Let Us Exalt Jehovah’s Name Together
“O magnify Jehovah with me, you people, and let us exalt his name together.”—PSALM 34:3.
1. What fine example did Jesus set during his earthly ministry?
ON THE night of Nisan 14, 33 C.E., Jesus and his apostles sang Jehovah’s praises together in an upper room of a house in Jerusalem. (Matthew 26:30) It was the last time that the man Jesus would do that with his apostles. However, it was fitting that he would conclude his meeting with them in that way. From the beginning of his earthly ministry to the end, Jesus praised his Father and zealously made His name known. (Matthew 4:10; 6:9; 22:37, 38; John 12:28; 17:6) In effect, he echoed the warm invitation of the psalmist: “O magnify Jehovah with me, you people, and let us exalt his name together.” (Psalm 34:3) What a fine example for us to follow!
2, 3. (a) How do we know that Psalm 34 has prophetic significance? (b) What will we consider in this article and the one following?
2 A few hours after singing praises with Jesus, the apostle John was witness to a very different event. He saw his Master and two criminals being put to death on torture stakes. Roman soldiers broke the legs of the two criminals to hasten their deaths. However, John reports that they did not break Jesus’ legs. When the soldiers came to Jesus, he was already dead. In his Gospel, John identified that development as a fulfillment of another part of Psalm 34: “Not a bone of his will be crushed.”—John 19:32-36; Psalm 34:20, Septuagint.
3 Psalm 34 has many other points of interest to Christians. Hence, in this article and the one following, we will review the circumstances under which David wrote the psalm and then consider the encouraging contents of the psalm itself.
David’s Flight From Saul
4. (a) Why was David anointed as Israel’s future king? (b) Why did Saul ‘get to love’ David very much?
4 When David was young, Saul was king in Israel. However, Saul became disobedient and lost Jehovah’s favor. For that reason, the prophet Samuel told him: “Jehovah has ripped away the royal rule of Israel from off you today, and he will certainly give it to a fellowman of yours who is better than you.” (1 Samuel 15:28) Later, Jehovah directed Samuel to anoint David, the youngest son of Jesse, to be Israel’s next king. Meanwhile, bereft of God’s spirit, King Saul suffered dark moods. David, a skilled musician, was brought to Gibeah to serve the king, and David’s music brought relief to Saul, who “got to loving him very much.”—1 Samuel 16:11, 13, 21, 23.
5. Why did Saul’s attitude toward David change, and what was David forced to do?
5 As time went by, Jehovah proved to be with David. Jehovah helped him to conquer the Philistine giant Goliath and supported David as he came to be celebrated in Israel for his military prowess. However, Jehovah’s blessing on David made Saul jealous, and he grew to hate David. Twice while David was playing his harp before Saul, the king hurled his spear at him. Both times, David managed to dodge the spear. When Saul made a third attempt to kill him, Israel’s future king realized that he had to flee for his life. Eventually, because of Saul’s continued efforts to capture and kill him, David determined to seek refuge outside the territory of Israel.—1 Samuel 18:11; 19:9, 10.
6. Why did Saul order the killing of the inhabitants of Nob?
6 On his way to the border of Israel, David stopped at the city of Nob, where Jehovah’s tabernacle was situated. Evidently, David was accompanied in his flight by an escort of young men, and David sought refreshments for them and for himself. Saul learned that the high priest had given David and his men some food and the sword that David had taken from the dead Goliath. In anger, Saul had all the city’s inhabitants, including 85 priests, killed.—1 Samuel 21:1, 2; 22:12, 13, 18, 19; Matthew 12:3, 4.
Another Escape From Death
7. Why was Gath not a safe hiding place for David?
7 From Nob, David fled about 25 miles [40 km] west into Philistine territory and sought refuge with King Achish in Goliath’s hometown, Gath. Perhaps David reasoned that Gath would be the last place that Saul would look for him. Soon, though, servants of Gath’s king recognized David. When David overheard that he had been identified, “he became very much afraid on account of Achish the king of Gath.”—1 Samuel 21:10-12.
8. (a) What does Psalm 56 tell us about David’s experience in Gath? (b) How did David have a narrow escape from death?
8 The Philistines then laid hold of David. It may have been at this time that David composed the heartfelt psalm in which he appealed to Jehovah: “Do put my tears in your skin bottle.” (Psalm 56:8 and superscription) He thus expressed his confidence that Jehovah would not forget his grief but would lovingly care for him and protect him. David also thought out a strategy for deceiving the Philistine king. He acted as if he were insane. Seeing this, King Achish rebuked his servants for bringing a “crazy” man before him. Clearly, Jehovah blessed David’s strategy. David was driven from the city, having experienced another narrow escape from death.—1 Samuel 21:13-15.
9, 10. For what reason did David write Psalm 34, and who may David have had in mind when composing the psalm?
9 The Bible does not say whether David’s supporters fled into Gath with him or kept watch for him in nearby villages of Israel. Whatever the case, a happy reunion must have taken place when David reported to them how Jehovah had again delivered him. That event laid the basis for Psalm 34, as shown by the superscription. In the first seven verses of the psalm, David praises God for delivering him and invites his supporters to join him in exalting Jehovah as the Great Rescuer of His people.—Psalm 34:3, 4, 7.
10 David and his men found safety in the cave of Adullam in a mountainous region of Israel, about ten miles [15 km] east of Gath. There, Israelites who were dissatisfied with conditions under the rule of King Saul began to come and join them. (1 Samuel 22:1, 2) When David composed the words of Psalm 34:8-22, he may have had such ones in mind. The reminders in those verses are also important for us today, and we will surely benefit from a detailed discussion of this beautiful psalm.
Do You Share David’s Primary Concern?
11, 12. What reasons do we have to praise Jehovah constantly?
11 “I will bless Jehovah at all times; constantly his praise will be in my mouth.” (Psalm 34:1) Living as an outcast, David must have had many material concerns, but as these words show, his daily cares did not overshadow his determination to praise Jehovah. What a fine example for us when we face hardships! Whether we are at school, at work, with fellow Christians, or in the public ministry, our uppermost desire should be to praise Jehovah. Just think of the countless reasons we have to do so! For example, there is no end to what we can discover and enjoy in Jehovah’s marvelous works of creation. And consider what he has accomplished by means of the earthly part of his organization! Although they are imperfect, Jehovah has used faithful humans mightily in modern times. How do God’s works compare with those of men who are idolized by the world? Do you not agree with David, who also wrote: “There is none like you among the gods, O Jehovah, neither are there any works like yours”?—Psalm 86:8.
12 Like David, we feel impelled to praise Jehovah constantly because of his incomparable works. Moreover, we are thrilled to know that God’s Kingdom is now in the hands of David’s permanent Heir, Jesus Christ. (Revelation 11:15) This means that the end of this system of things is close. The everlasting future of over six billion humans is at stake. Never before has there been such a need to tell others about God’s Kingdom and what it will soon do for mankind and to help them praise Jehovah with us. Surely our priority in life should be to use every opportunity to encourage others to accept this “good news” before it is too late.—Matthew 24:14.
13. (a) In whom did David boast, and what kind of people responded? (b) How are meek ones drawn to the Christian congregation today?
13 “In Jehovah my soul will make its boast; the meek ones will hear and will rejoice.” (Psalm 34:2) David did not here boast of any personal accomplishments. For example, he did not brag about the way he deceived the king of Gath. He realized that Jehovah protected him when he was in Gath and that he escaped with Jehovah’s help. (Proverbs 21:1) Hence, David boasted, not in himself, but in Jehovah. Because of this, meek ones were drawn to Jehovah. Jesus likewise magnified the name of Jehovah, and this drew humble, teachable people to Him. Today, meek ones of all nations are drawn to the international congregation of anointed Christians, of which Jesus is the Head. (Colossians 1:18) The hearts of such meek ones are touched when they hear God’s name glorified by his humble servants and when they hear the Bible’s message, which God’s holy spirit enables them to grasp.—John 6:44; Acts 16:14.
Meetings Strengthen Our Faith
14. (a) Was David content to praise Jehovah only in private? (b) What example did Jesus set regarding meetings for worship?
14 “O magnify Jehovah with me, you people, and let us exalt his name together.” (Psalm 34:3) David was not content to praise Jehovah only in private. He warmly invited his companions to join him in exalting God’s name. Similarly, Jesus Christ, the Greater David, took delight in praising Jehovah publicly—at the local synagogue, at festivals at God’s temple in Jerusalem, and in company with his followers. (Luke 2:49; 4:16-19; 10:21; John 18:20) What a joyful privilege it is to follow Jesus’ example in praising Jehovah on every possible occasion together with fellow believers, especially now as we “behold the day drawing near”!—Hebrews 10:24, 25.
15. (a) What effect did David’s experience have on his men? (b) How do we benefit from attending our meetings?
15 “I inquired of Jehovah, and he answered me, and out of all my frights he delivered me.” (Psalm 34:4) This experience was important to David. Hence, he went on to say: “This afflicted one called, and Jehovah himself heard. And out of all his distresses He saved him.” (Psalm 34:6) When associating with fellow believers, we have many opportunities to relate upbuilding experiences of how Jehovah has helped us to endure difficult circumstances. This strengthens the faith of our fellow believers, just as David’s expressions strengthened the faith of his supporters. In David’s case, his companions “looked to [Jehovah] and became radiant, and their very faces could not possibly be ashamed.” (Psalm 34:5) Though on the run from King Saul, they did not feel ashamed. They were confident that God was backing David, and their faces were radiant. In a similar way, newly interested ones as well as those who have been true Christians for a long time look to Jehovah for support. Since they have personally experienced his help, their radiant faces reflect their determination to remain faithful.
Be Grateful for Angelic Help
16. How has Jehovah used his angels to come to our rescue?
16 “The angel of Jehovah is camping all around those fearing him, and he rescues them.” (Psalm 34:7) David did not view his rescue by Jehovah as something that could happen only to him. True, David was Jehovah’s anointed, Israel’s future king; but he knew that Jehovah uses his angels to watch over all of his faithful worshippers, regardless of whether they are prominent or lowly. In our modern day, true worshippers have also experienced the protection that Jehovah provides. In Nazi Germany—as well as in Angola, Malawi, Mozambique, and many other lands—authorities have waged campaigns to wipe out Jehovah’s Witnesses. Their efforts have been in vain. Instead, Jehovah’s people in those lands continue to thrive as they exalt God’s name together. Why? Because Jehovah uses his holy angels to protect and guide his people.—Hebrews 1:14.
17. In what ways do God’s angels help us?
17 In addition, Jehovah’s angels can maneuver matters so that any who cause others to stumble are removed from among Jehovah’s people. (Matthew 13:41; 18:6, 10) And even though we may be unaware of it at the time, angels remove obstacles that could hinder our service to God, and they protect us from things that could endanger our relationship with Jehovah. Most important, they guide us in the work of declaring “everlasting good news” to all mankind, including in places where the preaching work is carried out under dangerous circumstances. (Revelation 14:6) Proof of angelic help has often been related in Bible literature published by Jehovah’s Witnesses.* Such experiences are far too numerous to be dismissed as coincidence.
18. (a) What is required for us to benefit from angelic help? (b) What will be considered in the next article?
18 To continue benefiting from angelic guidance and protection, we must keep on exalting Jehovah’s name even in the face of opposition. Remember, God’s angel encamps only “around those fearing [Jehovah].” What does that imply? What is the fear of God, and how can we cultivate it? Why would a loving God want us to fear him? These questions will be discussed in the following article.
See Jehovah’s Witnesses—Proclaimers of God’s Kingdom, page 550; 2005 Yearbook of Jehovah’s Witnesses, pages 53-4; The Watchtower, March 1, 2000, pages 5-6; January 1, 1991, page 27; and February 15, 1991, page 26.
How Would You Answer?
• What trials did David endure as a young man?
• Like David, about what are we primarily concerned?
• How do we view Christian meetings?
• How does Jehovah use his angels to help us?
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Map: Based on maps copyrighted by Pictorial Archive (Near Eastern History) Est. and Survey of Israel
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Even as a fugitive, David exalted Jehovah’s name
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Our faith is strengthened as we listen to upbuilding experiences related at our Christian gatherings