Trust in Jehovah’s Word
“I have trusted in your word.”—PSALM 119:42.
1. What can you say about the identity and spirit of the writer of Psalm 119?
JEHOVAH’S word was cherished by the composer of Psalm 119. He may have been Prince Hezekiah of Judah. Sentiments expressed in this inspired song fit the spirit of Hezekiah, who “kept sticking to Jehovah” while serving as king of Judah. (2 Kings 18:3-7) One thing is certain: The composer was conscious of his spiritual need.—Matthew 5:3.
2. What is the theme of Psalm 119, and how is this song designed?
2 A key point of Psalm 119 is the value of God’s word, or message.* Likely as a memory aid, the writer made this an alphabetic song. Its 176 verses are based on successive letters of the Hebrew alphabet. In the original Hebrew, each of the psalm’s 22 stanzas has 8 lines that begin with the same letter. This psalm refers to God’s word, law, reminders, ways, orders, regulations, commandments, judicial decisions, sayings, and statutes. In this article and the next, Psalm 119 will be discussed according to an accurate translation of the Hebrew Bible text. Reflecting on experiences involving Jehovah’s servants past and present should enhance our appreciation for this divinely inspired song and increase our gratitude for God’s written Word, the Bible.
Obey God’s Word and Be Happy
3. Explain and illustrate what it means to be faultless.
3 True happiness depends on our walking in God’s law. (Psalm 119:1-8) If we do this, Jehovah will consider us ‘faultless in our way.’ (Psalm 119:1) Being faultless does not mean that we are perfect, but it does indicate that we strive to do Jehovah God’s will. Noah “proved himself faultless among his contemporaries” as a man who “walked with the true God.” That faithful patriarch and his family survived the Flood because he pursued the life course outlined by Jehovah. (Genesis 6:9; 1 Peter 3:20) Similarly, our survival of this world’s end depends on our ‘carefully keeping God’s orders,’ thus doing his will.—Psalm 119:4.
4. Our happiness and success depend on what?
4 Jehovah will never leave us if we ‘laud him with uprightness of heart and continue to keep his regulations.’ (Psalm 119:7, 8) God did not abandon the Israelite leader Joshua, who applied the counsel to ‘read in the book of the law day and night so that he might do all that was written in it.’ That made him successful and enabled him to act wisely. (Joshua 1:8) Near the end of his life, Joshua was still lauding God and could remind the Israelites: “You well know with all your hearts and with all your souls that not one word out of all the good words that Jehovah your God has spoken to you has failed.” (Joshua 23:14) Like Joshua and the writer of Psalm 119, we can find happiness and success by praising Jehovah and trusting in his word.
Jehovah’s Word Keeps Us Clean
5. (a) Show how it is possible to keep spiritually clean. (b) What help is there for a young person who has sinned seriously?
5 We can be spiritually clean if we keep on guard according to God’s word. (Psalm 119:9-16) This is so even if our parents have not set a good example. Although Hezekiah’s father was an idolater, Hezekiah ‘cleansed his path,’ possibly of pagan influences. Suppose a young person serving God today sins seriously. Repentance, prayer, parental help, and the loving assistance of Christian elders can help him to be like Hezekiah and ‘cleanse his path and keep on guard.’—James 5:13-15.
6. What women ‘cleansed their path and kept on guard according to God’s word’?
6 Although Rahab and Ruth lived long before Psalm 119 was composed, they ‘cleansed their path.’ Rahab was a Canaanite prostitute, but she became known for her faith as a worshiper of Jehovah. (Hebrews 11:30, 31) The Moabitess Ruth left her own gods, served Jehovah, and complied with his Law to Israel. (Ruth 1:14-17; 4:9-13) Both of these non-Israelite women ‘kept on guard according to God’s word’ and had the wonderful privilege of becoming ancestresses of Jesus Christ.—Matthew 1:1, 4-6.
7. How did Daniel and three other Hebrew youths set a fine example in maintaining spiritual cleanness?
7 “The inclination of the heart of man is bad from his youth up,” but young people can follow a clean path, even in this corrupt world under Satan’s control. (Genesis 8:21; 1 John 5:19) As exiles in Babylon, Daniel and three other Hebrew youths ‘kept on guard according to God’s word.’ For instance, they would not pollute themselves “with the delicacies of the king.” (Daniel 1:6-10) The Babylonians ate unclean animals, forbidden by the Mosaic Law. (Leviticus 11:1-31; 20:24-26) They did not habitually bleed slaughtered animals, and their eating unbled meat violated God’s law on blood. (Genesis 9:3, 4) No wonder the four Hebrews would not partake of the king’s delicacies! Those godly youths maintained spiritual cleanness and thus set a fine example.
God’s Word an Aid to Faithfulness
8. What attitude and knowledge do we need if we are to comprehend and apply God’s law?
8 Fondness for God’s word is an important factor in keeping us faithful to Jehovah. (Psalm 119:17-24) If we are like the inspired songwriter, we will yearn to understand “the wonderful things” of God’s law. We will constantly ‘long for Jehovah’s judicial decisions’ and show a ‘fondness for his reminders.’ (Psalm 119:18, 20, 24) If we have been dedicated to Jehovah for even a short time, have we ‘formed a longing for the unadulterated milk belonging to the word’? (1 Peter 2:1, 2) We need to understand elementary Bible teachings so that we can be in a better position to comprehend and apply God’s law.
9. How should we react when there is a conflict between God’s law and human demands?
9 We may be fond of God’s reminders, but what if “princes” speak against us for some reason? (Psalm 119:23, 24) Today, people in authority often try to force us to put human laws above the law of God. When there is a conflict between the demands of man and the will of God, what will we do? Our fondness for God’s word will help us to remain faithful to Jehovah. Like Jesus Christ’s persecuted apostles, we will say: “We must obey God as ruler rather than men.”—Acts 5:29.
10, 11. Illustrate how we can maintain integrity to Jehovah under the most trialsome circumstances.
10 We can remain faithful to Jehovah even under the most trialsome circumstances. (Psalm 119:25-32) If we are going to succeed in maintaining our integrity to God, we must be teachable and pray earnestly for his instruction. We must also choose “the way of faithfulness.”—Psalm 119:26, 30.
11 Hezekiah, who may have written Psalm 119, chose “the way of faithfulness.” He did so even though he was surrounded by false worshipers and may have been ridiculed by members of the royal court. Very likely, ‘his soul was sleepless from grief’ because of such circumstances. (Psalm 119:28) But Hezekiah trusted in God, was a good king, and did “what was right in Jehovah’s eyes.” (2 Kings 18:1-5) With reliance on God, we too can endure trials as integrity keepers.—James 1:5-8.
Jehovah’s Word Imparts Courage
12. How can we personally apply Psalm 119:36, 37?
12 Following the guidance of God’s word gives us the courage needed to cope with life’s trials. (Psalm 119:33-40) We humbly seek Jehovah’s instruction so that we can keep his law “with the whole heart.” (Psalm 119:33, 34) Like the psalmist, we ask of God: “Incline my heart to your reminders, and not to profits,” or “unjust profit.” (Psalm 119:36; footnote) Like the apostle Paul, we “conduct ourselves honestly in all things.” (Hebrews 13:18) If an employer wants us to do something dishonest, we muster up courage to adhere to God’s directions—and Jehovah always blesses such a course. In fact, he helps us to keep all bad inclinations under control. Let us therefore pray: “Make my eyes pass on from seeing what is worthless.” (Psalm 119:37) Never would we want to view as desirable any worthless thing hated by God. (Psalm 97:10) Among other things, this moves us to avoid pornography and spiritistic practices.—1 Corinthians 6:9, 10; Revelation 21:8.
13. How did Jesus’ persecuted disciples get the courage needed to witness boldly?
13 Accurate knowledge of God’s word gives us confidence to witness courageously. (Psalm 119:41-48) And we do need courage to ‘answer the one reproaching us.’ (Psalm 119:42) At times, we may be like Jesus’ persecuted disciples, who prayed: “Jehovah, . . . grant your slaves to keep speaking your word with all boldness.” The result? “They were one and all filled with the holy spirit and were speaking the word of God with boldness.” The same Sovereign Lord gives us the courage to speak his word with boldness.—Acts 4:24-31.
14. What helps us to witness courageously, as Paul did?
14 We will have the courage needed to give a witness without any fear of shame if we cherish “the word of truth” and ‘keep God’s law constantly.’ (Psalm 119:43, 44) Diligent study of God’s written Word equips us to ‘speak about his reminders in front of kings.’ (Psalm 119:46) Prayer and Jehovah’s spirit will also help us to say the right things in a proper way. (Matthew 10:16-20; Colossians 4:6) Paul courageously spoke about God’s reminders to first-century rulers. For example, he witnessed to Roman Governor Felix, who “listened to him on the belief in Christ Jesus.” (Acts 24:24, 25) Paul also gave a witness before Governor Festus and King Agrippa. (Acts 25:22–26:32) With Jehovah’s backing, we too can be courageous witnesses, never “ashamed of the good news.”—Romans 1:16.
God’s Word Gives Us Comfort
15. How can God’s Word bring comfort when others deride us?
15 Jehovah’s Word provides unfailing comfort. (Psalm 119:49-56) There are times when we especially need to be comforted. Although we courageously speak out as Witnesses of Jehovah, “presumptuous ones”—those acting presumptuously toward God—sometimes ‘deride us in the extreme.’ (Psalm 119:51) While praying, however, we may recall positive things said in God’s Word, and we thus ‘find comfort for ourselves.’ (Psalm 119:52) During our supplications, we may remember a Scriptural law or principle that gives us the comfort and courage needed in a stressful situation.
16. What have God’s servants not done despite persecution?
16 The presumptuous ones who derided the psalmist were Israelites—members of a nation dedicated to God. What a shame! Unlike them, however, let us be determined never to deviate from God’s law. (Psalm 119:51) In the face of Nazi persecution and similar treatment through the years, thousands of God’s servants have refused to deviate from the laws and principles found in God’s Word. (John 15:18-21) And it is no burden to obey Jehovah, for his regulations are like comforting melodies to us.—Psalm 119:54; 1 John 5:3.
Be Grateful for Jehovah’s Word
17. Appreciation for God’s word moves us to do what?
17 We prove our gratitude for God’s word by observing it. (Psalm 119:57-64) The psalmist ‘promised to keep Jehovah’s words,’ and even ‘at midnight he got up to thank God for His righteous judicial decisions.’ If we awaken at night, what a fine opportunity we have to express gratitude to God in prayer! (Psalm 119:57, 62) Our appreciation for God’s word moves us to seek divine teaching and makes us the joyful ‘partners of those fearing Jehovah’—individuals having reverential awe for God. (Psalm 119:63, 64) Who could find better company on earth?
18. How does Jehovah answer our prayers when ‘the ropes of the wicked surround us’?
18 When we pray with all our heart and humbly ask Jehovah to teach us, we are ‘softening his face’ with the thought of enjoying his favor. We especially need to pray when ‘the very ropes of the wicked ones surround us.’ (Psalm 119:58, 61) Jehovah can cut enemy ropes of restraint and free us for the Kingdom-preaching and disciple-making work. (Matthew 24:14; 28:19, 20) This has been demonstrated repeatedly in lands where our work has been banned.
Have Faith in God’s Word
19, 20. How can it be good to be afflicted?
19 Faith in God and his word helps us to endure affliction and to do his will. (Psalm 119:65-72) Although presumptuous ones had ‘smeared him with falsehood,’ the psalmist sang: “It is good for me that I have been afflicted.” (Psalm 119:66, 69, 71) How could it be good for any of Jehovah’s servants to suffer affliction?
20 When we suffer affliction, we undoubtedly supplicate Jehovah earnestly, and that draws us closer to him. We may spend more time studying God’s written Word and may make greater effort to apply it. This results in a happier life. But what if we react to affliction in a way that shows up undesirable traits, such as impatience and pride? With earnest prayer and the help of God’s Word and spirit, we can overcome such flaws and more fully ‘clothe ourselves with the new personality.’ (Colossians 3:9-14) Moreover, our faith is strengthened when we endure adversity. (1 Peter 1:6, 7) Paul benefited from his tribulations because they made him more dependent on Jehovah. (2 Corinthians 1:8-10) Do we allow suffering to have a good effect on us?
Always Trust in Jehovah
21. What happens when God puts presumptuous ones to shame?
21 God’s word gives us a sound basis for trust in Jehovah. (Psalm 119:73-80) If we really trust in our Creator, we will have no reason for shame. Because of what others do, however, we need comfort and may feel like praying: “Let the presumptuous ones be ashamed.” (Psalm 119:76-78) When Jehovah puts such ones to shame, this results in the exposure of their evil ways and in the sanctification of his holy name. We can be sure that persecutors of God’s people really do not gain anything. For example, they never have—and never will—put an end to Jehovah’s Witnesses, who trust in God with all their heart.—Proverbs 3:5, 6.
22. In what sense was the psalmist “like a skin bottle in the smoke”?
22 God’s word strengthens our trust in him when we are persecuted. (Psalm 119:81-88) Because presumptuous ones were persecuting him, the psalmist felt “like a skin bottle in the smoke.” (Psalm 119:83, 86) In Bible times, bottles made of animal hide were used to hold water, wine, and other liquids. When not in use, these bottles might shrivel up if hung near a fire in a room lacking a chimney. Does hardship or persecution ever make you feel “like a skin bottle in the smoke”? If so, trust in Jehovah, and pray: “According to your loving-kindness preserve me alive, that I may keep the reminder of your mouth.”—Psalm 119:88.
23 What we have considered in the first half of Psalm 119 shows that Jehovah exercises loving-kindness toward his servants because they trust in his word and are fond of his statutes, reminders, commandments, and laws. (Psalm 119:16, 47, 64, 70, 77, 88) He is pleased that those devoted to him keep on guard according to his word. (Psalm 119:9, 17, 41, 42) As you look forward to a study of the rest of this beautiful psalm, you might well ask yourself, ‘Do I really let Jehovah’s word light my roadway?’
Reference is here made to Jehovah’s message, not to the entire content of the Bible—God’s Word.
How Would You Answer?
• On what does true happiness depend?
• How does Jehovah’s word keep us spiritually clean?
• In what ways does God’s word impart courage and comfort?
• Why should we have faith in Jehovah and his word?
[Pictures on page 11]
Ruth, Rahab, and the Hebrew youths exiled in Babylon ‘kept on guard according to God’s word’
[Picture on page 12]
Paul courageously ‘spoke about God’s reminders in front of kings’