Keep Jehovah Before You Constantly
“I have placed Jehovah in front of me constantly.”—PS. 16:8.
1. What effect can Bible narratives have on us?
JEHOVAH’S written Word contains a splendid record of God’s dealings with mankind. It mentions many people who have figured in the outworking of God’s purpose. Of course, their words and deeds are not included in the Bible as mere stories for our enjoyment. Instead, such accounts can draw us closer to God.—Jas. 4:8.
2, 3. How are we to understand the words of Psalm 16:8?
2 All of us can learn much from the experiences of well-known Bible characters—Abraham, Sarah, Moses, Ruth, David, Esther, the apostle Paul, and others. However, accounts about less prominent individuals can also benefit us. Meditating on Bible narratives can help us to act in harmony with the psalmist’s words: “I have placed Jehovah in front of me constantly. Because he is at my right hand, I shall not be made to totter.” (Ps. 16:8) How are we to understand these words?
3 A soldier usually wielded his sword with his right hand, leaving that side unprotected by the shield held in his left hand. Yet, he was protected if a friend fought near him on his right. If we keep Jehovah in mind and do his will, he will protect us. So let us see how considering Bible accounts can strengthen our faith so that we “keep Jehovah always before [us].”—Byington.
Jehovah Answers Our Prayers
4. Give a Scriptural example showing that God answers prayers.
4 If we keep Jehovah before us, he will answer our prayers. (Ps. 65:2; 66:19) We have proof of this in the case of Abraham’s oldest servant, likely Eliezer. Abraham sent him to Mesopotamia to obtain a God-fearing wife for Isaac. Eliezer prayed for divine guidance and recognized it as such when Rebekah watered his camels. Because he was prayerful, Eliezer found the one who became Isaac’s beloved wife. (Gen. 24:12-14, 67) True, Abraham’s servant was on a special mission. But should we not be just as confident that Jehovah hears our prayers?
5. Why can we say that even a brief, silent prayer to Jehovah can be effective?
5 At times, we may need to pray quickly for God’s help. On one occasion, Persian King Artaxerxes noticed that his cupbearer Nehemiah was gloomy. “What is this that you are seeking to secure?” asked the king. “At once [Nehemiah] prayed to the God of the heavens.” Nehemiah could not linger in that apparently silent prayer. Yet, God answered it, for Nehemiah was given the king’s support to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem. (Read Nehemiah 2:1-8.) Yes, even a brief, silent prayer can be effective.
6, 7. (a) As regards prayer, what example did Epaphras set? (b) Why should we pray in behalf of others?
6 We are urged to “pray for one another,” even though we do not always get immediate proof that such prayers are being answered. (Jas. 5:16) Epaphras, “a faithful minister of the Christ,” prayed earnestly for those related to him in the faith. Writing from Rome, Paul said: “Epaphras, who is from among you [Colossians], a slave of Christ Jesus, sends you his greetings, always exerting himself in your behalf in his prayers, that you may finally stand complete and with firm conviction in all the will of God. I indeed bear him witness that he puts himself to great effort in behalf of you and of those at Laodicea and of those at Hierapolis.”—Col. 1:7; 4:12, 13.
7 Colossae, Laodicea, and Hierapolis were cities in the same area of Asia Minor. Christians at Hierapolis lived among worshippers of the goddess Cybele, materialism threatened those in Laodicea, and the Colossians were endangered by human philosophy. (Col. 2:8) No wonder Epaphras, who was from Colossae, ‘exerted himself in prayers’ for believers in that city! The Bible does not disclose how the prayers of Epaphras were answered, but he did not stop praying for fellow believers; neither should we. Although we are not ‘busybodies in other people’s matters,’ perhaps we know that a family member or a friend is experiencing a severe test of faith. (1 Pet. 4:15) How appropriate it would be to pray privately in his behalf! Paul was helped by the supplications of others, and our prayers can likewise do much good.—2 Cor. 1:10, 11.
8. (a) How do we know that the elders from Ephesus appreciated the importance of prayer? (b) What should be our attitude regarding prayer to God?
8 Do others look upon us as men and women of prayer? After Paul met with the elders from Ephesus, “he kneeled down with all of them and prayed.” Then “quite a bit of weeping broke out among them all, and they fell upon Paul’s neck and tenderly kissed him, because they were especially pained at the word he had spoken that they were going to behold his face no more.” (Acts 20:36-38) We do not know the names of all those elders, but it is evident that they appreciated the importance of prayer. Surely we ought to cherish the privilege of praying to God and should ‘lift up loyal hands’ in faith that our heavenly Father will answer us.—1 Tim. 2:8.
Obey God Completely
9, 10. (a) What example was set by the daughters of Zelophehad? (b) How might the obedience of Zelophehad’s daughters affect a single Christian’s view of marriage?
9 Keeping Jehovah in mind constantly will help us to obey him, and we will reap blessings as a consequence. (Deut. 28:13; 1 Sam. 15:22) This calls for an obedient spirit. Consider the attitude of five fleshly sisters, the daughters of Zelophehad, who lived in Moses’ day. Among the Israelites, sons customarily received the inheritance from their fathers. The man Zelophehad died without sons, and Jehovah directed that these five women were to receive the entire inheritance—on one condition. They had to marry sons of Manasseh so that the inherited property would remain with the same tribe.—Num. 27:1-8; 36:6-8.
10 Zelophehad’s daughters had faith that things would work out well if they obeyed God. “Just as Jehovah had commanded Moses, that is the way the daughters of Zelophehad did,” says the Bible. “Accordingly Mahlah, Tirzah and Hoglah and Milcah and Noah, the daughters of Zelophehad, became the wives of the sons of their father’s brothers. To some of the families of the sons of Manasseh the son of Joseph they became wives, that their inheritance might continue together with the tribe of the family of their father.” (Num. 36:10-12) Those obedient women did what Jehovah commanded. (Josh. 17:3, 4) With similar faith, spiritually mature unmarried Christians obey God by marrying “only in the Lord.”—1 Cor. 7:39.
11, 12. How did Caleb show that he had confidence in God?
11 We need to obey Jehovah completely, as the Israelite Caleb did. (Deut. 1:36) After Israel’s deliverance from Egypt in the 16th century B.C.E., Moses sent 12 men to spy out Canaan, but only 2 of the spies—Caleb and Joshua—urged the people to have full trust in God and enter the land. (Num. 14:6-9) Some four decades later, Joshua and Caleb were still alive and following Jehovah fully, and God used Joshua to lead the Israelites into the Promised Land. However, the ten faithless spies evidently died during Israel’s 40-year trek in the wilderness.—Num. 14:31-34.
12 As an elderly survivor of Israel’s experience in the wilderness, Caleb could stand before Joshua and say: “I followed Jehovah my God fully.” (Read Joshua 14:6-9.) Eighty-five-year-old Caleb asked that he be given the mountainous region that God had promised him, although it was inhabited by enemies in their great fortified cities.—Josh. 14:10-15.
13. Despite our trials, we will be blessed if we do what?
13 Like faithful and obedient Caleb, we will have divine support if we ‘follow Jehovah fully.’ If we face great obstacles, we will be blessed as we ‘follow Jehovah fully.’ But doing so throughout life, as Caleb did, can be a challenge. Although King Solomon started out very well, his wives inclined his heart to serve false gods in his old age, and “he did not follow Jehovah fully like David his father.” (1 Ki. 11:4-6) Regardless of the trials we must face, may we always obey God completely and keep him before us constantly.
Always Trust in Jehovah
14, 15. From Naomi’s experiences, what have you learned about the need to trust in God?
14 We need to trust in God especially when we are depressed because our future seems bleak. Consider elderly Naomi, who lost her husband and her two sons to the enemy death. When she returned to Judah from Moab, she lamented: “Do not call me Naomi [“My Pleasantness,” ftn.]. Call me Mara [“Bitter,” ftn.], for the Almighty has made it very bitter for me. I was full when I went, and it is empty-handed that Jehovah has made me return. Why should you call me Naomi, when it is Jehovah that has humiliated me and the Almighty that has caused me calamity?”—Ruth 1:20, 21.
15 Although Naomi was distressed, a careful reading of the book of Ruth shows that she kept on trusting in Jehovah. And how things changed for her! Naomi’s widowed daughter-in-law Ruth became the wife of Boaz and gave birth to a son. Naomi became the child’s nurse, and the account says: “The neighbor ladies gave it a name, saying: ‘A son has been born to Naomi.’ And they began to call his name Obed. He is the father of Jesse, David’s father.” (Ruth 4:14-17) When Naomi is resurrected to life on earth, she will learn that Ruth, who will also be there, became an ancestress of Jesus, the Messiah. (Matt. 1:5, 6, 16) Like Naomi, we cannot be sure of how negative situations will turn out. Therefore, let us always trust in God, just as we are admonished at Proverbs 3:5, 6: “Trust in Jehovah with all your heart and do not lean upon your own understanding. In all your ways take notice of him, and he himself will make your paths straight.”
Rely on Holy Spirit
16. How did God’s holy spirit help certain older men in ancient Israel?
16 If we keep Jehovah before us constantly, he will lead us by his holy spirit. (Gal. 5:16-18) God’s spirit was upon the 70 older men chosen to help Moses in “carrying the load of the people” of Israel. Only Eldad and Medad are named, but the spirit enabled all of them to carry out their duties. (Num. 11:13-29) Undoubtedly, they were capable, God-fearing, trustworthy, and honest like those chosen earlier. (Ex. 18:21) Such qualities are displayed by Christian elders today.
17. Jehovah’s holy spirit had what role in the construction of the tabernacle?
17 Jehovah’s holy spirit played an important role in the construction of the tabernacle in the wilderness. Jehovah appointed Bezalel as the principal artisan and builder of the tabernacle, promising to “fill him with the spirit of God in wisdom and in understanding and in knowledge and in every kind of craftsmanship.” (Ex. 31:3-5) Men “wise of heart” worked with Bezalel and his assistant Oholiab in carrying out that wonderful assignment. Moreover, Jehovah’s spirit moved willinghearted people to make generous contributions. (Ex. 31:6; 35:5, 30-34) That same spirit motivates God’s present-day servants to do all they can to promote Kingdom interests. (Matt. 6:33) We may have certain abilities, but we need to pray for holy spirit and let it lead us if we are to accomplish the work Jehovah has given his people in our day.—Luke 11:13.
Always Revere Jehovah of Armies
18, 19. (a) What kind of attitude does God’s holy spirit produce within us? (b) What have you learned from the examples of Simeon and Anna?
18 The holy spirit produces within us a reverent attitude that keeps Jehovah before us constantly. God’s ancient people were told: “Jehovah of Armies you are to revere as holy.” (Isa. 8:13, Byington) Two reverent elderly persons in first-century Jerusalem were Simeon and Anna. (Read Luke 2:25-38.) Simeon put faith in the Messianic prophecies and was “waiting for Israel’s consolation.” God poured out holy spirit upon Simeon and assured him that he would live to see the Messiah. And that is what happened. One day in the year 2 B.C.E., Jesus was brought to the temple by Mary and Joseph, the infant’s mother and adoptive father. Moved by holy spirit, Simeon uttered prophetic words about the Messiah and foretold sorrow for Mary, who experienced grief when Jesus was impaled on a torture stake. But imagine the great joy Simeon experienced when he took into his arms “the Christ of Jehovah”! And what a fine example of reverence Simeon set for God’s servants today!
19 The reverent 84-year-old widow Anna “was never missing from the temple.” She rendered sacred service to Jehovah night and day “with fastings and supplications.” Anna too was present when the babe Jesus was brought to the temple. How grateful she was to see the future Messiah! Indeed, she “began returning thanks to God and speaking about the child to all those waiting for Jerusalem’s deliverance.” Anna just had to share this good news with others! Like Simeon and Anna, elderly Christians today are very glad that people are never too old to serve Jehovah as his Witnesses.
20. Regardless of our age, what do we need to do, and why?
20 Regardless of our age, we need to keep Jehovah before us constantly. Then he will bless our humble efforts to tell others about his kingship and his wonderful works. (Ps. 71:17, 18; 145:10-13) If we are to honor Jehovah, however, we must display godly qualities. What can we learn about such traits by examining further Bible accounts?
How Would You Answer?
• How do we know that Jehovah hears prayers?
• Why should we obey God completely?
• Even if we are depressed, why should we always trust in Jehovah?
• How does God’s holy spirit help his people?
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Nehemiah’s prayer to Jehovah was effective
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Remembering how matters turned out for Naomi will help us to trust in Jehovah