Jehovah—“Provider of Escape” in Bible Times
“O God, do act quickly for me. You are my help and the Provider of escape for me.”—PS. 70:5.
1, 2. (a) When do God’s worshippers turn to him for help? (b) What question arises, and where can we find the answer?
WHILE on vacation, the parents of a 23-year-old married woman learn that their daughter has mysteriously disappeared. Foul play is suspected. At once they pack up and head for home, all the while beseeching Jehovah to help them. A 20-year-old Witness is diagnosed with a disease that will eventually leave him completely paralyzed. Immediately he turns to Jehovah in prayer. A single mother struggling to find a job does not have enough money to buy food for herself and her 12-year-old daughter. She pours out her heart to Jehovah. Yes, when faced with severe trials or hardships, God’s worshippers naturally turn to him for help. Have you ever called out to Jehovah in a time of desperate need?
2 An important question arises: Can we really expect Jehovah to respond to our prayers for help? The faith-strengthening answer is found in Psalm 70. This stirring psalm was written by David, a loyal worshipper of Jehovah who faced many difficult trials and challenges during his life. This inspired psalmist was moved to say of Jehovah: “O God, . . . you are my help and the Provider of escape for me.” (Ps. 70:5) An examination of Psalm 70 can help us to see why we too can turn to Jehovah in times of need and fully trust that he will be our “Provider of escape.”
“You Are . . . the Provider of Escape”
3. (a) Psalm 70 contains what urgent cry for help? (b) What confidence does David express in the 70th Psalm?
3 Psalm 70 begins and ends with an urgent cry for God’s help. (Read Psalm 70:1-5.) David implores Jehovah to “make haste” and to “act quickly” to deliver him. In the verses in-between, David makes five petitions, each beginning with “may” and expressing a desire, or wish. The first three are about those trying to kill him. David petitions Jehovah to defeat these enemies and shame them for their wickedness. The next two pleas, in verse 4, relate to God’s people. David prays that those seeking Jehovah be moved to rejoice and to magnify him. In concluding his psalm, David says to Jehovah: “You are my help and the Provider of escape for me.” Notice that David does not say, “May you prove to be,” as if making another petition. Instead, he says, “You are,” expressing his confidence. David believes that he will receive divine help.
4, 5. What do we learn about David from Psalm 70, and what confidence can we have?
4 What does Psalm 70 indicate about David? When he had been faced with determined enemies who were out to take his life, David chose not to take matters into his own hands. Instead, he trusted that Jehovah would deal with the opposers in his own time and way. (1 Sam. 26:10) David continued firmly convinced that Jehovah helps and delivers those who seek him. (Heb. 11:6) David believed that such true worshippers have every reason to rejoice and to magnify Jehovah by telling others about his greatness.—Ps. 5:11; 35:27.
5 Like David, we can have full confidence that Jehovah is our Helper and “the Provider of escape” for us. Hence, when we face difficult trials or feel in desperate need of assistance, we can rightly pray that Jehovah quickly come to our aid. (Ps. 71:12) What, though, may Jehovah do in response to our prayers for assistance? Before we discuss how Jehovah may help us, let us examine three ways in which he provided David with escape, helping him in times of urgent need.
Delivered From Opposers
6. What helped David to know that Jehovah provides the righteous with escape?
6 From the inspired Bible record then available, David knew that the righteous can count on Jehovah to help them. When Jehovah brought the Deluge upon an ungodly world, he preserved alive Noah and his God-fearing family. (Gen. 7:23) When Jehovah rained down fire and sulfur upon the wicked inhabitants of Sodom and Gomorrah, he helped righteous Lot and his two daughters to escape with their lives. (Gen. 19:12-26) When Jehovah destroyed proud Pharaoh and his military forces in the Red Sea, He kept his people safe, thus helping them to escape a terrible end. (Ex. 14:19-28) Is it any wonder, then, that David in another psalm extolled Jehovah as “a God of saving acts”?—Ps. 68:20.
7-9. (a) What reason did David have for placing his trust in God’s saving power? (b) Whom did David credit for his deliverance?
7 David also had a very personal reason for placing his implicit trust in Jehovah’s saving power. David had experienced firsthand that Jehovah’s “everlasting arms” can deliver those who serve Him. (Deut. 33:27, American Standard Version) On more than one occasion, Jehovah had saved David from the clutches of “angry enemies.” (Ps. 18:17-19, 48) Consider an example.
8 When the women of Israel began praising David for his military prowess, King Saul became so consumed with jealousy that on two occasions he hurled his spear at David. (1 Sam. 18:6-9) Both times David escaped the sharp tip of the spear. Was this simply because of David’s skill and agility as an experienced warrior? No. The Bible record explains that “Jehovah was with him.” (Read 1 Samuel 18:11-14.) Later, when Saul’s scheme to have David killed by the Philistines failed, “Saul got to see and know that Jehovah was with David.”—1 Sam. 18:17-28.
9 To whom did David give credit for his deliverance? The superscription to Psalm 18 says that David “spoke to Jehovah the words of this song in the day that Jehovah had delivered him . . . out of the hand of Saul.” David expressed his sentiments in song, saying: “Jehovah is my crag and my stronghold and the Provider of escape for me. My God is my rock. I shall take refuge in him.” (Ps. 18:2) Is it not faith-strengthening to know that Jehovah is capable of delivering his people?—Ps. 35:10.
Sustained Upon a Sickbed
10, 11. What helps us to determine when David may have experienced the sickness mentioned at Psalm 41?
10 King David once experienced a severe sickness, which is mentioned in Psalm 41. Confined for a time to a sickbed, David was so ill that it seemed to some of his enemies that he would never “get up again.” (Verses 7, 8) When was David stricken with such a serious illness? The circumstances mentioned in this psalm may relate to the stressful time of David’s life when his son Absalom was trying to usurp the throne.—2 Sam. 15:6, 13, 14.
11 For example, David refers to a trusted friend, one who used to eat bread with him, as betraying him. (Verse 9) This may remind us of one incident in David’s life. During Absalom’s rebellion, David’s trusted counselor Ahithophel turned traitor and joined Absalom in the revolt against the king. (2 Sam. 15:31; 16:15) Just imagine the weakened king on his sickbed, with no strength to get up, all the while knowing that he was surrounded by conspirators who wished him dead so that they could carry out their evil plans.—Verse 5.
12, 13. (a) What confidence did David express? (b) How may God have strengthened David?
12 David’s trust in “the Provider of escape” did not waver. Concerning an upright worshipper who is ill, David said: “In the day of calamity Jehovah will provide escape for him. Jehovah himself will sustain him upon a divan of illness; all his bed you will certainly change during his sickness.” (Ps. 41:1, 3) Here again, notice David’s confidence, as expressed in the words “Jehovah himself will.” David was sure that Jehovah would provide escape for him. How?
13 David did not expect Jehovah to perform a miracle and remove the sickness. Rather, David felt certain that Jehovah would “sustain him”—that is, give him support and strength while he was lying on his sickbed. David definitely needed such help. In addition to the sickness that weakened him, he was surrounded by enemies who were saying evil things about him. (Verses 5, 6) Jehovah may well have strengthened David by bringing to his mind comforting thoughts. Notably, David said: “Because of my integrity you have upheld me.” (Verse 12) David may also have found strength in reflecting on the fact that despite his weakened condition and the bad things that his enemies were saying, Jehovah regarded him as a man of integrity. David did finally recover from his sickness. Is it not reassuring to know that Jehovah can sustain those who are sick?—2 Cor. 1:3.
Supplied With Sustenance
14, 15. When did David and his men find themselves in need of sustenance, and what help did they receive?
14 When he became king of Israel, David could enjoy the best of food and drink and even invite many others to dine at his table. (2 Sam. 9:10) However, David also knew what it was like to be low on provisions. When his son Absalom organized a rebellion and tried to usurp the throne, David along with some loyal supporters moved out of Jerusalem. They fled to the land of Gilead, east of the Jordan River. (2 Sam. 17:22, 24) Forced to live as fugitives, David and his men soon found themselves in dire need of food and drink as well as rest. Where, though, would they find provisions in that relatively remote area?
15 Finally, David and his men arrived at the city of Mahanaim. There they met three courageous men—Shobi, Machir, and Barzillai. They were willing to risk their lives to help the divinely appointed king, for if Absalom gained a firm hold on the kingship, he no doubt would severely punish anyone who had supported David. Recognizing the plight of David and his men, these three loyal subjects brought much needed supplies, including beds, wheat, barley, roasted grain, broad beans, lentils, honey, butter, and sheep. (Read 2 Samuel 17:27-29.) The extraordinary loyalty and hospitality of these three men must have touched David’s heart. How could David ever forget what they did for him?
16. Who was ultimately responsible for providing David and his men with sustenance?
16 Who, though, was ultimately responsible for providing David and his men with sustenance? David was convinced that Jehovah cares for his people. Jehovah can surely give other servants of his a nudge, so to speak, moving them to come to the aid of a fellow worshipper in need. When reflecting on what happened in the land of Gilead, David no doubt saw the kindness of those three men as an expression of Jehovah’s loving care. Toward the end of his life, David wrote: “A young man I used to be, I have also grown old, and yet I have not seen anyone righteous [including him] left entirely, nor his offspring looking for bread.” (Ps. 37:25) Is it not comforting to know that Jehovah’s hand is never short?—Prov. 10:3.
“Jehovah Knows How to Deliver People”
17. What has Jehovah time and again demonstrated?
17 David was just one of many worshippers for whom Jehovah provided escape in Bible times. Since David’s time, God has time and again demonstrated the truthfulness of the apostle Peter’s words: “Jehovah knows how to deliver people of godly devotion out of trial.” (2 Pet. 2:9) Consider two more examples.
18. How did Jehovah provide deliverance in Hezekiah’s day?
18 When the mighty Assyrian army invaded Judah and threatened Jerusalem in the eighth century B.C.E., King Hezekiah prayed: “O Jehovah our God, save us . . . that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that you, O Jehovah, are God alone.” (Isa. 37:20) Hezekiah’s main concern was God’s name and reputation. Jehovah answered that fervent prayer. In just one night, a single angel struck down 185,000 Assyrians, providing deliverance for Jehovah’s faithful servants.—Isa. 37:32, 36.
19. By heeding what warning did first-century Christians escape calamity?
19 Just days before his death, Jesus gave a prophetic warning for the benefit of his disciples in Judea. (Read Luke 21:20-22.) Decades passed, but in 66 C.E., a Jewish revolt brought Roman forces against Jerusalem. The legions under Cestius Gallus succeeded in undermining part of the temple wall; then they suddenly withdrew. Recognizing this as an opportunity to escape the destruction that Jesus had foretold, faithful Christians fled to the mountains. The Roman legions returned in 70 C.E. This time they did not withdraw, and Jerusalem was completely destroyed. The Christians who had heeded Jesus’ warning escaped that terrible calamity.—Luke 19:41-44.
20. Why can we trust in Jehovah as our “Provider of escape”?
20 It is faith-strengthening to reflect on the evidence that Jehovah helps his people. What he did in the past gives us basis for confidence. No matter what challenges we may be facing now or may yet encounter in the future, we too can put full trust in Jehovah as our “Provider of escape.” How, though, may Jehovah provide us with escape? And what about the individuals mentioned at the outset? How did matters turn out for them? Let us see in the following article.
Do You Recall?
• Psalm 70 gives us reason for what confidence?
• How was David sustained during illness?
• What examples show that Jehovah can deliver his people from opposers?
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Jehovah answered Hezekiah’s prayer