“Taste and See that Jehovah Is Good”
THIS invitation—to “taste and see that Jehovah is good”—was made by the Bible psalmist David. (Ps. 34:8) Have you accepted the invitation? How can you do so?
First, it is necessary that we know what is said in God’s Word. This is because it is in the Bible that Jehovah tells of the good things he will provide for his servants. “The gift God gives is everlasting life,” the Bible says. (Rom. 6:23) But God offers more than this to his faithful servants. He also promises them inner peace and real satisfaction in living, even at the present time.
How, then, do we “taste” and find out whether Jehovah really will come through with such good things? We need to submit to him in humble obedience, as he invites: “My son, my law do not forget, and my commandments may your heart observe.” (Prov. 3:1) By living our lives in harmony with Jehovah’s laws and commands we are, in effect, tasting and seeing if this results in our good.
The psalmist David did this. True, he made mistakes. But David had a heart desire to serve Jehovah, and he obediently put God’s will first in his life. This was not always easy for him to do. In fact, at times it exposed David to extreme danger.
There was the occasion when Israelite King Saul, because of jealousy, tried to kill David. So David was forced to flee into the enemy territory of the Philistines. There he disguised his sanity by acting crazily, and he was able to escape with his life. It was on this occasion, when his life was in great danger, that David composed Psalm 34. Note how an understanding of these circumstances gives added meaning to his words:
“I inquired of Jehovah, and he answered me, and out of all my frights he delivered me. The angel of Jehovah is camping all around those fearing him, and he rescues them. Taste and see that Jehovah is good, O you people; happy is the able-bodied man that takes refuge in him. Many are the calamities of the righteous one, but out of them all Jehovah delivers him.”—Ps. 34:4, 7, 8, 19, and Ps 34:superscription.
Serving Jehovah often exposes one to reproach and persecution—calamities—as David’s experiences illustrate. Since this is true, some persons may hesitate to offer themselves unreservedly in God’s service. But speaking from experience, David urges us to “taste and see that Jehovah is good.” Yes, David knew that, despite the difficulties that may be encountered, God’s servants would realize Jehovah’s mighty protective hand and the “peace of God that excels all thought.”—Phil. 4:7.
SIMILAR WITH ALL GOD’S SERVANTS
This has been the experience of God’s servants throughout history. Examine the record in Hebrews chapter 11 of those people of faith in pre-Christian times; read the accounts in the four Gospels of the life of Jehovah’s foremost servant Jesus Christ; consider the experiences of the Christian apostles in the Bible book of Acts. What do we find?
We find this: That serving Jehovah often results in suffering all manner of ridicule, persecution and difficulties, sometimes even a painful death, as in the case of Jesus. And yet these servants of God were happy. They enjoyed an inner peace and satisfaction because of knowing that they were pleasing to their heavenly Father, and knowing that they would receive his reward of everlasting life. Read, for example, Acts 5:40-42.
Stop and ask yourself: What do I really want out of life? Is it my goal to be a faithful servant of Jehovah? Or does my life course reveal that other interests are more important to me? In the opening words of Psalm 34, David expressed the attitude that all of us should have: “I will bless Jehovah at all times; constantly his praise will be in my mouth.” (Ps. 34:1) Is this, too, our heartfelt desire? Are we moved to use our health, abilities and resources to give praise to Jehovah? What can we do to bless and praise Jehovah?
IS LIVING “A GOOD LIFE” ENOUGH?
Some persons believe that simply living “a good life”—being kind to their neighbors, loving their brothers and sisters, keeping a clean home, developing a fine personality—is all that is necessary to bless and praise Jehovah. But, really, more is involved. Praise must issue from the mouth, as David said. To praise Jehovah in this way is a particular requirement of true Christians. Jesus Christ showed this by carrying on a public preaching campaign that magnified his Father’s name and kingdom.—Luke 4:43.
Then, toward the end of his earthly life, Jesus said: “This good news of the kingdom will be preached in all the inhabited earth for a witness to all the nations.” (Matt. 24:14) Who would do this preaching? The apostle Peter told the army officer Cornelius and his household: “[Christ] ordered us to preach to the people and to give a thorough witness.”—Acts 10:42.
Was this an order applicable only to the apostles and other Christian elders? No, all Christians were to be imitators of Christ, doing the preaching work as he did it. To accomplish the preaching on the worldwide scale that Jesus said it would be done requires the cooperative efforts of all Christians—men, women and children. And among Jehovah’s Witnesses this cooperative effort is manifest—all share unitedly in this great Kingdom proclamation.
For those whose circumstances allow them to share more fully in this preaching work, there is the provision of “pioneer” service. A pioneer is one of Jehovah’s Witnesses who can spend 90 hours a month, or at least 1,000 hours a year, in the preaching work. Last year over 119,000 Witnesses, on the average each month, were able to pioneer. What an important service they perform! And what should be the attitude of these pioneers and other servants of God?
PROPER BASIS FOR BOASTING
David helps us to appreciate this, as he continues in the 34th Psalm: “In Jehovah my soul will make its boast.” (Ps. 34:2) Knowing Jehovah and being one of his servants is certainly something worth boasting about. Of course, it must be boasting free from any suggestion of self-righteousness, for we do not boast in ourselves but, as David said, “in Jehovah.”—See also Galatians 6:14.
We can boast in what Jehovah has done for us, how he has preserved us, guided us, provided for us. On the other hand, it would be improper to boast because we may, because of circumstances, be able to share more fully in the preaching work. The apostle Paul noted: “If, now, I am declaring the good news, it is no reason for me to boast, for necessity is laid upon me.”—1 Cor. 9:16.
Next, David, in heartfelt appreciation for Jehovah, said: “O magnify Jehovah with me, you people, and let us exalt his name together.” (Ps. 34:3) Are you, like David, moved to encourage others to share in praising Jehovah? Often all that servants of God need to get started in the pioneer service is encouragement. Note the following examples of persons who are so happy that they got started.
Don and Earlene Steele wrote: “We hesitated about going in the full-time pioneer ministry because we had the idea we wanted to have some kind of financial reserve. . . . we got rid of that idea and wrote the [Watch Tower] Society to say that we had saved up enough money to keep us going for at least two months! . . . we’ve managed, with Jehovah’s help, to keep going, not for just two months, but for twenty-seven years.”—The Watchtower, 1971, pp. 186-190.
Paul Wrobel said: “But now [in 1946] a physical ailment loomed up and seemed to prevent me from entering the full-time ministry. My doctor predicted that in two years I could expect a paralysis of my right hip. . . . I decided to use those two years in the full-time ministry and to do my best. In the meantime, twenty-seven years have slipped by!”—The Watchtower, 1973, pp. 376-379.
Heinrich Dickmann, after several decades spent in full-time service, stressed that “all problems, whether financial or physical, have been solved by Jehovah’s undeserved kindness, . . . trust in the name of Jehovah truly provides security.”—The Watchtower, 1972, pp. 395-399.
Thousands, yes, tens of thousands of pioneers, who have tasted and seen that Jehovah is good, would join with David in extending the invitation: “O magnify Jehovah with me, you people, and let us exalt his name together.” (Ps. 34:3) Not only do these pioneers encourage people with whom they study the Bible to do this but, after tasting the goodness of pioneer service, they would recommend pioneering to others of God’s servants.
PIONEERING CAN HELP US TO TASTE
The pioneer service can help us to taste more fully of Jehovah’s goodness. By daily talking about spiritual things, we grow in knowledge. This, in turn, strengthens our faith. We become better qualified to apply Biblical counsel in overcoming problems. We learn to trust more completely in Jehovah, doing things in his strength, not in our own.
Also, having voluntarily forgone, in all probability, certain material advantages to take up the pioneer service, we become more dependent upon Jehovah’s help in a material way. David mentioned our dependency upon Jehovah when he spoke about how the “maned young lions themselves have had little on hand and gone hungry; but as for those seeking Jehovah, they will not lack anything good.”—Ps. 34:10.
Jesus Christ backed up this psalm of David by telling his disciples: “Stop being anxious about your souls as to what you will eat or what you will drink, or about your bodies as to what you will wear. . . . Keep on, then, seeking first the kingdom and his righteousness, and all these other things will be added to you.” (Matt. 6:25-34) So, whether in the pioneer service or not, those seeking the Kingdom first have the promise of God’s Son himself that Jehovah will provide them with their material needs. Could we expect to receive a promise from a more reliable source than that?
Even in a physical way the pioneer service may help us to taste more fully of Jehovah’s goodness. Fresh air, exercise, a feeling of accomplishment and good association can all contribute to good health.
A German proverb says: “The one resting will rust.” Many persons “resting” in retirement have kept themselves from “rusting” by taking up the pioneer service. Consider, for example, a pioneer in West Berlin, Germany, who at the age of 86 asked his doctor if it would be wise to give up his pioneering. “Don’t quit,” was the doctor’s reply. “If you quit, you’ll die.” So today at 92 our Christian brother is still in the pioneer service. He explains: “I have doctor’s orders not to stop pioneering.”
Many persons, after entering the pioneer service, have made it their career. This is commendable. Others have been able to enjoy it for only a limited time. Still they have nothing to regret. Their decision to leave the pioneer service, due to changed circumstances, may have been not only humanly understandable but also Scripturally proper. Was their time of pioneering wasted? Not at all.
If engaged in with proper motives and with a desire to make spiritual progress, the pioneer service will have helped them to develop a more spiritual outlook on life. It will have helped them to achieve balance. They may have learned lessons that will help them later in life, things like knowing how to budget time wisely, how to handle finances and how to be content with life’s necessities. It can conceivably help young people later to be better marriage mates and better parents than they might otherwise have been. Yes, the benefits of pioneer service can be lasting.
IS IT FOR YOU?
Jehovah expresses his goodness toward all his people; it is by no means reserved for just those in pioneer service. So those who do not take it up because of sound reasons should never be fearful that this would cause them to lose Jehovah’s favor. But each of us should be honest with himself. Do you say, “The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak”? But is the spirit really willing? Let us avoid using the weakness of the flesh as an excuse for the unwillingness of the spirit.
If after prayerful consideration you are still hesitant, then recall the words of Malachi 3:10: “Test me out, please, [Taste and see!] . . . whether I shall not open to you people the floodgates of the heavens and actually empty out upon you a blessing until there is no more want.” Who, without good reason, would care to turn down an invitation like that?
And for those unable to take up the pioneer service at present, remember this: Each of us can worship Jehovah in the fullest sense by being whole-souled in our devotion and service to him. So, keep showing that healthy pioneer spirit! Continue to serve Jehovah whole-souled and you will continue to “taste and see that Jehovah is good.”