“Of Whom Shall I Be in Dread?”
“Though against me war should rise, even then I shall be trusting.”—PS. 27:3.
ACCORDING TO THE FOLLOWING VERSES, WHAT CAN HELP YOU TO DEVELOP COURAGE?
1. What will the 27th Psalm help us to understand?
WHY is our preaching activity on the increase despite worsening world conditions? Why do we give freely of our time and energy while many are experiencing economic reversals? How can we remain courageous when many others fear the future? An inspired song of King David, recorded in Psalm 27, gives us the answers.
2. What does the feeling of dread do to a person, but what confidence do we have?
2 David begins this psalm with the words: “Jehovah is my light and my salvation. Of whom shall I be in fear? Jehovah is the stronghold of my life. Of whom shall I be in dread?” (Ps. 27:1) While fear can exert a weakening influence, the feeling of dread is even more severe. But no underlying dread should agitate one who fears Jehovah. (1 Pet. 3:14) When we make Jehovah our stronghold, we “will reside in security and be undisturbed from dread of calamity.” (Prov. 1:33; 3:25) Why so?
“JEHOVAH IS MY LIGHT AND MY SALVATION”
3. In what sense is Jehovah our light, but what must we do?
3 The metaphor “Jehovah is my light” draws attention to the fact that Jehovah frees us from ignorance and spiritual darkness. (Ps. 27:1) A literal light may reveal a danger or an obstacle on our pathway, but it does not remove it. We must act wisely on what we see. In a similar way, Jehovah reveals to us the basic meaning of world events. He alerts us to the dangers of this system of things. He provides us with Bible principles that always work, but we must apply what we learn. When we do, we can act with more wisdom than either our enemies or our teachers.—Ps. 119:98, 99, 130.
4. (a) Why could David say with conviction: “Jehovah is my . . . salvation”? (b) When especially will Jehovah become our salvation?
4 David’s words at Psalm 27:1 show that he must have recalled how Jehovah had delivered, or saved, him on previous occasions. For instance, Jehovah had delivered him “from the paw of the lion and from the paw of the bear.” Jehovah also gave him victory over the giant Goliath. Later, King Saul tried to pierce David with a spear, but each time Jehovah delivered him. (1 Sam. 17:37, 49, 50; 18:11, 12; 19:10) No wonder David could say with conviction: “Jehovah is my . . . salvation”! Jehovah will again become to his servants what he was to David—a salvation. How? By delivering his worshippers through the coming “great tribulation.”—Rev. 7:14; 2 Pet. 2:9.
REMEMBER EACH SUCCESS
5, 6. (a) What role does our memory play in our developing courage? (b) How does the record of Jehovah’s dealings with his servants fortify your courage?
5 An important factor in developing courage is brought to our attention at Psalm 27:2, 3. (Read.) David recalled events in which he experienced deliverance with the aid of Jehovah. (1 Sam. 17:34-37) Those memories filled him with confidence to face even the worst of adversities. Do you draw similar conclusions from your experiences? For instance, have you prayed intensely about a distressing problem and then seen how Jehovah gave you wisdom or strength to cope with that trial? Or can you recall how obstacles to your joyful service were removed or how a large door of activity was opened to you? (1 Cor. 16:9) What effect does remembering such events have on you now? Do not those memories continue to persuade you that Jehovah can help you to overcome or endure even more serious obstacles or adversities?—Rom. 5:3-5.
6 What if a powerful government were to hatch a plot to exterminate Jehovah’s Witnesses as an organization? Many men in modern times have attempted to do just that but have failed. Recounting how Jehovah has helped his people in the past will instill in us confidence to face the future.—Dan. 3:28.
APPRECIATE PURE WORSHIP
7, 8. (a) According to Psalm 27:4, what did David ask from Jehovah? (b) What is Jehovah’s great spiritual temple, and how is worship offered there?
7 Another essential component of courageous action is our fondness for true worship. (Read Psalm 27:4.) In David’s day, “the house of Jehovah” was the tabernacle. It was David himself who made arrangements for the elaborate temple structure that was to be built by his son Solomon. Centuries later, Jesus revealed that rendering acceptable worship to Jehovah would no longer be contingent on having one grand structure that was blessed by God. (John 4:21-23) The apostle Paul indicated in Hebrews chapters 8 to 10 that a great spiritual temple came into existence at Jesus’ baptism in 29 C.E., when he presented himself to do Jehovah’s will. (Heb. 10:10) This great spiritual temple is the arrangement Jehovah has made so that we, through our faith in Jesus’ ransom sacrifice, can approach God acceptably. How do we worship there? By praying “with true hearts in the full assurance of faith”; by declaring our hope publicly without wavering; and by considering, inciting, and encouraging fellow worshippers when we assemble together at our congregation meetings and during family worship. (Heb. 10:22-25) Appreciation for the arrangement of true worship fortifies us in these critical last days.
8 Earth wide, Jehovah’s faithful servants are increasing their share in the ministry, learning new languages, and moving to areas where the need for Kingdom preachers is greater. Their actions reveal that they, like the psalmist, have but one thing to ask of Jehovah. They want to enjoy the pleasantness of Jehovah and to participate in sacred service no matter what happens.—Read Psalm 27:6.
TRUST IN GOD’S HELP
9, 10. What is the meaning of the assurance given at Psalm 27:10?
9 David forcefully articulates his trust in Jehovah’s help by saying: “In case my own father and my own mother did leave me, even Jehovah himself would take me up.” (Ps. 27:10) We may conclude from the events mentioned in 1 Samuel chapter 22 that David’s parents did not abandon him. However, many today have had to endure extreme rejection by their family. Yet, many thus forsaken have found help and protection in the warmth of the Christian congregation.
10 Since Jehovah is ready to support his servants when others desert them, would he not also sustain them during any other sort of tribulation? If, for instance, we are concerned about how to provide materially for our family, can we not be certain that Jehovah will help us? (Heb. 13:5, 6) He understands the circumstances and needs of all his loyal servants.
11. What impact can our trust in Jehovah have on others? Illustrate.
11 Consider the case of Victoria, a Bible student in Liberia. As she progressed toward baptism, the man she was living with left her and her three children. Despite being homeless and jobless, she continued to make spiritual progress. After Victoria’s baptism, her 13-year-old daughter discovered a purse full of money. In order to avoid temptation, they decided not even to count the money. Instead, they quickly contacted the soldier to whom the purse belonged. He told them that if all people were as honest as Jehovah’s Witnesses, the whole world would be better and more peaceful. From the Bible, Victoria showed the soldier Jehovah’s promise of a new world. Impressed with her integrity, the soldier gave Victoria a considerable reward from the recovered funds. Indeed, implicit faith in Jehovah’s ability to provide has given Jehovah’s Witnesses an impeccable reputation for honesty.
12. What do we demonstrate when we continue to serve Jehovah despite suffering material loss? Illustrate.
12 Or imagine how Thomas, an unbaptized publisher in Sierra Leone, must have felt. He started working as a teacher in a secondary school, but he could not receive his salary for nearly one year until the paperwork was final. What was the last requirement Thomas had to meet before receiving his salary and back pay? An interview with the school administrator—a priest. The priest explained that the beliefs of Jehovah’s Witnesses were not compatible with those of the institute. He insisted that Thomas choose between his job and his Bible-based beliefs. Quitting that job and forfeiting nearly a year’s salary, Thomas found other work, repairing radios and mobile phones. As this and numerous similar examples show, fear of privation may be the object of other people’s dread, but it is no match for our well-founded trust in the Creator of all things and Protector of his people.
13. How is the Kingdom-preaching work progressing in lands where material resources are scarce?
13 In a number of lands where living conditions are challenging, Kingdom proclaimers are often markedly active. Why is this? One branch office writes: “Many householders accepting Bible studies are unemployed and therefore have more time to study during the day. Brothers also have more time to preach. People, especially in the worst-hit areas, do not have to be told that we are living in the last days; they see the conditions all around them.” A missionary serving for over 12 years in a land where every publisher conducts, on average, more than three Bible studies writes: “Since many of the publishers have a simple lifestyle with few distractions, they generally have more time for the field ministry and Bible study work.”
14. In what ways can the great crowd enjoy divine protection?
14 Jehovah has promised to help, protect, and deliver his people, as a group, physically and spiritually, and we trust in him. (Ps. 37:28; 91:1-3) The crowd that survive “the great tribulation” must indeed be great. (Rev. 7:9, 14) Thus that crowd, as a group, will be shielded from extinction throughout the remainder of the last days. They will be supplied with everything they need to endure trials and to safeguard their relationship with Jehovah. And throughout the final phase of the great tribulation, Jehovah will protect his people.
“INSTRUCT ME, O JEHOVAH, IN YOUR WAY”
15, 16. How do we benefit when we heed divine instruction? Illustrate.
15 To remain courageous, we need ongoing instruction in God’s way. This is evident from David’s plea: “Instruct me, O Jehovah, in your way, and lead me in the path of uprightness on account of my foes.” (Ps. 27:11) Acting in harmony with this prayer means paying careful attention to any Bible-based direction that we receive through Jehovah’s organization and applying it at once. Many who have rid themselves of needless debt can testify that applying wise counsel to simplify their life has benefited them during the recent economic crises. Rather than finding themselves burdened with possessions they can no longer afford, they are free to expand their ministry. Each of us does well to ask himself, ‘Do I immediately apply everything I read in the Bible and in the publications of the faithful and discreet slave class, even when it requires making personal sacrifices?’—Matt. 24:45.
16 By allowing Jehovah to instruct us and lead us in the path of uprightness, we will have no cause for fear. When a regular pioneer in the United States applied for a job that would help him to keep his entire family in full-time service, his supervisor told him that he would never get that position without a college degree. Had this happened to you, would you have regretted pursuing full-time service to the exclusion of seeking higher education? Two weeks later, that supervisor’s employment was terminated, and another manager asked the brother about his goals. He readily explained that he and his wife were full-time ministers of Jehovah’s Witnesses and wanted to continue as such. Before the brother could say anything else, the manager said: “I knew there was something different about you! When my father was on his deathbed, two of your fellow believers came and read the Bible to him every day. I promised myself that if I ever had an opportunity to help one of Jehovah’s Witnesses, I would do it.” The next morning, this brother was given the very job that the former director had refused to give him. Indeed, when we put Kingdom interests first in our life, Jehovah lives up to his assurance that we will not go without material necessities.—Matt. 6:33.
FAITH AND HOPE ESSENTIAL
17. What will enable us to face the future with confidence?
17 David next underscores the necessity of faith and hope by saying: “If I had not had faith in seeing the goodness of Jehovah in the land of those alive—!” (Ps. 27:13) Indeed, where would we be without our God-given hope and our appreciation for the things discussed in Psalm 27! May we, then, continue to pray confidently for strength and deliverance as we face the events leading up to Armageddon.—Read Psalm 27:14.
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David drew strength from his memories of Jehovah’s acts of deliverance
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Do we see economic hardship as an opportunity to expand our ministry?