Take Refuge in Jehovah
“In you, O Jehovah, have I taken refuge.”—PSALM 31:1.
1. How does Psalm 31 express confidence in Jehovah’s ability to provide refuge?
A MELODIOUS voice sings of a man who, though worn out in mind and body, casts himself upon Jehovah. Faith triumphs, say the lyrics of that sacred song. In the waiting arms of the Almighty, this man finds shelter from hounding persecutors. “In you, O Jehovah, have I taken refuge,” goes his psalm. “O may I never be ashamed. In your righteousness provide escape for me.”—Psalm 31:1.
2. (a) We can put trust in Jehovah as our stronghold based on what two pillars? (b) What kind of God is Jehovah?
2 The psalmist has one refuge—the best one! Let other things be in doubt, yet this fact remains: Jehovah is his stronghold, his fortress. His confidence rests on two sure pillars. One, his faith, which Jehovah will not put to shame, and two, Jehovah’s righteousness, which means He will never permanently abandon His servant. Jehovah is not a God who shames his faithful servants; he is no promise breaker. Rather, he is a God of truth and a rewarder of those earnestly putting trust in him. In the end, faith will be rewarded! Escape will come!—Psalm 31:5, 6.
3. How does the psalmist magnify Jehovah?
3 Composing his music with undulating strains that rise from depths of grief and woe to peaks of confidence, the psalmist finds inward strength. He magnifies Jehovah for His loyal love. “Blessed be Jehovah,” he sings, “for he has rendered wonderful loving-kindness to me in a city under stress.”—Psalm 31:21.
Mighty Chorus of Kingdom Proclaimers
4, 5. (a) What mighty chorus is praising Jehovah today, and how have they done that during this past service year? (See chart on pages 12-15.) (b) In what way does the Memorial attendance indicate that there are more individuals willing to join the chorus of Kingdom proclaimers? (See chart.) (c) What group in your congregation may be in line to join the chorus?
4 Today, the words of that psalm have again come to life. Songs of praise to Jehovah cannot be stifled by any evil opposer, by any natural disaster, or by any economic woe; truly, Jehovah’s loving-kindness has become wonderful to his people. Around the world last service year, a mighty chorus, peaking at 4,709,889 in 231 lands, sang the message of God’s Kingdom. Jehovah’s heavenly government by Christ Jesus is a refuge that will not disappoint them. Last year, these Kingdom proclaimers from 73,070 congregations spent a total of 1,057,341,972 hours in the evangelizing work. This has resulted in 296,004 persons symbolizing their dedication to God by water baptism. And what a wonderful surprise was enjoyed by all the attendees at the Divine Teaching International Convention held in Kiev, Ukraine, this past August. They saw history made, witnessing the largest recorded mass baptism of true Christians ever! As prophesied at Isaiah 54:2, 3, God’s people are breaking forth in unprecedented numbers.
5 However, additional willing subjects of God’s Kingdom are standing in line to join the chorus. Last year, the Memorial of Jesus’ death was attended by an astounding total of 11,865,765 people. Hopefully, many of these will qualify to sing the Kingdom song from door to door during this service year. How that prospect must fill the enemy of truth, Satan the Devil, with rage!—Revelation 12:12, 17.
6, 7. Explain how an interested man overcame demon harassment with the help of Jehovah.
6 Satan will try to block others from adding their voices to that mighty chorus. For example, publishers in Thailand find an increasing number of people plagued by demon harassment. Many sincere ones, however, have been set free with the help of Jehovah. After visiting a witch doctor out of curiosity, one man was under the power of the demons for ten years. He endeavored to break free from their power with the help of a clergyman, but he experienced no real improvement. A full-time minister of Jehovah’s Witnesses started a Bible study with the man and taught him from the Bible the only way to get free from demon power—take in accurate knowledge of the truth, put faith in Jehovah God, and supplicate him in prayer.—1 Corinthians 2:5; Philippians 4:6, 7; 1 Timothy 2:3, 4.
7 The night after this discussion, the man had a dream in which his dead father threatened him if he did not return to being a spiritistic medium. His family began to suffer. Unwilling to be swayed, the man continued his Bible lessons and began attending meetings. During one of those studies, the pioneer explained that sometimes objects used in spiritistic rituals can give the demons an opening to harass people who are trying to get free from their power. The man remembered that he had some oil that he had used as a charm. He now realized that he had to throw it away. Since disposing of it, he has not been bothered again by the wicked spirits. (Compare Ephesians 6:13; James 4:7, 8.) He and his wife are progressing well with their study and regularly attend the meetings for Bible instruction.
8, 9. What other obstacles have some Kingdom proclaimers overcome?
8 Other obstacles may muffle the sound of the good news. Because of a very oppressive economic situation in Ghana, workers have been laid off. The cost of living has skyrocketed, which makes it a real problem to obtain the bare necessities of life. How have Jehovah’s people been coping? By trusting, not in themselves, but in Jehovah. For example, one day a man left a sealed envelope at the reception desk of the branch office. In the envelope was $200, or three months’ minimum wage. The envelope came from an anonymous gift giver, but on the wrapper was this inscription: “I lost my job, but Jehovah has provided me with another one. I am grateful to him and his Son, Christ Jesus. To assist in the spreading of the good news of the Kingdom before the end comes, I am enclosing a modest contribution.”—Compare 2 Corinthians 9:11.
9 Meeting attendance helps train those who join in the mighty chorus of praise to Jehovah. (Compare Psalm 22:22.) Thus, in the southern part of Honduras, there is a congregation called El Jordán. What is so special about this small group? It is their faithful meeting attendance. Of the 19 publishers, 12 have to cross a wide river to attend the meetings each week. This is not a big problem in the dry season, since they can cross the river by using rocks as stepping-stones. However, during the rainy season, conditions change. What was once an unimposing stretch of water becomes a torrent washing away everything in its path. To surmount this obstacle, the brothers and sisters have to be good swimmers. Before crossing, they put their meeting clothes in a tina (metal tub) and then cover it with a plastic bag. The strongest swimmer uses the tina as a buoy and leads the group across. Safe on the other side, they dry themselves, get dressed, and arrive at the Kingdom Hall cheerful and sparkling clean!—Psalm 40:9.
A Fortress Where We May Dwell
10. Why can we turn to Jehovah during times of stress?
10 Whether you are under outright demon attack or feeling stress from other sources, Jehovah can be your stronghold. Call out to him in prayer. He listens attentively even to the faintest moanings of his people. The psalmist found that to be true and wrote: “Incline to me your ear. Deliver me speedily. Become for me a rocky stronghold, a house of strongholds to save me. For you are my crag and my stronghold; and for the sake of your name you will lead me and conduct me. You will bring me out of the net that they have hidden for me, for you are my fortress.”—Psalm 31:2-4.
11. Explain why Jehovah’s fortress is not a temporary place.
11 Jehovah provides not just a temporary refuge but an unassailable fortress where we may dwell in security. His lead and guidance have not failed his people. Divine power will render useless all the crafty acts of Satan and his brood. (Ephesians 6:10, 11) As we trust wholeheartedly in Jehovah, he will draw us away from Satan’s snares. (2 Peter 2:9) During the past four years, the preaching work of Jehovah’s Witnesses has opened up in some 35 countries. Also, in areas of the world where the social, economic, or political conditions hinder the preaching of the good news, some sheeplike people have moved to where they can be reached more freely. Japan is one such place.
12. How did a pioneer in Japan make Jehovah his stronghold?
12 In Japan there has been an influx of guest workers from overseas, and many foreign-language congregations have been established. The experience of a brother in a Japanese congregation illustrates how productive this foreign-language field is. He wanted to go to serve where the need was greater. However, he was already conducting ten Bible studies where he was. One of his friends jokingly said: “If you go where the need is greater, you will have to conduct 20 Bible studies there!” He received an assignment and went to Hiroshima. After four months, however, he had just one Bible study. One day he called on a man from Brazil who spoke only Portuguese. Since the brother could not communicate with the man, he bought a textbook on Portuguese. After learning some simple conversational expressions, he again visited the man. When the brother greeted him in the Portuguese language, the man was amazed and, with a big smile, opened the door wide and invited him in. A Bible study was started. Soon the brother was conducting a total of 22 studies, 14 in Portuguese, 6 in Spanish, and 2 in Japanese!
Preaching With Confidence
13. Why should no one try to shame us into serving Jehovah?
13 Jehovah’s people confidently sing the Kingdom song with full faith that Jehovah is their refuge. (Psalm 31:14) They will not be ashamed—Jehovah will not humiliate them, for he will fulfill his word. (Psalm 31:17) The Devil and his demonic cohorts will be ashamed. Since Jehovah’s people are commissioned to preach a message that is free of shame, they are not shamed by other people into preaching. That is not the way Jehovah, or his Son, incites people to worship Him. When people’s hearts are full of faith and appreciation for Jehovah’s goodness and loving-kindness, it is the good condition of their hearts that impels their mouths to speak. (Luke 6:45) Thus, whatever time we spend in service each month, especially if that time represents the best that we can do, is good, not shameful. Was not the widow’s mite fully appreciated by Jesus and his Father?—Luke 21:1-4.
14. What comments can you make regarding the pioneer work? (See also the chart.)
14 For a growing number of publishers, being whole-souled in their worship includes serving as pioneers—890,231 the peak last year! If the previous year’s progress is maintained, this figure will likely exceed 1,000,000. The following experience shows how a sister in Nigeria entered the pioneer ranks. She writes: “When I was about to finish secondary school, I went to help with the cooking for those attending the pioneer school of Jehovah’s Witnesses. I met two sisters there who were older than my grandmother. When I found out that they were pioneers attending the school, I thought to myself, ‘If those two can pioneer, why can’t I?’ So after I finished school, I too became a regular pioneer.”
15. In what way can informal witnessing pave the way for others to take refuge in Jehovah?
15 Not all can pioneer, but they can witness. In Belgium an 82-year-old sister went shopping for meat. She noted that the butcher’s wife was quite disturbed over recent political upheavals. So the sister slipped the tract What Do Jehovah’s Witnesses Believe? in with the money when she paid her bill. When the sister returned to the shop, the butcher’s wife, without a moment’s hesitation, asked what the Bible says about a possible third world war. The sister brought her the book True Peace and Security—How Can You Find It? A few days later, as the elderly sister stepped into the store, the butcher’s wife had more questions for her. The sister’s heart went out to this woman; she simply had to offer her a Bible study, and this was accepted. Now, the butcher’s wife wants to be baptized. What about the butcher? He read the tract and is now studying the Bible too.
‘A Treasure of Goodness’
16. How has Jehovah set aside a treasure of goodness for his people?
16 During these stressful last days, has not Jehovah “rendered wonderful loving-kindness” to those who have taken refuge in him? Like a loving, protective father, Jehovah has set aside a treasure of goodness for his earthly children. He has been showering happiness upon them before all onlookers, just as the psalmist says: “How abundant your goodness is, which you have treasured up for those fearing you! Which you have rendered to those taking refuge in you, in front of the sons of men.”—Psalm 31:19, 21.
17-19. In Ghana, what good resulted from an aged man’s legalizing his marriage?
17 Therefore, worldly people become eyewitnesses of the honesty of those worshiping Jehovah, and they marvel. For example, in Ghana a 96-year-old man went to the office of the marriage registrar and requested that his common-law marriage of 70 years now be registered. The marriage officer was shocked and asked: “Are you sure that is what you want to do? At your age?”
18 The man explained: “I want to be one of Jehovah’s Witnesses and share in the most important work before the end of the world—the work of preaching the good news of God’s Kingdom. This work leads to everlasting life. Jehovah’s Witnesses obey the civil law, including the law on marriage registration. So please do the registration for me.” The officer was dumbfounded. He went ahead with the registration, and the elderly man left happy that he now had a legal marriage.—Compare Romans 12:2.
19 After that, the marriage registrar pondered over the things he had heard. “Jehovah’s Witnesses . . . the most important work . . . the end of the world . . . God’s Kingdom . . . everlasting life.” Puzzled as to what all of this meant in the life of a 96-year-old man, he decided to search for the Witnesses to look into the matter further. He accepted a home Bible study and made rapid progress. Today, this marriage registrar is a baptized Witness. Thus, when we obey Jehovah even in what others may consider to be small matters, it may result in untold good for us and for those who are eyewitnesses of our conduct.—Compare 1 Peter 2:12.
20. In Myanmar, how did one young sister’s honesty lead to a good witness?
20 Older ones who have let the truth mold them into honest people set a good example for young ones in this dishonest world. In Myanmar lives such a young sister. She comes from a poor and humble family of ten children. The father, a pensioner, is a regular pioneer. One day in school, the sister found a diamond ring, which she promptly took to her teacher. As the class convened the next day, the teacher told the class how the ring was found and handed in for return to the owner. Then she asked the young sister to stand before the entire class and explain why she had done this, knowing that other children might have chosen to keep it. The sister explained that she was a Witness of Jehovah and that her God does not like stealing or any kind of dishonesty. The whole school heard about it, giving our young sister a good opportunity to witness to teachers and students alike.
21. As young people trust in Jehovah, how does their conduct reflect on him?
21 In Belgium a teacher made an interesting remark in class about Jehovah’s Witnesses. He had observed the conduct of one of his pupils, who was also a young sister, and said: “I now have another opinion of Jehovah’s Witnesses. Prejudice had led me to think that they would be the least tolerant people. They proved to be the most tolerant, while not compromising their principles.” Each year an award is given by the teachers to their best pupils. Among others is an award for the course in ethics. For three consecutive years, the awards for the three superior grades were given by this teacher to children of Jehovah’s Witnesses. So it often goes with those whose loyal trust is in Jehovah.—Psalm 31:23.
22. What is the triumphant conclusion to Psalm 31, and how does that help us during the closing days of this system of things?
22 Psalm 31 rings out with a triumphant conclusion: “Be courageous, and may your heart be strong, all you who are waiting for Jehovah.” (Psalm 31:24) Therefore, as we face the closing days of Satan’s wicked system, far from leaving us, Jehovah will draw very near to us and put his own power into us. Jehovah is faithful and does not fail. He is our refuge; he is our tower.—Proverbs 18:10.
Do You Remember?
□ Why can we confidently make Jehovah our refuge?
□ What evidence is there that a mighty chorus is singing Kingdom praise with courage?
□ Why can we be confident that Satan’s net will not ensnare Jehovah’s people?
□ What treasure has Jehovah set aside for those taking refuge in him?
[Chart on page 12-15]
1993 SERVICE YEAR REPORT OF JEHOVAH’S WITNESSES WORLDWIDE
(See bound volume)
[Pictures on page 16, 17]
Those who take refuge in Jehovah make a mighty chorus of Kingdom proclaimers—4,709,889 strong!