Look to Jehovah for Insight
“I shall make you have insight and instruct you in the way you should go.”—PSALM 32:8.
EVERY day we are confronted with decisions—some of them seemingly minor, others obviously important. Will our decisions be wise? That depends largely on whether we are impetuous or we think before we speak or act. There are many matters, however, in which the making of wise decisions requires that we be able to see beyond what is obvious. This may require that we know what the outcome of present world events will be, even that we be aware of what is taking place in the spirit realm. Can we do that? Is it possible for any human to do this in a manner that is not simply guesswork?
2. To steer a successful course through life, what help do we need, and why? (Proverbs 20:24)
2 Humans are endowed with truly remarkable mental capacity, but they were not made with the ability to steer a successful course through life without humbly accepting help from God. As the inspired prophet Jeremiah wrote: “I well know, O Jehovah, that to earthling man his way does not belong. It does not belong to man who is walking even to direct his step.”—Jeremiah 10:23.
3 What is the result if we ignore that fact and rely either on ourselves or on other humans for determinations as to what is wise or unwise, right or wrong? Because of being guided by fleshly reasoning, there will be times when we may view as good what God says is bad, when we may consider to be wise a course that God labels foolish. (Isaiah 5:20) Even though we may do this unintentionally, we may become a cause for stumbling to others. (Compare 1 Corinthians 8:9.) As to the final outcome to those who persist in failing to look to Jehovah for guidance, his Word states: “There exists a way that is upright before a man, but the ways of death are the end of it afterward.”—Proverbs 14:12.
4. What help does Jehovah generously promise his servants? (Compare Jeremiah 10:21.)
4 In view of this, what do we need? Simply put, we need the help that Jehovah gives. Encouragingly, he says: “I shall make you have insight and instruct you in the way you should go. I will give advice with my eye upon you.”—Psalm 32:8.
What Insight Includes
5. What is “insight”?
5 Just what is “insight” as referred to in the Scriptures? It is ability to see into a situation, to look beyond the obvious. According to the Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament, the Hebrew expression rendered “insight” relates to “intelligent knowledge of the reason” for things. It is the kind of knowledge that enables a person to act wisely and to have success. In harmony with that basic sense and to convey the flavor of the same Hebrew verb, the New World Translation, in addition to the rendering ‘have insight,’ uses such expressions as ‘act discreetly,’ ‘act prudently,’ and ‘have success.’—Psalm 14:2.
6. Why can “one keeping his lips in check” be said to be acting discreetly, or with insight?
6 Thus, “the one keeping his lips in check” is said to be “acting discreetly,” or with insight. (Proverbs 10:19) He thinks before he speaks, taking into account how others will understand what he says, also whether what he might say about another person would be wise, loving, or necessary. (Proverbs 12:18; James 1:19) Because he is motivated by love for Jehovah’s ways and a genuine desire to help his fellowman, what he says is upbuilding to others.—Proverbs 16:23.
7. What enabled David to gain the reputation of being one who acted prudently?
7 Regarding David the son of Jesse, it is written: “Wherever Saul would send him he would act prudently,” that is, with insight. David discerned that in his work more was involved than simply a conflict between human warriors. He realized that he and the men with him were fighting the wars of Jehovah. Thus, David looked to Jehovah for direction and blessing. (1 Samuel 17:45; 18:5; 2 Samuel 5:19) As a result, David’s expeditions met with success.
8. In the Christian Greek Scriptures, what other ideas are conveyed by the verb that is translated ‘have insight’?
8 In the Christian Greek Scriptures, the verb translated ‘have insight’ is also rendered, ‘get the sense of’ and, ‘perceive.’ (Romans 3:11; Matthew 13:13-15; Ephesians 5:17) What God promises his servants is the ability to do these things. But how does he give such insight to them?
How Joshua Came to Have Insight
9. In ancient Israel, how did Jehovah give the people insight?
9 In ancient Israel, Jehovah commissioned the Levites to instruct the nation in his Law. (Leviticus 10:11; Deuteronomy 33:8, 10) The Law was inspired of God, and Jehovah’s spirit was operating on the organizational arrangement that was assigned to teach it. (Malachi 2:7) By this means, Jehovah ‘made the Israelites prudent,’ or gave them insight, as stated at Nehemiah 9:20.
10, 11. (a) As shown at Joshua 1:7, 8, what would enable Joshua to act with insight? (b) What provision for instruction was it important for Joshua to appreciate? (c) What personal effort was also required on Joshua’s part?
10 But would individuals within the nation act with insight? If they were to do so, something was required on their part. At the time that Joshua was entrusted with responsibility for leading Israel into the Promised Land, Jehovah told him: “Only be courageous and very strong to take care to do according to all the law that Moses my servant commanded you. Do not turn aside from it to the right or to the left, in order that you may act wisely everywhere you go. This book of the law should not depart from your mouth, and you must in an undertone read in it day and night, in order that you may take care to do according to all that is written in it; for then you will make your way successful and then you will act wisely.” The Hebrew word here rendered “act wisely” also means “act with insight.”—Joshua 1:7, 8.
11 How would Jehovah give such insight to Joshua? Not by some miraculous infusion. God’s written Word was the key to it. Joshua needed to fill his mind and heart with it, reading it and meditating on it regularly. As Joshua knew, God’s Word said that instruction from the Law would be given by the Levites. Hence, Joshua needed to appreciate this, not isolating himself as if he could figure it all out alone in view of the fact that he had a responsible position in the nation. (Proverbs 18:1) It was important for Joshua to be diligent in studying God’s written Word. If he did that, not neglecting any part of it, and if he obeyed it, then he would act with insight.—Compare 1 Kings 2:3.
How Jehovah Gives Insight Today
12. To benefit from the insight that Jehovah makes available to us, what three things are required?
12 Right down till our time, Jehovah has continued to provide his servants with the direction that they need in order to act wisely. To benefit from that direction, several things are required of us as individuals: (1) We need to appreciate Jehovah’s organization, as Joshua did. In our case, such appreciation involves cooperating with the Christian congregation of anointed ones, “the faithful and discreet slave” and its Governing Body. (Matthew 24:45-47; compare Acts 16:4.) And this appreciation involves regularity in meeting attendance. (Hebrews 10:24, 25) (2) We must be diligent in personal study of God’s Word and of the publications provided by the “slave” class, which help us to understand it. (3) It is also important for us to take time to meditate on how the things we learn can be applied in our own lives and used to help others.
13. What is the meaning of the promise recorded at Jeremiah 3:15?
13 Concerning the kind of oversight and spiritual feeding that he would provide for us in our day, Jehovah said, at Jeremiah 3:15: “I will give you shepherds in agreement with my heart, and they will certainly feed you with knowledge and insight.” Indeed, this spiritual feeding program would provide us with remarkable ability to observe situations and discern what course to take in order to have success. Who is the source of that insight? Jehovah God.
14. Why does the ‘faithful slave’ class have insight?
14 Why does the ‘faithful slave’ class have such insight? Because they have made God’s Word their earnest concern and they follow its direction. Furthermore, because they have submitted to Jehovah’s direction, he has put his spirit upon them, using them in harmony with his purpose. (Luke 12:43, 44; Acts 5:32) As the inspired psalmist long ago wrote: “More insight than all my teachers I have come to have, because your reminders are a concern to me.”—Psalm 119:99.
15. (a) What is the gist of the counsel that the “slave” class consistently gives us? (b) Many years ago, how was it possible for the “slave” class to provide needed “knowledge and insight” regarding the Christian view of blood transfusions?
15 In answer to inquiries as to the right thing to do, “the faithful and discreet slave” has always counseled: ‘Apply what is written in the Bible. Trust in Jehovah.’ (Psalm 119:105; Proverbs 3:5, 6) When transfusions of blood came to be viewed as a standard medical treatment and became an issue confronting Jehovah’s Witnesses, The Watchtower of July 1, 1945, explained the Christian view regarding the sanctity of blood. It showed that the blood of both animals and humans was included in the divine prohibition. (Genesis 9:3, 4; Acts 15:28, 29) Physical side effects were not discussed in the article; knowledge of such was very limited at that time. The real issue was obedience to God’s law, and it still is. Today, many people realize the practical wisdom of rejecting blood transfusions and are doing so in growing numbers. But all along, Jehovah’s Witnesses have been able to act with insight because they trust the Creator, who knows far more about blood than any human does.
16. Why has the counsel in The Watchtower on such matters as sexual morality, single-parent families, and depression proved to be just what was needed?
16 As permissive attitudes regarding sexual morality have become increasingly prominent, The Watchtower, instead of advocating the popular course, has provided sound Scriptural guidance. This is helping many to safeguard their precious relationship with Jehovah and to concentrate on lasting happiness instead of merely fleeting pleasure. Similarly, Watchtower articles directed to single-parent families and to those who struggle with depression have reflected an insight that is possible only for those to whom Jehovah’s thoughts are precious and who earnestly pray: “Teach me to do your will, for you are my God.”—Psalm 143:10; 139:17.*
17. (a) Decades in advance, what did Jehovah’s servants know about the year 1914? (b) Although there were details concerning which God’s people still had questions after 1914, what did they know that gave sound direction to their lives?
17 By means of “the faithful and discreet slave,” Jehovah also helped his servants to realize, decades in advance, that the year 1914 would mark the end of the Gentile Times. (Luke 21:24, King James Version) As they entered the era following World War I, there were, of course, questions that perplexed them. But what they did know was sufficient for them to act wisely. They knew from the Scriptures that God’s due time was at hand for the old system to be destroyed; so it would be foolish to put their hope in it or to let its materialistic standards of success govern their lives. They also knew that Jehovah’s Kingdom is the real solution to all the problems afflicting humankind. (Daniel 2:44; Matthew 6:33) They saw clearly that it is the responsibility of all true Christians to advertise Jehovah’s anointed King, Jesus Christ, and His Kingdom. (Isaiah 61:1, 2; Matthew 24:14) In 1925, by means of the Watch Tower article “Birth of the Nation,” they were fortified with a clearer understanding of Revelation chapter 12; so now they understood what had been taking place in the heavens, invisible to human eyes. Such insight gave sound direction to their lives.
18. What privilege and responsibility do we now have, and what question should we ask ourselves?
18 Acting in faith, the few thousand that were then serving Jehovah as his witnesses spearheaded the preaching of the good news of God’s established Kingdom into all parts of the world. As a result, millions of people have come to know and love Jehovah and have the prospect of eternal life. All of us who have received the truth as a result of their loving labors have been shown that we too have the privilege and responsibility to share in the work, giving a thorough witness to everyone we can reach and continuing to do so until Jehovah says the work is done. (Revelation 22:17; compare Acts 20:26, 27.) Does the way you are using your life give evidence that you appreciate the insight Jehovah has given through his organization?
19. (a) Give an example of one whose life reflects appreciation for the insight that Jehovah gives through his organization. (b) What can we learn from that example?
19 The lives of a great crowd of individuals in all parts of the earth testify that in their case the answer is yes. For example, consider John Cutforth. Some 48 years ago, he took to heart Scriptural counsel to which the ‘faithful slave’ class was directing attention then as it does now, namely: “Keep on, then, seeking first the kingdom and his righteousness, and all these other things will be added to you. So, never be anxious about the next day.” (Matthew 6:33, 34) After years of experience in Jehovah’s service, Brother Cutforth said: ‘One of the things that has been forcefully impressed on my mind is that Jehovah has an organization on earth that he is directing, that I as an individual could work with that organization, and that if I would fully follow its leadings and direction, it would bring me peace, contentment, satisfaction, and many friends, plus many other rich blessings.’ That conviction has been reinforced repeatedly as he has enjoyed a life rich with spiritual blessings in the United States, Canada, Australia, and Papua New Guinea.* Truly, for all of us the wise course is one that reflects appreciation for the means by which Jehovah gives insight to his people.—Matthew 6:19-21.
Guard Against Loss of Insight
20, 21. (a) How have some persons lost the godly insight that they once had? (b) What will help to safeguard us against a hurtful course?
20 The insight that Jehovah provides is a treasure to be cherished. We should be aware, however, that if we do not continue in the course that has enabled us to acquire godly insight, we can lose it. Sadly, some have had exactly that experience. (Proverbs 21:16; Daniel 11:35) Rejecting discipline that touched them personally, they tried to justify what they were doing. Pride became a snare to them. They began to view as good what God’s Word shows to be bad, and they drew away from Jehovah’s organization. How sad!
21 The circumstances of such a person are as described at Psalm 36:1-3, where we read: “The utterance of transgression to the wicked one is in the midst of his heart.” That is, his own selfish thoughts and desires lead him into transgression. “There is no dread of God in front of his eyes,” the psalmist continues. “For he has acted too smoothly to himself in his own eyes to find out his error so as to hate it. The words of his mouth are hurtfulness and deception.” And what is the result to him? He ‘ceases to have insight for doing good.’ He actually convinces himself that what he is doing is right, and he seduces others to follow him. How vital, then, that we not only have insight but also safeguard it by appreciating the means by which Jehovah has enabled us to acquire it!
See Watch Tower Publications Index 1930-1985, under “Marriage,” “Families,” “Moral Breakdown,” and “Depression (Mental).”
What Do You Remember?
◻ What will help us to make wise decisions?
◻ What is included in “insight”?
◻ How does Jehovah give insight to his servants in our time?
◻ What is required on our part if we are to benefit fully from the insight Jehovah provides?
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To benefit from the insight Jehovah gives, we need to appreciate his organization, be diligent in personal study, and meditate on how to apply what we learn