Walking With a Unified Heart
“Instruct me, O Jehovah . . . Unify my heart to fear your name.”—PSALM 86:11.
1. How does Jehovah reward his loyal ones?
‘O JEHOVAH, you are God, you alone.’ (Psalm 86:8, 10) David praised God from a heart brimming with appreciation. Even before David became king over all Israel, Jehovah had delivered him from Saul and from the Philistines. Hence, he could sing: “Jehovah is my crag and my stronghold and the Provider of escape for me. With someone loyal you will act in loyalty.” (2 Samuel 22:2, 26) Jehovah had preserved his loyal servant through many trials. David could place his trust and confidence in his loyal God, but he needed continued guidance. David now petitioned God: “Instruct me, O Jehovah, about your way.”—Psalm 86:11.
2. How has Jehovah made provision for our being taught by him?
2 David wanted nothing to do with worldly ideas or philosophies. He wanted to be “taught by Jehovah,” as God’s prophet later expressed it. (Isaiah 54:13) David could likely meditate on only nine books of the Bible available in his day. Yet, that instruction from Jehovah was precious to him! In being taught, we today can feast upon all 66 books of the Bible, as well as upon an abundance of Kingdom literature provided through “the faithful and discreet slave.” (Matthew 24:45) Like David, let us call on Jehovah, that his spirit may help us to search into “the things that God has prepared for those who love him, . . . even the deep things of God.”—1 Corinthians 2:9, 10.
3. In what ways can Bible instruction benefit us?
3 The Bible has the answer to every question and problem that may arise in our lives. “For all the things that were written aforetime were written for our instruction, that through our endurance and through the comfort from the Scriptures we might have hope.” (Romans 15:4) Absorbing the instruction from Jehovah will strengthen us to endure hardships, comfort us in times of depression, and keep the Kingdom hope burning brightly in our hearts. May we find delight in reading God’s Word and in meditating on it “day and night,” for Bible-based wisdom becomes “a tree of life to those taking hold of it, and those keeping fast hold of it are to be called happy.”—Psalm 1:1-3; Proverbs 3:13-18; see also John 17:3.
4. As to our actions, what example did Jesus set for us?
4 God’s Son, Jesus, also called the “Son of David,” always looked to Jehovah for instruction. (Matthew 9:27)* He said: “The Son cannot do a single thing of his own initiative, but only what he beholds the Father doing. For whatever things that One does, these things the Son also does in like manner.” “I do nothing of my own initiative; but just as the Father taught me I speak these things.” (John 5:19; 8:28) Jesus left a model for us “to follow his steps closely.” (1 Peter 2:21) Just think! If we study as Jesus must have done, in any situation we will be able to act as Jehovah would have us act. Jehovah’s way is always the right way.
5. What is “truth”?
5 David next declares: “I shall walk in your truth.” (Psalm 86:11) A thousand years later, Pilate, addressing the Son of David, Jesus, asked: “What is truth?” But Jesus had just answered that question, telling Pilate: “My kingdom is no part of this world,” adding: “You yourself are saying that I am a king. For this I have been born, and for this I have come into the world, that I should bear witness to the truth.” (John 18:33-38) Jesus thus made known that the truth focuses on the Messianic Kingdom. Indeed, the entire theme of the Bible is the sanctification of Jehovah’s name through that Kingdom.—Ezekiel 38:23; Matthew 6:9, 10; Revelation 11:15.
6. In walking in the truth, of what should we be cautious?
6 What does it mean to walk in the truth? It means to make the Kingdom hope the main concern of our lives. We must live Kingdom truth. We must be undivided in putting Kingdom interests first, zealous according to our opportunities in bearing witness to Kingdom truth, after Jesus’ example. (Matthew 6:33; John 18:37) We cannot walk part of the time in the truth, giving merely token service but then pleasing ourselves by taking detours to indulge in excessive recreation or to enter on a time-consuming career or “slave . . . for Riches.” (Matthew 6:24) We could get lost on one of those byways, never to find the way back onto ‘the cramped road leading off into life.’ Let us not stray from that road! (Matthew 7:13, 14) Our Grand Instructor, Jehovah, through his Word and organization, illuminates the road, saying: “‘This is the way. Walk in it, you people,’ in case you people should go to the right or in case you should go to the left.”—Isaiah 30:21.
A Proper Fear
7. How may we “unify” our hearts?
7 David’s prayer continues in Ps 86 verse 11: “Unify my heart to fear your name.” Like David, we should want our hearts to be undivided, complete, in doing God’s will. This is in line with Moses’ counsel: “And now, O Israel, what is Jehovah your God asking of you but to fear Jehovah your God, so as to walk in all his ways and to love him and to serve Jehovah your God with all your heart and all your soul; to keep the commandments of Jehovah and his statutes that I am commanding you today, for your good?” (Deuteronomy 10:12, 13) It is, indeed, for our good that we pour heart and soul into serving Jehovah. Thus we show proper fear of his illustrious name. Jehovah’s name literally means “He Causes to Become,” particularly with reference to bringing his grand purposes to completion. It stands also for his supreme authority over all the universe. Serving in awe of God’s majesty, we will not be sidetracked by fear of mortal man. Our hearts will not be divided. Rather, we will fear to do anything that would displease Jehovah, the Supreme Judge and Sovereign Lord, who holds our very lives in his hand.—Isaiah 12:2; 33:22.
8, 9. (a) What does it mean to be “no part of the world”? (b) What steps should we take because we are “a theatrical spectacle”?
8 Even in the face of reproach and persecution, we will follow Jesus’ fearless example in being no part of the wicked world around us. (John 15:17-21) This does not mean that Jesus’ disciples should live as hermits or be tucked away in a monastery. Jesus said in prayer to his Father: “I request you, not to take them out of the world, but to watch over them because of the wicked one. They are no part of the world, just as I am no part of the world. Sanctify them by means of the truth; your word is truth. Just as you sent me forth into the world, I also sent them forth into the world.” (John 17:15-18) Like Jesus, we are sent forth to proclaim Kingdom truth. Jesus was approachable. People were refreshed by his way of teaching. (Compare Matthew 7:28, 29; 11:28, 29; John 7:46.) It should be the same with us.
9 Our outgoing friendliness, tasteful grooming and appearance, kindly and clean conversation, should make us and our message acceptable to righthearted persons. We must shun sloppiness, immodest dress, associations that can lead to worldly involvements, and the loose, unprincipled way of life that we see in the world around us. Having “become a theatrical spectacle to the world, and to angels, and to men,” we are on duty 24 hours each day to serve and to live as exemplary Christians. (1 Corinthians 4:9; Ephesians 5:1-4; Philippians 4:8, 9; Colossians 4:5, 6) Our heart must be unified to this end.
10. How does Jehovah remember those who unify their hearts in sacred service?
10 We who unify our hearts in fear of Jehovah’s name, meditating on his grand purposes and filling our lives with sacred service, will be remembered by Jehovah. “As regards Jehovah, his eyes are roving about through all the earth to show his strength in behalf of those whose heart is complete toward him.” (2 Chronicles 16:9) Referring prophetically to our day, Malachi 3:16 reads: “At that time those in fear of Jehovah spoke with one another, each one with his companion, and Jehovah kept paying attention and listening. And a book of remembrance began to be written up before him for those in fear of Jehovah and for those thinking upon his name.” May our hearts be unified in that wholesome fear of Jehovah!
11. How will Jehovah’s loving-kindness be expressed toward loyal ones?
11 How fervent is David’s prayer! He continues: “I laud you, O Jehovah my God, with all my heart, and I will glorify your name to time indefinite, for your loving-kindness is great toward me, and you have delivered my soul out of Sheol, its lowest place.” (Psalm 86:12, 13) For the second time in this psalm, David praises Jehovah for His loving-kindness—His loyal love. So great is this love that it can save in seemingly impossible situations. When Saul was hounding him in the wilderness, David may have felt like crawling into a corner to die. It was like coming face-to-face with the lowest Sheol—the depths of the grave. But Jehovah delivered him! In like manner, Jehovah has often brought relief to his modern-day servants in marvelous ways, and he has also sustained integrity keepers who have endured faithfully even to death. All loyal ones will have their reward, even by a resurrection if necessary.—Compare Job 1:6-12; 2:1-6, 9, 10; 27:5; 42:10; Proverbs 27:11; Matthew 24:9, 13; Revelation 2:10.*
12. How have the clergy been presumptuous and tyrannical, and what will be their reward?
12 Concerning persecutors David cries out: “O God, the presumptuous ones themselves have risen up against me; and the very assembly of tyrannical ones have looked for my soul, and they have not set you in front of themselves.” (Psalm 86:14) Today, the persecutors have included clergymen of Christendom. These ones presume to worship God but replace his holy name by the title “Lord” and present him as a mysterious Trinity that is actually mentioned nowhere in the Bible. How presumptuous! Added to this, they try to persuade the political powers to outlaw and imprison Jehovah’s Witnesses, as is still being done in a surprisingly large number of countries around the earth. These berobed blasphemers of God’s name will reap their reward, along with all harlotlike sectors of Babylon the Great.—Revelation 17:1, 2, 15-18; 19:1-3.
13. What qualities does Jehovah show in making known his goodness?
13 In happy contrast David’s prayer continues: “But you, O Jehovah, are a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abundant in loving-kindness and trueness.” (Psalm 86:15) Superlative, indeed, are such qualities of our God. These words take us back to Mount Sinai when Moses asked to see Jehovah’s glory. Jehovah replied: “I myself shall cause all my goodness to pass before your face, and I will declare the name of Jehovah before you.” But he warned Moses: “You are not able to see my face, because no man may see me and yet live.” Thereafter, Jehovah came down in the cloud, proclaiming: “Jehovah, Jehovah, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abundant in loving-kindness and truth.” (Exodus 33:18-20; 34:5, 6) David quoted these words in his prayer. Such qualities of Jehovah mean far more to us than any physical appearance! From our own experience, do we not appreciate Jehovah’s goodness as exemplified in these fine attributes?
“A Sign Meaning Goodness”
14, 15. How does Jehovah work out for his servants “a sign meaning goodness”?
14 David again implores Jehovah’s blessing, saying: “Turn to me and show me favor. Do give your strength to your servant, and do save the son of your slave girl. Work out with me a sign meaning goodness, that those hating me may see it and be ashamed. For you yourself, O Jehovah, have helped me and comforted me.” (Psalm 86:16, 17) David recognizes that as ‘the son of Jehovah’s slave girl,’ he too must belong to Jehovah. It is the same with all of us today who have dedicated our lives to Jehovah and who slave in his service. We need Jehovah’s saving strength through his holy spirit. Hence, we ask our God to work out with us “a sign meaning goodness.” Jehovah’s goodness embraces the fine qualities we have just discussed. On this basis, what sign, or token, can we expect Jehovah to give us?
15 Jehovah is the Giver of “every good gift and every perfect present” and is generous, as Jesus assures us, in giving “holy spirit to those asking him.” (James 1:17; Luke 11:13) Holy spirit—what a priceless gift from Jehovah! Through holy spirit, Jehovah provides joy of heart, even in time of persecution. Thus, Jesus’ apostles, when on trial for their lives, could joyfully declare that God gives holy spirit to those obeying him as ruler. (Acts 5:27-32) Joy of holy spirit continually worked out with them “a sign meaning goodness.”—Romans 14:17, 18.
16, 17. (a) What sign of his goodness did Jehovah give to Paul and Barnabas? (b) What sign was given the persecuted Thessalonians?
16 During the course of their missionary journey through Asia Minor, Paul and Barnabas met up with hardships, even severe persecution. When they preached in Antioch of Pisidia, the Jews rejected their message. Hence, they turned to people of the nations. What resulted? “When those of the nations heard this, they began to rejoice and to glorify the word of Jehovah, and all those who were rightly disposed for everlasting life became believers.” But the Jews caused an uproar, so that those missionaries were thrown out of the country. Were they and the new believers despondent about this? By no means! Rather, “the disciples continued to be filled with joy and holy spirit.” (Acts 13:48, 52) Jehovah gave them that sign of his goodness.
17 Later, the new congregation in Thessalonica was subjected to persecution. This led the apostle Paul to write a letter of comfort, commending their endurance under tribulation. They had “accepted the word under much tribulation with joy of holy spirit.” (1 Thessalonians 1:6) “Joy of holy spirit” continued to strengthen them as an evident sign from the God who is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abundant in loving-kindness and trueness.
18. How have our brothers in Eastern Europe shown appreciation for Jehovah’s goodness?
18 In recent times, Jehovah has expressed his goodness toward our faithful brothers in Eastern Europe, shaming those who have hated them—their former persecutors. Though recently relieved from decades of oppression, these dear brothers still have to endure, for many are faced with severe economic hardships. However, their “joy of holy spirit” comforts them. What greater joy could they have than in using their newfound freedoms in expanding the witness? Many people are listening to them, as reports on conventions and baptisms reveal.—Compare Acts 9:31.
19. How may we make the words of Psalm 86:11 our very own?
19 All that has been discussed in this and in the preceding article echoes David’s fervent prayer to Jehovah: “Instruct me, O Jehovah . . . Unify my heart to fear your name.” (Psalm 86:11) Let us make those words of our 1993 yeartext our very own as we work wholeheartedly in support of the Kingdom interests and in appreciation of the inexhaustible goodness of our one God, the Sovereign Lord Jehovah.
For modern-day examples, see Yearbook of Jehovah’s Witnesses, editions of 1974, pages 113-212; 1985, pages 194-7; 1986, pages 237-8; 1988, pages 182-5; 1990, pages 171-2; 1992, pages 174-81.
How Would You Answer?
□ What do we indicate by praying, “Instruct me, O Jehovah”?
□ What is meant by our hearts’ being unified to fear Jehovah’s name?
□ How will Jehovah show his loving-kindness toward all loyal ones?
□ How does Jehovah work out with us “a sign meaning goodness?”
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The yeartext for 1993: “Instruct me, O Jehovah . . . Unify my heart to fear your name.” —Psalm 86:11.
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Jehovah is a crag and a stronghold to those who walk straightforward in the truth
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At the “Light Bearers” International Convention of Jehovah’s Witnesses in St. Petersburg, Russia, in June, 46,214 attended and 3,256 were baptized. How wonderfully these are availing themselves of Jehovah’s goodness, with “joy of holy spirit”!