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Sunday, July 24, 2016

PSALMS 79-86 | Treasures from God’s Word: week starting July 25-31

BIBLICAL TEXTS AND REFERENCES: TREASURES FROM GOD’S WORD | PSALMS 79-86

“WHO IS THE MOST IMPORTANT PERSON IN YOUR LIFE?”: (10 MIN.)

The composer of Psalm 83 was likely a descendant of the Levite Asaph, a contemporary of King David. This psalm was written during a time when enemy nations were a threat to Jehovah’s people.
83:1-5, 16
• In his prayer, the psalmist focused on Jehovah’s name and sovereignty rather than on his personal safety
• Today, God’s servants continue to face one attack after another. Our faithful endurance brings honor to Jehovah
83:18
• Jehovah wants us to know his name
• We must show through our actions that Jehovah is the most important Person in our life

Ps 83:1-5—Our primary concern should be Jehovah’s name and sovereignty (w08 10/15 13 ¶7-8)

New World TranslationPsalm 83:1-5
83 O God, do not be silent;+
Do not keep quiet* or still, O Divine One.
2 For look! your enemies are in an uproar;+
Those who hate you act arrogantly.*
3 With cunning they secretly plot against your people;
They conspire against your treasured ones.*
4 They say: “Come, let us annihilate them as a nation,+
So that the name of Israel may be remembered no more.”
5 They devise a unified strategy;*
They have made an alliance* against you+—
The Watchtower (2008)Jehovah’s Answer to a Heartfelt Prayer
7 What was the psalmist’s foremost concern? Of course, he must have been very worried about his own personal safety and that of his family. Yet, the subject of his prayer was the reproach being brought on Jehovah’s name and the threats against the nation that bore that name. May we all keep a similar, balanced viewpoint as we endure the difficult final days of this old world.—Read Matthew 6:9, 10.
8. What was the objective of the nations in conspiring against Israel?
8 The psalmist quotes Israel’s enemies as saying: “Come and let us efface them from being a nation, that the name of Israel may be remembered no more.” (Ps. 83:4) What hatred those nations had for God’s chosen people! But they had another motive for their conspiracy. They coveted Israel’s land and boasted: “Let us take possession of the abiding places of God for ourselves.” (Ps. 83:12) Has something similar been true in our day? Yes!

Ps 83:16—Our steadfastness and endurance bring honor to Jehovah (w08 10/15 15 ¶16)

New World TranslationPsalm 83:16
16 Cover* their faces with dishonor,
So that they may search for your name, O Jehovah.
The Watchtower (2008)Jehovah’s Answer to a Heartfelt Prayer
16. How have the faces of opposers been ‘filled with dishonor’ today?
16 Throughout these “last days,” Jehovah has thwarted all efforts to eliminate his people. (2 Tim. 3:1) As a result, opposers have been shamed. Psalm 83:16 foreshadowed this when it said: “Fill their faces with dishonor, that people may search for your name, O Jehovah.” In country after country, opponents have failed miserably in their effort to silence Jehovah’s Witnesses. In those lands, the steadfastness and endurance of worshippers of the one true God have served as a witness to righthearted ones, and many have ‘searched for Jehovah’s name.’ In a number of lands where Jehovah’s Witnesses were once viciously persecuted, there are now tens of thousands, even hundreds of thousands, of happy praisers of Jehovah. What a triumph for Jehovah! And how embarrassing for his enemies!—Read Jeremiah 1:19.

Ps 83:17, 18—Jehovah is the most important Person in the whole universe (w11 5/15 16 ¶1-2; w08 10/15 15-16 ¶17-18)

New World TranslationPsalm 83:17, 18
17 May they be put to shame and be terrified forever;
May they be disgraced and perish;
18 May people know that you, whose name is Jehovah,+
You alone are the Most High over all the earth.+
The Watchtower (2011)Who Is the Most Important Person in Your Life?
1, 2. With regard to our personal salvation, why is it not enough just to know Jehovah’s name?
PERHAPS the first time you saw Jehovah’s name was when it was shown to you at Psalm 83:18. You may have been surprised to read those words: “That people may know that you, whose name is Jehovah, you alone are the Most High over all the earth.” Since then, you no doubt have used this same scripture to help others come to know our loving God, Jehovah.—Rom. 10:12, 13.
2 Although it is important for people to know Jehovah’s name, such knowledge in itself is not enough. Notice how the psalmist highlights yet another truth essential to our salvation when he says: “You alone are the Most High over all the earth.” Yes, Jehovah is the most important Person in the whole universe. As the Creator of all things, he has the right to expect full submission from all his creatures. (Rev. 4:11) For good reason, then, we need to ask ourselves, ‘Who is the most important person in my life?’ It is vital that we carefully analyze our answer to that question!
The Watchtower (2008)Jehovah’s Answer to a Heartfelt Prayer
17. What critical situation faces mankind, and what words will we soon remember?
17 We know, of course, that the battle is not over. And we continue to preach the good news—even to opposers. (Matt. 24:14, 21) However, the opportunity now open to such opposers to repent and gain salvation will soon come to an end. The sanctification of Jehovah’s name is far more important than human salvation. (Read Ezekiel 38:23.) When the nations combine in the foretold earth-wide effort to destroy God’s people, we will remember these words of the psalmist’s prayer: “O may they be ashamed and be disturbed for all times, and may they become abashed and perish.”—Ps. 83:17.
18, 19. (a) What awaits determined opposers of Jehovah’s sovereignty? (b) How does the approaching final vindication of Jehovah’s sovereignty affect you?
18 A humiliating end awaits determined opposers of Jehovah’s sovereignty. God’s Word reveals that those who “do not obey the good news”—and for this reason are executed at Armageddon—will suffer “everlasting destruction.” (2 Thess. 1:7-9) Their destruction and the survival of those who worship Jehovah in truth will be convincing evidence that Jehovah is the only true God. In the new world, that great victory will not be forgotten. Those who come back in the “resurrection of . . . the righteous and the unrighteous” will learn of Jehovah’s great act. (Acts 24:15) In the new world, they will see convincing evidence of the wisdom of living under Jehovah’s sovereignty. And meek ones among them will quickly be convinced that Jehovah is the only true God.

DIGGING FOR SPIRITUAL GEMS: (8 MIN.)

Ps 79:9—What does this verse teach us about our prayers? (w06 7/15 12 ¶5)

New World TranslationPsalm 79:9
9 Help us, O God of our salvation,+
For the sake of your glorious name;
Rescue us and forgive* our sins for the sake of your name.+
The Watchtower (2006)Highlights From Books Three and Four of Psalms
79:9. Jehovah listens to our prayers, especially when they are concerning the sanctification of his name.

Ps 86:5—In what way is Jehovah “ready to forgive”? (w06 7/15 12 ¶9)

New World TranslationPsalm 86:5
5 For you, O Jehovah, are good+ and ready to forgive;+
You abound in loyal love for all those who call on you.+
The Watchtower (2006)Highlights From Books Three and Four of Psalms
86:5. How grateful we can be that Jehovah is “ready to forgive”! He is on the lookout for any evidence that would provide a basis for him to show mercy to a repentant wrongdoer.

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 79-86 | SUGGESTIONS FOR YOUR PERSONAL COMMENTS

PSALM 79:SUPERSCRIPTION)
“A melody of Aʹsaph.”
*** it-1 p. 186 Asaph ***
The superscriptions for Psalms 50 and 73 to 83 credit these songs to Asaph. However, it seems likely that the name is there used as referring to the house of which he was paternal head, since some of the psalms (Ps 79, 80) evidently describe events later than Asaph’s day.
PSALM 79:9)
“Help us, O God of our salvation, For the sake of your glorious name; Rescue us and forgive our sins for the sake of your name.”
*** w06 7/15 p. 12 par. 5 Highlights From Books Three and Four of Psalms ***
79:9. Jehovah listens to our prayers, especially when they are concerning the sanctification of his name.
PSALM 79:12)
“Repay our neighbors sevenfold For the taunts they have leveled at you, O Jehovah.”
*** it-1 p. 365 Breast, Bosom ***
To “render the reward into their own bosom” or to ‘measure out their wages into their own bosom’ are understandable expressions when we appreciate that the pockets of garments were not in one’s skirts or the lower part of the garment as today. (Isa 65:6, 7; Ps 79:12; Jer 32:18)
PSALM 80:SUPERSCRIPTION)
“To the director; set to “The Lilies.” A reminder. Of Aʹsaph. A melody.”
*** it-1 p. 186 Asaph ***
The superscriptions for Psalms 50 and 73 to 83 credit these songs to Asaph. However, it seems likely that the name is there used as referring to the house of which he was paternal head, since some of the psalms (Ps 79, 80) evidently describe events later than Asaph’s day.
*** it-2 p. 256 Lily ***
The significance of the expressions “The Lily,” “The Lilies,” appearing in the superscriptions of Psalms 45, 60, 69, and 80, is not known.
PSALM 80:1)
“O Shepherd of Israel, listen, You who are guiding Joseph just like a flock. You who sit enthroned above the cherubs, Shine forth.”
*** it-2 p. 111 Joseph ***
The Name Joseph Given Prominence. In view of Joseph’s prominent position among the sons of Jacob, it was most appropriate that his name was sometimes used to designate all the tribes of Israel (Ps 80:1)
PSALM 80:13)
“The boars of the forest ravage it, And the wild animals of the field feed on it.”
*** it-1 p. 347 Boar ***
BOAR
[Heb., chazirʹ].
This animal is mentioned in the Scriptures at Psalm 80:13, where there is allusion to its depredations on unguarded vineyards. It is believed that the wild boar (not to be confused with the male of the domesticated hog, to which it is related) is meant. This animal (Sus scrofa) is still to be found in the swamps of Palestine.
A large wild boar may weigh some 160 kg (350 lb), measure nearly 1.5 m (5 ft) in length, and may stand 1 m (3 ft) high at the shoulder. The snout of the wild boar is specially suited to rooting for food amid forest undergrowth. The tusks, especially those of the male, constitute a formidable weapon, with which it can easily rip up a horse. This animal is not only dangerous but also destructive, it being said that a group of them can ruin an entire vineyard in one night.
PSALM 80:16)
“It is burned with fire, cut down. They perish at your rebuke.”
*** it-2 p. 759 Rebuke ***
At times “rebuke” conveys the thought of “threat.” Thus, the words “rebuke of your face” may indicate that the countenance has taken on a threatening demeanor.—Ps 80:16.
PSALM 81:SUPERSCRIPTION)
“To the director; upon the Gitʹtith. Of Aʹsaph.”
*** it-1 p. 186 Asaph ***
The superscriptions for Psalms 50 and 73 to 83 credit these songs to Asaph. However, it seems likely that the name is there used as referring to the house of which he was paternal head, since some of the psalms (Ps 79, 80) evidently describe events later than Asaph’s day.
*** it-2 p. 680 Press ***
The expression “upon the Gittith” (rendered “winepresses” in the Greek Septuagint and the Latin Vulgate) appearing in the superscription of three Psalms (8, 81, 84) may indicate that they were songs associated with the vintage.
PSALM 81:6)
““I lifted the burden from his shoulder; His hands were freed from the basket.”
*** it-1 pp. 261-262 Basket ***
During the Israelites’ bondage in Egypt and their “hard slavery at clay mortar and bricks” (Ex 1:14), they evidently used baskets to carry construction materials, clay for bricks, and bricks themselves. Reflecting on the way in which Jehovah effected the release of Israel from Egyptian slavery, the psalmist Asaph represents God as saying: “His own hands got to be free even from the basket [mid•dudhʹ].” (Ps 81:4-6) This same Hebrew term (dudh) is applied to a basket for carrying figs. (Jer 24:1, 2)
*** it-1 p. 495 Compulsory Service ***
COMPULSORY SERVICE
The Hebrew word for “compulsory service” is seʹvel, which has to do with a literal or a figurative load, an enforced burden, or burdensome labor. It can apply to corvée, that is, unpaid or partially unpaid work that an authority imposes on certain people, such as residents of a particular area.
The psalmist, in reflecting on the deliverance of Israel from Egyptian bondage, represented Jehovah as saying: “I turned aside his shoulder even from the burden [or compulsory service].” (Ps 81:6; Ex 1:11)
PSALM 81:7)
“In your distress you called, and I rescued you; I answered you from the thundercloud. I tested you at the waters of Merʹi•bah. Selah)”
*** it-2 p. 379 Meribah ***
However, at Psalm 81:7 the reference to Jehovah’s examining Israel by “the waters of Meribah” may allude to the incident at Meribah near Rephidim.—Compare De 33:8.
*** it-2 p. 1099 Thunder ***
To the Jews at the foot of Mount Sinai, the thunder that they heard was a manifestation of God’s presence. (Ex 19:16; compare Re 4:5; 11:19.) Either this event or God’s leading Israel by means of a pillar of cloud (a place of thunder) may be alluded to by the psalmist’s words: “I [Jehovah] began to answer you in the concealed place of thunder.”—Ps 81:7.
PSALM 81:16)
“But he will feed you with the finest wheat And satisfy you with honey from the rock.””
*** w86 12/15 p. 28 “Bless Jehovah”—Why? ***
Lesson for Us: That Jehovah richly rewards those who obey him is indicated by reference to the “fat of the wheat.” (Psalm 81:16) Here the word “fat” is used figuratively to connote the best. (Compare Psalm 63:5.) If the Israelites had ‘listened to Jehovah’s voice,’ he would have blessed them with “the fat of the wheat”—the best, the choicest of things. (Psalm 81:11; Deuteronomy 32:13, 14) Similarly, if we ‘listen to Jehovah’s voice,’ he will richly bless us.—Proverbs 10:22.
PSALM 82:SUPERSCRIPTION)
“A melody of Aʹsaph.”
*** it-1 p. 186 Asaph ***
The superscriptions for Psalms 50 and 73 to 83 credit these songs to Asaph. However, it seems likely that the name is there used as referring to the house of which he was paternal head, since some of the psalms (Ps 79, 80) evidently describe events later than Asaph’s day.
PSALM 82:1)
“God takes his place in the divine assembly; In the middle of the gods he judges:”
*** it-1 p. 969 God ***
At Psalm 82:1, 6, ʼelo•himʹ is used of men, human judges in Israel. Jesus quoted from this Psalm at John 10:34, 35. They were gods in their capacity as representatives of and spokesmen for Jehovah. Similarly Moses was told that he was to serve as “God” to Aaron and to Pharaoh.—Ex 4:16, ftn; 7:1.
*** it-2 p. 1001 Son(s) of God ***
Support for the rendering “a god” is found principally in Jesus’ own answer, in which he quoted from Psalm 82:1-7. As can be seen, this text did not refer to persons as being called “God,” but “gods” and “sons of the Most High.”
According to the context, those whom Jehovah called “gods” and “sons of the Most High” in this psalm were Israelite judges who had been practicing injustice, requiring that Jehovah himself now judge ‘in the middle of such gods.’ (Ps 82:1-6, 8) Since Jehovah applied these terms to those men, Jesus was certainly guilty of no blasphemy in saying, “I am God’s Son.” Whereas the works of those judicial “gods” belied their being “sons of the Most High,” Jesus’ works consistently proved him to be in union, in harmonious accord and relationship, with his Father.—Joh 10:34-38.
*** w06 7/15 p. 11 par. 5 Highlights From Books Three and Four of Psalms ***
82:1, 6—Who are called “gods” and “sons of the Most High”? Both expressions refer to human judges in Israel. This is appropriate, since they were to serve as God’s spokesmen and representatives.—John 10:33-36.
*** w86 12/15 p. 28 “Bless Jehovah”—Why? ***
82:1—How does God judge “in the middle of the gods”?
Evidently, “the gods” were the judges of Israel. They were called gods because they were mighty in judicial power. Jehovah, as the Supreme Judge, had the divine right to enter into the midst of such judges to reprove them for failing to judge according to his law.—Isaiah 33:22; Psalm 82:2-4.
PSALM 82:5)
“They do not know, nor do they understand; They are walking about in darkness; All the foundations of the earth are being shaken.”
*** it-1 p. 867 Foundation ***
On the other hand, injustice and disobedience to God’s law in effect tear down the foundations that give stability to the land, causing the foundations of the figurative earth (the people and their established systems) to totter.—Ps 82; 11:3; Pr 29:4.
*** w06 7/15 p. 12 par. 7 Highlights From Books Three and Four of Psalms ***
82:2, 5. Injustices cause “the foundations of the earth” to totter. Unjust acts disturb the stability of human society.
PSALM 82:6)
““I have said, ‘You are gods, All of you are sons of the Most High.”
*** it-1 p. 969 God ***
At Psalm 82:1, 6, ʼelo•himʹ is used of men, human judges in Israel. Jesus quoted from this Psalm at John 10:34, 35. They were gods in their capacity as representatives of and spokesmen for Jehovah. Similarly Moses was told that he was to serve as “God” to Aaron and to Pharaoh.—Ex 4:16, ftn; 7:1.
*** it-2 p. 993 Son ***
Those judges and rulers in Israel against whom God’s word came were called “sons of the Most High,” doubtless because they held office in Israel as representing the divine rule, though they had transgressed. (Ps 82:6)
*** it-2 p. 1001 Son(s) of God ***
Support for the rendering “a god” is found principally in Jesus’ own answer, in which he quoted from Psalm 82:1-7. As can be seen, this text did not refer to persons as being called “God,” but “gods” and “sons of the Most High.”
According to the context, those whom Jehovah called “gods” and “sons of the Most High” in this psalm were Israelite judges who had been practicing injustice, requiring that Jehovah himself now judge ‘in the middle of such gods.’ (Ps 82:1-6, 8) Since Jehovah applied these terms to those men, Jesus was certainly guilty of no blasphemy in saying, “I am God’s Son.” Whereas the works of those judicial “gods” belied their being “sons of the Most High,” Jesus’ works consistently proved him to be in union, in harmonious accord and relationship, with his Father.—Joh 10:34-38.
*** w06 7/15 p. 11 par. 5 Highlights From Books Three and Four of Psalms ***
82:1, 6—Who are called “gods” and “sons of the Most High”? Both expressions refer to human judges in Israel. This is appropriate, since they were to serve as God’s spokesmen and representatives.—John 10:33-36.
PSALM 83:SUPERSCRIPTION)
“A song. A melody of Aʹsaph.”
*** it-1 p. 186 Asaph ***
The superscriptions for Psalms 50 and 73 to 83 credit these songs to Asaph. However, it seems likely that the name is there used as referring to the house of which he was paternal head, since some of the psalms (Ps 79, 80) evidently describe events later than Asaph’s day.
*** w08 10/15 p. 12 par. 3 Jehovah’s Answer to a Heartfelt Prayer ***
3 According to the superscription, Psalm 83 is “a melody of Asaph.” The composer of the psalm was likely a descendant of the Levite Asaph, a prominent musician during the reign of King David. In the psalm, the psalmist begs Jehovah to take action so as to uphold His sovereignty and make His name known. The psalm must have been composed some time after Solomon’s death. Why? Because during the reigns of David and Solomon, Tyre’s king was friendly toward Israel. By the time Psalm 83 was composed, the inhabitants of Tyre had turned against Israel and had sided with its enemies.
PSALM 83:1)
“O God, do not be silent; Do not keep quiet or still, O Divine One.”
*** w08 10/15 p. 13 Jehovah’s Answer to a Heartfelt Prayer ***
A Matter of Primary Concern
6 Listen as the psalmist pours out his feelings in prayer: “O God, let there be no silence on your part; do not keep speechless, and do not stay quiet, O Divine One. For, look! your very enemies are in an uproar; and the very ones intensely hating you have raised their head. Against your people they cunningly carry on their confidential talk . . . For with the heart they have unitedly exchanged counsel; against you they proceeded to conclude even a covenant.”—Ps. 83:1-3, 5.
7 What was the psalmist’s foremost concern? Of course, he must have been very worried about his own personal safety and that of his family. Yet, the subject of his prayer was the reproach being brought on Jehovah’s name and the threats against the nation that bore that name. May we all keep a similar, balanced viewpoint as we endure the difficult final days of this old world.—Read Matthew 6:9, 10.
PSALM 83:2)
“For look! your enemies are in an uproar; Those who hate you act arrogantly.”
*** it-1 p. 219 Attitudes and Gestures ***
Lifting up one’s own head was the figurative description of an attitude having the significance of taking action, usually to oppose, fight, or oppress.—Jg 8:28; Ps 83:2.
*** it-1 p. 951 Enemy Nations That Attacked Israel ***
Amalek Ps 83:2-4, 7
*** w08 10/15 p. 13 Jehovah’s Answer to a Heartfelt Prayer ***
A Matter of Primary Concern
6 Listen as the psalmist pours out his feelings in prayer: “O God, let there be no silence on your part; do not keep speechless, and do not stay quiet, O Divine One. For, look! your very enemies are in an uproar; and the very ones intensely hating you have raised their head. Against your people they cunningly carry on their confidential talk . . . For with the heart they have unitedly exchanged counsel; against you they proceeded to conclude even a covenant.”—Ps. 83:1-3, 5.
7 What was the psalmist’s foremost concern? Of course, he must have been very worried about his own personal safety and that of his family. Yet, the subject of his prayer was the reproach being brought on Jehovah’s name and the threats against the nation that bore that name. May we all keep a similar, balanced viewpoint as we endure the difficult final days of this old world.—Read Matthew 6:9, 10.
*** w06 7/15 p. 11 par. 6 Highlights From Books Three and Four of Psalms ***
83:2—What does the ‘raising of one’s head’ denote? The gesture signifies readiness to exercise power or to take action, usually to oppose, fight, or oppress.
PSALM 83:4)
“They say: “Come, let us annihilate them as a nation, So that the name of Israel may be remembered no more.””
*** it-2 p. 421 Moab ***
So it seems likely that it was at an earlier date during Jehoshaphat’s reign that Moab combined with the forces of Ammon and the mountainous region of Seir to attack Judah. By Jehovah’s intervention the three armies turned on one another and destroyed themselves. (2Ch 20:1, 22-24) Some scholars believe that this event is alluded to at Psalm 83:4-9.—Compare 2Ch 20:14 with Ps 83:Sup.
*** w08 10/15 pp. 13-14 pars. 8-11 Jehovah’s Answer to a Heartfelt Prayer ***
8 The psalmist quotes Israel’s enemies as saying: “Come and let us efface them from being a nation, that the name of Israel may be remembered no more.” (Ps. 83:4) What hatred those nations had for God’s chosen people! But they had another motive for their conspiracy. They coveted Israel’s land and boasted: “Let us take possession of the abiding places of God for ourselves.” (Ps. 83:12) Has something similar been true in our day? Yes!
“Your Holy Abiding Place”
9 In ancient times, the Promised Land was referred to as God’s holy abiding place. Recall the victory song that the Israelites sang after being delivered from Egypt: “You in your loving-kindness have led the people whom you have recovered; you in your strength will certainly conduct them to your holy abiding place.” (Ex. 15:13) Later, that “abiding place” contained a temple with its priesthood and a capital city, Jerusalem, with a line of kings who descended from David and sat on Jehovah’s throne. (1 Chron. 29:23) Not without reason, Jesus called Jerusalem “the city of the great King.”—Matt. 5:35.
10 What about in our day? In 33 C.E., a new nation, “the Israel of God,” was born. (Gal. 6:16) That nation, made up of anointed brothers of Jesus Christ, fulfilled the task that fleshly Israel ultimately failed in, that of being witnesses to God’s name. (Isa. 43:10; 1 Pet. 2:9) To them, Jehovah made the same promise that he made to ancient Israel: “I shall be their God, and they will be my people.” (2 Cor. 6:16; Lev. 26:12) In 1919, Jehovah brought the remaining ones of “the Israel of God” into a favored position, and at that time, they took possession of a “land,” a spiritual realm of activity wherein they have enjoyed a spiritual paradise. (Isa. 66:8) Since the 1930’s, millions of “other sheep” have flocked to their side. (John 10:16) The happiness and spiritual prosperity of these modern-day Christians furnishes powerful evidence of the rightness of Jehovah’s sovereignty. (Read Psalm 91:1, 2.) How that infuriates Satan!
11 Throughout the time of the end, Satan has incited his earthly agents to oppose the anointed remnant and their other sheep companions. That happened in Western Europe under the Nazis and in Eastern Europe under the Communist government of the Soviet Union. It also happened in many other lands, and it will happen again, especially during the final attack of Gog of Magog. In that attack, opposers may greedily seize the property and possessions of Jehovah’s people, as enemies have done in the past. Satan’s main goal, however, has always been to break us up as a people so that our God-given name will be remembered no more.
PSALM 83:6)
“The tents of Eʹdom and the Ishʹma•el•ites, Moʹab and the Hagʹrites,”
*** it-1 p. 951 Enemy Nations That Attacked Israel ***
Moab Ps 83:2-4, 6
*** it-1 p. 1227 Ishmaelite ***
The animosity Ishmael had toward Isaac seems to have been handed down to his descendants, even to the extent of hating the God of Isaac, for the psalmist, in enumerating those that are “the very ones intensely hating” Jehovah, includes the Ishmaelites. (Ps 83:1, 2, 5, 6) There were, however, evidently exceptions. Under the organizational arrangement instituted by David, Obil, who is referred to as an Ishmaelite, had supervision over the camels of the king.—1Ch 27:30, 31.
*** w08 10/15 pp. 12-13 pars. 4-5 Jehovah’s Answer to a Heartfelt Prayer ***
4 The psalmist names ten nations that were conspiring to destroy God’s people. Those enemies were situated all around Israel and are listed as follows: “The tents of Edom and the Ishmaelites, Moab and the Hagrites, Gebal and Ammon and Amalek, Philistia together with the inhabitants of Tyre. Also, Assyria itself has become joined with them.” (Ps. 83:6-8) To what historical event does the psalm refer? Some suggest that the psalm refers to the attack on Israel by the coalition of Ammon, Moab, and the inhabitants of Mount Seir in the days of Jehoshaphat. (2 Chron. 20:1-26) Others believe that it speaks of the general hostility Israel experienced from its neighbors throughout its history.
5 Whatever the case, it is evident that Jehovah God inspired the writing of this prayerful song at a time when his nation was in danger. The psalm also provides encouragement for God’s servants today, who throughout their history have faced one attack after another by enemies determined to destroy them. And it will surely strengthen us in the near future when Gog of Magog marshals his forces in one final attempt to destroy all who worship God in spirit and truth.—Read Ezekiel 38:2, 8, 9, 16.
PSALM 83:7)
“Geʹbal and Amʹmon and Amʹa•lek, Phi•lisʹti•a together with the inhabitants of Tyre.”
*** it-1 p. 951 Enemy Nations That Attacked Israel ***
Amalek Ps 83:2-4, 7
*** w08 10/15 pp. 12-13 pars. 4-5 Jehovah’s Answer to a Heartfelt Prayer ***
4 The psalmist names ten nations that were conspiring to destroy God’s people. Those enemies were situated all around Israel and are listed as follows: “The tents of Edom and the Ishmaelites, Moab and the Hagrites, Gebal and Ammon and Amalek, Philistia together with the inhabitants of Tyre. Also, Assyria itself has become joined with them.” (Ps. 83:6-8) To what historical event does the psalm refer? Some suggest that the psalm refers to the attack on Israel by the coalition of Ammon, Moab, and the inhabitants of Mount Seir in the days of Jehoshaphat. (2 Chron. 20:1-26) Others believe that it speaks of the general hostility Israel experienced from its neighbors throughout its history.
5 Whatever the case, it is evident that Jehovah God inspired the writing of this prayerful song at a time when his nation was in danger. The psalm also provides encouragement for God’s servants today, who throughout their history have faced one attack after another by enemies determined to destroy them. And it will surely strengthen us in the near future when Gog of Magog marshals his forces in one final attempt to destroy all who worship God in spirit and truth.—Read Ezekiel 38:2, 8, 9, 16.
PSALM 83:9)
“Do to them as you did to Midʹi•an, As you did to Sisʹe•ra and Jaʹbin at the stream of Kiʹshon.”
*** w08 10/15 pp. 14-15 Jehovah’s Answer to a Heartfelt Prayer ***
A Pattern for Jehovah’s Victory
12 Note the psalmist’s strong faith in Jehovah’s ability to frustrate the plans of enemy nations. He weaves together two decisive victories of Israel over its enemies near the ancient city of Megiddo, which dominated a valley plain of the same name. During the summer, the dry bed of the Kishon River can be seen winding through the valley plain. After a winter downpour, the river floods the plain. Perhaps for that reason, the river is also called “the waters of Megiddo.”—Judg. 4:13; 5:19.
13 About ten miles [15 km] across the valley from Megiddo lies the hill of Moreh where in the days of Judge Gideon, the combined troops of Midianites, Amalekites, and Easterners gathered to wage war. (Judg. 7:1, 12) Gideon’s small force finally numbered only 300 men, but with Jehovah’s help, they routed the large enemy force. How? Following God’s direction, they surrounded the enemy camp at night holding jars that concealed flaming torches. When Gideon gave the signal, his men smashed the jars and the hidden torches were suddenly revealed. At the same time, they blew their horns and shouted: “Jehovah’s sword and Gideon’s!” The enemy were thrown into confusion, and they turned to killing one another; survivors fled across the Jordan River. Meanwhile, more Israelites joined in pursuit of the enemy. Altogether, 120,000 enemy soldiers were slaughtered.—Judg. 7:19-25; 8:10.
14 Some four miles [6 km] beyond the hill of Moreh, across the valley from Megiddo, lies Mount Tabor. There, Judge Barak had earlier gathered 10,000 Israelite troops to confront the army of Jabin, the Canaanite king of Hazor, under the command of his military chief Sisera. This Canaanite army had 900 war chariots equipped with deadly long blades of iron that turned with the wheels. As Israel’s poorly equipped troops assembled on Mount Tabor, Sisera’s army was lured into the valley. Then, “Jehovah began to throw Sisera and all his war chariots and all the camp into confusion.” Likely, a sudden downpour of rain caused the chariots to get bogged down because of the overflowing Kishon River. The entire army was slaughtered by the Israelites.—Judg. 4:13-16; 5:19-21.
15 The psalmist begs Jehovah to do something similar to the nations who threaten Israel’s existence in his day. He prays: “Do to them as to Midian, as to Sisera, as to Jabin at the torrent valley of Kishon. They were annihilated at En-dor; they became manure for the ground.” (Ps. 83:9, 10) Significantly, God’s final war against Satan’s world is called Har–Magedon (meaning “Mountain of Megiddo”), or Armageddon. That name reminds us of the dramatic battles that took place near Megiddo. Jehovah’s victory in those ancient wars assures us of his certain triumph in the battle of Armageddon.—Rev. 16:13-16.
*** w86 2/15 pp. 21-22 Megiddo—Ancient Battleground With Prophetic Meaning ***
Led by General Sisera, the Canaanite army was equipped with the very latest in military technology: “Nine hundred war chariots with iron scythes.” (Judges 4:3) These gave the Canaanites the edge in speed and maneuverability and also an enormous psychological advantage.
Victory, though, was not to be the fruit of military prowess and equipment. Sisera’s vastly superior troops were lured into the then-dry torrent valley of Kishon. Jehovah gave Barak the signal to descend. Just picture 10,000 men streaming down the mountain into the valley plain! But then, unexpectedly, Jehovah caused a thunderstorm. Wind and rain now lashed into the face of the enemy. The Kishon River valley was turned into a raging torrent, immobilizing Sisera’s war chariots in a sea of mud. Thrown into confusion, Sisera’s troops fled in terror, only to be pursued and executed. “Not as much as one remained.”—Judges, chapters 4 and 5.
No wonder this stunning victory inspired the words: “Thus let all your enemies perish, O Jehovah, and let your lovers be as when the sun goes forth in its mightiness.” (Judges 5:31) Note, however, that word “thus.” It suggested that the battle was prophetic, pointing forward to a greater war in which all enemies of God would perish.
However, the hostile peoples surrounding Israel quickly forgot this disastrous encounter. Only 47 years later a combination of nations under the lead of Midian “gathered together as one and proceeded to . . . camp in the low plain of Jezreel,” the valley extending from Megiddo. (Judges 6:33) These encamped enemies were “as numerous as locusts.” This time, however, the army of Israel was only a small but courageous band of 300 men, standing “all around the camp” under the leadership of Gideon. At a signal, the 300 blew horns, loudly smashed water jars, waved torches, and let out a terrifying war cry: “Jehovah’s sword and Gideon’s!” The Midianites panicked! “Jehovah proceeded to set the sword of each one against the other,” and Gideon’s tiny band completed the rout!—Judges, chapter 7.
We today dare not make the mistake of the Midianites nor shrug off the significance of Megiddo. Some 12 times the Bible speaks of this ancient battle site. Further, Bible prophecy indicates that what took place at Megiddo has serious implications for our day. Let us therefore take a look at what both the Bible and archaeology say about this historic place.
Crossroads of the Ancient World
Megiddo, along with the cities of Hazor and Gezer, once dominated a major military and trade route connecting Asia and Africa. Megiddo lay between the other two cities and hence was the one most strategically located. From all directions natural gateways, mountain passes, and roads converged into her valley plain. “Megiddo,” explains The Geography of the Bible, “stood at a crossroads, in fact at one of the great crossroads of the ancient world.”
Megiddo dominated a large valley plain extending some 20 miles (32 km) along the northeastern side of the Carmel mountain range. During the rainy winter, water descending from the surrounding mountains caused the nearby Kishon River to swell. Thus the region is also called “the torrent valley of Kishon.” (Judges 4:13) Says the book Geography of Israel: “With the winter rains” the soil of the valley “is liable to turn into deep mud. . . . The [K]ishon’s gradient is very small, and the outlet . . . easily blocked; swamps thus spread here.” Sisera and his armies found out just how muddy this plain can get. Nevertheless, in the dry summer, this open plain was an ideal place for chariots to train for war. (Compare Song of Solomon 6:11, 12.) Military troops could also assemble conveniently there.
*** w86 2/15 p. 24 Megiddo—Ancient Battleground With Prophetic Meaning ***
What, then, is “Har–Magedon”? It is obviously figurative. Drawing on Megiddo’s history as the site of decisive battles, Revelation uses it to picture the approaching situation when hatred for God’s people by “all the nations” will reach a climax. (Matthew 24:9, 14) Because true Christians continue loyally to support God’s Kingdom, earth’s rulers will unite and, in effect, “assemble” to destroy them. Jehovah’s Witnesses will not retaliate, however. (Isaiah 2:1-4) God has appointed their King, the Lord Jesus Christ, to fight for them. At the crucial moment, this heavenly King together with “the armies . . . in heaven” will intervene and attack “the kings of the earth and their armies.” This global battle will be decisive, just like those fought at Megiddo. All earthly foes will “perish,” even as the victory song of Deborah and Barak prophesied!—Revelation 19:11-21; Judges 5:31.
Will you be found among Jehovah’s lovers—or among his enemies? The Bible makes clear that those who do not take their stand with Jehovah God and his people are in real danger of losing life. (Zephaniah 2:3; 2 Thessalonians 1:7-9) Consequently, there is no time to delay! “Look! I am coming as a thief,” warns the glorified Jesus Christ with specific reference to the climax of the “great tribulation” at Armageddon.—Revelation 16:15; Matthew 24:21.
“The war of the great day of God the Almighty” will have a glorious outcome. It will open the way for God’s Kingdom to transform this earth into a paradise. (Matthew 6:9, 10; Revelation 21:3-5) But best of all, it will vindicate the greatest name in the universe in a magnificent fulfillment of the ancient prophetic prayer:
“Do to them as to Midian, as to Sisera, as to Jabin at the torrent valley of Kishon. . . . Pursue them with your tempest and may you disturb them with your own storm wind. Fill their faces with dishonor, that people may search for your name, O Jehovah. O may they be ashamed and be disturbed for all times, and may they become abashed and perish; that people may know that you, whose name is Jehovah, you alone are the Most High over all the earth.”—Psalm 83:9, 15-18.
*** w86 12/15 p. 28 “Bless Jehovah”—Why? ***
83:9-15—Was revenge the psalmist’s motive?
Not at all. He was praying for God to execute judgment upon those “intensely hating” Jehovah. (Verse 2) Other nations would thus learn that the God whose name is Jehovah is indeed “the Most High over all the earth.” (Verse 18) This manifestation of power would result in magnifying God’s name, Jehovah, earth wide.
PSALM 83:10)
“They were annihilated at En-dor; They became manure for the ground.”
*** it-1 p. 724 En-dor ***
At Psalm 83:9, 10, En-dor is connected with Jehovah’s victory over Sisera. While not mentioned in the battle account at Judges chapters 4 and 5, it evidently lay only a few miles S of Mount Tabor, from which Barak’s army descended. (Jg 4:6, 12) It was also in the general region of Taanach and Megiddo and the torrent valley of Kishon, where Sisera’s forces were miraculously disrupted. (Jos 17:11; Jg 5:19) So, some feature of the battle evidently extended as far as En-dor, and the psalmist, well acquainted with the historical and geographic details, could speak of En-dor as the place where many of the fleeing Canaanites were annihilated.
PSALM 83:12)
“For they said: “Let us take possession of the land where God dwells.””
*** it-2 p. 1221 Zebah ***
As Gideon was bringing Zebah and Zalmunna back as humiliated captives at least as far as Succoth, they must have been reminded of their boastful words (or at least the expression of their attitude) preserved in the psalm: “Let us take possession of the abiding places of God for ourselves.” (Ps 83:11, 12)
*** w08 10/15 pp. 13-14 pars. 8-11 Jehovah’s Answer to a Heartfelt Prayer ***
But they had another motive for their conspiracy. They coveted Israel’s land and boasted: “Let us take possession of the abiding places of God for ourselves.” (Ps. 83:12) Has something similar been true in our day? Yes!
“Your Holy Abiding Place”
9 In ancient times, the Promised Land was referred to as God’s holy abiding place. Recall the victory song that the Israelites sang after being delivered from Egypt: “You in your loving-kindness have led the people whom you have recovered; you in your strength will certainly conduct them to your holy abiding place.” (Ex. 15:13) Later, that “abiding place” contained a temple with its priesthood and a capital city, Jerusalem, with a line of kings who descended from David and sat on Jehovah’s throne. (1 Chron. 29:23) Not without reason, Jesus called Jerusalem “the city of the great King.”—Matt. 5:35.
10 What about in our day? In 33 C.E., a new nation, “the Israel of God,” was born. (Gal. 6:16) That nation, made up of anointed brothers of Jesus Christ, fulfilled the task that fleshly Israel ultimately failed in, that of being witnesses to God’s name. (Isa. 43:10; 1 Pet. 2:9) To them, Jehovah made the same promise that he made to ancient Israel: “I shall be their God, and they will be my people.” (2 Cor. 6:16; Lev. 26:12) In 1919, Jehovah brought the remaining ones of “the Israel of God” into a favored position, and at that time, they took possession of a “land,” a spiritual realm of activity wherein they have enjoyed a spiritual paradise. (Isa. 66:8) Since the 1930’s, millions of “other sheep” have flocked to their side. (John 10:16) The happiness and spiritual prosperity of these modern-day Christians furnishes powerful evidence of the rightness of Jehovah’s sovereignty. (Read Psalm 91:1, 2.) How that infuriates Satan!
11 Throughout the time of the end, Satan has incited his earthly agents to oppose the anointed remnant and their other sheep companions. That happened in Western Europe under the Nazis and in Eastern Europe under the Communist government of the Soviet Union. It also happened in many other lands, and it will happen again, especially during the final attack of Gog of Magog. In that attack, opposers may greedily seize the property and possessions of Jehovah’s people, as enemies have done in the past.
PSALM 83:13)
“O my God, make them like a whirling thistle, Like stubble blown about by the wind.”
*** it-2 p. 1095 Thistle ***
THISTLE
[Heb., dar•darʹ; Gr. triʹbo•los].
Any of a variety of plants having prickly, irregular-edged leaves, tough stems, and bearing round or cylindrical heads that produce soft and silky purple, yellow, or white flowers. Adam, and later his descendants, had to contend with troublesome thistles when cultivating the cursed ground. (Ge 3:17, 18) Since their seeds are scattered by the wind, thistles readily gain a foothold in neglected and desolated areas. (See Ho 10:8.) Jesus Christ referred to thistles in illustrating that people, just like plants, are recognized by their fruits. (Mt 7:16) In Palestine it is not uncommon to see a number of star thistles being driven along as a rolling mass by fall winds, a feature perhaps alluded to at Psalm 83:13 and Isaiah 17:13.
PSALM 83:16)
“Cover their faces with dishonor, So that they may search for your name, O Jehovah.”
*** w08 10/15 p. 15 Jehovah’s Answer to a Heartfelt Prayer ***
Pray for Jehovah’s Vindication
16 Throughout these “last days,” Jehovah has thwarted all efforts to eliminate his people. (2 Tim. 3:1) As a result, opposers have been shamed. Psalm 83:16 foreshadowed this when it said: “Fill their faces with dishonor, that people may search for your name, O Jehovah.” In country after country, opponents have failed miserably in their effort to silence Jehovah’s Witnesses. In those lands, the steadfastness and endurance of worshippers of the one true God have served as a witness to righthearted ones, and many have ‘searched for Jehovah’s name.’ In a number of lands where Jehovah’s Witnesses were once viciously persecuted, there are now tens of thousands, even hundreds of thousands, of happy praisers of Jehovah. What a triumph for Jehovah! And how embarrassing for his enemies!—Read Jeremiah 1:19.
PSALM 83:17)
“May they be put to shame and be terrified forever; May they be disgraced and perish;”
*** w08 10/15 pp. 15-16 pars. 17-18 Jehovah’s Answer to a Heartfelt Prayer ***
17 We know, of course, that the battle is not over. And we continue to preach the good news—even to opposers. (Matt. 24:14, 21) However, the opportunity now open to such opposers to repent and gain salvation will soon come to an end. The sanctification of Jehovah’s name is far more important than human salvation. (Read Ezekiel 38:23.) When the nations combine in the foretold earth-wide effort to destroy God’s people, we will remember these words of the psalmist’s prayer: “O may they be ashamed and be disturbed for all times, and may they become abashed and perish.”—Ps. 83:17.
18 A humiliating end awaits determined opposers of Jehovah’s sovereignty. God’s Word reveals that those who “do not obey the good news”—and for this reason are executed at Armageddon—will suffer “everlasting destruction.” (2 Thess. 1:7-9)
PSALM 83:18)
“May people know that you, whose name is Jehovah, You alone are the Most High over all the earth.”
*** bh p. 195 The Divine Name—Its Use and Its Meaning ***
APPENDIX
The Divine Name—Its Use and Its Meaning
IN YOUR copy of the Bible, how is Psalm 83:18 translated? The New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures renders this verse: “May people know that you, whose name is Jehovah, you alone are the Most High over all the earth.” A number of other Bible translations give similar renderings. However, many translations leave out the name Jehovah, replacing it with such titles as “Lord” or “Eternal.” What belongs in this verse? A title or the name Jehovah?
This verse speaks about a name. In the original Hebrew in which much of the Bible was written, a unique personal name appears here. It is spelled יהוה (YHWH) in Hebrew letters. In English, the common rendering of that name is “Jehovah.” Does that name occur in only one Bible verse? No. It appears in the original text of the Hebrew Scriptures nearly 7,000 times!
*** w11 5/15 p. 16 Who Is the Most Important Person in Your Life? ***
“You alone are the Most High over all the earth.”—PS. 83:18.
PERHAPS the first time you saw Jehovah’s name was when it was shown to you at Psalm 83:18. You may have been surprised to read those words: “That people may know that you, whose name is Jehovah, you alone are the Most High over all the earth.” Since then, you no doubt have used this same scripture to help others come to know our loving God, Jehovah.—Rom. 10:12, 13.
2 Although it is important for people to know Jehovah’s name, such knowledge in itself is not enough. Notice how the psalmist highlights yet another truth essential to our salvation when he says: “You alone are the Most High over all the earth.” Yes, Jehovah is the most important Person in the whole universe. As the Creator of all things, he has the right to expect full submission from all his creatures. (Rev. 4:11)
*** w08 10/15 p. 16 pars. 18-19 Jehovah’s Answer to a Heartfelt Prayer ***
18 A humiliating end awaits determined opposers of Jehovah’s sovereignty. God’s Word reveals that those who “do not obey the good news”—and for this reason are executed at Armageddon—will suffer “everlasting destruction.” (2 Thess. 1:7-9) Their destruction and the survival of those who worship Jehovah in truth will be convincing evidence that Jehovah is the only true God. In the new world, that great victory will not be forgotten. Those who come back in the “resurrection of . . . the righteous and the unrighteous” will learn of Jehovah’s great act. (Acts 24:15) In the new world, they will see convincing evidence of the wisdom of living under Jehovah’s sovereignty. And meek ones among them will quickly be convinced that Jehovah is the only true God.
19 What a marvelous future our loving heavenly Father has prepared for his faithful worshippers! Are you not moved to pray that Jehovah will soon provide a final answer to the psalmist’s prayer to Jehovah: “May [your enemies] become abashed and perish; that people may know that you, whose name is Jehovah, you alone are the Most High over all the earth”?—Ps. 83:17, 18.
*** w97 10/1 p. 17 par. 6 Loyally Upholding God’s Inspired Word ***
At Psalm 83:18, The New English Bible and Today’s English Version eliminate both God’s personal name and any reference to the fact that God has a name.
*** w92 9/15 p. 32 They Knew God’s Name ***
A noteworthy feature of the Bay Psalm Book was the use of the divine name in some verses. Hence, anyone reading that publication as far back as some 350 years ago was in a position to know the name of our Creator. In that edition, for instance, Psalm 83:17, 18 reads: “Confounded let them ever be, and terriblie troubled: yea, let them be put unto shame, and bee extinguished. That men may know; that thou whose name IEHOVAH is only, art over all the earth throughout advanced the most high.”
PSALM 84:SUPERSCRIPTION)
“For the director; upon the Gitʹtith. Of the sons of Korʹah. A melody.”
*** it-1 p. 18 Abiasaph ***
It appears that Korah’s sons did not join their father in his rebellion, along with Dathan and Abiram, against Moses and Aaron. Hence, these sons did not die with their father at that time. (Nu 26:9-11) Thus, at a later period, we find reference made to “the sons of Korah” in the superscriptions of many of the Psalms (42, 44-49, 84, 85, 87, 88), although this term has, basically, the meaning of “the descendants of Korah,” or “the house of Korah.”
*** it-2 p. 680 Press ***
The expression “upon the Gittith” (rendered “winepresses” in the Greek Septuagint and the Latin Vulgate) appearing in the superscription of three Psalms (8, 81, 84) may indicate that they were songs associated with the vintage.
PSALM 84:1)
“How lovely your grand tabernacle is, O Jehovah of armies!”
*** w97 3/15 p. 8 Do You Long to Serve More Fully? ***
“Expectation postponed is making the heart sick,” acknowledges the book of Proverbs. (Proverbs 13:12) This may especially be so when others receive the very privileges that you hope for. Does God’s Word provide insight, comfort, and hope for any who experience such disappointments? Yes, it does. In fact, the 84th Psalm expresses the sentiments of a servant of Jehovah who had similar unfulfilled desires regarding Jehovah’s service.
A Levite’s Appreciation
The composers of the 84th Psalm were the sons of Korah, Levites who served at Jehovah’s temple and highly esteemed their service privileges. “How lovely your grand tabernacle is, O Jehovah of armies!” one of them exclaims. “My soul has yearned and also pined away for the courtyards of Jehovah. My own heart and my very flesh cry out joyfully to the living God.”—Psalm 84:1, 2.
PSALM 84:2)
“My whole being yearns, Yes, I am faint with longing, For the courtyards of Jehovah. My heart and my flesh shout joyfully to the living God.”
*** w97 3/15 p. 8 Do You Long to Serve More Fully? ***
“Expectation postponed is making the heart sick,” acknowledges the book of Proverbs. (Proverbs 13:12) This may especially be so when others receive the very privileges that you hope for. Does God’s Word provide insight, comfort, and hope for any who experience such disappointments? Yes, it does. In fact, the 84th Psalm expresses the sentiments of a servant of Jehovah who had similar unfulfilled desires regarding Jehovah’s service.
A Levite’s Appreciation
The composers of the 84th Psalm were the sons of Korah, Levites who served at Jehovah’s temple and highly esteemed their service privileges. “How lovely your grand tabernacle is, O Jehovah of armies!” one of them exclaims. “My soul has yearned and also pined away for the courtyards of Jehovah. My own heart and my very flesh cry out joyfully to the living God.”—Psalm 84:1, 2.
PSALM 84:3)
“Even the bird finds a home there And the swallow a nest for herself, Where she cares for her young Near your grand altar, O Jehovah of armies, My King and my God!”
*** it-2 p. 1046 Swallow ***
The psalmist, in proclaiming his yearning for the courtyards of Jehovah’s house, makes reference to the swallow’s finding a nest for herself in which to place her young—yes, right in the temple, evidently somewhere around Jehovah’s “grand altar.” (Ps 84:1-3) As a nonpriestly Levite, the psalmist served at the temple only one week every six months, but he knew that the swallow had a more permanent dwelling there. Thus he expressed his longing to be in the courtyards of Jehovah’s tabernacle as much as possible.
*** w97 3/15 pp. 8-9 Do You Long to Serve More Fully? ***
Because the psalmist was a nonpriestly Levite, he could serve at the temple for only one week every six months. (1 Chronicles 24:1-19; 2 Chronicles 23:8; Luke 1:5, 8, 9) The rest of his time was spent at home in one of the Levite cities. He therefore sang: “Even the bird itself has found a house, and the swallow a nest for herself, where she has put her young ones—your grand altar, O Jehovah of armies, my King and my God!” (Psalm 84:3) How happy the Levite would have been if he was like the birds that had a more permanent dwelling place at the temple!
It would have been easy for the Levite to give in to bitterness because he could not serve at the temple more often. However, he was pleased to serve as he could, and he surely realized that wholehearted devotion to Jehovah is worth the effort. What helped this faithful Levite to remain content with his service privileges?
*** w86 12/15 pp. 28-29 “Bless Jehovah”—Why? ***
84:3—Why mention birds?
The psalmist, a Levite descendant of Korah, longed to be at Jehovah’s “grand tabernacle.” (Verses 1, 2) But there were tens of thousands of Levites. Only once every half year would a division of Levites be assigned to serve a week at the tabernacle. In contrast, even small birds had a more permanent home at the sanctuary by their building nests there. How happy the psalmist would be to praise Jehovah by likewise dwelling permanently in Jehovah’s house!
PSALM 84:5)
“Happy are the men who find their strength in you, Whose hearts are set on the highways.”
*** w06 6/15 p. 15 Yes, You Can Find Happiness ***
The book of Psalms also mentions other things that make for happiness. One is the importance of relying on Jehovah’s strength rather than on oneself: “Happy are the men whose strength is in [Jehovah].”—Psalm 84:5.
Corinna can relate to this. She moved to a country where there was a great need in the ministry. “I encountered a new language, a new culture, and a new way of thinking. I felt as though I were on a different planet. I choked up at the thought of preaching in a strange environment. I asked Jehovah for help, and it was in his strength that I was able to preach all day in isolated territory. In time, doing so seemed to be the most natural thing in the world. I started many Bible studies, and I am still benefiting from this experience. I learned that in Jehovah’s strength, we can overcome even seemingly insurmountable obstacles.”
PSALM 84:6)
“When they pass through the Baʹca Valley, They make it into a place of springs; And the early rain clothes it with blessings.”
*** it-1 p. 241 Baca ***
BACA
(baʹca) [Heb., ba•khaʼʹ].
The plant that played an important role in David’s encounter with the Philistines “in the low plain of Rephaim.” (2Sa 5:22-25; 1Ch 14:13-16) The only other reference to the plant is at Psalm 84:6: “Passing along through the low plain of the baca bushes, they turn it into a spring itself.” This may refer to the same “low plain of Rephaim” where David’s fight took place and which plain is believed to be SW of Jerusalem.
*** w97 3/15 p. 8 Do You Long to Serve More Fully? ***
This Levite had such a longing to serve at Jehovah’s temple that even the ordinary scenery along the way to Jerusalem appeared attractive to him. “Passing along through the low plain of the baca bushes,” he says, “they turn it into a spring itself.” (Psalm 84:6) Yes, a normally dry area was like a well-watered region.
PSALM 84:10)
“For a day in your courtyards is better than a thousand anywhere else! I choose to stand at the threshold of the house of my God Rather than to dwell in the tents of wickedness.”
*** it-1 p. 1160 Humility ***
All, men and women, should be submissive to those taking the lead and should wait on Jehovah for any appointments or assignments to responsibility, for it is from him that promotion comes. (Ps 75:6, 7) As some of the Levite sons of Korah said: “I have chosen to stand at the threshold in the house of my God rather than to move around in the tents of wickedness.” (Ps 84:10) Such true humility takes time to develop.
*** w97 3/15 p. 9 Do You Long to Serve More Fully? ***
“A day in your courtyards is better than a thousand elsewhere,” says the Levite. “I have chosen to stand at the threshold in the house of my God rather than to move around in the tents of wickedness.” (Psalm 84:10) He appreciated that spending even one day at Jehovah’s house is an inestimable privilege. And the Levite had far more than one day to serve at the temple. His contentment with his privileges made him sing for joy.
What about us? Do we count our blessings, or do we tend to forget what we already have in Jehovah’s service? Because of their devotion to him, Jehovah has entrusted to his people a wide range of privileges and duties. These include the heavier responsibilities of oversight, shepherding, teaching, and various features of the full-time service. But they also involve other precious things having to do with Jehovah’s worship.
PSALM 84:11)
“For Jehovah God is a sun and a shield; He gives favor and glory. Jehovah will not hold back anything good From those walking in integrity.”
*** it-2 p. 1043 Sun ***
Jehovah God is called “a sun and a shield,” not that he is a nature god, but that he is the Source of light, life, and energy. (Ps 84:11)
*** w09 5/1 p. 14 Word Pictures in the Bible—Do You Understand Them? ***
For example, Psalm 84:11 speaks of Jehovah as “a sun and a shield” because he is the Source of light, life, energy, and protection.
PSALM 84:12)
“O Jehovah of armies, Happy is the man who trusts in you.”
*** w97 3/15 p. 11 Do You Long to Serve More Fully? ***
With prayerful reliance upon Jehovah, you can balance your longing for additional privileges with contentment with those you now enjoy. Never let the desire to do more rob you of appreciation for what you have now and the joy of serving Jehovah forever. Trust in Jehovah, for this results in happiness, as shown in the Levite’s words: “O Jehovah of armies, happy is the man that is trusting in you.”—Psalm 84:12.
PSALM 85:SUPERSCRIPTION)
“For the director. Of the sons of Korʹah. A melody.”
*** it-1 p. 18 Abiasaph ***
It appears that Korah’s sons did not join their father in his rebellion, along with Dathan and Abiram, against Moses and Aaron. Hence, these sons did not die with their father at that time. (Nu 26:9-11) Thus, at a later period, we find reference made to “the sons of Korah” in the superscriptions of many of the Psalms (42, 44-49, 84, 85, 87, 88), although this term has, basically, the meaning of “the descendants of Korah,” or “the house of Korah.”
PSALM 85:10)
“Loyal love and faithfulness will meet together; Righteousness and peace will kiss each other.”
*** it-2 p. 177 Kiss ***
Persons responding favorably and submitting to the one God appoints as King and his Kingdom will realize great blessings when it can be said: “Righteousness and peace—they have kissed each other,” because the connection of the two will be as evident to all as is the close association of affectionate friends.—Ps 85:10.
PSALM 86:1)
“Incline your ear, O Jehovah, and answer me, For I am afflicted and poor.”
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Afflicted but Loyal
3 David wrote this psalm when under affliction. We today, who are living through “the last days” of Satan’s system, these “critical times hard to deal with,” face similar trials. (2 Timothy 3:1; see also Matthew 24:9-13.) Like us, David suffered anxieties and depression because of the problems bearing in upon him. But he never permitted those trials to weaken his loyal trust in his Creator. He cried out: “Incline, O Jehovah, your ear. Answer me, for I am afflicted and poor. O do guard my soul, for I am loyal. Save your servant—you are my God—that is trusting in you.”—Psalm 86:1, 2.
4 We can be confident, as David was, that “the God of all comfort,” Jehovah, will turn his ear to this earth and listen to our humble prayers. (2 Corinthians 1:3, 4) Trusting implicitly in our God, we can follow David’s advice: “Throw your burden upon Jehovah himself, and he himself will sustain you. Never will he allow the righteous one to totter.”—Psalm 55:22.
PSALM 86:2)
“Guard my life, for I am loyal. Save your servant who is trusting in you, For you are my God.”
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Afflicted but Loyal
3 David wrote this psalm when under affliction. We today, who are living through “the last days” of Satan’s system, these “critical times hard to deal with,” face similar trials. (2 Timothy 3:1; see also Matthew 24:9-13.) Like us, David suffered anxieties and depression because of the problems bearing in upon him. But he never permitted those trials to weaken his loyal trust in his Creator. He cried out: “Incline, O Jehovah, your ear. Answer me, for I am afflicted and poor. O do guard my soul, for I am loyal. Save your servant—you are my God—that is trusting in you.”—Psalm 86:1, 2.
4 We can be confident, as David was, that “the God of all comfort,” Jehovah, will turn his ear to this earth and listen to our humble prayers. (2 Corinthians 1:3, 4) Trusting implicitly in our God, we can follow David’s advice: “Throw your burden upon Jehovah himself, and he himself will sustain you. Never will he allow the righteous one to totter.”—Psalm 55:22.
PSALM 86:3)
“Show me favor, O Jehovah, For I call to you all day long.”
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6 The prayer of David continues: “Show me favor, O Jehovah, for to you I keep calling all day long. Make the soul of your servant rejoice, for to you, O Jehovah, I lift up my very soul.” (Psalm 86:3, 4) Note that David kept calling on Jehovah “all day long.” Indeed, he often prayed through the night, as when he was a fugitive in the wilderness. (Psalm 63:6, 7) Similarly today, some Witnesses when threatened with rape or other criminal assault have cried aloud to Jehovah. At times they have been surprised at the happy result. Jehovah’s name is precious to us, even as it was to “Jesus Christ, son of David,” when he was on earth. Jesus taught his disciples to pray for the sanctification of Jehovah’s name and made known to them what the name stands for.—Matthew 1:1; 6:9; John 17:6, 25, 26.
7 David lifted up his soul, his entire self, to Jehovah. He encourages us to do likewise, saying at Psalm 37:5: “Roll upon Jehovah your way, and rely upon him, and he himself will act.” Thus our plea to Jehovah for him to make our soul rejoice will not go unanswered. Many integrity-keeping servants of Jehovah continue to find great joy in his service—despite hardships, persecutions, and illnesses. Our brothers in war-torn areas in Africa, such as Angola, Liberia, Mozambique, and Zaire, have continued to place Jehovah’s service first in their lives. He has truly caused them to rejoice in a bounteous spiritual harvest. As they have endured, so must we. (Romans 5:3-5) And as we endure, we are assured: “The vision is yet for the appointed time, and it keeps panting on to the end . . . It will not be late.” (Habakkuk 2:3) With complete confidence and trust in Jehovah, may we also keep “panting on to the end.”
PSALM 86:4)
“Make your servant rejoice, For to you, O Jehovah, I turn.”
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6 The prayer of David continues: “Show me favor, O Jehovah, for to you I keep calling all day long. Make the soul of your servant rejoice, for to you, O Jehovah, I lift up my very soul.” (Psalm 86:3, 4) Note that David kept calling on Jehovah “all day long.” Indeed, he often prayed through the night, as when he was a fugitive in the wilderness. (Psalm 63:6, 7) Similarly today, some Witnesses when threatened with rape or other criminal assault have cried aloud to Jehovah. At times they have been surprised at the happy result. Jehovah’s name is precious to us, even as it was to “Jesus Christ, son of David,” when he was on earth. Jesus taught his disciples to pray for the sanctification of Jehovah’s name and made known to them what the name stands for.—Matthew 1:1; 6:9; John 17:6, 25, 26.
7 David lifted up his soul, his entire self, to Jehovah. He encourages us to do likewise, saying at Psalm 37:5: “Roll upon Jehovah your way, and rely upon him, and he himself will act.” Thus our plea to Jehovah for him to make our soul rejoice will not go unanswered. Many integrity-keeping servants of Jehovah continue to find great joy in his service—despite hardships, persecutions, and illnesses. Our brothers in war-torn areas in Africa, such as Angola, Liberia, Mozambique, and Zaire, have continued to place Jehovah’s service first in their lives. He has truly caused them to rejoice in a bounteous spiritual harvest. As they have endured, so must we. (Romans 5:3-5) And as we endure, we are assured: “The vision is yet for the appointed time, and it keeps panting on to the end . . . It will not be late.” (Habakkuk 2:3) With complete confidence and trust in Jehovah, may we also keep “panting on to the end.”
PSALM 86:5)
“For you, O Jehovah, are good and ready to forgive; You abound in loyal love for all those who call on you.”
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At Psalm 86:5, Jehovah is said to be “good and ready to forgive.” When that psalm was translated into Greek, the expression “ready to forgive” was rendered e•pi•ei•kesʹ, or “reasonable.”
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86:5. How grateful we can be that Jehovah is “ready to forgive”! He is on the lookout for any evidence that would provide a basis for him to show mercy to a repentant wrongdoer.
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Then, Jesus’ parable teaches us that Jehovah is “ready to forgive.” (Psalm 86:5) He is on the lookout, as it were, to observe any change of heart on the part of sinful humans that would provide a basis for him to extend mercy.—2 Chronicles 12:12; 16:9.
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“Ready to Forgive”
9 David wrote: “For you, O Jehovah, are good and ready to forgive; and the loving-kindness to all those calling upon you is abundant.” (Psalm 86:5) When the Hebrew Scriptures were translated into Greek, the word for “ready to forgive” was rendered e•pi•ei•kesʹ, or “reasonable.” Indeed, being ready to forgive and show mercy is perhaps the key way to demonstrate reasonableness.
10 David himself was well aware of how reasonable Jehovah is in this regard. When David committed adultery with Bath-sheba and arranged to have her husband killed, both he and Bath-sheba were liable to the death penalty. (Deuteronomy 22:22; 2 Samuel 11:2-27) If rigid human judges had handled the case, both might well have lost their lives. But Jehovah showed reasonableness (e•pi•ei•kesʹ), which, as Vine’s Expository Dictionary of Biblical Words puts it, “expresses that considerateness that looks ‘humanely and reasonably at the facts of a case.’” The facts that influenced Jehovah’s merciful decision likely included the sincere repentance of the wrongdoers and the mercy that David himself had previously shown in behalf of others. (1 Samuel 24:4-6; 25:32-35; 26:7-11; Matthew 5:7; James 2:13) However, in line with Jehovah’s description of himself at Exodus 34:4-7, it was reasonable that Jehovah would give David correction. He sent the prophet Nathan to David with a strong message, impressing David with the fact that he had despised the word of Jehovah. David repented and so did not die for his sin.—2 Samuel 12:1-14.
11 The example of King Manasseh of Judah is more remarkable in this regard, since Manasseh, unlike David, was thoroughly wicked for a long time. Manasseh promoted disgusting religious practices in the land, including human sacrifice. He may also have been responsible for having the faithful prophet Isaiah “sawn asunder.” (Hebrews 11:37) To punish Manasseh, Jehovah allowed him to be carried off as a captive to Babylon. However, Manasseh repented in prison and pleaded for mercy. In response to this sincere repentance, Jehovah was “ready to forgive”—even in this extreme case.—2 Chronicles 33:9-13.
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“Ready to Forgive”
4 Like his Father, Jesus showed reasonableness by being “ready to forgive” over and over again. (Psalm 86:5) Consider the time when Peter, a close companion, denied Jesus three times on the night of Jesus’ arrest and trial. Jesus himself had earlier stated: “Whoever disowns me before men, I will also disown him before my Father.” (Matthew 10:33) Did Jesus rigidly and mercilessly apply this rule to Peter? No; after His resurrection, Jesus paid Peter a personal visit, no doubt to comfort and reassure this repentant, brokenhearted apostle. (Luke 24:34; 1 Corinthians 15:5) Shortly thereafter, Jesus permitted Peter to have great responsibility. (Acts 2:1-41) Here was sweet reasonableness at its very best! Is it not comforting to think that Jehovah has appointed Jesus as Judge over all mankind?—Isaiah 11:1-4; John 5:22.
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10 The book of Psalms refers to Jehovah’s “loving-kindness” over a hundred times. Such loving-kindness is surely abundant! In its first four verses, the 118th Psalm appeals to God’s servants to thank Jehovah, repeating four times “for his loving-kindness is to time indefinite.” The 136th Psalm emphasizes the endearing quality of “his loving-kindness” 26 times. In whatever ways we err—and as James 3:2 says, “we all stumble many times”—may we be ready to seek Jehovah’s forgiveness, confident of his mercy and loving-kindness. His loving-kindness is an expression of his loyal love toward us. If we loyally continue to do God’s will, he will show his loyal love in strengthening us to cope with every trial.—1 Corinthians 10:13.
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Psalm 86:5
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Jehovah’s Goodness
8 David makes the further impassioned plea: “You, O Jehovah, are good and ready to forgive; and the loving-kindness to all those calling upon you is abundant.
PSALM 86:6)
“Listen, O Jehovah, to my prayer; And pay attention to my pleas for help.”
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Do give ear, O Jehovah, to my prayer; and do pay attention to the voice of my entreaties.
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Psalm 86:5-
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9 Should we fret over past mistakes? If we are now making straight paths for our feet, we are buoyed up when we recall the apostle Peter’s assurance to repentant ones that “seasons of refreshing” will come from Jehovah. (Acts 3:19) Let us keep close to Jehovah in prayer through our Ransomer, Jesus, who lovingly said: “Come to me, all you who are toiling and loaded down, and I will refresh you. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am mild-tempered and lowly in heart, and you will find refreshment for your souls.” As loyal Witnesses pray to Jehovah today in Jesus’ precious name, they do indeed find refreshment.—Matthew 11:28, 29; John 15:16.
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13 Doubtless, David instilled in his son Solomon’s heart the need to rely on Jehovah’s goodness. Thus, Solomon could instruct his own son: “Trust in Jehovah with all your heart and do not lean upon your own understanding. In all your ways take notice of him, and he himself will make your paths straight. Do not become wise in your own eyes. Fear Jehovah and turn away from bad.” (Proverbs 3:5-7) Parents today should likewise teach their little ones how to pray trustingly to Jehovah and how to cope with the assaults of a heartless world—such as peer pressure at school and temptations to commit immorality. Living the truth with your children each day can impress on their young hearts real love for Jehovah and prayerful reliance on him.—Deuteronomy 6:4-9; 11:18, 19.
PSALM 86:7)
“I call on you in the day of my distress, For you will answer me.”
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In the day of my distress I will call upon you, for you will answer me.” (Psalm 86:5-7)
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11 There may be occasions when we are stumbled by others. Emotional or physical abuse during childhood has left some with feelings of guilt or of utter unworthiness. Such a victim may call to Jehovah, confident that he will answer. (Psalm 55:16, 17) A kindly elder may take an interest in helping such a one to accept the fact that it was not the victim’s fault. Thereafter, a periodic friendly phone call by the elder can help that one until he (or she) is able at last to ‘carry the burden.’—Galatians 6:2, 5.
12 There are many other distressing circumstances that Jehovah’s people have to contend with today. Starting with World War I in 1914, major calamities began to afflict this earth. As foretold by Jesus, they were “a beginning of pangs of distress.” Distresses have multiplied as we have progressed deeper into “the conclusion of the system of things.” (Matthew 24:3, 8) The Devil’s “short period of time” is winding down toward its climactic end. (Revelation 12:12) “Like a roaring lion” in search of prey, that great Adversary is using every available subterfuge to separate us from the flock of God and destroy us. (1 Peter 5:8) But he will not succeed! For, like David, we anchor our trust completely in our one God, Jehovah.
13 Doubtless, David instilled in his son Solomon’s heart the need to rely on Jehovah’s goodness. Thus, Solomon could instruct his own son: “Trust in Jehovah with all your heart and do not lean upon your own understanding. In all your ways take notice of him, and he himself will make your paths straight. Do not become wise in your own eyes. Fear Jehovah and turn away from bad.” (Proverbs 3:5-7) Parents today should likewise teach their little ones how to pray trustingly to Jehovah and how to cope with the assaults of a heartless world—such as peer pressure at school and temptations to commit immorality. Living the truth with your children each day can impress on their young hearts real love for Jehovah and prayerful reliance on him.—Deuteronomy 6:4-9; 11:18, 19.
PSALM 86:8)
“There is none like you among the gods, O Jehovah, There are no works like yours.”
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Jehovah’s Incomparable Works
14 With deep conviction David says: “There is none like you among the gods, O Jehovah, neither are there any works like yours.” (Psalm 86:8) Jehovah’s works are greater, grander, more majestic, than any human could even imagine. As glimpsed by modern science, the created universe—its vastness, its harmony, its magnificence—has proved to be far more stupendous than anything David perceived. Yet, even he was moved to say: “The heavens are declaring the glory of God; and of the work of his hands the expanse is telling.”—Psalm 19:1.
15 Jehovah’s works are wonderfully portrayed, too, in the way that he positioned and prepared the earth, providing for day and night, the seasons, seedtime and harvest, and a multitude of delights for future human enjoyment. And how wonderfully we ourselves are made and equipped, so that we are able to enjoy Jehovah’s works that surround us!—Genesis 2:7-9; 8:22; Psalm 139:14.
16 After our first parents had disobeyed God, triggering the distresses that plague the earth to this day, Jehovah out of his love performed a wondrous work in sending his Son to earth to proclaim God’s Kingdom and to die as a ransom for mankind. And wonder of wonders! Jehovah then resurrected Christ to become his associate King-elect. (Matthew 20:28; Acts 2:32, 34) From loyal humans God has also chosen “a new creation” that will rule with Christ as a benevolent “new heaven” over “a new earth” society that will include billions of resurrected humans. (2 Corinthians 5:17; Revelation 21:1, 5-7; 1 Corinthians 15:22-26) Jehovah’s works will thus move on to a glorious climax! Truly, we can exclaim: “O Jehovah, . . . how abundant your goodness is, which you have treasured up for those fearing you!”—Psalm 31:17-19.
PSALM 86:9)
“All the nations that you made Will come and bow down before you, O Jehovah, And they will give glory to your name.”
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17 Jehovah’s present-day works include what David describes at Psalm 86:9: “All the nations whom you have made will themselves come, and they will bow down before you, O Jehovah, and will give glory to your name.” After calling out from among mankind the remaining ones of his new creation, the “little flock” of Kingdom heirs, Jehovah has proceeded to gather from among “all nations” “a great crowd” of “other sheep,” millions who also exercise faith in Jesus’ shed blood. These he has built into a dynamic organization, the only global society of peace lovers on earth today. Observing this, the heavenly hosts prostrate themselves before Jehovah, declaring: “The blessing and the glory and the wisdom and the thanksgiving and the honor and the power and the strength be to our God forever and ever.” The great crowd also glorifies Jehovah’s name, serving him “day and night,” with the hope of surviving this world’s end and living forever on a paradise earth.—Luke 12:32; Revelation 7:9-17; John 10:16.
PSALM 86:10)
“For you are great and do wondrous things; You are God, you alone.”
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Jehovah’s Greatness
18 David next calls attention to Jehovah’s Godship, saying: “You are great and are doing wondrous things; you are God, you alone.” (Psalm 86:10) From of old, Jehovah has been demonstrating that he is, indeed, ‘God alone.’ It was a tyrannical Pharaoh of Egypt who defiantly challenged Moses: “Who is Jehovah, so that I should obey his voice to send Israel away? I do not know Jehovah at all.” But he soon got to learn how great Jehovah is! Almighty God humiliated Egypt’s gods and magic-practicing priests by sending catastrophic plagues, slaying Egypt’s firstborn sons, and annihilating Pharaoh and his elite army in the Red Sea. Truly, there is no one like Jehovah among the gods!—Exodus 5:2; 15:11, 12.
19 As God alone, Jehovah has proceeded to do wondrous things in preparation for delivering his obedient worshipers from modern Egypt—Satan’s world. He has had his divine judgments proclaimed in all the earth as a witness by means of the most extensive preaching campaign in all history, thus fulfilling Jesus’ prophecy at Matthew 24:14. Shortly, “the end” must come, when Jehovah will demonstrate his greatness on an unprecedented scale by wiping out all wickedness on earth. (Psalm 145:20) Then the song of Moses and the song of the Lamb will reach a crescendo: “Great and wonderful are your works, Jehovah God, the Almighty. Righteous and true are your ways, King of eternity. Who will not really fear you, Jehovah, and glorify your name, because you alone are loyal?”—Revelation 15:3, 4.
20 May we for our part be zealous in talking to others about these magnificent purposes of God. (Compare Acts 2:11.) Jehovah will continue to do great and wondrous things in our day and on into the future, as our next article will describe.
PSALM 86:11)
“Instruct me, O Jehovah, about your way. I will walk in your truth. Unify my heart to fear your name.”
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Serving With “a Complete Heart.” The literal heart must be whole to function normally, but the figurative heart can be divided. David prayed: “Unify my heart to fear your name,” suggesting that a person’s heart could be divided with regard to its affections and fears. (Ps 86:11)
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11 Psalm 86:11 draws attention to another important factor, that of prayer. “Instruct me, O Jehovah, about your way. I shall walk in your truth,” prayed the psalmist. “Unify my heart to fear your name.” Jehovah approved of that prayer, for he had it recorded in the Bible. To cultivate godly fear, we too need to pray to Jehovah for his help, and we will benefit by praying earnestly and frequently.—Luke 18:1-8.
Your Heart Is Involved
12 There is something else that we ought to notice at Psalm 86:11. The psalmist was not asking simply for an intellectual grasp of the fear of God. He mentions his heart. The cultivating of godly fear involves the figurative heart, which requires special attention because it is the inner person as manifest in all our activities of life and includes our thoughts, our attitudes, our desires, our motivations, our goals.
13 The Bible warns us that a person’s heart may be divided. It can be treacherous. (Psalm 12:2; Jeremiah 17:9) It may motivate us to share in wholesome activities—going to congregation meetings and out in the field ministry—but it may also love certain aspects of the world’s way of life. This may hold us back from being truly whole-souled in promoting Kingdom interests. Then the treacherous heart may try to persuade us that, after all, we are doing as much as many others. Or perhaps in school or at our place of secular work, the heart may be influenced by fear of man. As a result, in those surroundings we may hesitate to identify ourselves as Jehovah’s Witnesses and may even do things that are not appropriate for Christians. Afterward, however, our conscience bothers us. That is not the sort of person we want to be. With the psalmist, therefore, we pray to Jehovah: “Unify my heart to fear your name.” We want the entire inner person, as manifest in all our activities of life, to give evidence that we “fear the true God and keep his commandments.”—Ecclesiastes 12:13.
PSALM 86:12)
“I praise you, O Jehovah my God, with all my heart, And I will glorify your name forever,”
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11 How fervent is David’s prayer! He continues: “I laud you, O Jehovah my God, with all my heart, and I will glorify your name to time indefinite, for your loving-kindness is great toward me, and you have delivered my soul out of Sheol, its lowest place.” (Psalm 86:12, 13) For the second time in this psalm, David praises Jehovah for His loving-kindness—His loyal love. So great is this love that it can save in seemingly impossible situations. When Saul was hounding him in the wilderness, David may have felt like crawling into a corner to die. It was like coming face-to-face with the lowest Sheol—the depths of the grave. But Jehovah delivered him! In like manner, Jehovah has often brought relief to his modern-day servants in marvelous ways, and he has also sustained integrity keepers who have endured faithfully even to death. All loyal ones will have their reward, even by a resurrection if necessary.—Compare Job 1:6-12; 2:1-6, 9, 10; 27:5; 42:10; Proverbs 27:11; Matthew 24:9, 13; Revelation 2:10.
PSALM 86:13)
“For your loyal love toward me is great, And you have saved my life from the depths of the Grave.”
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11 How fervent is David’s prayer! He continues: “I laud you, O Jehovah my God, with all my heart, and I will glorify your name to time indefinite, for your loving-kindness is great toward me, and you have delivered my soul out of Sheol, its lowest place.” (Psalm 86:12, 13) For the second time in this psalm, David praises Jehovah for His loving-kindness—His loyal love. So great is this love that it can save in seemingly impossible situations. When Saul was hounding him in the wilderness, David may have felt like crawling into a corner to die. It was like coming face-to-face with the lowest Sheol—the depths of the grave. But Jehovah delivered him! In like manner, Jehovah has often brought relief to his modern-day servants in marvelous ways, and he has also sustained integrity keepers who have endured faithfully even to death. All loyal ones will have their reward, even by a resurrection if necessary.—Compare Job 1:6-12; 2:1-6, 9, 10; 27:5; 42:10; Proverbs 27:11; Matthew 24:9, 13; Revelation 2:10.
PSALM 86:14)
“O God, presumptuous men rise up against me; A band of ruthless men seek to take my life, And they have no regard for you.”
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12 Concerning persecutors David cries out: “O God, the presumptuous ones themselves have risen up against me; and the very assembly of tyrannical ones have looked for my soul, and they have not set you in front of themselves.” (Psalm 86:14) Today, the persecutors have included clergymen of Christendom. These ones presume to worship God but replace his holy name by the title “Lord” and present him as a mysterious Trinity that is actually mentioned nowhere in the Bible. How presumptuous! Added to this, they try to persuade the political powers to outlaw and imprison Jehovah’s Witnesses, as is still being done in a surprisingly large number of countries around the earth. These berobed blasphemers of God’s name will reap their reward, along with all harlotlike sectors of Babylon the Great.—Revelation 17:1, 2, 15-18; 19:1-3.
PSALM 86:15)
“But you, O Jehovah, are a God merciful and compassionate, Slow to anger and abundant in loyal love and faithfulness.”
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13 In happy contrast David’s prayer continues: “But you, O Jehovah, are a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abundant in loving-kindness and trueness.” (Psalm 86:15) Superlative, indeed, are such qualities of our God. These words take us back to Mount Sinai when Moses asked to see Jehovah’s glory. Jehovah replied: “I myself shall cause all my goodness to pass before your face, and I will declare the name of Jehovah before you.” But he warned Moses: “You are not able to see my face, because no man may see me and yet live.” Thereafter, Jehovah came down in the cloud, proclaiming: “Jehovah, Jehovah, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abundant in loving-kindness and truth.” (Exodus 33:18-20; 34:5, 6) David quoted these words in his prayer. Such qualities of Jehovah mean far more to us than any physical appearance!
PSALM 86:16)
“Turn to me and show me favor. Give your strength to your servant, And save the son of your slave girl.”
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In one of his psalms, David refers to himself as the son of Jehovah’s “slave girl.” (Psalm 86:16) This has led some to conclude that David’s mother, unnamed in the Bible, also had a positive influence on his spirituality. “It was most likely from her lips,” says one scholar, “that he first heard the wondrous story of God’s former dealings with his people,” including the history of Ruth and Boaz.
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“A Sign Meaning Goodness”
14 David again implores Jehovah’s blessing, saying: “Turn to me and show me favor. Do give your strength to your servant, and do save the son of your slave girl. Work out with me a sign meaning goodness, that those hating me may see it and be ashamed. For you yourself, O Jehovah, have helped me and comforted me.” (Psalm 86:16, 17) David recognizes that as ‘the son of Jehovah’s slave girl,’ he too must belong to Jehovah. It is the same with all of us today who have dedicated our lives to Jehovah and who slave in his service. We need Jehovah’s saving strength through his holy spirit. Hence, we ask our God to work out with us “a sign meaning goodness.” Jehovah’s goodness embraces the fine qualities we have just discussed. On this basis, what sign, or token, can we expect Jehovah to give us?
15 Jehovah is the Giver of “every good gift and every perfect present” and is generous, as Jesus assures us, in giving “holy spirit to those asking him.” (James 1:17; Luke 11:13) Holy spirit—what a priceless gift from Jehovah! Through holy spirit, Jehovah provides joy of heart, even in time of persecution. Thus, Jesus’ apostles, when on trial for their lives, could joyfully declare that God gives holy spirit to those obeying him as ruler. (Acts 5:27-32) Joy of holy spirit continually worked out with them “a sign meaning goodness.”—Romans 14:17, 18.
16 During the course of their missionary journey through Asia Minor, Paul and Barnabas met up with hardships, even severe persecution. When they preached in Antioch of Pisidia, the Jews rejected their message. Hence, they turned to people of the nations. What resulted? “When those of the nations heard this, they began to rejoice and to glorify the word of Jehovah, and all those who were rightly disposed for everlasting life became believers.” But the Jews caused an uproar, so that those missionaries were thrown out of the country. Were they and the new believers despondent about this? By no means! Rather, “the disciples continued to be filled with joy and holy spirit.” (Acts 13:48, 52) Jehovah gave them that sign of his goodness.
17 Later, the new congregation in Thessalonica was subjected to persecution. This led the apostle Paul to write a letter of comfort, commending their endurance under tribulation. They had “accepted the word under much tribulation with joy of holy spirit.” (1 Thessalonians 1:6) “Joy of holy spirit” continued to strengthen them as an evident sign from the God who is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abundant in loving-kindness and trueness.
18 In recent times, Jehovah has expressed his goodness toward our faithful brothers in Eastern Europe, shaming those who have hated them—their former persecutors. Though recently relieved from decades of oppression, these dear brothers still have to endure, for many are faced with severe economic hardships. However, their “joy of holy spirit” comforts them. What greater joy could they have than in using their newfound freedoms in expanding the witness? Many people are listening to them, as reports on conventions and baptisms reveal.—Compare Acts 9:31.
PSALM 86:17)
“Show me a sign of your goodness, So that those who hate me may see it and be put to shame. For you, O Jehovah, are my helper and comforter.”
*** w93 4/15 p. 31 Do You Remember? ***
What is the “sign meaning goodness” that Jehovah works out for Jesus’ footstep followers? (Psalm 86:17)
It was “joy of holy spirit” that strengthened early Christians to endure the various forms of persecution that befell them. (1 Thessalonians 1:6) It is the same today, and Jehovah, the Giver of “every good gift and every perfect present,” is pleased to “give holy spirit to those asking him.” (James 1:17; Luke 11:13) So it is joy of holy spirit that works out for Jesus’ followers “a sign meaning goodness.”—12/15, pages 18-19.
*** w92 12/15 pp. 17-19 Walking With a Unified Heart ***
“A Sign Meaning Goodness”
14 David again implores Jehovah’s blessing, saying: “Turn to me and show me favor. Do give your strength to your servant, and do save the son of your slave girl. Work out with me a sign meaning goodness, that those hating me may see it and be ashamed. For you yourself, O Jehovah, have helped me and comforted me.” (Psalm 86:16, 17) David recognizes that as ‘the son of Jehovah’s slave girl,’ he too must belong to Jehovah. It is the same with all of us today who have dedicated our lives to Jehovah and who slave in his service. We need Jehovah’s saving strength through his holy spirit. Hence, we ask our God to work out with us “a sign meaning goodness.” Jehovah’s goodness embraces the fine qualities we have just discussed. On this basis, what sign, or token, can we expect Jehovah to give us?
15 Jehovah is the Giver of “every good gift and every perfect present” and is generous, as Jesus assures us, in giving “holy spirit to those asking him.” (James 1:17; Luke 11:13) Holy spirit—what a priceless gift from Jehovah! Through holy spirit, Jehovah provides joy of heart, even in time of persecution. Thus, Jesus’ apostles, when on trial for their lives, could joyfully declare that God gives holy spirit to those obeying him as ruler. (Acts 5:27-32) Joy of holy spirit continually worked out with them “a sign meaning goodness.”—Romans 14:17, 18.
16 During the course of their missionary journey through Asia Minor, Paul and Barnabas met up with hardships, even severe persecution. When they preached in Antioch of Pisidia, the Jews rejected their message. Hence, they turned to people of the nations. What resulted? “When those of the nations heard this, they began to rejoice and to glorify the word of Jehovah, and all those who were rightly disposed for everlasting life became believers.” But the Jews caused an uproar, so that those missionaries were thrown out of the country. Were they and the new believers despondent about this? By no means! Rather, “the disciples continued to be filled with joy and holy spirit.” (Acts 13:48, 52) Jehovah gave them that sign of his goodness.
17 Later, the new congregation in Thessalonica was subjected to persecution. This led the apostle Paul to write a letter of comfort, commending their endurance under tribulation. They had “accepted the word under much tribulation with joy of holy spirit.” (1 Thessalonians 1:6) “Joy of holy spirit” continued to strengthen them as an evident sign from the God who is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abundant in loving-kindness and trueness.
18 In recent times, Jehovah has expressed his goodness toward our faithful brothers in Eastern Europe, shaming those who have hated them—their former persecutors. Though recently relieved from decades of oppression, these dear brothers still have to endure, for many are faced with severe economic hardships. However, their “joy of holy spirit” comforts them. What greater joy could they have than in using their newfound freedoms in expanding the witness? Many people are listening to them, as reports on conventions and baptisms reveal.—Compare Acts 9:31.

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