Rely on God’s Spirit in Dealing With Life’s Changes
“Do your utmost to present yourself approved to God.”—2 TIMOTHY 2:15.
1. What changes present a challenge to our spiritual well-being?
THE world around us changes continually. We see impressive scientific and technological advances accompanied by a dramatic decline in moral values. As we considered in the preceding article, Christians must resist the anti-God spirit of the world. As the world changes, however, we too change in many ways. We pass from childhood to adulthood. We may gain or lose wealth, health, and loved ones. Many such changes are beyond our control, and they can present new and formidable challenges to our spiritual well-being.
2. How did David’s life undergo change?
2 Few people undergo such radical changes in their life as did David, the son of Jesse. David passed swiftly from obscurity as a shepherd boy to fame as a national hero. He later came to be a fugitive, hunted like an animal by a jealous king. After that, David became a king and conqueror. He endured the painful consequences of serious sin. He suffered tragedy and division within his family. He acquired wealth, grew old, and experienced the infirmities of old age. Despite the many changes in his life, however, David displayed a lifelong confidence and trust in Jehovah and His spirit. He did his utmost to present himself “approved to God,” and God blessed him. (2 Timothy 2:15) Though our circumstances differ from those of David, we can learn from the way he handled matters in his life. His example can help us understand how we can continue to have the help of God’s spirit as we face changes in our life.
David’s Humility—A Fine Example
3, 4. How did David rise from the obscurity of a shepherd boy to national fame?
3 As a boy, David was not prominent even within his own family. When the prophet Samuel came to Bethlehem, David’s father presented seven of his eight sons. David, the youngest son, was left to tend the sheep. Yet, Jehovah had chosen David to be the future king of Israel. David was called from the field. Next, the Bible record says: “Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed him in the midst of his brothers. And the spirit of Jehovah began to be operative upon David from that day forward.” (1 Samuel 16:12, 13) David relied on that spirit throughout his life.
4 Soon this shepherd boy would rise to national fame. He was called to attend to the king and to play music for him. He killed the warrior Goliath, a giant so fierce that even the seasoned soldiers of Israel feared to face him. Placed over the men of war, David successfully battled the Philistines. The people loved him. They composed songs lauding him. Earlier, an adviser to King Saul described young David not only as one “skilled at playing” the harp but also as “a valiant, mighty man and a man of war and an intelligent speaker and a well-formed man.”—1 Samuel 16:18; 17:23, 24, 45-51; 18:5-7.
5. What could have made David arrogant, and how do we know that he did not become so?
5 Fame, good looks, youth, eloquence, musical skills, military prowess, divine favor—David seemed to have it all. Any one of these things could have made him arrogant, yet none of them did. Note David’s reply to King Saul, who offered David his daughter in marriage. With true humility, David said: “Who am I and who are my kinsfolk, my father’s family, in Israel, so that I should become son-in-law to the king?” (1 Samuel 18:18) Commenting on this verse, one scholar wrote: “David’s meaning was, that neither on personal grounds, nor on account of his social standing, nor because of his lineage, could he make the slightest pretension to the honour of becoming the son-in-law of the king.”
6. Why should we cultivate humility?
6 David’s humility was based on his recognition that Jehovah is vastly superior to imperfect humans in every way. David marveled that God even takes notice of man. (Psalm 144:3) David also knew that any greatness that he might have was only because Jehovah showed humility, lowering himself to sustain, protect, and care for him. (Psalm 18:35) What a beautiful lesson for us! Our talents, our achievements, and our privileges should never make us haughty. “Indeed, what do you have that you did not receive?” wrote the apostle Paul. “If, now, you did indeed receive it, why do you boast as though you did not receive it?” (1 Corinthians 4:7) To have God’s holy spirit and to enjoy his approval, we must cultivate and maintain humility.—James 4:6.
“Do Not Avenge Yourselves”
7. What opportunity to slay King Saul presented itself to David?
7 While David’s fame aroused no pride in his heart, it did spawn a murderous jealousy in King Saul, from whom God’s spirit had departed. Though David had done no wrong, he fled for his life and took up dwelling in the wilderness. On one occasion, during a relentless pursuit of David, King Saul entered a cave, not knowing that David and his companions were hidden there. David’s men urged him to take advantage of the seemingly God-sent opportunity to slay Saul. We can picture them in the gloom, whispering to David: “Here is the day on which Jehovah does say to you, ‘Look! I am giving your enemy into your hand, and you must do to him just as it may seem good in your eyes.’”—1 Samuel 24:2-6.
8. Why did David restrain himself from taking vengeance?
8 David refused to harm Saul. Exercising faith and patience, he was content to leave matters in the hands of Jehovah. After the king left the cave, David called out to him and said: “May Jehovah judge between me and you; and Jehovah must take vengeance for me from you, but my own hand will not come to be upon you.” (1 Samuel 24:12) Though he knew that Saul was in the wrong, David did not avenge himself; neither did he speak abusively to Saul or about him. On several other occasions, David restrained himself from taking matters into his own hands. Instead, he relied on Jehovah to set things straight.—1 Samuel 25:32-34; 26:10, 11.
9. Why should we not retaliate if we experience opposition or persecution?
9 Like David, you may find yourself in trying situations. Perhaps you are opposed or persecuted by schoolmates, fellow employees, family members, or others who do not share your faith. Do not retaliate. Wait on Jehovah, asking for his holy spirit to help you. Possibly those unbelievers will be impressed by your good conduct and will become believers. (1 Peter 3:1) In any case, be assured that Jehovah sees your situation and will do something about it in his own due time. The apostle Paul wrote: “Do not avenge yourselves, beloved, but yield place to the wrath; for it is written: ‘Vengeance is mine; I will repay, says Jehovah.’”—Romans 12:19.
“Listen to Discipline”
10. How did David fall into sin, and how did he try to cover it up?
10 Years passed. David became a beloved king of immense prominence. His life course of outstanding faithfulness, along with the beautiful psalms that he wrote in praise of Jehovah, might easily give the impression that this was a man who would never fall into serious sin. Yet, fall he did. One day, the king observed from his rooftop a beautiful woman bathing herself. He made inquiries. Learning that the woman was Bath-sheba and that her husband, Uriah, was off to war, David sent for her and had relations with her. Later, he found out that she was pregnant. What a scandal this would unleash if the matter was exposed! Under the Mosaic Law, adultery was a capital crime. The king evidently thought that the sin could be covered up. So he sent word to the army, ordering that Uriah return to Jerusalem. David hoped that Uriah would spend the night with Bath-sheba, but that did not happen. Now desperate, David sent Uriah back to the war with a letter to Joab, the military commander. The letter directed that Uriah be put in a battle situation that would result in his death. Joab obeyed, and Uriah was slain. After Bath-sheba observed the customary period of mourning, David took her to be his wife.—2 Samuel 11:1-27.
11. What situation did Nathan present to David, and how did he react?
11 The scheme seemed to have worked, though David should have known that the entire matter was openly exposed to Jehovah. (Hebrews 4:13) Months passed, and the child was born. Then, at God’s direction, Nathan the prophet went to David. The prophet presented to the king a situation in which a rich man with many sheep of his own took and slaughtered the sole, beloved sheep belonging to a man of little means. The story stirred David’s sense of justice but awakened no suspicion as to its hidden meaning. David rendered swift judgment against the rich man. Hot with anger, he said to Nathan: “The man doing this deserves to die!”—2 Samuel 12:1-6.
12. What judgment did Jehovah render against David?
12 “You yourself are the man!” the prophet responded. David had judged himself. Doubtless, David’s indignation quickly gave way to profound shame and deep sorrow. Stunned, he listened as Nathan rendered Jehovah’s inescapable judgment. There were no words of comfort or consolation. David had despised the word of Jehovah by doing what was bad. Had he not slain Uriah with the sword of the enemy? A sword would not depart from David’s house. Had he not taken Uriah’s wife in secret? A similar evil would come upon him, not in secret, but publicly.—2 Samuel 12:7-12.
13. How did David react to Jehovah’s discipline?
13 To David’s credit, he did not deny his guilt. He did not lash out against the prophet Nathan. He did not blame others or offer excuses for what he had done. Confronted with his sins, David accepted responsibility, saying: “I have sinned against Jehovah.” (2 Samuel 12:13) Psalm 51 shows the anguish of his guilt and the depth of his repentance. He pleaded with Jehovah: “Do not throw me away from before your face; and your holy spirit O do not take away from me.” He believed that Jehovah, in his mercy, would not despise “a heart broken and crushed” over sin. (Psalm 51:11, 17) David continued to rely on God’s spirit. While Jehovah did not shield David from the bitter consequences of his sin, he forgave him.
14. How should we react to Jehovah’s discipline?
14 All of us are imperfect, and we all sin. (Romans 3:23) Sometimes we may fall into serious sin, as did David. Just as a loving father disciplines his children, so Jehovah corrects those who seek to serve him. While discipline is beneficial, however, it is not easy to take. In fact, at times it is “grievous.” (Hebrews 12:6, 11) Yet, if we “listen to discipline,” we can become reconciled to Jehovah. (Proverbs 8:33) To enjoy the continued blessing of Jehovah’s spirit, we must accept correction and work to be approved by God.
Do Not Hope in Uncertain Riches
15. (a) In what ways do some people use their riches? (b) How did David desire to use his wealth?
15 There is no indication that David came from a prominent background or that his family was wealthy. During his kingship, however, David acquired enormous wealth. As you know, many hoard their wealth, greedily seek to increase it, or spend it selfishly. Others use their money to glorify themselves. (Matthew 6:2) David used his wealth differently. He yearned to honor Jehovah. To Nathan, David expressed his desire to build a temple for Jehovah to contain the ark of the covenant, which was then in Jerusalem “dwelling in the middle of tent cloths.” Jehovah was pleased with David’s intentions but told him through Nathan that the building of the temple would fall to David’s son Solomon.—2 Samuel 7:1, 2, 12, 13.
16. What preparations did David make for the construction of the temple?
16 David gathered materials to be used in this great construction project. To Solomon, David said: “I have prepared for Jehovah’s house a hundred thousand talents of gold and a million talents of silver, and the copper and the iron there is no means of weighing because they have come to be in such quantity; and timbers and stones I have prepared, but to them you will make additions.” From his personal fortune, he contributed 3,000 talents of gold and 7,000 talents of silver.a (1 Chronicles 22:14; 29:3, 4) David’s generous giving was, not an outward show, but a manifestation of faith and devotion to Jehovah God. Recognizing the Source of his riches, he said to Jehovah: “Everything is from you, and out of your own hand we have given to you.” (1 Chronicles 29:14) David’s generous heart moved him to do all he could to promote pure worship.
17. How does the counsel at 1 Timothy 6:17-19 apply to both rich and poor?
17 Similarly, may we use our material assets to do good. Rather than pursuing a materialistic way of life, it is better to seek God’s approval—that is the way of true wisdom and happiness. Paul wrote: “Give orders to those who are rich in the present system of things not to be high-minded, and to rest their hope, not on uncertain riches, but on God, who furnishes us all things richly for our enjoyment; to work at good, to be rich in fine works, to be liberal, ready to share, safely treasuring up for themselves a fine foundation for the future, in order that they may get a firm hold on the real life.” (1 Timothy 6:17-19) Whatever our economic situation, let us rely on God’s spirit and pursue a course of life that will make us “rich toward God.” (Luke 12:21) Nothing is more valuable than an approved standing with our loving heavenly Father.
Present Yourself Approved to God
18. In what way did David set a fine example for Christians?
18 Throughout his life, David sought Jehovah’s approval. In song, he cried out: “Show me favor, O God, show me favor, for in you my soul has taken refuge.” (Psalm 57:1) His trust in Jehovah was not in vain. David grew old, “satisfied with days.” (1 Chronicles 23:1) Though David made serious mistakes, he is remembered as one of many witnesses of God who displayed outstanding faith.—Hebrews 11:32.
19. How can we present ourselves approved to God?
19 As you face changing situations in life, remember that just as Jehovah sustained, strengthened, and corrected David, He can do the same for you. The apostle Paul, like David, faced many changes in life. Yet, he too remained faithful by relying on God’s spirit. He wrote: “For all things I have the strength by virtue of him who imparts power to me.” (Philippians 4:12, 13) If we rely on Jehovah, he will help us to succeed. He wants us to succeed. If we listen to him and draw close to him, he will grant us the strength to do his will. And if we continue to rely on God’s spirit, we will be able to ‘present ourselves approved to God’ now and throughout eternity.—2 Timothy 2:15.
a The value of David’s contribution, by today’s standards, amounts to over $1,200,000,000, U.S.
How Would You Answer?
• How might we guard against pride?
• Why should we not avenge ourselves?
• What view of discipline should we have?
• Why should we trust in God and not in riches?
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David relied on God’s spirit and sought divine approval. Are you doing the same?
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“Everything is from you, and out of your own hand we have given to you”