Jehovah Deserves Our United Praise
“Praise Jah, you people!”—PS. 111:1.
1, 2. What does “Hallelujah” mean, and how is it used in the Christian Greek Scriptures?
“HALLELUJAH!” That exclamation is commonly heard in Christendom’s churches. Some people punctuate daily conversations with the expression. Few, however, know its sacred meaning, and the lifestyle of many who use it dishonors God. (Titus 1:16) “Hallelujah,” explains one Bible dictionary, is a “word used by the writers of various psalms to invite all to join them in praising Jehovah.” In fact, a number of Bible scholars point out that “Hallelujah” means “‘Praise ye Jah,’ [that is] Jehovah.”
2 Understandably, in the New World Translation, the expression found at Psalm 111:1 is rendered “Praise Jah, you people!” A Greek form of this expression appears four times at Revelation 19:1-6 in celebration of the end of false religion. When that takes place, true worshippers will have special reason to use the expression “Hallelujah” in a respectful way.
His Great Works
3. What is the main purpose of our congregating regularly?
3 The composer of Psalm 111 gives many reasons why Jehovah is so deserving of our united praise. Verse 1 says: “I shall laud Jehovah with all my heart in the intimate group of upright ones and the assembly.” Jehovah’s Witnesses today feel the same way. The main purpose of our congregating regularly, both in local congregations and at large conventions, is to praise Jehovah.
4. How can humans search for Jehovah’s works?
4 “The works of Jehovah are great, searched for on the part of all those delighting in them.” (Ps. 111:2) Notice the expression “searched for.” According to one reference work, the verse can apply to humans who make God’s works “the objects of earnest and devout meditation and study.” Jehovah’s creations abound with wonderful purpose. He set sun, earth, and moon in place, all in proper relation one to another, so that our earth is provided with warmth and light, night and day, the seasons and the tides.
5. What have advances in man’s understanding of the universe revealed?
5 Scientists have discovered a great deal about earth’s position in our solar system as well as the perfect orbit, size, and mass of our large moon. The arrangement and interrelationship of these heavenly bodies makes possible the beautiful and regular change of seasons. Also, much has been learned about the fine-tuning of natural forces in the universe. Thus, in an article entitled “The Designed ‘Just So’ Universe,” a professor of mechanical engineering observed: “It is quite easy to understand why so many scientists have changed their minds in the past 30 years, agreeing that it takes a great deal of faith to believe the universe can be explained as nothing more than a fortuitous cosmic accident. Evidence for an intelligent designer becomes more compelling the more we understand about our carefully crafted habitat.”
6. How do you feel about the way that God made man?
6 Another great expression of creation is the way that God made us. (Ps. 139:14) When making humans, he gave them a mind, a body with a full set of necessary organs, and the ability and capacity to do work. There is, for example, the miracle involved in the God-given abilities of speaking and listening, as well as those of writing and reading. Many people have those abilities. You also have a wondrous masterpiece of construction—the upright human frame. Why, the design and balance of your body, its mechanical functions and its chemistry, inspire awe. Beyond that, the amazing nerve connections that enable your mind and your senses to function find no parallel in what scientists have achieved. In fact, human achievements are possible only because of the mind and senses with which mankind is endowed. Even the most trained and capable engineer could not have manufactured anything as beautiful and useful as the ten marvelously designed levers—your fingers and thumbs. Ask yourself, ‘Could impressive works of art and construction have been made without the skillful use of God-given fingers?’
God’s Great Works and His Qualities
7. Why should we view the Bible as one of God’s great works?
7 Jehovah’s great works include other wonderful things he has done for mankind, as described in the Bible. That book itself is a harmonious masterpiece. Unlike any other book, it is indeed “inspired of God and beneficial for teaching.” (2 Tim. 3:16) For instance, the first book of the Bible, Genesis, explains how God cleansed the earth of wickedness in the days of Noah. The second book, Exodus, shows how Jehovah vindicated his Godship by delivering Israel from Egyptian slavery. The psalmist likely had such events in mind when he was moved to say: “[Jehovah’s] activity is dignity and splendor themselves, and his righteousness is standing forever. A memorial he has made for his wonderful works. Jehovah is gracious and merciful.” (Ps. 111:3, 4) Do you not agree that Jehovah’s activity throughout history, including things done during your lifetime, is a memorial to his “dignity and splendor”?
8, 9. (a) In what ways do God’s works contrast with many human works? (b) What are some of God’s qualities that you appreciate?
8 Notice that the psalmist also stresses Jehovah’s beautiful qualities, such as righteousness, graciousness, and mercy. You know that the works of sinful mankind are seldom based on righteousness. Often they are an expression of greed, envy, and haughtiness. That is evident from the fiendish weapons men produce for the wars they foment and for economic gain. These bring untold misery and horror to millions of innocent victims. Also, many human works have been accomplished at the expense of the oppressed poor. An example that many might cite is the use of slaves to build the pyramids. Those mainly served as burial places for the proud Pharaohs. Moreover, many of mankind’s present-day works not only are oppressive but are “ruining the earth.”—Read Revelation 11:18.
9 How different it is with Jehovah’s works, which are always based on what is right! His works include the merciful provision for the salvation of sinful mankind. In providing the ransom, God was ‘exhibiting his own righteousness.’ (Rom. 3:25, 26) Indeed, “his righteousness is standing forever”! As for graciousness, that has been manifested in the patient manner in which God has dealt with sinful humans. At times, he even used the expression “please” when pleading with them to turn back from their hurtful ways and do what was right.—Read Ezekiel 18:25.
Faithful to His Promises
10. What example of faithfulness did Jehovah set regarding his covenant with Abraham?
10 “Food he has given to those fearing him. To time indefinite he will remember his covenant.” (Ps. 111:5) It seems that the psalmist here referred to the Abrahamic covenant. Jehovah promised to bless Abraham’s seed and said that they would take possession of the gate of their enemies. (Gen. 22:17, 18; Ps. 105:8, 9) In the initial outworking of those promises, Abraham’s seed became the nation of Israel. That nation was long enslaved in Egypt, but then “God remembered his covenant with Abraham” and delivered them. (Ex. 2:24) Jehovah’s subsequent dealings with them show just how generous he is. He provided food for their bodies and spiritual food for their minds and hearts. (Deut. 6:1-3; 8:4; Neh. 9:21) In the centuries that followed, the nation often turned away from God, though he sent prophets to urge them to return. More than 1,500 years after he delivered the Israelites from Egypt, God sent his only-begotten Son to earth. The majority of the Jews rejected Jesus and allowed him to be executed. Then Jehovah formed a new nation, a spiritual one, “the Israel of God.” Along with Christ, that nation makes up the spiritual seed of Abraham, which Jehovah foretold he would use to bless mankind.—Gal. 3:16, 29; 6:16.
11. How does Jehovah continue to “remember his covenant” with Abraham?
11 Jehovah continues to “remember his covenant” and the blessings promised through it. Today, he is providing an abundant supply of spiritual food in over 400 languages. Also, he continues to respond to prayers about our physical needs, in line with the words: “Give us our bread for the day according to the day’s requirement.”—Luke 11:3; Ps. 72:16, 17; Isa. 25:6-8.
Jehovah’s Awesome Power
12. In what way was ancient Israel given “the inheritance of the nations”?
12 “The power of his works he has told to his people, in giving them the inheritance of the nations.” (Ps. 111:6) One outstanding event in Israel’s history that the psalmist may have had in mind was their miraculous deliverance from Egypt. When Jehovah finally allowed the Israelites to enter the Promised Land, they were able to conquer kingdoms on the east and west sides of the Jordan River. (Read Nehemiah 9:22-25.) Yes, Jehovah gave Israel “the inheritance of the nations.” What a display of God’s power!
13, 14. (a) What display of God’s power in connection with Babylon might the psalmist have had in mind? (b) What further great acts of deliverance has Jehovah accomplished?
13 We are well-aware, though, that despite all Jehovah did in their behalf, Israel did not show respect for him nor for their ancestors Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. They kept rebelling until God used Babylon to remove them, taking them into exile. (2 Chron. 36:15-17; Neh. 9:28-30) If, as some Bible scholars suggest, the composer of Psalm 111 lived after Israel returned from exile in Babylon, he had further reason to praise Jehovah for His loyalty and power. God showed such by delivering the Jews from Babylon—an empire that had a policy of not releasing captives.—Isa. 14:4, 17.
14 Some five centuries later, Jehovah used his power in an even greater way by delivering repentant humans from slavery to sin and death. (Rom. 5:12) One result was that the way was opened for 144,000 humans to become spirit-anointed followers of Christ. In 1919, Jehovah used his power to deliver a small remnant of these anointed ones from captivity to false religion. Their accomplishments during this time of the end can only be attributed to God’s power. Upon proving faithful to death, they will share with Jesus Christ in ruling from heaven over the earth for the benefit of repentant humans. (Rev. 2:26, 27; 5:9, 10) They will inherit the earth in a far grander way than did ancient Israel.—Matt. 5:5.
Everlasting, Trustworthy Principles
15, 16. (a) What are included among the works of God’s hands? (b) What orders did God give to ancient Israel?
15 “The works of his hands are truth and judgment; trustworthy are all the orders he gives, well supported forever, to time indefinite, done in truth and uprightness.” (Ps. 111:7, 8) Included among “the works of [Jehovah’s] hands” were two tablets of stone on which were engraved ten important laws for Israel. (Ex. 31:18) These laws, together with all the other regulations that became part of the Mosaic Law covenant, are based on eternal, trustworthy principles.
16 For example, one of the orders, or laws, on those tablets said: “I Jehovah your God am a God exacting exclusive devotion.” It further states that Jehovah exercises “loving-kindness toward the thousandth generation in the case of those who love [him] and keep [his] commandments.” The tablets of stone also contained such timeless principles as “honor your father and your mother” and “you must not steal,” as well as the profoundly insightful law against coveting what belongs to others.—Ex. 20:5, 6, 12, 15, 17.
Our Holy, Fear-Inspiring Redeemer
17. What reasons did the Israelites have for treating God’s name as holy?
17 “He has sent redemption itself to his people. To time indefinite he has commanded his covenant. His name is holy and fear-inspiring.” (Ps. 111:9) Again, the psalmist may have had in mind Jehovah’s loyalty to his covenant promise to Abraham. In line with that, Jehovah did not abandon his people first as slaves in ancient Egypt and later as captives in Babylon. In both cases, God redeemed his people. Even if only for those two accomplishments, Israel should have treated God’s name as holy.—Read Exodus 20:7; Romans 2:23, 24.
18. Why do you feel that bearing God’s name is a privilege?
18 The same is true of Christians today, who have been redeemed from hopeless slavery to sin and death. We should do our very best to live in harmony with the first request in the model prayer: “Let your name be sanctified.” (Matt. 6:9) Meditating on that illustrious name should instill in us godly fear. The writer of Psalm 111 had the correct view of godly fear, stating: “The fear of Jehovah is the beginning of wisdom. All those doing them [keeping his commandments] have a good insight.”—Ps. 111:10.
19. What will we consider in the next article?
19 A wholesome fear of God will help us to hate what is bad. It will also help us to imitate God’s beautiful qualities as shown in Psalm 112, which we will consider in the next article. That psalm shows how we can qualify to be among the millions who will enjoy praising God forever. He deserves nothing less. “His praise is standing forever.”—Ps. 111:10.
Questions for Meditation
• Why does Jehovah deserve our united praise?
• What qualities of Jehovah are revealed in his works?
• How do you view the privilege of bearing God’s name?
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Our main purpose in congregating regularly is to praise Jehovah
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All of Jehovah’s laws are based on eternal, trustworthy principles