Bible Highlights Psalms 107 to 150
Happy God, Happy People!
Happiness is a goal most people never attain. For a small group of others, though, happiness is a way of life. Their key to it? True worship! The Psalms convince us that Jehovah is a happy God, and therefore we can be happy by worshiping him. For evidence of this, let us look at Book Five of the Psalms, that is, Psalms 107 to 150.
Jehovah the Deliverer
Please read Psalms 107 to 119. The prayer of the Jews for deliverance from Babylonian captivity is answered, and “the reclaimed ones of Jehovah” celebrate the return in song. (Psalm 107) Upon being delivered earlier, David ‘made melody’ to God and declared His goodness and love. (Psalms 108, 109) With strength from Jehovah, David’s Lord, who is Jesus Christ, was to subdue God’s enemies. (Psalm 110) In addition to rescuing His people, Jehovah blesses the upright man fearing Him. (Psalms 111, 112) Following their deliverance from Babylon, the Jews sang the Hallel Psalms, or songs of praise, at the great annual feasts. (Psalms 113–118) The 119th Psalm 119 is the longest, and all but 2 of its 176 verses refer to the word or law of God.
◆ 107:27—How did ‘their wisdom prove confused’?
Like sailors caught in a destructive storm, the Jews’ wisdom proved futile during their captive state in Babylon; all human means of delivering them had failed. But by turning to Jehovah in the midst of this stormy situation, deliverance had come. He caused the symbolic storm to abate and delivered them to a safe “haven”—the land of Judah.—Psalm 107:30.
◆ 110:3—What is the significance of having “young men just like dewdrops”?
Dew is associated with blessing, productivity, and abundance. (Genesis 27:28) Dewdrops are also gentle, refreshing, life-sustaining, and numerous. In the day of the Messianic King’s military force, his subjects quickly, cheerfully offer themselves in numbers so great that they can be compared to dewdrops. Just like refreshing dewdrops, throughout Jehovah’s organization today numerous young men and women render service to God and their fellow worshipers.
◆ 116:3—What are “the ropes of death”?
It seemed as if death had so tightly bound the psalmist with unbreakable ropes that escape was impossible. Ropes tied tightly about limbs produce sharp pains, or pangs, and the Greek Septuagint version renders the Hebrew word for “ropes” as “pangs.” Hence, when Jesus Christ died, he was in the paralyzing grip, or pangs, of death. When Jehovah resurrected Jesus, therefore, He was “loosing the pangs of death.”—Acts 2:24.
◆ 119:83—How was the psalmist “like a skin bottle”?
While waiting for Jehovah to comfort him, the psalmist had become like a skin bottle that would be hung up when not in use. Because of the smoke in a tent or a house lacking a chimney, this type of bottle would gradually darken, dry up, and shrivel. In effect, this is what happened to the psalmist at the hands of persecutors. (Verse 84 of Ps 119) His distressed state was probably evident in his dismal countenance and lined face, and his entire body may have been so affected as to have lost some of its moisture. (Compare Psalm 32:4.) Thus he may have felt as worthless as a withered skin bottle that others cast aside as unsuitable to hold liquids. Yet he had not ‘forgotten God’s regulations.’
◆ 119:119—How does God make the wicked cease “as scummy dross”?
The scum that forms on molten metal or in the smelting furnace is a worthless waste product, something impure to be discarded. Thus a refiner separates such metal as gold or silver from the “scummy dross.” Similarly, Jehovah considers the wicked ones fit only for the slag heap and makes them cease, separating them from those of value who have his favor.—Compare Ezekiel 22:17-22.
Lesson for Us: Like the Jews of old, Jehovah’s Witnesses today await deliverance—this time through the storm of Armageddon. (Revelation 16:14, 16) At God’s appointed time, this system of things will be swept away by this great war. Those who do not look to Jehovah for salvation will be utterly helpless as they are tossed about by the waves of this great destruction. The survivors, however, will “give thanks to Jehovah for his loving-kindness.” Therefore, in these last days, both Jesus’ anointed followers and the “great crowd” can put their full trust in Jehovah.—Psalm 107:31; Revelation 7:9.
‘Songs of the Ascents’
Read Psalms 120 to 134. These 15 psalms are called songs “of the ascents.” Scholars disagree as to the precise meaning of “ascents,” but perhaps these psalms were sung by Israelites when they went up, or ascended, to the lofty city of Jerusalem for their three annual festivals.—Psalm 122:1.
◆ 120:4—What were these “sharpened arrows” and “burning coals”?
A slanderous tongue can be as destructive as a weapon or a fire. (Proverbs 12:18; James 3:6) In retribution, Jehovah sees to it that the slanderous tongue is silenced as by a warrior’s arrows. Interestingly, charcoal made from the shrublike broom tree burns very intensely, pointing to the severity of the divine judgment upon “the tricky tongue.”—Psalm 120:2, 3.
◆ 131:2—How does the soul become like a “weanling”?
Before being weaned, an infant longs for its mother to satisfy its desire to be fed. And a weanling in its mother’s arms finds satisfaction, security, and solace. Content to pursue a humble course (verse 1 of Ps 131), the psalmist felt “soothed and quieted,” like a weanling in his mother’s arms. Humbly waiting on Jehovah and doing his will bring security and rich blessings.
Lesson for Us: Although Jehovah can rescue his people from calamity, he does not shield them from all adversity. Indeed, adversities moved the composers to utter these psalms. However, God “will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear” but “will also make the way out.” (1 Corinthians 10:13) Jehovah does protect us from spiritual ruin. He can either maneuver events so as to eliminate the calamity itself or strengthen us so that we can withstand the pressure. To that end, very soothing and beneficial is the unity we enjoy at our Christian meetings.—Psalm 133:1-3.
The Praiseworthy God
Read Psalms 135 to 145. In contrast with idols whose makers become just like them, Jehovah is the praiseworthy God and Deliverer. (Psalms 135, 136) Even when his people were in Babylon, they did not forget “the songs of Zion.” (Psalm 137) David says ‘kings will laud Jehovah’ and exults in how wonderfully he is made. (Psalms 138, 139) He prays for God’s protection and extols His goodness, knowing that only a good relationship with Jehovah brings true happiness.—Psalms 140–145.
◆ 138:2—How did God magnify his saying above his name?
When Jehovah declares something on the basis of his name, we expect much in the way of fulfillment. However, he always exceeds our expectations, causing the realization to surpass by far our anticipation. God magnifies his “saying” by making its fulfillment grander than what we expect.
◆ 139:9—What is meant by “the wings of the dawn”?
This expression depicts the light of dawn, as if having wings, swiftly spreading over the sky from east to west. Were David to “take the wings of the dawn” and reach the remotest part of the west, there he would still be under Jehovah’s care and control.—Psalm 139:10; compare Amos 9:2, 3.
◆ 141:3—Why did David want ‘a watch over the door of his lips’?
David knew the damage the tongue can do and how imperfect men are tempted to speak rashly, especially when provoked. Moses was the meekest man on earth, yet he sinned with his tongue in connection with the waters of Meribah. (Numbers 12:3; 20:9-13) Control of the lips is necessary, then, to avoid injurious speech and preserve a good heart.—James 3:5-12.
◆ 142:7—Why did David think his soul was in a “dungeon”?
He felt all alone with his problems, as in a dark, dangerous dungeon, misunderstood and separated from all humans. When we have similar feelings and think that our “right hand” is open to attack, we can confidently call out to Jehovah for help.—Psalm 142:3-7.
Lesson for Us: In Psalm 139, David expressed delight in God’s ability to ‘search through’ him and “know” him and his ways. Rather than seeking escape, David wanted to yield more fully to Jehovah’s guidance and control. He knew that God always observed him. Such knowledge not only restrains one from wrongdoing but also provides one with the utmost comfort. The fact that Jehovah sees our deeds, understands our problems, and is always ready to help us produces a deep sense of security and peace, which is essential to our happiness.
Read Psalms 146 to 150. These psalms strike up the theme of the entire Book of Psalms—“Praise Jah, you people!” Each of them begins and ends with those glorious words. All of this rises to a grand crescendo in the 150th Psalm 150, which calls on all creation to “praise Jah”!
◆ Psalm 146:3—Why not put confidence in human leaders?
Human leaders are mortal. They can save neither themselves nor those trusting in them. Thus, confidence in human leadership is undermined by the eventuality of death. But “happy is the one . . . whose hope is in Jehovah his God.” (Psalm 146:5, 6) The psalmist saw the need for guidance superior to what humans themselves can give.
◆ 148:4—What are the ‘waters above the heavens’?
The psalmist apparently meant the water-carrying clouds above the earth that empty themselves from time to time in the form of rain, which eventually flows back into the oceans. This cycle is essential to life, and its very existence gives praise to the Creator. Since the atmospheric expanse between the earth and the clouds can be spoken of as heavens, the psalmist referred to the clouds as the ‘waters above the heavens.’
The Psalms make this truth self-evident: To be truly happy, we need a good relationship with Jehovah. Thus, the whole aim of God’s people and the purpose of our existence can be summed up in the psalmist’s concluding call: “Every breathing thing—let it praise Jah. Praise Jah, you people!”—Psalm 150:6.