Jehovah Safeguards Those Who Hope in Him
“Let your loving-kindness and your trueness themselves constantly safeguard me.”—PSALM 40:11.
1. What did King David request of Jehovah, and how is that request presently being granted?
KING DAVID of ancient Israel “earnestly hoped in Jehovah” and was moved to say that Jehovah “inclined his ear to [him] and heard [his] cry for help.” (Psalm 40:1) He repeatedly saw firsthand how Jehovah safeguarded those who loved Him. David, therefore, could ask to be constantly safeguarded by Jehovah. (Psalm 40:11) Counted among the faithful men and women to whom “a better resurrection” is promised, David is presently secure in Jehovah’s memory as one who will receive that reward. (Hebrews 11:32-35) His future is thus assured in the best possible way. His name is inscribed in Jehovah’s “book of remembrance.”—Malachi 3:16.
2. How do the Scriptures help us to understand what is meant by being safeguarded by Jehovah?
2 Although the faithful ones mentioned in Hebrews chapter 11 lived before the earthly sojourn of Jesus Christ, they nevertheless lived in harmony with what Jesus taught when he said: “He that is fond of his soul destroys it, but he that hates his soul in this world will safeguard it for everlasting life.” (John 12:25) Thus, being safeguarded by Jehovah clearly does not mean immunity from suffering or persecution. It does mean that one is protected in a spiritual way so as to be able to maintain a fine standing before God.
3. What evidence do we have that Christ Jesus was safeguarded by Jehovah, and what was the outcome?
3 Jesus himself was the object of cruel persecution and reproach, and his enemies finally succeeded in putting him to a most disgraceful and painful death. Yet, this is no contradiction of God’s promise to safeguard the Messiah. (Isaiah 42:1-6) Jesus’ resurrection on the third day after his ignominious death proves that Jehovah heard his cry for help—just as Jehovah had heard David’s. In response, Jehovah gave Jesus the strength to maintain integrity. (Matthew 26:39) Thus safeguarded, Jesus gained immortality in the heavens, and millions of humans who have exercised faith in the ransom have come in line for everlasting life.
4. What assurance is given to anointed Christians and to the “other sheep”?
4 We can be confident that Jehovah is just as willing and able to safeguard his servants now as he was in the days of David and of Jesus. (James 1:17) The relatively few remaining anointed brothers of Jesus still on earth can rely on Jehovah’s promise: “An incorruptible and undefiled and unfading inheritance . . . is reserved in the heavens for you, who are being safeguarded by God’s power through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last period of time.” (1 Peter 1:4, 5) The “other sheep,” who have an earthly hope, can likewise put their trust in God and his promise through the psalmist: “O love Jehovah, all you loyal ones of his. The faithful ones Jehovah is safeguarding.”—John 10:16; Psalm 31:23.
5, 6. (a) How have God’s people been safeguarded in modern times? (b) What relationship do the anointed have with Jehovah, and what about those with an earthly hope?
5 In modern times, Jehovah has made provisions for safeguarding his people in a spiritual way. While not shielding them from persecution or from difficulties and tragedies common to life, he has loyally given them the help and incentive needed to safeguard their intimate relationship with him. The foundation upon which they have built this relationship is their faith in God’s loving ransom provision. Some of these faithful Christians have been anointed by God’s spirit to become joint rulers with Christ in heaven. They have been declared righteous as spiritual sons of God, and to them these words apply: “He delivered us from the authority of the darkness and transferred us into the kingdom of the Son of his love, by means of whom we have our release by ransom, the forgiveness of our sins.”—Colossians 1:13, 14.
6 Millions of other faithful Christians are assured that they too can benefit from God’s provision of the ransom. We read: “The Son of man came, not to be ministered to, but to minister and to give his soul a ransom in exchange for many.” (Mark 10:45) Those Christians look forward to enjoying in due time “the glorious freedom of the children of God.” (Romans 8:21) Meanwhile, they treasure their personal friendship with God and sincerely strive to strengthen that relationship.
7. By what means does Jehovah today safeguard the spiritual welfare of his people?
7 One way in which Jehovah safeguards the spiritual welfare of his people is by providing a program of progressive training. This allows them to come to an ever more accurate knowledge of truth. Jehovah also provides ongoing guidance through his Word, his organization, and his holy spirit. Under the direction of “the faithful and discreet slave,” God’s people around the world are like an international family. The slave class looks after the spiritual needs and when necessary even the physical needs of the family of Jehovah’s servants—irrespective of their national origin or social standing.—Matthew 24:45.
8. What confidence does Jehovah place in his loyal ones, assuring them of what?
8 As Jehovah did not physically shield Jesus from the onslaughts of his enemies, He does not shield Christians that way today. But this is no indication of God’s displeasure. Far from it! Rather, it underscores his confidence that they will uphold his side of the great universal issue. (Job 1:8-12; Proverbs 27:11) Jehovah will never forsake those loyal to him, “for Jehovah is a lover of justice, and he will not leave his loyal ones. To time indefinite they will certainly be guarded.”—Psalm 37:28.
Safeguarded by Loving-Kindness and Trueness
9, 10. (a) How does Jehovah’s trueness safeguard his people? (b) How does the Bible show that Jehovah safeguards his loyal ones by means of his loving-kindness?
9 In his prayer recorded in Psalm 40, David asked to be safeguarded by Jehovah’s loving-kindness and trueness. Jehovah’s trueness and his love for righteousness require that he clearly set out what his standards are. Those who live by these standards are to a great degree safeguarded from the distresses, fears, and problems experienced by those who ignore them. For example, we can protect ourselves and our loved ones from many heartbreaking problems if we avoid drug and alcohol abuse, sexual promiscuity, and a violent life-style. And even those who wander from Jehovah’s way of trueness—as did David at times—have the assurance that God is still “a place of concealment” for repentant wrongdoers. Such can joyfully cry out: “You will safeguard me from distress itself.” (Psalm 32:7) What an expression of God’s loving-kindness!
10 Another example of divine loving-kindness is that God warns his servants to remain separate from the wicked world, which he will soon destroy. We read: “Do not be loving either the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him; because everything in the world—the desire of the flesh and the desire of the eyes and the showy display of one’s means of life—does not originate with the Father, but originates with the world.” By giving heed to this warning and acting accordingly, we can literally safeguard our life for all eternity, for the text continues: “Furthermore, the world is passing away and so is its desire, but he that does the will of God remains forever.”—1 John 2:15-17.
Safeguarded by Thinking Ability, Discernment, and Wisdom
11, 12. Explain how thinking ability, discernment, and wisdom safeguard us.
11 To those hoping to gain God’s approval, David’s son Solomon was inspired to write: “Thinking ability itself will keep guard over you, discernment itself will safeguard you.” He also urged: “Acquire wisdom . . . Do not leave it, and it will keep you. Love it, and it will safeguard you.”—Proverbs 2:11; 4:5, 6.
12 We exercise thinking ability if we meditate on what we learn from God’s Word. Doing so enables us to develop greater discernment so that we can set proper priorities. This is vital, since most of us know—possibly through personal experience—that problems arise when people either purposely or unintentionally set unwise priorities. Satan’s world puts before us as goals material riches, prominence, and power, while Jehovah stresses the more important spiritual values. A failure to give the latter priority over the former can cause families to disintegrate, friendships to collapse, and spiritual goals to fade. As a result, a person can be left with nothing more than the sad reality indicated by Jesus’ words: “Of what benefit is it for a man to gain the whole world and to forfeit his soul?” (Mark 8:36) Wisdom dictates that we heed Jesus’ counsel: “Keep on, then, seeking first the kingdom and his righteousness, and all these other things will be added to you.”—Matthew 6:33.
The Danger of Becoming Self-Centered
13, 14. What does it mean to be self-centered, and why is it unwise to become so?
13 Humans are by nature interested in themselves. When personal desires and interests become paramount in life, however, trouble results. Therefore, to safeguard our friendship with him, Jehovah instructs us to avoid being self-centered. This term means being “concerned solely with one’s own desires, needs, or interests.” Does that not accurately describe many people today? Significantly, the Bible foretells that “in the last days” of Satan’s wicked system, “men will be lovers of themselves,” or will become self-centered.—2 Timothy 3:1, 2.
14 Christians appreciate the wisdom of observing the Bible command to take an interest in others, loving them as one loves oneself. (Luke 10:27; Philippians 2:4) People in general may view this as impractical, yet it is vital if we are to enjoy successful marriages, happy family relationships, and satisfying friendships. Thus, a true servant of Jehovah must never allow the natural interest in self to dominate his life to the exclusion of more important interests. First and foremost, this means the interests of Jehovah, the God he worships.
15, 16. (a) To what can a self-centered attitude lead, as exemplified by whom? (b) In reality, what does a person do when he is quick to judge others?
15 A self-centered attitude can lead to one’s being self-righteous, which, in turn, can cause a person to become narrow-minded, presumptuous. The Bible aptly says: “You are inexcusable, O man, whoever you are, if you judge; for in the thing in which you judge another, you condemn yourself, inasmuch as you that judge practice the same things.” (Romans 2:1; 14:4, 10) The religious leaders in Jesus’ day became so convinced of their own righteousness that they felt qualified to censure Jesus and his followers. By so doing, they set themselves up as judges. Being blind to their own shortcomings, they actually brought condemnation upon themselves.
16 Judas, the follower of Jesus who betrayed him, allowed himself to become a person judging others. On the occasion at Bethany when Mary, Lazarus’ sister, anointed Jesus with perfumed oil, Judas strongly objected. He voiced his indignation by arguing: “Why was it this perfumed oil was not sold for three hundred denarii and given to the poor people?” But the report continues in explanation: “He said this, though, not because he was concerned about the poor, but because he was a thief and had the money box and used to carry off the monies put in it.” (John 12:1-6) Let us never become like Judas or the religious leaders, who were quick to judge others, only to condemn themselves.
17. Illustrate the danger inherent in being self-assuming or in becoming excessively self-confident.
17 Regrettably, some early Christians, while they were not thieves like Judas, did fall victim to pride, becoming self-assuming. Of them, James wrote: “You take pride in your self-assuming brags.” Then he added: “All such taking of pride is wicked.” (James 4:16) Boasting about what we have done or about our privileges in Jehovah’s service is self-defeating. (Proverbs 14:16) We recall what happened to the apostle Peter, who in a moment of excessive self-confidence boasted: “Although all the others are stumbled in connection with you, never will I be stumbled! . . . Even if I should have to die with you, I will by no means disown you.” In reality, we have nothing to boast about in ourselves. Everything we enjoy is only because of Jehovah’s loving-kindness. Remembering this will keep us from being self-assuming.—Matthew 26:33-35, 69-75.
18. How does Jehovah feel about pride?
18 “Pride is before a crash, and a haughty spirit before stumbling,” we are told. Why? Jehovah answers: “Self-exaltation and pride . . . I have hated.” (Proverbs 8:13; 16:18) No wonder Jehovah was incensed at “the insolence of the heart of the king of Assyria and for the self-importance of his loftiness of eyes”! (Isaiah 10:12) Jehovah called him to account. Soon all of Satan’s world, together with its proud, self-important leaders, visible and invisible, will also be called to account. May we never mirror the self-willed attitude of Jehovah’s adversaries!
19. In what respect are God’s people proud and yet humble?
19 True Christians have every reason to be proud of being servants of Jehovah. (Jeremiah 9:24) At the same time, they have every reason to remain humble. Why? Because “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23) So to safeguard our position as Jehovah’s servants, we must have the attitude of the apostle Paul, who said that “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners,” and then he added: “Of these I am foremost.”—1 Timothy 1:15.
20. How does Jehovah safeguard his people now, and how will he safeguard them in the future?
20 Since Jehovah’s people gladly push self into the background in order to place divine interests in the foreground, we can be assured that Jehovah will continue to safeguard them spiritually. We can also be assured that when the great tribulation strikes, Jehovah will safeguard his people not only spiritually but also physically. Upon entering into God’s new world, they will be able to cry out: “Look! This is our God. We have hoped in him, and he will save us. This is Jehovah. We have hoped in him. Let us be joyful and rejoice in the salvation by him.”—Isaiah 25:9.
Do You Recall?
• How were King David and Jesus Christ safeguarded?
• How are Jehovah’s people today safeguarded?
• Why should we avoid overemphasizing self?
• Why can we be proud and yet humble?
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How did Jehovah safeguard David and Jesus?
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In what ways are God’s people safeguarded spiritually today?
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Although we are proud to be serving Jehovah, we must always remain humble