‘Jehovah Remembers that We Are Dust’
HOW much all of us appreciate someone who is understanding, considerate and compassionate! Jehovah God is truly outstanding in this regard. Despite the weaknesses and failings of those seeking to do his will, he does not forsake them. Even when his servants become guilty of serious transgression, he does not deprive them of the opportunity to return to him repentantly.
Against the background of God’s dealings with ancient Israel, the psalmist David said: “Jehovah is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abundant in loving-kindness. He will not for all time keep finding fault, neither will he to time indefinite keep resentful. He has not done to us even according to our sins; nor according to our errors has he brought upon us what we deserve.” (Ps. 103:8-10) Neither the nature nor the extent of the sin, but primarily God’s mercy and his purpose determined how Jehovah treated the wayward Israelites. His dominant spirit toward them was not one of continuing anger.—Ps. 30:5.
Whenever Jehovah God expresses his anger toward those who violate his commands, he does so with their best interests in mind. His purpose is to move them to repentance so they can regain an approved relationship with him. The discipline given serves that very purpose. This is called to our attention at Isaiah 28:24-29. There a farmer’s plowing, harrowing, sowing and threshing are compared to God’s purposeful dealings. We read: “Is it all day long that the plower plows in order to sow seed, that he loosens and harrows his ground? Does he not, when he has smoothed out its surface, then scatter black cummin and sprinkle the cummin, and must he not put in wheat, millet, and barley in the appointed place, and spelt as his boundary? And one corrects him according to what is right. His own God instructs him. For it is not with a threshing instrument that black cummin is given a treading; and upon cummin no wheel of a wagon is turned. For it is with a rod that black cummin is generally beaten out, and cummin with a staff. Is breadstuff itself generally crushed? For never does one incessantly keep treading it out. And he must set the roller of his wagon in motion, and his own steeds, but he will not crush it. This also is what has come forth from Jehovah of armies himself, who has been wonderful in counsel, who has done greatly in effectual working.”
Clearly, a farmer’s operations are orderly and purposeful. Plowing and harrowing are limited, being done to soften the ground and to prepare it to receive seed. Similarly, Jehovah God did not unendingly discipline and punish his disobedient people. He disciplined them for a time and with a view to making them more receptive to counsel and guidance. As the type of grain determines the instruments used for threshing, so God’s treatment of individuals varied according to what best suited their case, to cleanse them.
On the individual level, Judean King Manasseh is a case in point. He practiced large-scale idolatry and shed much innocent blood. (2 Ki. 21:1-6, 16) The punishment that he deserved was death. However, Jehovah God did not bring upon Manasseh a judgment in proportion to his sin. Manasseh’s discipline consisted of his being taken as a captive to Babylon by the Assyrians. Was that discipline purposeful? Yes, Manasseh repented and humbly prayed to Jehovah to be shown favor. In time Jehovah God gave favorable attention to his pleas and restored him to his kingship. That Manasseh had really changed on account of the discipline received is evident from what he did thereafter. He began a campaign against idolatry, prepared the altar of Jehovah and began sacrificing upon it. Manasseh also encouraged his subjects to serve Jehovah.—2 Chron. 33:12-17.
This example makes it clear that Jehovah God will deal like a merciful father toward those who repent and begin to fear him in a wholesome way. So, regardless of what wrongs a person may commit, he can regain God’s favor if he is truly repentant. Recognizing the repentant wrongdoer’s frailty and transitoriness, Jehovah God will deal compassionately with him. Said the psalmist regarding the Israelites: “As a father shows mercy to his sons, Jehovah has shown mercy to those fearing him. For he himself well knows the formation of us, remembering that we are dust.”—Ps. 103:13, 14.
READY TO HELP
On account of Jehovah’s fatherly compassion and his understanding our weaknesses, we can rest assured of his help whenever we seek it. His aid is not restricted just to times when a person might sin due to inherited weaknesses and imperfections. Jehovah is willing and able to assist us with anything that might weigh heavily upon us. The psalmist gave this encouragement: “Throw your burden upon Jehovah himself, and he himself will sustain you. Never will he allow the righteous one to totter.” (Ps. 55:22) As a compassionate Father, he will not permit us to succumb to the weight of great problems or trials, without any way out. If we appeal to him for help, he will give us the wisdom needed to cope with our problems or trials. (1 Cor. 10:13; Jas. 1:2-5) Also, if need be, he can and will move others to come to our aid.—Jer. 38:8-13.
The Christian apostle Paul was one who often experienced Jehovah’s help. In his second letter to the Corinthians, he wrote: “We are pressed in every way, but not cramped beyond movement; we are perplexed, but not absolutely with no way out; we are persecuted, but not left in the lurch; we are thrown down, but not destroyed.” (2 Cor. 4:8, 9) When it seemed to Paul and his associates that they did not know what to do and every resource appeared to fail them, relief came in some unexpected way. In view of what he had experienced, Paul could say to the Philippians: “For all things I have the strength by virtue of him who imparts power to me.” (Phil. 4:13) While it may have seemed humanly impossible to cope successfully with certain trying situations, the apostle Paul did so because of being sustained by Jehovah God.
How comforting it should be to us to know that, if we do not forsake Jehovah permanently, he will treat us with fatherly compassion! He knows our makeup—our weaknesses and frailties—and will not permit us to totter under impossible burdens. Though the circumstances may be difficult, he will give us the strength to endure and will mercifully pardon our transgressions. May we, therefore, continue to respond to his love and understanding by seeking to serve him with a complete heart.