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Study information for the book: Draw Close to Jehovah
“THE TENDER COMPASSION OF OUR GOD”
9, 10. (a) Why did Jehovah repeatedly deliver the Israelites after they were settled in the Promised Land? (b) In the days of Jephthah, Jehovah delivered the Israelites from what oppression, and what moved him to do so?9 Jehovah’s compassion did not stop there. When settled in the Promised Land, Israel repeatedly lapsed into unfaithfulness and suffered as a result. But then the people would come to their senses and call out to Jehovah. Again and again he delivered them. Why? “Because he felt compassion for his people.”—2 Chronicles 36:15;Judges 2:11-16.
par. 9 (2 Chron. 36:15) Jehovah the God of their forefathers kept warning them by means of his messengers, warning them again and again, because he felt compassion for his people and for his dwelling place.
par. 9 (Judg. 2:11-16) So the Israelites did what was bad in the eyes of Jehovah and served the Ba′als.12 Thus they abandoned Jehovah, the God of their fathers, who brought them out of the land of Egypt. And they followed other gods, the gods of the peoples who were all around them, and they bowed down to them and offended Jehovah. 13 They abandoned Jehovah and served Ba′al and the Ash′to•reth images. 14 At this Jehovah’s anger blazed against Israel, so he handed them over to plunderers who pillaged them. He sold them into the hand of the enemies around them, and they were no longer able to hold their own against their enemies. 15 Wherever they went, the hand of Jehovah was against them, bringing disaster on them, just as Jehovah had said and just as Jehovah had sworn to them, and they were in great distress. 16 So Jehovah would raise up judges who would save them from the hand of their plunderers.
10 Consider what happened in the days of Jephthah. Since the Israelites had turned to serving false gods, Jehovah allowed them to be oppressed by the Ammonites for 18 years. Finally, the Israelites repented. The Bible tells us: “They began to remove the foreign gods from their midst and to serve Jehovah, so that his soul became impatient because of the trouble of Israel.”* (Judges 10:6-16) Once his people manifested genuine repentance, Jehovah could no longer bear to see them suffer. So the God of tender compassion empowered Jephthah to deliver the Israelites out of the hands of their enemies.—Judges 11:30-33.
par. 10 (Judg. 11:30-33) Then Jeph′thah made a vow to Jehovah and said: “If you give the Am′mon•ites into my hand, 31 then whoever comes out of the door of my house to meet me when I return in peace from the Am′mon•ites will become Jehovah’s, and I will offer that one up as a burnt offering.” 32 So Jeph′thah went to fight against the Am′mon•ites, and Jehovah gave them into his hand. 33 He struck them down with a very great slaughter from A•ro′er all the way to Min′nith—20 cities—and as far as A′bel-ker′a•mim. Thus the Am′mon•ites were subdued before the Israelites.
par. 10 The expression “his soul became impatient” literally means “his soul was shortened; his patience was exhausted.” The New English Bible reads: “He could endure no longer to see the plight of Israel.” Tanakh—A New Translation of the Holy Scriptures renders it: “He could not bear the miseries of Israel.”
11. From Jehovah’s dealings with the Israelites, what do we learn about compassion?11 What do Jehovah’s dealings with the nation of Israel teach us about tender compassion? For one thing, we see that it is more than just a sympathetic awareness of the adversities that people experience. Recall the example of a mother whose compassion moves her to respond to the crying of her baby. Similarly, Jehovah is not deaf to the outcries of his people. His tender compassion moves him to relieve their suffering. In addition, the way Jehovah dealt with the Israelites teaches us that compassion is by no means a weakness, for this tender quality moved him to take strong, decisive action in behalf of his people. But does Jehovah show compassion only to his servants as a group?
Jehovah’s Compassion for Individuals
12. How did the Law reflect Jehovah’s compassion for individuals?12 The Law that God gave to the nation of Israel showed his compassion for individuals. Take, for example, his concern for the poor. Jehovah knew that unforeseen circumstances might arise that could plunge an Israelite into poverty. How were poor ones to be treated? Jehovah strictly commanded the Israelites: “You must not harden your heart or be closefisted toward your poor brother. You should by all means give to him, and your heart should not be stingy in your giving to him, because on this account Jehovah your God will bless you in every deed of yours.” (Deuteronomy 15:7, 10) Jehovah further commanded that the Israelites not harvest the edges of their fields completely or pick up any leftovers. Such gleanings were for disadvantaged ones. (Leviticus 23:22;Ruth 2:2-7) When the nation observed this considerate legislation in behalf of the poor in their midst, needy individuals in Israel did not have to beg for food. Was that not a reflection of Jehovah’s tender compassion?
par. 12 (Deut. 15:7) “If one of your brothers becomes poor among you in one of your cities of the land that Jehovah your God is giving you, do not harden your heart or be tightfisted toward your poor brother.
par. 12 (Deut. 15:10) You should generously give to him, and you should not give to him grudgingly, for this is why Jehovah your God will bless your every deed and undertaking.
par. 12 (Lev. 23:22) “‘When you reap the harvest of your land, you must not reap the edge of your field completely and you should not pick up what is left from your harvest. You should leave it for the poor and for the foreign resident. I am Jehovah your God.’”
par. 12 (Ruth 2:2-7) Ruth the Mo′ab•i•tess said to Na•o′mi: “Let me go out, please, to the fields and glean among the ears of grain behind whoever looks on me with favor.” So Na•o′mi said to her: “Go, my daughter.”3 At that she went out and began to glean in the field behind the harvesters. By chance she came upon a plot of land belonging to Bo′az, who was of the family of E•lim′e•lech. 4 Just then Bo′az arrived from Beth′le•hem and said to the harvesters: “Jehovah be with you.” And they replied: “Jehovah bless you.” 5 Bo′az then asked the young man in charge of the harvesters: “To whom does this young woman belong?” 6 The young man in charge of the harvesters answered: “The young woman is a Mo′ab•i•tess who returned with Na•o′mi from the fields of Mo′ab. 7 She asked, ‘Please, may I glean and gather among the cut-off ears of grain left behind by the harvesters?’ And she has been on her feet since she came this morning until just now, when she sat in the shelter for a short rest.”
13, 14. (a) How do David’s words assure us that Jehovah is deeply concerned about us as individuals? (b) How could it be illustrated that Jehovah is near to those who are “broken at heart” or “crushed in spirit”?13 Today, too, our loving God is deeply concerned about us as individuals. We can be sure that he is keenly aware of any suffering we may undergo. The psalmist David wrote: “The eyes of Jehovah are toward the righteous ones, and his ears are toward their cry for help. Jehovah is near to those that are broken at heart; and those who are crushed in spirit he saves.” (Psalm 34:15, 18) Regarding those described by these words, one Bible commentator notes: “They are of a broken heart and a contrite spirit, that is, humbled for sin, and emptied of self; they are low in their own eyes, and have no confidence in their own merit.” Such ones may feel that Jehovah is far away and that they are too insignificant for him to care about them. But that is not the case. David’s words assure us that Jehovah does not abandon those who are “low in their own eyes.” Our compassionate God knows that at such times, we need him more than ever, and he is near.
par. 13 (Ps. 34:15) The eyes of Jehovah are on the righteous, And his ears listen to their cry for help.
par. 13 (Ps. 34:18) Jehovah is close to the brokenhearted; He saves those who are crushed in spirit.
14 Consider an experience. A mother in the United States rushed her two-year-old son to the hospital because he was suffering from a bad case of croup. After examining the boy, the doctors informed the mother that they would have to keep him in the hospital overnight. Where did the mother spend that night? In a chair in the hospital room, right next to her son’s bed! Her little boy was sick, and she just had to be near him. Surely we can expect even more from our loving heavenly Father! After all, we are made in his image. (Genesis 1:26) The touching words of Psalm 34:18 tell us that when we are “broken at heart” or “crushed in spirit,” Jehovah, like a loving parent, “is near”—ever compassionate and ready to help.
par. 14 (Gen. 1:26) Then God said: “Let us make man in our image, according to our likeness, and let them have in subjection the fish of the sea and the flying creatures of the heavens and the domestic animals and all the earth and every creeping animal that is moving on the earth.”
par. 14 (Ps. 34:18) Jehovah is close to the brokenhearted; He saves those who are crushed in spirit.
15. In what ways does Jehovah help us as individuals?15 How, then, does Jehovah help us as individuals? He does not necessarily remove the cause of our suffering. But Jehovah has made abundant provisions for those who cry out to him for help. His Word, the Bible, offers practical counsel that can make a difference. In the congregation, Jehovah provides spiritually qualified overseers, who endeavor to reflect his compassion in helping fellow worshipers. (James 5:14, 15) As the “Hearer of prayer,” he gives “holy spirit to those asking him.” (Psalm 65:2; Luke 11:13) That spirit can infuse us with “power beyond what is normal” in order to endure until God’s Kingdom removes all stressful problems. (2 Corinthians 4:7) Are we not grateful for all these provisions? Let us not forget that they are expressions of Jehovah’s tender compassion.
par. 15 (Jas. 5:14, 15) Is there anyone sick among you? Let him call the elders of the congregation to him, and let them pray over him, applying oil to him in the name of Jehovah. 15 And the prayer of faith will make the sick one well, and Jehovah will raise him up. Also, if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven.
par. 15 (Ps. 65:2) O Hearer of prayer, to you people of all sorts will come.
par. 15 (Luke 11:13) Therefore, if you, although being wicked, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more so will the Father in heaven give holy spirit to those asking him!”
par. 15 (2 Cor. 4:7) However, we have this treasure in earthen vessels, so that the power beyond what is normal may be God’s and not from us.
16. What is the greatest example of Jehovah’s compassion, and how does it affect us as individuals?16 Of course, the greatest example of Jehovah’s compassion is his giving the One dearest to him as a ransom for us. It was a loving sacrifice on Jehovah’s part, and it opened the way for our salvation. Remember, that ransom provision applies to us personally. With good reason, Zechariah, the father of John the Baptizer, foretold that this provision magnified “the tender compassion of our God.”—Luke 1:78.
par. 16 (Luke 1:78) because of the tender compassion of our God. With this compassion a daybreak will visit us from on high,
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