prophecy and demonstrated Jehovah’s foreknowledge as well as that of his Son. (Ps 41:9; 55:12, 13; 109:8; Ac 1:16-20) Yet it cannot be said that God foreordained or predestinated Judas himself to such a course. The prophecies foretold that some intimate acquaintance of Jesus would be his betrayer, but they did not specify which of those sharing such acquaintance it would be. Again, Bible principles rule against God’s having foreordained Judas’ actions. The divine standard stated by the apostle is: “Never lay your hands hastily upon any man; neither be a sharer in the sins of others; preserve yourself chaste.” (1Ti 5:22; compare 3:6.) Evidencing his concern that the selection of his 12 apostles be wisely and properly made, Jesus spent the night in prayer to his Father before making known his decision. (Lu 6:12-16) If Judas were already divinely foreordained to be a traitor, this would result in inconsistency in God’s direction and guidance and, according to the rule, would make him a sharer in the sins that one committed.
Thus, it seems evident that at the time of his being selected as an apostle, Judas’ heart presented no definite evidence of a treasonous attitude. He allowed a ‘poisonous root to spring up’ and defile him, resulting in his deviation and in his accepting, not God’s direction, but the Devil’s leading in a course of thievery and treachery. (Heb 12:14, 15; Joh 13:2; Ac 1:24, 25; Jas 1:14, 15; see JUDAS No. 4.) By the time such deviation reached a certain point, Jesus himself could read Judas’ heart and foretell his betrayal.—Joh 13:10, 11.
it-2 p. 131 Judas
Replacement. Between Jesus’ ascension and the day of Pentecost 33 C.E., Peter, applying the prophecy in Psalm 109:8, explained to a group of about 120 assembled disciples that it seemed appropriate to select a replacement for Judas. Two candidates were proposed and lots were cast, resulting in Matthias being chosen “to take the place of this ministry and apostleship, from which Judas deviated to go to his own place.”—Ac 1:15, 16, 20-26.
bt chap. 2 p. 19 par. 20 “You Will Be Witnesses of Me”
Jehovah evidently purposed to have 12 apostles who followed Jesus during his earthly ministry form the future “twelve foundation stones” of New Jerusalem. (Rev. 21:2, 14) God thus allowed Peter to see that the prophecy, “his office of oversight let someone else take,” applied to Judas.—Ps. 109:8.
si p. 204 par. 32 Bible Book Number 44—Acts
32 The book of Acts adds testimony to that of the Gospel accounts in confirming the authenticity and inspiration of the Hebrew Scriptures. As Pentecost approached, Peter cited the fulfillment of two prophecies that “the holy spirit spoke beforehand by David’s mouth about Judas.” (Acts 1:16, 20; Ps. 69:25; 109:8)
w87 8/1 pp. 11-12 pars. 7-8 Christ Actively Leads His Congregation
When seeking Jehovah’s will in the replacement of Judas Iscariot, Peter quoted Psalm 109:8, which states: “His office of oversight let someone else take.” Then, in their prayer to Jehovah, Peter and his companions asked God to designate the man “to take the place of this ministry and apostleship, from which Judas deviated.” Matthias was appointed to serve “along with the eleven apostles.”—Acts 1:20, 24-26.
8 The first recorded instance of the 12 apostles’ performing in this “office of oversight” as a governing body was when they appointed spiritually qualified men to serve their brothers within the early congregation. (Acts 6:1-6) The second case was when Philip began to preach Christ to the Samaritans. As a result of this, “the apostles in Jerusalem . . . dispatched Peter and John to them.” Only after these representative members of the governing body had laid their hands upon the Samaritans did they ‘begin to receive holy spirit.’—Acts 8:5, 14-17.
PSALM 109:10)
“May his children become wandering beggars, Foraging for food from their ruined homes.”
it-1 p. 279 Beggar, Begging
On the other hand, Proverbs 20:4 portrays the lazy man as “begging in reaping time,” and Psalm 109:10 describes the execution of punishment on the wicked as obliging “his sons [to] go wandering about; and they must do begging, and they must look for food from their desolate places.” In these two latter texts the word “begging” translates the Hebrew sha•ʼalʹ, which term basically means “ask” or “request” (Ex 3:22; 1Ki 3:11); however, in these two cases the implication is that the asking is done in the active, and perhaps public, manner characterizing begging.
PSALM 109:23)
“I am passing away like a fading shadow; I have been shaken off like a locust.”
it-2 p. 905 Shadow
The way in which a shadow changes in size and finally is no more as a result of the sun’s progress is used as a simile of man’s being short-lived or transient. (1Ch 29:15; Job 8:9; 14:1, 2; Ps 102:11; 144:4; Ec 6:12; 8:13) For an individual’s days to be “like a shadow that has declined” signifies that his death is near. (Ps 102:11; 109:23)
w06 9/1 p. 13 par. 5 Highlights From Book Five of Psalms
109:23—What did David mean when he said: “Like a shadow when it declines, I am obliged to go away”? David was poetically saying that he felt that his death was very near.—Psalm 102:11.
PSALM 109:31)
“For he will stand at the right hand of the poor To save him from those who condemn him.”
it-1 p. 1030 Hand
Usually the right hand of a warrior was his sword-wielding hand, and it was unprotected by the shield in the left hand. Therefore, a friend would stand or fight at his right hand as an upholder and protector. This circumstance is used metaphorically with regard to God’s help and protection to those serving him.—Ps 16:8; 109:30, 31; 110:5; 121:5.
w06 9/1 p. 14 par. 8 Highlights From Book Five of Psalms
109:30, 31; 110:5. The sword-wielding right hand of a soldier normally lacks the protection of the shield, which was held on the left. Metaphorically, Jehovah is “at the right hand” of his servants, to fight for them. Thus he gives them protection and help—a fine reason for us to “laud [him] very much”!

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Sunday, August 14, 2016

PSALMS 102-105 | Treasures from God’s Word: week starting August 15-21

BIBLICAL TEXTS AND REFERENCES: TREASURES FROM GOD’S WORD | PSALMS 102-105

“JEHOVAH REMEMBERS THAT WE ARE DUST”: (10 MIN.)

David used figures of speech to illustrate Jehovah’s mercy.
103:11
Just as we cannot completely grasp the distance between the starry heavens and the earth, we cannot comprehend the magnitude of Jehovah’s loyal love
103:12
Jehovah puts our sins as far away from us as we can possibly imagine, as far off as the sunrise is from the sunset
103:13
Just as a father shows compassion to his son who may be hurt, Jehovah shows mercy to repentant ones who are crushed by their sins

Ps 103:8-12—Jehovah mercifully forgives us when we repent (w13 6/15 20 ¶14; w12 7/15 16 ¶17)

New World TranslationPsalm 103:8-12
8 Jehovah is merciful and compassionate,*+
Slow to anger and abundant in loyal love.*+
9 He will not always find fault,+
Nor will he stay resentful forever.+
10 He has not dealt with us according to our sins,+
Nor has he repaid us what our errors deserve.+
11 For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
So great is his loyal love toward those who fear him.+
12 As far off as the sunrise is from the sunset,
So far off from us he has put our transgressions.+
The Watchtower (2013)Appreciate Jehovah’s Loyalty and Forgiveness
14. How can we gain comfort from meditating on Jehovah’s forgiveness? Give an example.
14 We can gain comfort from meditating on Jehovah’s forgiveness. Consider an example. Many years ago, a sister whom we will call Elaine was disfellowshipped. Several years later, she was reinstated. “Although I told myself and others that I believed that I was forgiven by Jehovah,” admits Elaine, “I always felt that somehow he was at a distance or that others were closer to him and that he was more real to them.” However, Elaine drew comfort from reading and meditating on some of the word pictures that the Bible uses to describe Jehovah’s forgiveness. “I felt Jehovah’s love and tenderness toward me in a way that I had never realized before,” Elaine adds. She was especially moved by this thought: “When Jehovah forgives our sins, we need not feel that we bear the stain of such sins for the rest of our life.”* Elaine says: “I realized that I had not believed that Jehovah could fully forgive me, and I thought that I would carry this burden for the rest of my life. I know that it will take time, but I am starting to feel that I really can draw closer to Jehovah, and I feel that a weight has been lifted off me.” What a loving and forgiving God we serve!—Ps. 103:9.
The Watchtower (2012)Serve the God of Freedom
17. Why should we not get downhearted about our imperfections, and what help does Jehovah provide?
17 At times, of course, we all make mistakes. (Eccl. 7:20) When that occurs, do not feel worthless or overly discouraged. If you stumble, so to speak, get up and move forward—even if that means asking the local elders for help. Their “prayer of faith,” wrote James, “will make the indisposed one well, and Jehovah will raise him up. Also, if he has committed sins, it will be forgiven him.” (Jas. 5:15) Yes, never forget that God is truly merciful and that he drew you into the congregation because he saw your potential. (Read Psalm 103:8, 9.) So as long as you maintain a complete heart toward Jehovah, he will never give up on you.—1 Chron. 28:9.

Ps 103:13, 14—Jehovah is fully aware of our limitations (w15 4/15 26 ¶8; w13 6/15 15 ¶16)

New World TranslationPsalm 103:13, 14
13 As a father shows mercy to his sons,
Jehovah has shown mercy to those who fear him.+
14 For he well knows how we are formed,+
Remembering that we are dust.+
The Watchtower (2015)Always Trust in Jehovah!
8. What does Jehovah promise with regard to our personal limitations?
8 Another factor is that Jehovah is fully aware of our limitations. (Ps. 103:14) Therefore, he does not expect us to endure in our own strength but offers us his fatherly help. Of course, at times, we might feel that we cannot go on anymore. But Jehovah assures us that he will never allow his servants to suffer beyond their limit of endurance. Yes, he will “make the way out.” (Read 1 Corinthians 10:13.) Therefore, we have good reason to trust that Jehovah’s assessment of what we can bear is right.
The Watchtower (2013)Appreciate Jehovah’s Generosity and Reasonableness
16 Well, imagine that you are an Israelite and quite poor. As you arrive at the tabernacle with a little flour to offer as a sacrifice, you notice wealthier Israelites bringing livestock. You might feel embarrassed about your seemingly insignificant sacrifice of flour. Then you remember that in Jehovah’s eyes, your offering is significant. Why? For one thing, Jehovah required that the flour be of high quality. In effect, Jehovah was saying to poorer Israelites: ‘I realize that you cannot offer as much as others can, but I also know that what you are giving me is your best.’ Truly, Jehovah displays reasonableness by taking into account his servants’ limitations and their circumstances.—Ps. 103:14.

Ps 103:19, 22—Appreciation for Jehovah’s mercy and compassion should move us to support his sovereignty (w10 11/15 25 ¶5; w07 12/1 21 ¶1)

New World TranslationPsalm 103:19
19 Jehovah has firmly established his throne in the heavens;+
And his kingship rules over everything.+
New World TranslationPsalm 103:22
22 Praise Jehovah, all his works,
In all the places where he rules.*
Let my whole being* praise Jehovah.
The Watchtower (2010)Jehovah Is Our Sovereign Lord!
5. Why should we be moved to uphold Jehovah’s sovereignty?
5 As the Creator, Jehovah God is the Sovereign of the earth and the entire universe. (Read Revelation 4:11.) Jehovah is also our Judge, Statute-Giver, and King, for within himself he combines the judicial, legislative, and executive branches of universal government. (Isa. 33:22) Since we owe our very existence to God and are dependent on him, we should view him as our Sovereign Lord. We will be motivated to uphold his lofty position if we always bear in mind that “Jehovah himself has firmly established his throne in the very heavens; and over everything his own kingship has held domination.”—Ps. 103:19; Acts 4:24.
The Watchtower (2007)Jehovah’s Sovereignty and the Kingdom of God
1. Why is Jehovah the rightful Sovereign of the universe?
“JEHOVAH himself has firmly established his throne in the very heavens; and over everything his own kingship has held domination.” (Psalm 103:19) With those words, the psalmist pointed to the fundamental concept of rulership. Jehovah God, being the Creator, is rightfully the Sovereign Ruler of the universe.

DIGGING FOR SPIRITUAL GEMS: (8 MIN.)

Ps 102:12, 27—When we are distressed, how does focusing on our relationship with Jehovah help us? (w14 3/15 16 ¶19-21)

New World TranslationPsalm 102:12
12 But you remain forever, O Jehovah,+
And your fame* will endure for all generations.+
New World TranslationPsalm 102:27
27 But you are the same, and your years will never end.+
The Watchtower (2014)How to Maintain a Positive Viewpoint
19. What situation did the writer of Psalm 102 face?
19 The writer of Psalm 102 was desperate. He was “oppressed,” suffering great physical or emotional distress, and he lacked the strength to deal with his problems. (Ps. 102, superscription) We find in his words an indication that he was absorbed in his pain, loneliness, and personal feelings. (Ps. 102:3, 4, 6, 11) He believed that Jehovah wanted to cast him aside.—Ps. 102:10.
20. How can prayer help someone who battles negative thoughts?
20 Yet, the psalmist could still use his life to praise Jehovah. (Read Psalm 102:19-21.) As we see from Psalm 102, even those who are in the faith can be in pain and be struggling to focus on anything else. The psalmist felt “like a solitary bird on a roof,” as if he had only his troubles for company. (Ps. 102:7) If you ever feel that way, pour out your heart to Jehovah as the psalmist did. The prayers of the oppressed one—your prayers—can help you as you battle negative thoughts. Jehovah promises that “he will pay attention to the prayer of the destitute; he will not despise their prayer.” (Ps. 102:17) Trust that promise.
21. How might one who is battling negative feelings gain a more positive viewpoint?
21 Psalm 102 also shows how you might gain a more positive viewpoint. The psalmist did so by shifting attention to his relationship with Jehovah. (Ps. 102:12, 27) He found comfort in knowing that Jehovah would always be there to sustain His people through trials. So if negative feelings temporarily keep you from doing as much as you want to in God’s service, pray about it. Ask God to hear your prayer not only so that you may experience some relief from your distress but also “so that the name of Jehovah will be declared.”—Ps. 102:20, 21.

Ps 103:13—Why does Jehovah not respond immediately to our every request? (w15 4/15 25 ¶7)

New World TranslationPsalm 103:13
13 As a father shows mercy to his sons,
Jehovah has shown mercy to those who fear him.+
The Watchtower (2015)Always Trust in Jehovah!
7. Why does Jehovah not always answer our prayers immediately?
7 Why does Jehovah not give us an immediate response to our every request? Recall that he likens our relationship with him to that of children with a father. (Ps. 103:13) A child cannot rightly expect a parent to grant every request or to do so right away. Some of a child’s requests may be mere passing whims. Others must wait till the time is right. Still others may not be in the child’s best interests or in the best interests of others involved. Furthermore, to concede immediately to a child’s every request would change the relationship to one of master and slave, the child being the master. Similarly, Jehovah may in our best interests allow time to pass before his response to our prayers becomes evident. That is his prerogative as our wise Creator, loving Master, and heavenly Father. Fulfilling all our requests right away would distort the proper relationship between us and him.—Compare Isaiah 29:16; 45:9.

What does this week’s Bible reading teach me about Jehovah?

What points from this week’s Bible reading can I use in the field ministry?

PSALMS 102-105 | SUGGESTIONS FOR YOUR PERSONAL COMMENTS

PSALM 102:6)
“I resemble the pelican of the wilderness; I am like a little owl among the ruins.”
*** it-2 p. 566 Owl ***
Also included among the ‘unclean’ birds is the Hebrew kohs, rendered by some as the “little owl” and designated as Athene noctua. (De 14:16, KJ, NW, RS; see also Lexicon in Veteris Testamenti Libros, by L. Koehler and W. Baumgartner, Leiden, 1958, p. 428) The little owl, about 25 cm (10 in.) in length, is one of the most widely distributed owls in Palestine, found in thickets, olive groves, and desolate ruins. The psalmist in his lonely affliction felt like “a little owl of desolated places.” (Ps 102:6) Appropriately, the Arabic name for this variety of owl means the “mother of ruins.”
*** it-2 p. 596 Pelican ***
When the pelican is gorged with food, it often flies away to a lonely place, where it takes a melancholy posture, with its head sunk on its shoulders, so motionless that it might be mistaken from a distance for a white stone. The bird assumes this attitude for hours at a time, thus befitting the melancholy inactivity to which the psalmist refers when he illustrates the poignancy of his grief by writing: “I do resemble the pelican of the wilderness.” (Ps 102:6) Here “wilderness” does not necessarily connote a desert, but simply an area away from human habitations, perhaps a swamp. During certain seasons, swamps in the northern Jordan Valley are still the home of pelicans.
PSALM 102:7)
“I lie awake; I am like a solitary bird on a roof.”
*** w14 3/15 p. 16 par. 20 How to Maintain a Positive Viewpoint ***
As we see from Psalm 102, even those who are in the faith can be in pain and be struggling to focus on anything else. The psalmist felt “like a solitary bird on a roof,” as if he had only his troubles for company. (Ps. 102:7) If you ever feel that way, pour out your heart to Jehovah as the psalmist did. The prayers of the oppressed one—your prayers—can help you as you battle negative thoughts.
PSALM 102:11)
“My days are like a fading shadow, And I am withering like grass.”
*** it-2 p. 905 Shadow ***
The way in which a shadow changes in size and finally is no more as a result of the sun’s progress is used as a simile of man’s being short-lived or transient. (1Ch 29:15; Job 8:9; 14:1, 2; Ps 102:11; 144:4; Ec 6:12; 8:13) For an individual’s days to be “like a shadow that has declined” signifies that his death is near. (Ps 102:11; 109:23)
PSALM 102:12)
“But you remain forever, O Jehovah, And your fame will endure for all generations.”
*** w14 3/15 p. 16 par. 21 How to Maintain a Positive Viewpoint ***
21 Psalm 102 also shows how you might gain a more positive viewpoint. The psalmist did so by shifting attention to his relationship with Jehovah. (Ps. 102:12, 27) He found comfort in knowing that Jehovah would always be there to sustain His people through trials.
PSALM 102:19)
“For he looks down from his holy height, From the heavens Jehovah views the earth,”
*** it-1 pp. 1060-1061 Heaven ***
From his supreme or ultimate position, Jehovah, in effect, ‘looks down’ upon the physical heavens and earth (Ps 14:2; 102:19; 113:6), and from this lofty position also speaks, answers petitions, and renders judgment. (1Ki 8:49; Ps 2:4-6; 76:8; Mt 3:17)
PSALM 102:25)
“Long ago you laid the foundations of the earth, And the heavens are the work of your hands.”
*** it-1 p. 1063 Heaven ***
That the physical heavens are permanent is shown by the fact that they are used in similes relating to things that are everlasting, such as the peaceful, righteous results of the Davidic kingdom inherited by God’s Son. (Ps 72:5-7; Lu 1:32, 33) Thus, texts such as Psalm 102:25, 26 that speak of the heavens as ‘perishing’ and as ‘being replaced like a worn-out garment’ are not to be understood in a literal sense.
At Luke 21:33, Jesus says that “heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will by no means pass away.” Other scriptures show that “heaven and earth” will endure forever. (Ge 9:16; Ps 104:5; Ec 1:4) So the “heaven and earth” here may well be symbolic, as are the “former heaven and the former earth” at Revelation 21:1; compare Matthew 24:35.
Psalm 102:25-27 stresses God’s eternity and imperishability, whereas his physical creation of heavens and earth is perishable, that is, it could be destroyed—if such were God’s purpose. Unlike God’s eternal existence, the permanence of any part of his physical creation is not independent. As seen in the earth, the physical creation must undergo a continual renewing process if it is to endure or retain its existing form. That the physical heavens are dependent on God’s will and sustaining power is indicated at Psalm 148, where, after referring to sun, moon, and stars, along with other parts of God’s creation, verse 6 states that God “keeps them standing forever, to time indefinite. A regulation he has given, and it will not pass away.”
The words of Psalm 102:25, 26 apply to Jehovah God, but the apostle Paul quotes them with reference to Jesus Christ. This is because God’s only-begotten Son was God’s personal Agent employed in creating the physical universe. Paul contrasts the Son’s permanence with that of the physical creation, which God, if he so designed, could ‘wrap up just as a cloak’ and set aside.—Heb 1:1, 2, 8, 10-12; compare 1Pe 2:3, ftn.
*** w11 7/1 p. 27 Who Made the Laws That Govern Our Universe? ***
3. Eternal or Subject to Decay?
Aristotle believed that there was an enormous distinction between the heavens and the earth. The earth, he said, is subject to change, decay, and deterioration, whereas the ether of which the starry heavens are made is utterly changeless, eternal. Aristotle’s crystalline spheres and the heavenly bodies attached to them could never change, wear out, or die.
Is that what the Bible teaches? Psalm 102:25-27 reads: “Long ago you laid the foundations of the earth itself, and the heavens are the work of your hands. They themselves will perish, but you yourself will keep standing; and just like a garment they will all of them wear out. Just like clothing you will replace them, and they will finish their turn. But you are the same, and your own years will not be completed.”
Note that this psalmist, writing perhaps two centuries before Aristotle’s time, does not contrast the earth with the starry heavens, as if the earth is subject to decay while the stars are eternal. Rather, he sets both heaven and earth in contrast with God, the mighty Spirit who directed their creation.
*** w06 1/1 p. 30 Questions From Readers ***
Jehovah’s eternal existence stands in stark contrast to the brevity of the psalmist’s own life. “Your years are throughout all generations,” he says to Jehovah. (Psalm 102:24) The psalmist next states: “Long ago you laid the foundations of the earth itself, and the heavens are the work of your hands.”—Psalm 102:25.
Yet, even the great age of the earth and the heavens cannot be compared with Jehovah’s eternal existence.
*** rs p. 414 par. 3 Trinity ***
Why does Hebrews 1:10-12 quote Psalm 102:25-27 and apply it to the Son, when the psalm says that it is addressed to God? Because the Son is the one through whom God performed the creative works there described by the psalmist. (See Colossians 1:15, 16; Proverbs 8:22, 27-30.) It should be observed in Hebrews 1:5b that a quotation is made from 2 Samuel 7:14 and applied to the Son of God. Although that text had its first application to Solomon, the later application of it to Jesus Christ does not mean that Solomon and Jesus are the same. Jesus is “greater than Solomon” and carries out a work foreshadowed by Solomon.—Luke 11:31.
*** w86 12/15 p. 29 “Bless Jehovah”—Why? ***
102:25—Who “laid the foundations of the earth”?
The psalmist was talking about God, but the apostle Paul applied these words to Jesus Christ. (Hebrews 1:10, 11) As it turns out, these words also apply to Jesus, for he acted as Jehovah’s Agent in creating the universe. (Colossians 1:15, 16) So Jesus, too, could be said to have “laid the foundations of the earth.”
PSALM 102:26)
“They will perish, but you will remain; Just like a garment they will all wear out. Just like clothing you will replace them, and they will pass away.”
*** it-1 p. 1063 Heaven ***
That the physical heavens are permanent is shown by the fact that they are used in similes relating to things that are everlasting, such as the peaceful, righteous results of the Davidic kingdom inherited by God’s Son. (Ps 72:5-7; Lu 1:32, 33) Thus, texts such as Psalm 102:25, 26 that speak of the heavens as ‘perishing’ and as ‘being replaced like a worn-out garment’ are not to be understood in a literal sense.
At Luke 21:33, Jesus says that “heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will by no means pass away.” Other scriptures show that “heaven and earth” will endure forever. (Ge 9:16; Ps 104:5; Ec 1:4) So the “heaven and earth” here may well be symbolic, as are the “former heaven and the former earth” at Revelation 21:1; compare Matthew 24:35.
Psalm 102:25-27 stresses God’s eternity and imperishability, whereas his physical creation of heavens and earth is perishable, that is, it could be destroyed—if such were God’s purpose. Unlike God’s eternal existence, the permanence of any part of his physical creation is not independent. As seen in the earth, the physical creation must undergo a continual renewing process if it is to endure or retain its existing form. That the physical heavens are dependent on God’s will and sustaining power is indicated at Psalm 148, where, after referring to sun, moon, and stars, along with other parts of God’s creation, verse 6 states that God “keeps them standing forever, to time indefinite. A regulation he has given, and it will not pass away.”
The words of Psalm 102:25, 26 apply to Jehovah God, but the apostle Paul quotes them with reference to Jesus Christ. This is because God’s only-begotten Son was God’s personal Agent employed in creating the physical universe. Paul contrasts the Son’s permanence with that of the physical creation, which God, if he so designed, could ‘wrap up just as a cloak’ and set aside.—Heb 1:1, 2, 8, 10-12; compare 1Pe 2:3, ftn.
*** w11 7/1 pp. 27-28 Who Made the Laws That Govern Our Universe? ***
3. Eternal or Subject to Decay?
Aristotle believed that there was an enormous distinction between the heavens and the earth. The earth, he said, is subject to change, decay, and deterioration, whereas the ether of which the starry heavens are made is utterly changeless, eternal. Aristotle’s crystalline spheres and the heavenly bodies attached to them could never change, wear out, or die.
Is that what the Bible teaches? Psalm 102:25-27 reads: “Long ago you laid the foundations of the earth itself, and the heavens are the work of your hands. They themselves will perish, but you yourself will keep standing; and just like a garment they will all of them wear out. Just like clothing you will replace them, and they will finish their turn. But you are the same, and your own years will not be completed.”
Note that this psalmist, writing perhaps two centuries before Aristotle’s time, does not contrast the earth with the starry heavens, as if the earth is subject to decay while the stars are eternal. Rather, he sets both heaven and earth in contrast with God, the mighty Spirit who directed their creation. This psalm suggests that the stars are as subject to decay as anything on the earth. And what has modern science found?
The science of geology supports both the Bible and Aristotle in saying that the earth is subject to decay. In fact, the rocks of our earth are ever wearing down through erosion and being replenished through volcanic and other geologic activity.
What, though, about the stars? Are they naturally subject to decay, as the Bible suggests, or are they inherently eternal, as Aristotle taught? European astronomers began to doubt Aristotle’s notion of eternal stars in the 16th century C.E. when, for the first time, they observed a supernova, the spectacular explosion of a star. Scientists have since observed that stars may die violently in such explosions or burn out slowly or even collapse on themselves. However, astronomers have also observed new stars forming in ‘stellar nurseries,’ clouds of gas enriched by the explosions of old stars. Hence, the Bible writer’s image of clothing wearing out and being replaced is entirely appropriate. How remarkable that this psalmist of ancient times managed to write words that harmonize so well with modern-day discoveries!
Still, you might wonder: ‘Does the Bible teach that the earth or the starry heavens as a whole will one day come to an end or need replacing?’ No, the Bible promises that they will last forever. (Psalm 104:5; 119:90) But that is not because such creations are eternal in themselves; rather, the God who created them promises to sustain them. (Psalm 148:4-6) He does not say how, but does it not stand to reason that the One who created the universe would have the power to sustain it? In a similar way, a master builder might lovingly maintain a house he built for himself and his family.
*** w11 7/1 p. 28 Who Made the Laws That Govern Our Universe? ***
In the 19th century, scientist William Thomson, also known as Lord Kelvin, discovered the second law of thermodynamics, which explains why, over time, natural systems tend to decay and break down. One factor that inspired him to reach this conclusion was a careful study of Psalm 102:25-27.
*** w08 4/1 pp. 11-12 Will Our Earth Ever Be Destroyed? ***
Long before scientists recognized the “tendency toward disorder” in all physical things, a Bible psalmist wrote: “You [that is, God] laid the foundations of the earth itself, and the heavens are the work of your hands. They themselves will perish, but you yourself will keep standing; and just like a garment they will all of them wear out. Just like clothing you will replace them, and they will finish their turn. But you are the same, and your own years will not be completed.”—Psalm 102:25-27.
In recording these words, the psalmist was not contradicting God’s everlasting purpose for the earth. Rather, he was contrasting God’s eternal existence with the perishability of all the matter that God had created. Without God’s eternal renewing power, the universe—including the solar system that we depend on for stability, light, and energy—would descend into total disorder and ultimate destruction. Thus, if left to itself, our earth would “wear out,” or come to a permanent end.
*** w06 1/1 p. 30 Questions From Readers ***
Questions From Readers
Psalm 102:26 states that the earth and the heavens “will perish.” Does that statement mean that planet Earth will be destroyed?
In a prayer to Jehovah, the psalmist stated: “Long ago you laid the foundations of the earth itself, and the heavens are the work of your hands. They themselves will perish, but you yourself will keep standing; and just like a garment they will all of them wear out. Just like clothing you will replace them, and they will finish their turn.” (Psalm 102:25, 26) The context shows that these verses are speaking, not of the destruction of the earth, but of the eternity of God. The context also shows why that vital truth is of comfort to God’s servants.
*** w06 1/1 p. 30 Questions From Readers ***
Yet, even the great age of the earth and the heavens cannot be compared with Jehovah’s eternal existence. The psalmist adds: “They [earth and heavens] themselves will perish, but you yourself will keep standing.” (Psalm 102:26) The physical earth and heavens are perishable. True, Jehovah stated elsewhere that they will last forever. (Psalm 119:90; Ecclesiastes 1:4) But they could be destroyed if this was God’s purpose. In contrast, God cannot die. The physical creations keep “standing forever” only because God maintains them. (Psalm 148:6) If Jehovah ever stops renewing the physical creations, then “just like a garment they will all of them wear out.” (Psalm 102:26) As a man outlives his clothes, so Jehovah could outlive his creation—if he chose to do so. However, we know from other scriptures that such is not his will. God’s Word assures us that Jehovah has determined that the literal earth and heavens will remain forever.—Psalm 104:5.
PSALM 102:27)
“But you are the same, and your years will never end.”
*** it-1 p. 1063 Heaven ***
Psalm 102:25-27 stresses God’s eternity and imperishability, whereas his physical creation of heavens and earth is perishable, that is, it could be destroyed—if such were God’s purpose. Unlike God’s eternal existence, the permanence of any part of his physical creation is not independent.
*** w14 3/15 p. 16 par. 21 How to Maintain a Positive Viewpoint ***
21 Psalm 102 also shows how you might gain a more positive viewpoint. The psalmist did so by shifting attention to his relationship with Jehovah. (Ps. 102:12, 27) He found comfort in knowing that Jehovah would always be there to sustain His people through trials.
*** w11 7/1 p. 27 Who Made the Laws That Govern Our Universe? ***
3. Eternal or Subject to Decay?
Aristotle believed that there was an enormous distinction between the heavens and the earth. The earth, he said, is subject to change, decay, and deterioration, whereas the ether of which the starry heavens are made is utterly changeless, eternal. Aristotle’s crystalline spheres and the heavenly bodies attached to them could never change, wear out, or die.
Is that what the Bible teaches? Psalm 102:25-27 reads: “Long ago you laid the foundations of the earth itself, and the heavens are the work of your hands. They themselves will perish, but you yourself will keep standing; and just like a garment they will all of them wear out. Just like clothing you will replace them, and they will finish their turn. But you are the same, and your own years will not be completed.”
Note that this psalmist, writing perhaps two centuries before Aristotle’s time, does not contrast the earth with the starry heavens, as if the earth is subject to decay while the stars are eternal. Rather, he sets both heaven and earth in contrast with God, the mighty Spirit who directed their creation.
PSALM 103:1)
“Let me praise Jehovah; Let everything within me praise his holy name.”
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King David of ancient Israel composed the 103rd Psalm. He opens with the words: “Bless Jehovah, O my soul, even everything within me, his holy name.” (Psalm 103:1) “The word bless, as applied to God,” says one reference work, “means to praise, implying always a strong affection for him as well as a sense of gratitude.” Desiring to praise Jehovah with a heart full of love and appreciation, David exhorts his own soul—himself—to “bless Jehovah.” But what generates this warm feeling in David’s heart toward the God he worships?
PSALM 103:2)
“Let me praise Jehovah; May I never forget all that he has done.”
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David continues: “Do not forget all his [Jehovah’s] doings.” (Psalm 103:2) Feeling grateful to Jehovah is evidently connected with meditating appreciatively on “his doings.” Exactly what doings of Jehovah does David have in mind? Looking at Jehovah God’s creation, such as a star-studded sky on a clear night, can indeed fill the heart with gratitude for the Creator. The starry heavens touched David deeply. (Psalm 8:3, 4; 19:1) In the 103rd Psalm, though, David remembers Jehovah’s activity of another sort.
PSALM 103:3)
“He forgives all your errors And heals all your ailments;”
*** it-1 pp. 633-634 Diseases and Treatment ***
The basis for these cures was the sacrifice of his human life, which would be the climax of the course he had been following ever since God’s spirit came upon him at the Jordan River in 29 C.E. Christians thus have a basis for hope and abundant proof that through the resurrected Jesus Christ and by means of God’s Kingdom, obedient mankind will receive, not merely temporary treatment of disease, but permanent release from sin, disease, and death traceable to Adam. For this all praise is due Jehovah, identified by David as the one “who is healing all your maladies.”—Ps 103:1-3; Re 21:1-5.
*** it-1 p. 1055 Healing ***
Among the blessings Jehovah bestowed on all mankind is the regenerative power of their physical organisms, the ability of the body to heal itself when wounded or diseased. A physician may recommend certain measures to speed recovery, but in reality it is the God-given recuperative powers within the body that accomplish the healing. Hence, the psalmist David acknowledged that though he was born imperfect, his Creator was able to sustain him during illness and heal all his maladies. (Ps 51:5; 41:1-3; 103:2-4)
*** w99 5/15 pp. 21-22 “Bless Jehovah, O My Soul” ***
Jehovah “Is Forgiving All Your Error”
In this psalm, David recounts God’s acts of loving-kindness. Referring to the first and foremost among these, he sings: ‘Jehovah is forgiving all your error.’ (Psalm 103:3) David was certainly aware of his own sinful state. After Nathan the prophet confronted him about his adulterous relationship with Bath-sheba, David admitted: “Against you [Jehovah], you alone, I have sinned, and what is bad in your eyes I have done.” (Psalm 51:4) With a broken heart, he made the entreaty: “Show me favor, O God, according to your loving-kindness. According to the abundance of your mercies wipe out my transgressions. Thoroughly wash me from my error, and cleanse me even from my sin.” (Psalm 51:1, 2) How grateful David must have felt to be forgiven! Being an imperfect human, he committed other sins in his life, but he never failed to repent, accept reproof, and correct his ways. Reflection on God’s marvelous acts of kindness toward him moved David to bless Jehovah.
Are we not also sinful? (Romans 5:12) Even the apostle Paul lamented: “I really delight in the law of God according to the man I am within, but I behold in my members another law warring against the law of my mind and leading me captive to sin’s law that is in my members. Miserable man that I am! Who will rescue me from the body undergoing this death?” (Romans 7:22-24) How grateful we can be that Jehovah does not keep account of our transgressions! He gladly erases them when we repent and seek forgiveness.
David reminds himself: “[Jehovah] is healing all your maladies.” (Psalm 103:3) Since healing is an act of restoration, it entails more than forgiveness of wrongdoing. It involves the removal of “maladies”—the bad consequences of the error of our ways. In the new world of his making, Jehovah will indeed eradicate the physical consequences of sin, such as sickness and death. (Isaiah 25:8; Revelation 21:1-4) Even today, however, God is healing us of spiritual maladies. For some, these include a bad conscience and a severed relationship with him. “Do not forget” what Jehovah has already done for each of us personally in this regard.
PSALM 103:4)
“He reclaims your life from the pit And crowns you with his loyal love and mercy.”
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He “Is Reclaiming Your Life”
“[Jehovah] is reclaiming your life from the very pit,” sings David. (Psalm 103:4) “The very pit” is the common grave of mankind—Sheol, or Hades. Even before becoming a king over Israel, David found himself in the jaws of death. For example, Israel’s King Saul nurtured a murderous hatred toward David and attempted to kill him on various occasions. (1 Samuel 18:9-29; 19:10; 23:6-29) The Philistines also wanted David dead. (1 Samuel 21:10-15) But every time, Jehovah rescued him from “the very pit.” How grateful David must have felt when remembering these doings of Jehovah!
What about you? Has Jehovah sustained you through periods of depression or times of loss? Or have you come to know of instances when he has reclaimed the lives of his faithful Witnesses from the pit of Sheol in our times? Perhaps you have been touched by reading accounts of his acts of deliverance in the pages of this magazine. Why not take time to reflect appreciatively on these doings of the true God? And, of course, all of us have reason to be grateful to Jehovah for the resurrection hope.—John 5:28, 29; Acts 24:15.
Jehovah gives us both life and that which makes it enjoyable and worth living. The psalmist declares that God “is crowning you with loving-kindness and mercies.” (Psalm 103:4) In our hour of need, Jehovah does not abandon us but comes to our aid through his visible organization and the appointed elders, or shepherds, in the congregation. Such help enables us to deal with a trying situation without losing our self-respect and dignity. Christian shepherds care very much for the sheep. They encourage the sick and depressed and do all they can to restore those who have fallen. (Isaiah 32:1, 2; 1 Peter 5:2, 3; Jude 22, 23) Jehovah’s spirit motivates these shepherds to be compassionate and loving toward the flock. His “loving-kindness and mercies” are indeed like a crown that adorns us and gives us dignity! Never forgetting his doings, let us bless Jehovah and his holy name.
PSALM 103:5)
“He satisfies you with good things all your life, So that your youth is renewed like that of an eagle.”
*** it-1 p. 664 Eagle ***
This molting process, bringing some reduction of activity and strength and followed by a renewal of normal life, may be what the psalmist meant by one’s youth “renewing itself just like that of an eagle.” (Ps 103:5) Others see in this a reference to the relatively long life of the eagle, some having been known to reach an age of 80 years.
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Continuing on with his self-admonition, the psalmist David sings: “[Jehovah] is satisfying your lifetime with what is good; your youth keeps renewing itself just like that of an eagle.” (Psalm 103:5) The life Jehovah gives is one of satisfaction and joy. Why, the very knowledge of the truth itself is a treasure beyond compare and a source of tremendous joy! And consider how deeply satisfying is the work Jehovah has given us, that of preaching and making disciples. What a delight it is to find someone interested in learning about the true God and to help that one come to know Jehovah and bless him! Yet, whether anyone in our locality listens or not, it is a grand privilege to have a share in a work connected with the sanctification of Jehovah’s name and the vindication of his sovereignty.
While persisting in the work of proclaiming God’s Kingdom, who does not become tired or grow weary? But Jehovah keeps renewing the strength of his servants, making them ‘like eagles’ that have powerful wings and soar to great heights in the sky. How grateful we can be that our loving heavenly Father provides such “dynamic energy” so that we can faithfully carry out our ministry day after day!—Isaiah 40:29-31.
To illustrate: Clara holds a full-time secular job and also spends about 50 hours every month in the field ministry. She says: “Sometimes I am tired, and I force myself to go out in the field service only because I have made an arrangement to work with someone. But once I am out, I always feel invigorated.” You too may have experienced the vigor that results from divine support in the Christian ministry. May you be moved to say, as did David in the opening words of this psalm: “Bless Jehovah, O my soul, even everything within me, his holy name.”
PSALM 103:6)
“Jehovah acts with righteousness and justice For all who are oppressed.”
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Remembering one of God’s “doings,” David continued: “Jehovah is executing acts of righteousness and judicial decisions for all those being defrauded. He made known his ways to Moses, his dealings even to the sons of Israel.” (Psalm 103:2, 6, 7) Perhaps David was thinking of the defrauding of the Israelites by the Egyptians in the days of Moses. If so, reflecting on how Jehovah made known his ways of deliverance to Moses must have touched David’s heart and strengthened his determination to walk in God’s truth.
*** w99 5/15 pp. 23-24 “Bless Jehovah, O My Soul” ***
Jehovah Delivers His People
The psalmist also sings: “Jehovah is executing acts of righteousness and judicial decisions for all those being defrauded. He made known his ways to Moses, his dealings even to the sons of Israel.” (Psalm 103:6, 7) Likely, David is thinking of the ‘defrauding’ of the Israelites under Egyptian oppressors in the days of Moses. Meditating on how Jehovah made known his ways of deliverance to Moses must have generated a feeling of gratitude in David’s heart.
We can be moved to similar gratitude by reflecting on God’s dealings with the Israelites. But we should not fail to ponder over the experiences of Jehovah’s modern-day servants, such as those mentioned in chapters 29 and 30 of the book Jehovah’s Witnesses—Proclaimers of God’s Kingdom. The accounts documented in it and in other publications of the Watch Tower Society enable us to see how Jehovah has helped his people in modern times to endure imprisonment, mob action, bans, concentration camps, and slave-labor camps. There have been trials in war-torn lands, such as Burundi, Liberia, Rwanda, and the former Yugoslavia. Whenever persecution has occurred, Jehovah’s hand has always sustained his faithful servants. Contemplating these doings of our great God, Jehovah, can do for us what pondering over the account of deliverance from Egypt did for David.
PSALM 103:7)
“He made known his ways to Moses, His deeds to the sons of Israel.”
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Remembering one of God’s “doings,” David continued: “Jehovah is executing acts of righteousness and judicial decisions for all those being defrauded. He made known his ways to Moses, his dealings even to the sons of Israel.” (Psalm 103:2, 6, 7) Perhaps David was thinking of the defrauding of the Israelites by the Egyptians in the days of Moses. If so, reflecting on how Jehovah made known his ways of deliverance to Moses must have touched David’s heart and strengthened his determination to walk in God’s truth.
*** w99 5/15 pp. 23-24 “Bless Jehovah, O My Soul” ***
Jehovah Delivers His People
The psalmist also sings: “Jehovah is executing acts of righteousness and judicial decisions for all those being defrauded. He made known his ways to Moses, his dealings even to the sons of Israel.” (Psalm 103:6, 7) Likely, David is thinking of the ‘defrauding’ of the Israelites under Egyptian oppressors in the days of Moses. Meditating on how Jehovah made known his ways of deliverance to Moses must have generated a feeling of gratitude in David’s heart.
We can be moved to similar gratitude by reflecting on God’s dealings with the Israelites. But we should not fail to ponder over the experiences of Jehovah’s modern-day servants, such as those mentioned in chapters 29 and 30 of the book Jehovah’s Witnesses—Proclaimers of God’s Kingdom. The accounts documented in it and in other publications of the Watch Tower Society enable us to see how Jehovah has helped his people in modern times to endure imprisonment, mob action, bans, concentration camps, and slave-labor camps. There have been trials in war-torn lands, such as Burundi, Liberia, Rwanda, and the former Yugoslavia. Whenever persecution has occurred, Jehovah’s hand has always sustained his faithful servants. Contemplating these doings of our great God, Jehovah, can do for us what pondering over the account of deliverance from Egypt did for David.
PSALM 103:11)
“For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So great is his loyal love toward those who fear him.”
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“As the heavens are higher than the earth, his loving-kindness is superior toward those fearing him.” (Verse 11) When we look up at the night sky, we cannot fathom the great distance between the starry heavens and the earth. David thus impresses upon us the magnitude of Jehovah’s mercy, a facet of his loyal love. This mercy is for “those fearing” God—those who have “a humble, hearty reverence of his authority,” says one scholar.
PSALM 103:12)
“As far off as the sunrise is from the sunset, So far off from us he has put our transgressions.”
*** cl chap. 26 pp. 262-263 par. 9 A God Who Is “Ready to Forgive” ***
9 David used another vivid expression to describe Jehovah’s forgiveness: “As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us.” (Italics ours; Psalm 103:12, The Amplified Bible) How far is east from west? In a sense, east is always at the utmost distance imaginable from west; the two points can never meet. One scholar notes that this expression means “as far as possible; as far as we can imagine.” David’s inspired words tell us that when Jehovah forgives, he puts our sins as far away from us as we can imagine.
*** w11 8/1 p. 13 He Remembers That “We Are Dust” ***
“As far off as the sunrise is from the sunset, so far off from us he has put our transgressions.” (Verse 12) Other translations say, “as far as the east is from the west.” How far is that? As far as we can imagine. One Bible reference work says: “Fly as far as the wing of imagination can bear you, and if you journey through space eastward, you are further from the west at every beat of your wing.” David here tells us that when God forgives our sins, he puts them as far away from us as we can possibly imagine.
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15 The psalmist David used a vivid expression to describe Jehovah’s forgiveness: “As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us.” (Italics ours; Psalm 103:12, The Amplified Bible) How far is east from west? In a sense, east is always at the utmost distance imaginable from west; the two points can never meet. One scholar notes that this expression means “as far as possible; as far as we can imagine.” David’s inspired words tell us that when Jehovah forgives, he puts our sins as far away from us as we can imagine.
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When we repent of our sins and seek forgiveness on the basis of Christ’s shed blood, God puts our transgressions far off from us—“as far off as the sunrise is from the sunset”—and restores us to his favor.
PSALM 103:13)
“As a father shows mercy to his sons, Jehovah has shown mercy to those who fear him.”
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“As a father shows mercy to his sons, Jehovah has shown mercy to those fearing him.” (Verse 13) David, a father himself, knew what a loving father feels in his heart. Such a father is moved to show compassion to his children, especially when they are in pain. David assures us that our loving heavenly Father shows mercy to his earthly children, especially when their repentant hearts are “broken and crushed” because of their sins.—Psalm 51:17.
PSALM 103:14)
“For he well knows how we are formed, Remembering that we are dust.”
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4 Jehovah is aware of our limitations. “He himself well knows the formation of us, remembering that we are dust,” says Psalm 103:14. He does not forget that we are creatures of dust, having frailties, or weaknesses, as a result of imperfection. The expression that he knows “the formation of us” reminds us that the Bible likens Jehovah to a potter and us to the clay vessels he forms. (Jeremiah 18:2-6) The Great Potter tempers his dealings with us according to the frailty of our sinful nature and the way we respond or fail to respond to his guidance.
*** cl chap. 26 p. 261 A God Who Is “Ready to Forgive” ***
The Hebrew word rendered “the formation of us” is also used concerning the clay vessels formed by a potter.—Isaiah 29:16.
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Following the three similes, David reveals what moves Jehovah to show mercy to imperfect humans: “He himself well knows the formation of us, remembering that we are dust.” (Verse 14) Jehovah knows that we are creatures made of dust, having frailties and limitations. Taking into consideration our sinful nature, Jehovah is “ready to forgive”—as long as we show heartfelt repentance.—Psalm 86:5.
*** g 2/08 p. 10 Does God Forgive Serious Sins? ***
For he himself well knows the formation of us, remembering that we are dust.”—Psalm 103:12-14.
Clearly, Jehovah’s mercy is complete and unstinting, and it takes into account our limitations and imperfections—that we are “dust.”
*** w97 12/1 pp. 10-11 par. 4 Jehovah, a God “Ready to Forgive” ***
Why is Jehovah disposed to show mercy? The next verse answers: “For he himself well knows the formation of us, remembering that we are dust.” (Psalm 103:12-14) Yes, Jehovah does not forget that we are creatures of dust, having frailties, or weaknesses, as a result of imperfection. The expression that he knows “the formation of us” reminds us that the Bible likens Jehovah to a potter and us to the vessels he forms. (Jeremiah 18:2-6) A potter handles his clay vessels firmly yet delicately, ever mindful of their nature. So, too, Jehovah, the Great Potter, tempers his dealings with us according to the frailty of our sinful nature.—Compare 2 Corinthians 4:7.
*** w94 9/1 Despite Being Made of Dust, Push Ahead! ***
Despite Being Made of Dust, Push Ahead!
“He himself well knows the formation of us, remembering that we are dust.”—PSALM 103:14.
IN A physical way, we are dust. “Jehovah God proceeded to form the man out of dust from the ground and to blow into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man came to be a living soul.” (Genesis 2:7) This simple description of man’s creation is in harmony with scientific truth. All the elements of which the human body is composed are to be found in the “dust from the ground.” A chemist once claimed that an adult human body is 65 percent oxygen, 18 percent carbon, 10 percent hydrogen, 3 percent nitrogen, 1.5 percent calcium, and 1 percent phosphorus, with the remainder being made up of other elements. Whether these estimates are wholly accurate is unimportant. The fact remains: “We are dust”!
2 Who, apart from Jehovah, could create such intricate creatures out of nothing more than dust? God’s works are perfect and without blemish, so his choosing to create man in this way is certainly no cause for complaint. Indeed, that the Grand Creator was able to create man from the dust of the earth in a fear-inspiring and wonderful way increases our appreciation for His unlimited power, skill, and practical wisdom.—Deuteronomy 32:4, footnote; Psalm 139:14.
A Change of Circumstances
3 Creatures of dust have limitations. God never intended, however, that these be burdensome or overly restrictive. They were not meant to cause discouragement or to result in unhappiness. Still, as the context of David’s words at Psalm 103:14 indicates, limitations to which humans are subject can cause discouragement and result in unhappiness. Why? When Adam and Eve disobeyed God, they brought about a changed situation for their future family. Being made of dust then took on new connotations.
4 David was speaking, not about the natural limitations that even perfect humans made of dust would have had, but about human frailties caused by inherited imperfection. Otherwise he would not have said of Jehovah: “Him who is forgiving all your error, who is healing all your maladies, who is reclaiming your life from the very pit, [who] has not done to us even according to our sins; nor according to our errors has he brought upon us what we deserve.” (Psalm 103:2-4, 10) Despite being made of dust, had perfect humans remained faithful, they would never have erred, sinned, so as to need forgiveness; nor would they have had maladies requiring healing. Above all, they would never have had to descend into the pit of death from which they could be reclaimed only by means of a resurrection.
5 Being imperfect, all of us have experienced the things of which David spoke. We are constantly aware of our limitations due to imperfection. We are saddened when they at times seem to impair our relationship with Jehovah or with our Christian brothers. We regret that our imperfections and the pressures of Satan’s world occasionally push us into despondency. Since Satan’s rule is rapidly drawing to a close, his world is exerting ever greater pressure on people in general and on Christians in particular.—Revelation 12:12.
6 Do you feel that leading a Christian life is getting more difficult? Some Christians have been heard to remark that the longer they are in the truth the more imperfect they seem to become. More likely, however, it is simply that they have become increasingly aware of their own imperfections and their inability to conform to Jehovah’s perfect standards in the way that they would like. Actually, though, this is likely a consequence of continuing to grow in knowledge and appreciation of Jehovah’s righteous requirements. It is vital that we never allow any such awareness to discourage us to the point of playing into the Devil’s hands. Throughout the centuries he has repeatedly tried to capitalize on discouragement in order to cause Jehovah’s servants to abandon true worship. Nevertheless, genuine love of God, as well as “complete hatred” for the Devil, has prevented most of them from doing so.—Psalm 139:21, 22; Proverbs 27:11.
7 Still, Jehovah’s servants may at one time or another feel discouraged. Dissatisfaction with our own achievements could also be a reason. Physical factors or strained relations with family members, friends, or workmates may be involved. Faithful Job became so discouraged that he pleaded with God: “O that in Sheol you would conceal me, that you would keep me secret until your anger turns back, that you would set a time limit for me and remember me!” Now, if difficult circumstances could push Job, “a man blameless and upright, fearing God and turning aside from bad,” to have bouts of discouragement, it is small wonder that the same thing can happen to us.—Job 1:8, 13-19; 2:7-9, 11-13; 14:13.
8 How consoling to know that Jehovah looks into hearts and does not overlook good motives! He will never cast off those who strive in all sincerity to please him. Occasional discouragement, in fact, may be a positive sign, indicating that we are not taking our service to Jehovah lightly. Viewed from this standpoint, the one who never struggles with discouragement may not be as spiritually aware of his weaknesses as others are of theirs. Remember: “Let him that thinks he is standing beware that he does not fall.”—1 Corinthians 10:12; 1 Samuel 16:7; 1 Kings 8:39; 1 Chronicles 28:9.
They Too Were Made of Dust
9 Hebrews chapter 11 lists a number of pre-Christian witnesses of Jehovah who exercised strong faith. Christians of the first century and those of modern times have done likewise. The lessons to be learned from them are invaluable. (Compare Hebrews 13:7.) For example, whose faith could Christians better imitate than that of Moses? He was called upon to proclaim messages of judgment to the most powerful world ruler of his time, Pharaoh of Egypt. Today, Jehovah’s Witnesses must declare similar judgment messages against false religion and other organizations that are in opposition to Christ’s established Kingdom.—Revelation 16:1-15.
10 Fulfilling this commission is no easy assignment, as Moses showed. “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and that I have to bring the sons of Israel out of Egypt?” he asked. We can understand his feelings of inadequacy. He also worried about how fellow Israelites would react: “Suppose they do not believe me and do not listen to my voice?” Jehovah then explained to him how he could prove his authorization, but Moses had another problem. He said: “Excuse me, Jehovah, but I am not a fluent speaker, neither since yesterday nor since before that nor since your speaking to your servant, for I am slow of mouth.”—Exodus 3:11; 4:1, 10.
11 Occasionally, we may feel as Moses did. Although recognizing our theocratic obligations, we may wonder how we can ever fulfill them. ‘Who am I that I should approach people, some of higher social, economic, or educational rank, and presume to educate them in the ways of God? How will my spiritual brothers react when I make comments at Christian meetings or offer presentations from the platform in the Theocratic Ministry School? Will they not see my inadequacies?’ But remember, Jehovah was with Moses and equipped him for his assignment because Moses exercised faith. (Exodus 3:12; 4:2-5, 11, 12) If we imitate the faith of Moses, Jehovah will be with us and equip us for our work as well.
12 Anyone who feels frustrated or discouraged because of sins or shortcomings can certainly relate to David when he said: “My transgressions I myself know, and my sin is in front of me constantly.” Pleading with Jehovah, David also said: “Conceal your face from my sins, and wipe out even all my errors.” Never, though, did he allow discouragement to rob him of his desire to serve Jehovah. “Do not throw me away from before your face; and your holy spirit O do not take away from me.” David was clearly “dust,” but Jehovah did not turn away from him, for David exercised faith in Jehovah’s promise not to despise “a heart broken and crushed.”—Psalm 38:1-9; 51:3, 9, 11, 17.
13 Note, however, that while we are to view this “so great a cloud of witnesses” as an encouragement to “run with endurance the race that is set before us,” we are not told to become their followers. We are told to follow the steps of “the Chief Agent and Perfecter of our faith, Jesus,” not imperfect humans—not even the faithful apostles of the first century.—Hebrews 12:1, 2; 1 Peter 2:21.
14 The apostles Paul and Peter, pillars in the Christian congregation, stumbled at times. “The good that I wish I do not do, but the bad that I do not wish is what I practice,” wrote Paul. “Miserable man that I am!” (Romans 7:19, 24) And Peter in a moment of overconfidence told Jesus: “Although all the others are stumbled in connection with you, never will I be stumbled!” When Jesus warned Peter that he would disown Him three times, Peter presumptuously contradicted his Master, boasting: “Even if I should have to die with you, I will by no means disown you.” Yet disown Jesus he did, a mistake that caused him to weep bitterly. Yes, Paul and Peter were made of dust.—Matthew 26:33-35.
15 Despite their frailties, however, Moses, David, Paul, Peter, and others like them came off victorious. Why? Because they exercised strong faith in Jehovah, trusted him implicitly, and stuck close to him despite setbacks. They relied upon him to provide “the power beyond what is normal.” And he did, never letting them fall beyond recovery. If we keep on exercising faith, we can be sure that when judgment is rendered in our case, it will be in harmony with the words: “God is not unrighteous so as to forget your work and the love you showed for his name.” What an incentive this gives us to push ahead despite the fact that we are made of dust!—2 Corinthians 4:7; Hebrews 6:10.
What Does Being Made of Dust Mean for Us Individually?
16 Experience has taught many parents and teachers the wisdom of judging children or students according to individual ability, not on the basis of comparisons with siblings or classmates. This is in harmony with a Bible principle that Christians have been told to follow: “Let each one prove what his own work is, and then he will have cause for exultation in regard to himself alone, and not in comparison with the other person.”—Galatians 6:4.
17 In harmony with this principle, although Jehovah deals with his people as an organized group, he judges them as individuals. Romans 14:12 says: “Each of us will render an account for himself to God.” Jehovah well knows the genetic makeup of each of his servants. He knows their physical and mental makeup, their abilities, their inherited strengths and weaknesses, the possibilities they have, as well as the extent to which they take advantage of these possibilities to produce Christian fruitage. Jesus’ comments about the widow who dropped two small coins into the temple treasury and his illustration of the seed sown on fine soil are encouraging examples for Christians who may feel depressed because of unwisely comparing themselves with others.—Mark 4:20; 12:42-44.
18 It is vital that we determine what being dust means in our own individual case so that we can serve to our fullest potential. (Proverbs 10:4; 12:24; 18:9; Romans 12:1) Only by being keenly aware of our personal frailties and weaknesses can we stay alert to the need and possibilities of improvement. In making a self-examination, let us never overlook the power of holy spirit in helping us to improve. By means of it, the universe was created, the Bible was written, and, in the midst of a dying world, a peaceful new world society has been brought into existence. So God’s holy spirit is certainly powerful enough to give those who ask for it the wisdom and strength needed to maintain integrity.—Micah 3:8; Romans 15:13; Ephesians 3:16.
19 How comforting to know that Jehovah remembers that we are dust! Never should we reason, however, that this is a legitimate excuse for slacking the hand or perhaps even for doing wrong. Not at all! That Jehovah remembers that we are dust is an expression of his undeserved kindness. But we do not want to be “ungodly men, turning the undeserved kindness of our God into an excuse for loose conduct and proving false to our only Owner and Lord, Jesus Christ.” (Jude 4) Being made of dust is no excuse for being ungodly. A Christian strives to combat wrong tendencies, pummeling his body and leading it as a slave, so as to avoid “grieving God’s holy spirit.”—Ephesians 4:30; 1 Corinthians 9:27.
20 Now, during the concluding years of Satan’s world system, is not the time to slow down—not as far as Kingdom preaching is concerned and not as far as developing more fully the fruitage of God’s spirit is concerned. In both areas we have “plenty to do.” Now is the time to push ahead because we know our “labor is not in vain.” (1 Corinthians 15:58) Jehovah will sustain us, for of him David said: “Never will he allow the righteous one to totter.” (Psalm 55:22) What a joy to know that Jehovah is permitting us personally to share in the grandest work imperfect human creatures have ever been assigned to do—and this despite our being made of dust!
[Footnotes]
The Bible commentary Herders Bibelkommentar, commenting on Psalm 103:14, notes: “He well knows that he created humans from the dust of the ground, and he knows the weaknesses and the transient nature of their life, which weigh heavily upon them since the original sin.”—Italics ours.
*** g90 9/8 p. 23 Suicides—A Resurrection? ***
For he himself well knows the formation of us, remembering that we are dust.” (Psalm 103:10-14) Only God can fully understand the role of mental sickness, extreme stress, even genetic defects, in a “suicidal crisis,” which, the National Observer noted, “is not a lifetime characteristic [but] often a matter only of minutes or of hours.”—See Ecclesiastes 7:7.
*** w86 12/15 p. 29 “Bless Jehovah”—Why? ***
103:14—What does “formation” signify?
The word here rendered “formation” is related to the verb “to form,” used at Genesis 2:7, and to the noun “potter,” used with reference to one who forms clay. (Isaiah 29:16; Jeremiah 18:2-6) So the psalmist reminds us that Jehovah, the Great Potter, handles us tenderly, knowing that we are as fragile as earthen vessels.—Compare 2 Corinthians 4:7.
PSALM 103:15)
“As for mortal man, his days are like those of grass; He blooms like a blossom of the field.”
*** w99 5/15 p. 24 “Bless Jehovah, O My Soul” ***
In comparison with the immortality of Jehovah, the “God of eternity,” the “days” of “mortal man” are brief indeed—“like those of green grass.”
PSALM 103:17)
“But the loyal love of Jehovah is for all eternity Toward those who fear him, And his righteousness toward their children’s children,”
*** w99 5/15 p. 24 “Bless Jehovah, O My Soul” ***
But David appreciatively reflects: “The loving-kindness of Jehovah is from time indefinite even to time indefinite toward those fearing him, and his righteousness to the sons of sons, toward those keeping his covenant and toward those remembering his orders so as to carry them out.” (Genesis 21:33, footnote; Psalm 103:15-18) Jehovah does not forget those who fear him. In due time, he will give them everlasting life.—John 3:16; 17:3.
PSALM 103:19)
“Jehovah has firmly established his throne in the heavens; And his kingship rules over everything.”
*** w99 5/15 p. 24 “Bless Jehovah, O My Soul” ***
Expressing his appreciation for Jehovah’s kingship, David says: “Jehovah himself has firmly established his throne in the very heavens; and over everything his own kingship has held domination.” (Psalm 103:19) Although Jehovah’s kingship was visibly expressed for a time through the kingdom of Israel, his throne is actually in heaven. By reason of his Creatorship, Jehovah is the Sovereign Ruler of the universe and exercises his divine will in heaven and on earth according to his own purposes.
PSALM 103:20)
“Praise Jehovah, all you his angels, mighty in power, Who carry out his word, obeying his voice.”
*** w99 5/15 p. 24 “Bless Jehovah, O My Soul” ***
David even exhorts the heavenly angelic creatures. He sings: “Bless Jehovah, O you angels of his, mighty in power, carrying out his word, by listening to the voice of his word. Bless Jehovah, all you armies of his, you ministers of his, doing his will. Bless Jehovah, all you his works, in all places of his domination. Bless Jehovah, O my soul.” (Psalm 103:20-22) Should not our reflection on Jehovah’s acts of loving-kindness toward us move us also to bless him? By all means! And we can be sure that the sound of our voice in personal praise to God will not be lost among the mighty chorus of praisers that includes even the righteous angels.
PSALM 104:1)
“Let me praise Jehovah. O Jehovah my God, you are very great. With majesty and splendor you are clothed.”
*** w08 8/15 p. 13 pars. 6-8 Honor Jehovah by Displaying Dignity ***
6 How the God-fearing psalmist must have been touched when he beheld the quiet grandeur of the starry night sky, studded with glistening “jewels”! Filled with wonder at how God ‘has stretched out the heavens like a tent cloth,’ the psalmist represented Jehovah as clothed in dignity because of His magnificent creative skill. (Read Psalm 104:1, 2.) The dignity and splendor of the invisible, almighty Creator are evident in his visible works.
7 For instance, consider the Milky Way galaxy. In this vast ocean of stars, planets, and solar systems, planet Earth appears as insignificant in size as one grain of sand on an endless beach. Why, this one galaxy alone contains over 100 billion stars! If you could count one star each second nonstop for 24 hours a day, it would take you over 3,000 years to reach 100 billion.
8 If the Milky Way galaxy alone contains 100 billion stars, what about the rest of the universe? Astronomers estimate that the Milky Way may be one of anywhere from 50 billion to as many as 125 billion galaxies. How many stars are there in the entire universe? The answer surely is mind-boggling. Yet, Jehovah “is counting the number of the stars; all of them he calls by their names.” (Ps. 147:4) Upon seeing Jehovah clothed in such dignity and splendor, are you not moved to extol his great name?
PSALM 104:2)
“You are wrapped in light as with a garment; You stretch out the heavens like a tent cloth.”
*** it-1 p. 1064 Heaven ***
Jehovah, “the Father of the celestial lights” (Jas 1:17), is frequently spoken of as having ‘stretched out the heavens,’ just as one would a tent cloth. (Ps 104:1, 2; Isa 45:12) The heavens, both the expanse of atmosphere by day and the starry heavens by night, have the appearance of an immense domed canopy from the standpoint of humans on earth.
*** w08 8/15 p. 13 pars. 6-8 Honor Jehovah by Displaying Dignity ***
6 How the God-fearing psalmist must have been touched when he beheld the quiet grandeur of the starry night sky, studded with glistening “jewels”! Filled with wonder at how God ‘has stretched out the heavens like a tent cloth,’ the psalmist represented Jehovah as clothed in dignity because of His magnificent creative skill. (Read Psalm 104:1, 2.) The dignity and splendor of the invisible, almighty Creator are evident in his visible works.
7 For instance, consider the Milky Way galaxy. In this vast ocean of stars, planets, and solar systems, planet Earth appears as insignificant in size as one grain of sand on an endless beach. Why, this one galaxy alone contains over 100 billion stars! If you could count one star each second nonstop for 24 hours a day, it would take you over 3,000 years to reach 100 billion.
8 If the Milky Way galaxy alone contains 100 billion stars, what about the rest of the universe? Astronomers estimate that the Milky Way may be one of anywhere from 50 billion to as many as 125 billion galaxies. How many stars are there in the entire universe? The answer surely is mind-boggling. Yet, Jehovah “is counting the number of the stars; all of them he calls by their names.” (Ps. 147:4) Upon seeing Jehovah clothed in such dignity and splendor, are you not moved to extol his great name?
PSALM 104:4)
“He makes his angels spirits, His ministers a consuming fire.”
*** it-2 p. 1018 Spirit ***
Psalm 104:4 states that God makes “his angels spirits, his ministers a devouring fire.” Some translations would render this: “Who makest the winds thy messengers, fire and flame thy ministers,” or similarly. (RS, JP, AT, JB) Such translation of the Hebrew text is not inadmissible (compare Ps 148:8); however, the apostle Paul’s quotation of the text (Heb 1:7) coincides with that of the Greek Septuagint and harmonizes with the rendering first given. (In the Greek text of Hebrews 1:7, the definite article [tous] is used before “angels,” not before “spirits [pneuʹma•ta],” making the angels the subject being discussed.) Barnes’ Notes on the New Testament (1974) says: “It is to be presumed that [Paul], who had been trained in the knowledge of the Hebrew language, would have had a better opportunity of knowing its [referring to Psalm 104:4] fair construction than we can; and it is morally certain, that he would employ the passage in an argument as it was commonly understood by those to whom he wrote—that is, to those who were familiar with the Hebrew language and literature.”—Compare Heb 1:14.
*** w86 12/15 p. 29 “Bless Jehovah”—Why? ***
104:4—How does Jehovah ‘make his angels spirits’?
Since angels are already spirit creatures, this could not refer to their spirit bodies. The word “spirit,” though, can also mean “wind” or “active force.” God can thus use his angels as powerful forces to carry out his will. They can also be used as executional agents—as “a devouring fire.” It is reassuring to Christians to know that their preaching work is backed by such powerful angelic creatures.—Compare Revelation 14:6, 7.
PSALM 104:5)
“He has established the earth on its foundations; It will not be moved from its place forever and ever.”
*** it-1 p. 867 Foundation ***
Though the earth hangs upon nothing, it has, as it were, durable foundations that will not be made to totter, for the unchangeable laws governing the universe hold it firmly in place, and God’s purpose toward the earth has remained unchanged. (Job 26:7; 38:33; Ps 104:5; Mal 3:6)
*** it-2 pp. 1102-1103 Time Indefinite ***
Another Hebrew term, ʽadh, denotes unlimited future time, everlastingness, or eternity. (1Ch 28:9; Ps 19:9; Isa 9:6; 45:17; Hab 3:6) At times, as at Psalm 45:6, the words ʽoh•lamʹ and ʽadh appear together and may be rendered “age-during, and for ever” (Yg), “age-abiding and beyond” (Ro), and “time indefinite, even forever” (NW). Concerning the earth, the psalmist declared: “It will not be made to totter to time indefinite, or forever.”—Ps 104:5.
*** w08 8/1 p. 31 Will the Earth Survive? ***
Our planet Earth will not be destroyed by any cataclysm. Why can we be sure of that? Because God promises that the earth “will not be made to totter to time indefinite, or forever.” (Psalm 104:5) Although “generations come and generations go,” states the Bible, “the earth remains forever.”—Ecclesiastes 1:4, New International Version.
At Psalm 104:5, the permanence of the earth is emphasized by two words used in the original Hebrew of that text—ʽoh•lamʹ for “time indefinite” and ʽadh for “forever.” ʽOh•lamʹ may be translated “many years” or “perpetual.” According to Harkavy’s Students’ Hebrew and Chaldee Dictionary, ʽadh means “duration, everlastingness, eternity, for ever.” These two Hebrew words show the durability of the earth to be doubly certain.
*** gm chap. 8 pp. 103-104 par. 14 Science: Has It Proved the Bible Wrong? ***
14 The other passage says: “You fixed the earth on its foundations, unshakeable for ever and ever.” (Psalm 104:5, The Jerusalem Bible) This was interpreted to mean that after its creation the earth could never move. In fact, though, the verse stresses the permanence of the earth, not its immobility. The earth will never be ‘shaken’ out of existence, or destroyed, as other Bible verses confirm. (Psalm 37:29; Ecclesiastes 1:4) This scripture, too, has nothing to do with the relative motion of the earth and the sun.
PSALM 104:6)
“You covered it with deep waters as with a garment. The waters stood above the mountains.”
*** gm chap. 8 p. 100 par. 5 Science: Has It Proved the Bible Wrong? ***
5 Perhaps even more remarkable is the Bible’s insight into the history of mountains. Here is what a textbook on geology says: “From Pre-Cambrian times down to the present, the perpetual process of building and destroying mountains has continued. . . . Not only have mountains originated from the bottom of vanished seas, but they have often been submerged long after their formation, and then re-elevated.”2 Compare this with the poetic language of the psalmist: “With a watery deep just like a garment you covered [the earth]. The waters were standing above the very mountains. Mountains proceeded to ascend, valley plains proceeded to descend—to the place that you have founded for them.”—Psalm 104:6, 8.
PSALM 104:8)
“—Mountains ascended and valleys descended— To the place you established for them.”
*** gm chap. 8 p. 100 par. 5 Science: Has It Proved the Bible Wrong? ***
5 Perhaps even more remarkable is the Bible’s insight into the history of mountains. Here is what a textbook on geology says: “From Pre-Cambrian times down to the present, the perpetual process of building and destroying mountains has continued. . . . Not only have mountains originated from the bottom of vanished seas, but they have often been submerged long after their formation, and then re-elevated.”2 Compare this with the poetic language of the psalmist: “With a watery deep just like a garment you covered [the earth]. The waters were standing above the very mountains. Mountains proceeded to ascend, valley plains proceeded to descend—to the place that you have founded for them.”—Psalm 104:6, 8.
PSALM 104:11)
“They provide water for all the wild beasts of the field; The wild donkeys quench their thirst.”
*** g96 3/8 p. 18 Studying the Bible—In the Zoo! ***
As Psalm 104:11 notes, zebras ‘regularly quench their thirst.’ That is why they are seldom found more than five miles [8 km] from water.”
PSALM 104:14)
“He is making grass grow for the cattle And vegetation for mankind’s use, To grow food from the land”
*** w11 10/15 p. 8 par. 1 Is Your Recreation Beneficial? ***
THROUGHOUT the Bible, we find statements indicating that Jehovah wants us not only to live but also to enjoy life. For instance, Psalm 104:14, 15 states that Jehovah is causing “food to go forth from the earth, and wine that makes the heart of mortal man rejoice, to make the face shine with oil, and bread that sustains the very heart of mortal man.” Indeed, Jehovah makes crops grow to yield grain, oil, and wine for our sustenance. But wine also ‘makes the heart rejoice.’ It goes beyond what is strictly necessary to maintain life and adds to our joy. (Eccl. 9:7; 10:19)
PSALM 104:15)
“And wine that makes man’s heart rejoice, Oil that makes the face shine, And bread that sustains the heart of mortal man.”
*** w11 10/15 p. 8 par. 1 Is Your Recreation Beneficial? ***
THROUGHOUT the Bible, we find statements indicating that Jehovah wants us not only to live but also to enjoy life. For instance, Psalm 104:14, 15 states that Jehovah is causing “food to go forth from the earth, and wine that makes the heart of mortal man rejoice, to make the face shine with oil, and bread that sustains the very heart of mortal man.” Indeed, Jehovah makes crops grow to yield grain, oil, and wine for our sustenance. But wine also ‘makes the heart rejoice.’ It goes beyond what is strictly necessary to maintain life and adds to our joy. (Eccl. 9:7; 10:19)
PSALM 104:18)
“The high mountains are for the mountain goats; The crags are a refuge for the rock badgers.”
*** w04 3/15 p. 9 ‘You Are More Majestic Than the Mountains’ ***
“The high mountains are for the mountain goats,” sang the psalmist. (Psalm 104:18) Mountain goats, such as the magnificently horned Nubian ibex, are among the most surefooted of all mountain dwellers. They venture along ledges that are so narrow as to appear impassable. The ibex is well-equipped to live in inaccessible places. This is partly because of the construction of its hooves. The cleft can expand under the goat’s weight, giving the animal a firm grip when it is standing or moving on narrow rock shelves. Truly, the ibex is a masterpiece of design!
*** w97 7/15 p. 24 Acrobats of the Mountain Crags ***
“The High Mountains Are for the Mountain Goats”
So sang the psalmist. (Psalm 104:18) Mountain goats are well equipped for living in lofty places! They are extremely agile, moving over rugged terrain with great confidence and speed. This is partly due to the construction of their hooves. The opening can expand under the goat’s weight, giving the animal a firm grip when standing or moving on narrow rock shelves.
Mountain goats also have extraordinary balance. They can leap great distances and land on a ledge scarcely large enough to accommodate all four feet. Biologist Douglas Chadwick once observed a mountain goat of another type use its balance to avoid being trapped on a ledge that was too narrow for it to turn around. He says: “After a glance at the next ledge some 400 [120 m] feet below, the goat planted its front feet and slowly walked its rear end over its head along the rock face as though it were performing a cartwheel. As I held my breath, the goat continued until its hind feet came down so that it faced the direction from which it had come.” (National Geographic) No wonder mountain goats have been called “the acrobats of the mountain crags”!
PSALM 104:24)
“How many your works are, O Jehovah! You have made all of them in wisdom. The earth is full of what you have made.”
*** it-1 p. 545 Creation ***
Created Things Preceded Man’s Inventions. Thousands of years before many of man’s inventions appeared on the scene, Jehovah had provided his creations with their own versions of them. For example, the flight of birds preceded by millenniums the development of airplanes. The chambered nautilus and the cuttlefish use flotation tanks to descend and ascend in the ocean as submarines do. Octopus and squid employ jet propulsion. Bats and dolphins are experts with sonar. Several reptiles and sea birds have their own built-in “desalination plants” that enable them to drink seawater.
By ingeniously designed nests and their use of water, termites air-condition their homes. Microscopic plants, insects, fish, and trees use their own form of “antifreeze.” Small fractions of temperature change are sensed by the built-in thermometers of some snakes, mosquitoes, mallee birds, and brush turkeys. Hornets, wasps, and yellow jackets make paper.
Thomas Edison is credited with inventing the electric light bulb, but its loss of energy through heat is a drawback. Jehovah’s creations—sponges, fungi, bacteria, glowworms, insects, fish—produce cold light and in many colors.
Many migrating birds not only have compasses in their heads but they also have biological clocks. Some microscopic bacteria have rotary motors that they can run forward or in reverse.
It is not without good reason that Psalm 104:24 says: “How many your works are, O Jehovah! All of them in wisdom you have made. The earth is full of your productions.”
*** cl chap. 5 p. 55 par. 18 Creative Power—“The Maker of Heaven and Earth” ***
One psalmist exclaimed: “How many your works are, O Jehovah! . . . The earth is full of your productions.” (Psalm 104:24) How true! Biologists have identified well over a million species of living things on earth; yet, opinions vary as to whether there may be as many as 10 million, 30 million, or more. A human artist may find that his creativity runs dry at times. In contrast, Jehovah’s creativity—his power to invent and create new and diverse things—is obviously inexhaustible.
*** cl chap. 17 pp. 173-175 pars. 13-14 “O the Depth of God’s . . . Wisdom!” ***
13 Humans, however, are just one example of Jehovah’s creative wisdom. Psalm 104:24 says: “How many your works are, O Jehovah! All of them in wisdom you have made. The earth is full of your productions.” Jehovah’s wisdom is apparent in every creation around us. The ant, for example, is “instinctively wise.” (Proverbs 30:24) Indeed, ant colonies are superbly organized. Some ant colonies tend, shelter, and draw nourishment from insects called aphids as if these were livestock. Other ants act as farmers, raising and cultivating “crops” of fungus. Many other creatures have been programmed to do remarkable things by instinct. A common fly performs aerobatic feats that the most advanced of man’s aircraft cannot duplicate. Migrating birds navigate by the stars, by the orientation of the earth’s magnetic field, or by some form of internal map. Biologists spend years studying the sophisticated behaviors that have been programmed into these creatures. How wise, then, the divine Programmer must be!
14 Scientists have learned much from Jehovah’s creative wisdom. There is even a field of engineering, called biomimetics, that seeks to mimic designs found in nature. For instance, you may have gazed in wonder at the beauty of a spiderweb. But an engineer sees it as a marvel of design. Some frail-looking strands are proportionately stronger than steel, tougher than the fibers in a bulletproof vest. Just how strong? Imagine a spiderweb enlarged in scale until it is the size of a net used on a fishing boat. Such a web could catch a passenger plane in mid-flight! Yes, Jehovah has made all such things “in wisdom.”
PSALM 104:26)
“There the ships travel, And Le•viʹa•than, which you formed to play in it.”
*** it-2 p. 240 Leviathan ***
Since, with the exception of Job 3:8, the references mention water in connection with it, Leviathan appears to signify some form of aquatic creature of great proportions and strength, although not necessarily of one specific kind. Psalm 104:25, 26 describes it as cavorting in the sea where ships travel, and for this reason many suggest that the term here applies to some type of whale. Though whales are rare in the Mediterranean, they are not unknown there, and parts of two whale skeletons can be found in a museum at Beirut in Lebanon. An American Translation here says “crocodile” instead of Leviathan. Additionally, the word “sea” (yam) by itself is not determinative inasmuch as in Hebrew it can refer to a large inland body of water such as the Sea of Galilee (Sea of Chinnereth) (Nu 34:11; Jos 12:3), or even to the river Nile (Isa 19:5) or the Euphrates.—Jer 51:36.
PSALM 104:29)
“When you hide your face, they are disturbed. If you take away their spirit, they die and return to the dust.”
*** it-1 p. 596 Death ***
From the Biblical viewpoint, what is death?
It is of interest to note the correspondency of these Biblical points with what is known scientifically of the death process. In humans, for example, when the heart stops beating, the blood ceases to circulate nourishment and oxygen (obtained by breathing) to the billions of body cells. However, The World Book Encyclopedia (1987, Vol. 5, p. 52b) pointed out: “A person whose heart and lungs stop working may be considered clinically dead, but somatic death may not yet have occurred. The individual cells of the body continue to live for several minutes. The person may be revived if the heart and lungs start working again and give the cells the oxygen they need. After about three minutes, the brain cells—which are most sensitive to a lack of oxygen—begin to die. The person is soon dead beyond any possibility of revival. Gradually, other cells of the body also die. The last ones to perish are the bone, hair, and skin cells, which may continue to grow for several hours.” Thus while the vital importance of breathing and of the blood in maintaining the active life-force (ruʹach chai•yimʹ) in the body cells is evident, at the same time it is also clear that it is not the cessation of breathing or of heartbeat alone but the disappearance of the life-force or spirit from the body cells that brings death as referred to in the Scriptures.—Ps 104:29; 146:4; Ec 8:8.
PSALM 104:30)
“If you send out your spirit, they are created, And you renew the surface of the ground.”
*** w02 5/15 p. 5 Who Is God? ***
The word “spirit” is also used in the Bible in another sense. Addressing God in prayer, the psalmist said: “If you send forth your spirit, they are created.” (Psalm 104:30) This spirit is not God himself but a force that God sends forth, or uses, to accomplish whatever he wishes. By means of it, God created the physical heavens, the earth, and all living things. (Genesis 1:2; Psalm 33:6) His spirit is called holy spirit. God used his holy spirit to inspire the men who wrote the Bible. (2 Peter 1:20, 21) Hence, the holy spirit is the invisible active force that God uses to fulfill his purposes.
PSALM 104:32)
“He looks at the earth, and it trembles; He touches the mountains, and they smoke.”
*** it-2 p. 444 Mount, Mountain ***
Of Jehovah, the psalmist says: “He touches the mountains, and they smoke.” (Ps 104:32; 144:5, 6) This may point to the fact that lightning can set mountain forests on fire, thereby causing a mountain to smoke.
PSALM 104:35)
“The sinners will vanish from the earth, And the wicked will no longer exist. Let me praise Jehovah. Praise Jah!”
*** si pp. 103-104 par. 17 Bible Book Number 19—Psalms ***
17 Of unusual interest is Psalm 104. This extols Jehovah for the dignity and splendor with which he has clothed himself, and it describes his wisdom as displayed in his many works and productions on earth. Then the theme of the entire book of Psalms is set forth with full force, as the exclamation appears for the first time: “Praise Jah, you people!” (Vs. 35) This call to true worshipers to render Jehovah the praise due his name is, in Hebrew, just one word ha•lelu–Yahʹ or “Hallelujah,” which latter form is familiar to people all over the earth today. From this verse on, the expression occurs 24 times, a number of psalms both opening and closing with it.
PSALM 105:4)
“Search for Jehovah and his strength. Seek his face constantly.”
*** it-1 p. 801 Face ***
‘Seeking the face’ meant to seek audience before another, as before God or before an earthly ruler, imploring favorable attention or help. (Ps 24:6; 27:8, 9; 105:4; Pr 29:26; Ho 5:15)
*** w00 3/1 p. 15 par. 6 “Search for Jehovah and His Strength” ***
The Bible urges us to “search for Jehovah and his strength.” (Psalm 105:4) Why? Because when we do things in God’s strength, our power will be used for the benefit, rather than the harm, of others.
PSALM 105:12)
“This was when they were few in number, Yes, very few, and they were foreigners in the land.”
*** it-2 p. 161 Kingdom of God ***
Toward Abraham and His Descendants. True, those individuals who looked to Jehovah God as their Head were not without their personal problems and frictions. Yet they were helped to solve these or to endure them in a way conforming to God’s righteous standards and without becoming degraded. They were afforded divine protection and strength. (Ge 13:5-11; 14:18-24; 19:15-24; 21:9-13, 22-33) Thus, after pointing out that Jehovah’s “judicial decisions are in all the earth,” the psalmist says of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob: “They happened to be few in number, yes, very few, and alien residents in [Canaan]. And they kept walking about from nation to nation, from one kingdom to another people. [Jehovah] did not allow any human to defraud them, but on their account he reproved kings, saying: ‘Do not you men touch my anointed ones, and to my prophets do nothing bad.’” (Ps 105:7-15; compare Ge 12:10-20; 20:1-18; 31:22-24, 36-55.) This, too, was proof that God’s sovereignty over earth was still in effect, enforceable by him in harmony with the development of his purpose.
PSALM 105:13)
“They walked about from nation to nation, From one kingdom to another people.”
*** it-2 p. 161 Kingdom of God ***
Toward Abraham and His Descendants. True, those individuals who looked to Jehovah God as their Head were not without their personal problems and frictions. Yet they were helped to solve these or to endure them in a way conforming to God’s righteous standards and without becoming degraded. They were afforded divine protection and strength. (Ge 13:5-11; 14:18-24; 19:15-24; 21:9-13, 22-33) Thus, after pointing out that Jehovah’s “judicial decisions are in all the earth,” the psalmist says of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob: “They happened to be few in number, yes, very few, and alien residents in [Canaan]. And they kept walking about from nation to nation, from one kingdom to another people. [Jehovah] did not allow any human to defraud them, but on their account he reproved kings, saying: ‘Do not you men touch my anointed ones, and to my prophets do nothing bad.’” (Ps 105:7-15; compare Ge 12:10-20; 20:1-18; 31:22-24, 36-55.) This, too, was proof that God’s sovereignty over earth was still in effect, enforceable by him in harmony with the development of his purpose.
PSALM 105:14)
“He did not allow any man to oppress them, But on their account he reproved kings,”
*** it-2 p. 161 Kingdom of God ***
Toward Abraham and His Descendants. True, those individuals who looked to Jehovah God as their Head were not without their personal problems and frictions. Yet they were helped to solve these or to endure them in a way conforming to God’s righteous standards and without becoming degraded. They were afforded divine protection and strength. (Ge 13:5-11; 14:18-24; 19:15-24; 21:9-13, 22-33) Thus, after pointing out that Jehovah’s “judicial decisions are in all the earth,” the psalmist says of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob: “They happened to be few in number, yes, very few, and alien residents in [Canaan]. And they kept walking about from nation to nation, from one kingdom to another people. [Jehovah] did not allow any human to defraud them, but on their account he reproved kings, saying: ‘Do not you men touch my anointed ones, and to my prophets do nothing bad.’” (Ps 105:7-15; compare Ge 12:10-20; 20:1-18; 31:22-24, 36-55.) This, too, was proof that God’s sovereignty over earth was still in effect, enforceable by him in harmony with the development of his purpose.
*** it-2 p. 804 Riches ***
Abraham, Job, and others showed that they could be trusted with riches. They were industrious and used their material possessions properly. Job, for example, was ever ready to help the poor and afflicted. (Job 29:12-16) In view of their right attitude, there was good reason for Jehovah God to protect his servants from being defrauded by selfish and greedy men.—Ge 31:5-12; Job 1:10; Ps 105:14.
*** w13 3/15 pp. 20-21 pars. 4-8 Jehovah—Our Place of Dwelling ***
4 We can only imagine how Abraham, then Abram, felt when Jehovah told him: “Go your way out of your country and from your relatives . . . to the country that I shall show you.” If Abraham felt any anxiety, it no doubt melted away with Jehovah’s next words: “I shall make a great nation out of you and I shall bless you and I will make your name great . . . And I will bless those who bless you, and him that calls down evil upon you I shall curse.”—Gen. 12:1-3.
5 With those words, Jehovah took it upon himself to become a secure dwelling for Abraham and for his descendants. (Gen. 26:1-6) Jehovah fulfilled his promise. For example, he prevented Pharaoh of Egypt and King Abimelech of Gerar from violating Sarah and doing away with Abraham. He protected Isaac and Rebekah in a similar manner. (Gen. 12:14-20; 20:1-14; 26:6-11) We read: “[Jehovah] did not allow any human to defraud them, but on their account he reproved kings, saying: ‘Do not you men touch my anointed ones, and to my prophets do nothing bad.’”—Ps. 105:14, 15.
6 Those prophets included Abraham’s grandson Jacob. When the time came for Jacob to take a wife for himself, Isaac, his father, said to him: “You must not take a wife from the daughters of Canaan. Get up, go to Paddan-aram to the house of Bethuel the father of your mother and from there take yourself a wife from the daughters of Laban.” (Gen. 28:1, 2) Jacob promptly obeyed Isaac. Jacob left the security of his immediate family, who were living in Canaan, to travel, evidently alone, hundreds of miles to the area of Haran. (Gen. 28:10) Perhaps he wondered: ‘How long will I be away? Will my uncle warmly welcome me and grant me a God-fearing wife?’ If Jacob had such anxieties, these no doubt melted away when he reached Luz, some 60 miles (100 km) from Beer-sheba. What happened at Luz?
7 At Luz, Jehovah appeared to Jacob in a dream, saying: “Here I am with you and I will keep you in all the way you are going and I will return you to this ground, because I am not going to leave you until I have actually done what I have spoken to you.” (Gen. 28:15) How those kind words must have reassured and comforted Jacob! Can you picture him thereafter striding along, eager to see how God would fulfill His word? If you have left home, perhaps to serve in a foreign land, you likely understand Jacob’s range of emotions. No doubt, though, you have seen evidence of Jehovah’s care for you.
8 When Jacob reached Haran, his uncle Laban extended a warm welcome to him and later gave him Leah and Rachel as wives. In time, though, Laban tried to exploit Jacob, changing his wages ten times! (Gen. 31:41, 42) Yet, Jacob endured these injustices, confident that Jehovah would continue to care for him—and He did! Indeed, by the time God told Jacob to return to Canaan, the patriarch possessed “great flocks and maidservants and menservants and camels and asses.” (Gen. 30:43) Deeply appreciative, Jacob prayed: “I am unworthy of all the loving-kindnesses and of all the faithfulness that you have exercised toward your servant, for with but my staff I crossed this Jordan and now I have become two camps.”—Gen. 32:10.
*** w10 4/15 p. 8 pars. 5-6 Holy Spirit’s Role in the Outworking of Jehovah’s Purpose ***
5 Jehovah used his spirit to protect individuals in the line of descent leading up to the Seed. To Abram (Abraham), Jehovah said: “I am a shield for you.” (Gen. 15:1) Those were not empty words. Consider, for example, what happened about 1919 B.C.E. when Abraham and Sarah took up temporary residence in Gerar. Not knowing that Sarah was Abraham’s wife, Abimelech, the king of Gerar, took Sarah with the intention of making her his wife. Was Satan manipulating matters behind the scenes, trying to prevent Sarah from bearing Abraham’s seed? The Bible does not say. What it does tell us is that Jehovah intervened. In a dream, he warned Abimelech not to touch Sarah.—Gen. 20:1-18.
6 That was not just an isolated incident. Jehovah delivered Abraham and his family members on a number of occasions. (Gen. 12:14-20; 14:13-20; 26:26-29) Regarding Abraham and his descendants, the psalmist could therefore say: “He [Jehovah] did not allow any human to defraud them, but on their account he reproved kings, saying: ‘Do not you men touch my anointed ones, and to my prophets do nothing bad.’”—Ps. 105:14, 15.
PSALM 105:15)
“Saying, “Do not touch my anointed ones, And to my prophets do nothing bad.””
*** it-2 p. 695 Prophet ***
In a similar way, Isaac and Jacob, the inheritors of the promise, were “prophets” having intimate communication with God. (Ps 105:9-15) Additionally, they gave predictive blessings to their sons. (Ge 27:27-29, 39, 40; 49:1-28)
*** w13 3/15 pp. 20-21 pars. 4-8 Jehovah—Our Place of Dwelling ***
4 We can only imagine how Abraham, then Abram, felt when Jehovah told him: “Go your way out of your country and from your relatives . . . to the country that I shall show you.” If Abraham felt any anxiety, it no doubt melted away with Jehovah’s next words: “I shall make a great nation out of you and I shall bless you and I will make your name great . . . And I will bless those who bless you, and him that calls down evil upon you I shall curse.”—Gen. 12:1-3.
5 With those words, Jehovah took it upon himself to become a secure dwelling for Abraham and for his descendants. (Gen. 26:1-6) Jehovah fulfilled his promise. For example, he prevented Pharaoh of Egypt and King Abimelech of Gerar from violating Sarah and doing away with Abraham. He protected Isaac and Rebekah in a similar manner. (Gen. 12:14-20; 20:1-14; 26:6-11) We read: “[Jehovah] did not allow any human to defraud them, but on their account he reproved kings, saying: ‘Do not you men touch my anointed ones, and to my prophets do nothing bad.’”—Ps. 105:14, 15.
6 Those prophets included Abraham’s grandson Jacob. When the time came for Jacob to take a wife for himself, Isaac, his father, said to him: “You must not take a wife from the daughters of Canaan. Get up, go to Paddan-aram to the house of Bethuel the father of your mother and from there take yourself a wife from the daughters of Laban.” (Gen. 28:1, 2) Jacob promptly obeyed Isaac. Jacob left the security of his immediate family, who were living in Canaan, to travel, evidently alone, hundreds of miles to the area of Haran. (Gen. 28:10) Perhaps he wondered: ‘How long will I be away? Will my uncle warmly welcome me and grant me a God-fearing wife?’ If Jacob had such anxieties, these no doubt melted away when he reached Luz, some 60 miles (100 km) from Beer-sheba. What happened at Luz?
7 At Luz, Jehovah appeared to Jacob in a dream, saying: “Here I am with you and I will keep you in all the way you are going and I will return you to this ground, because I am not going to leave you until I have actually done what I have spoken to you.” (Gen. 28:15) How those kind words must have reassured and comforted Jacob! Can you picture him thereafter striding along, eager to see how God would fulfill His word? If you have left home, perhaps to serve in a foreign land, you likely understand Jacob’s range of emotions. No doubt, though, you have seen evidence of Jehovah’s care for you.
8 When Jacob reached Haran, his uncle Laban extended a warm welcome to him and later gave him Leah and Rachel as wives. In time, though, Laban tried to exploit Jacob, changing his wages ten times! (Gen. 31:41, 42) Yet, Jacob endured these injustices, confident that Jehovah would continue to care for him—and He did! Indeed, by the time God told Jacob to return to Canaan, the patriarch possessed “great flocks and maidservants and menservants and camels and asses.” (Gen. 30:43) Deeply appreciative, Jacob prayed: “I am unworthy of all the loving-kindnesses and of all the faithfulness that you have exercised toward your servant, for with but my staff I crossed this Jordan and now I have become two camps.”—Gen. 32:10.
*** w10 4/15 p. 8 pars. 5-6 Holy Spirit’s Role in the Outworking of Jehovah’s Purpose ***
5 Jehovah used his spirit to protect individuals in the line of descent leading up to the Seed. To Abram (Abraham), Jehovah said: “I am a shield for you.” (Gen. 15:1) Those were not empty words. Consider, for example, what happened about 1919 B.C.E. when Abraham and Sarah took up temporary residence in Gerar. Not knowing that Sarah was Abraham’s wife, Abimelech, the king of Gerar, took Sarah with the intention of making her his wife. Was Satan manipulating matters behind the scenes, trying to prevent Sarah from bearing Abraham’s seed? The Bible does not say. What it does tell us is that Jehovah intervened. In a dream, he warned Abimelech not to touch Sarah.—Gen. 20:1-18.
6 That was not just an isolated incident. Jehovah delivered Abraham and his family members on a number of occasions. (Gen. 12:14-20; 14:13-20; 26:26-29) Regarding Abraham and his descendants, the psalmist could therefore say: “He [Jehovah] did not allow any human to defraud them, but on their account he reproved kings, saying: ‘Do not you men touch my anointed ones, and to my prophets do nothing bad.’”—Ps. 105:14, 15.
*** si p. 18 Bible Book Number 1—Genesis ***
20:7 Abraham a prophet Ps. 105:9, 15
PSALM 105:18)
“With fetters they bound his feet, His neck was put in irons;”
*** w14 11/1 pp. 14-15 “How Could I Commit This Great Badness?” ***
In the book of Psalms, we learn that Joseph was subjected to further torment: “With fetters they bound his feet; his neck was put in irons.” (Psalm 105:17, 18) The Egyptians sometimes put prisoners in restraints that pinioned their arms behind them at the elbows; others bore iron collars clasped at their necks. How Joseph must have suffered to be so mistreated—when he had done nothing to deserve it!
PSALM 105:19)
“Until the time that his word proved true, The saying of Jehovah is what refined him.”
*** w86 11/1 pp. 19-20 pars. 15-16 Youths—Your Part in a Happy, United Family ***
15 “With fetters they afflicted his [Joseph’s] feet, into irons his soul came; until the time that his word came, the saying of Jehovah itself refined him.” (Psalm 105:17-19) For 13 years, Joseph suffered as a slave and a prisoner until Jehovah’s promise came true. By this experience he was refined. Jehovah, though not causing the troubles, allowed them for a purpose. Would Joseph preserve his hope in “the saying of Jehovah” despite being in the crucible of adversity? Would he bring to maturity his fine qualities, and develop the needed patience, humility, spiritual strength, and determination to handle a difficult assignment? Well, Joseph came out as gold from the refiner’s fire—purer and even more precious to God, who used him wonderfully thereafter.—Genesis 41:14, 38-41, 46; 42:6, 9.
16 Both Joseph and Jeremiah suffered through no fault of their own. They had already cultivated godly qualities. However, they were refined even more as they coped with adversities.
PSALM 105:31)
“He ordered the gadflies to invade And gnats in all their territories.”
*** it-1 p. 878 Gadfly ***
GADFLY
[Heb., ʽa•rovʹ].
There is some uncertainty as to the particular insect designated by the original Hebrew word appearing in the Scriptures with reference to the fourth plague upon Egypt, the first from which the Israelites in Goshen were spared. (Ex 8:21, 22, 24, 29, 31; Ps 78:45; 105:31) ʽA•rovʹ has been variously rendered “gadfly” (JB, NW, Ro), “beetle” (Yg), “flies” (AS, KJ, RS), “gnats” (AT), and “dog fly” (LXX).
The English designation “gadfly” includes the various kinds of horseflies and botflies. Female horseflies pierce the skin of animals as well as man and then suck their blood. In the larval stage botflies live as parasites in the bodies of animals and man; those that infest humans are found in the tropics. A plague of gadflies would, therefore, have brought great suffering to the Egyptians and their livestock and, in certain cases, even death.
PSALM 105:39)
“He spread a cloud to screen them off And fire to give light by night.”
*** it-2 p. 643 Pillar ***
When the Egyptians pursued the Israelites, the pillar moved to the rear, perhaps spreading out like a wall. (Ps 105:38, 39) It caused darkness on the Egyptian side but shed light on the Israelite side. (Ex 14:19, 20)
PSALM 105:40)
“They asked, and he brought quail; He kept satisfying them with bread from heaven.”
*** it-2 pp. 309-310 Manna ***
The psalmist referred to manna as “the grain of heaven” (Ps 78:24), “bread from heaven” (Ps 105:40), and “the very bread of powerful ones” (Ps 78:25). Angels are described as being “mighty in power” (Ps 103:20) and therefore could be called “powerful ones.” This, however, would not mean that angels actually eat manna but that God may have used angelic means in providing it for the Israelites. (Compare Gal 3:19.) Or, since heaven is the dwelling place of the “powerful ones,” the expression “bread of powerful ones” may simply point to its heavenly source.
*** w14 6/1 pp. 7-8 Have You Tasted the Bread of Life? ***
But Jehovah had no intention of leaving his people without bread of any kind. “Here I am raining down bread for you from the heavens,” he promised. Sure enough, this bread from heaven appeared in the early morning, “a fine, flaky substance” that looked somewhat like dew or frost. “What is it?” the Israelites asked the first time they saw it. “It is the bread that Jehovah has given you for food,” Moses explained. They called it manna, and this bread sustained them for the next 40 years.—Exodus 16:4, 13-15, 31.
At first, the miraculous manna must have impressed the Israelites. It tasted like “flat cakes with honey,” and there was ample provision for everyone. (Exodus 16:18) But as time went by, they began to miss the variety of foods they had eaten in Egypt. “We see nothing at all except this manna,” they grumbled. (Numbers 11:6) Later they fumed: “We have come to hate this contemptible bread.” (Numbers 21:5) The “bread from heaven” ultimately became distasteful and repulsive to them.—Psalm 105:40.
*** w86 2/15 p. 16 pars. 5-6 “Bread of Life” Available for All ***
How could this great crowd find sustenance in that bleak, unfriendly desert? Though Jehovah had been angered by their lack of faith, he “opened the very doors of heaven. And he kept raining upon them manna to eat, and the grain of heaven he gave to them.” “With bread from heaven he kept satisfying them” for 40 long years. (Psalm 78:22-24; 105:40; Exodus 16:4, 5, 31, 35) And do not forget that the Israelites were not alone in eating manna. “A vast mixed company” of non-Israelites exercised faith in Jehovah and joined them in the exodus from Egypt. God provided manna for them also.—Exodus 12:38.
6 However, mankind has always had a need greater than that for literal “bread from heaven.” Even those who ate the miraculously provided manna grew old and died, for man’s inherited sinful condition makes death inevitable, no matter what his diet. (Romans 5:12)
PSALM 105:41)
“He opened a rock, and waters flowed out; These flowed through the desert like a river.”
*** it-2 p. 712 Psalms, Book of ***
in the wilderness, the miraculously provided water “went through the waterless regions as a river” (105:41), thus providing an ample and readily accessible water supply for the nation of Israel and their many domestic animals.

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