“You make known to me the path of life.”—PS. 16:11.
1, 2. What kind of change is possible, as illustrated by the experience of a high school student?
A STUDENT named Tony was on his way to becoming a high school dropout. A fatherless boy, he had little interest in school and would spend his weekends at the movies or with friends. He was not violent, and he was not a drug addict. He simply had no purpose in life. And he had doubts about God’s existence. Then he met a Witness couple and talked with them about his doubts and questions. They gave him two brochures—The Origin of Life—Five Questions Worth Asking and Was Life Created?
2 When the couple returned, Tony had a changed attitude. He had studied the brochures, so much so that they were dog-eared and creased. “There has to be a God,” he said. He accepted a Bible study, and gradually his outlook on life changed. He also went from being a poor student to being one of the best in his school. Even the principal, who was aware of Tony’s newfound faith, was amazed. “You have made major improvements in your attitude and your grades,” he said. “Is that because of your association with Jehovah’s Witnesses?” Tony said yes and then gave a fine witness. He successfully completed high school and today serves as a regular pioneer and a ministerial servant. He is also happy that he now has a wonderful Father, Jehovah.—Ps. 68:5.
OBEY JEHOVAH, AND YOU WILL SUCCEED
3. What course does Jehovah recommend for young ones?
3 Tony’s experience reminds us of Jehovah’s deep interest in you young ones among us. He wants you to enjoy a truly successful and satisfying life. Hence, he advises you: “Remember . . . your Grand Creator in the days of your youth.” (Eccl. 12:1) In today’s world, that is not always easy. However, it is by no means impossible. With God’s help, you can succeed, not just in your youth but throughout your life. To illustrate, consider a lesson we can learn from the Israelites’ conquest of the Promised Land and from David’s encounter with Goliath.
4, 5. What valuable lesson can we learn from the Israelites’ conquest of Canaan and from David’s encounter with Goliath? (See opening pictures.)
4 When the Israelites neared the Promised Land, God did not command them to sharpen their fighting skills or train for war. (Deut. 28:1, 2) Rather, he told them that they needed to obey his commandments and trust in him. (Josh. 1:7-9) From a human viewpoint, that advice would make no sense! But it was the very best advice, for Jehovah gave his people victory after victory over the Canaanites. (Josh. 24:11-13) Yes, obedience to God calls for faith, but that faith always leads to success. This truth does not change with the passing of time. It is just as valid today.
5 A mighty warrior, Goliath was some nine and a half feet (2.9 m) tall and well-armed. (1 Sam. 17:4-7) David, however, had two things: a sling and faith in his God, Jehovah. To those lacking faith, David surely seemed foolish. But how wrong they were! Goliath was the foolish one.—1 Sam. 17:48-51.
6. What will we now consider in further detail?
6 The preceding article considered four things that contribute to our happiness and success in life. These were satisfying our spiritual need, appreciating our God-given friends, setting worthwhile goals, and cherishing our freedom as God’s people. Let us now explore these topics further, this time considering some principles found in Psalm 16.
SATISFY YOUR SPIRITUAL NEED
7. (a) How would you describe a spiritual person? (b) What was David’s “portion,” and how did this affect him?
7 A spiritual person has faith in God and has God’s mind on matters. He looks to God for guidance and is determined to obey him. (1 Cor. 2:12, 13) David is a good example. He sang: “Jehovah is my portion, my allotted share, and my cup.” (Ps. 16:5) That “portion” included David’s approved relationship with God, in whom he took refuge. (Ps. 16:1) The result? “My whole being is joyful,” he wrote. Yes, nothing gave David more joy than intimacy with God.—Read Psalm 16:9, 11.
8. What are some factors that contribute to a truly satisfying life?
8 The joy that David experienced does not come to those who center their lives on pleasures and riches. (1 Tim. 6:9, 10) “True satisfaction,” says a brother in Canada, “comes, not from what we can get out of life, but from what we give to the Giver of every good gift, Jehovah God.” (Jas. 1:17) Yes, developing faith in Jehovah and serving him will give your life meaning and provide you with satisfaction. How can you grow in faith? You must spend time with him, as it were, by reading his Word, observing his creation, and thinking about his qualities, including his love for you.—Rom. 1:20; 5:8.
9. How can you allow God’s Word to mold you, as it did David?
9 God’s love for us is sometimes expressed through fatherly correction. David welcomed such kindly counsel. He said: “I will praise Jehovah, who has given me advice. Even during the night, my innermost thoughts correct me.” (Ps. 16:7) Yes, he meditated on God’s thoughts, making them his own and allowing them to mold him. When you in faith do the same, you too will grow in love for God and in your desire to obey him. You will also gain spiritual maturity and depth. A sister named Christin said, “When I do research and meditate on what I read, I get the feeling that Jehovah had this penned just for me!”
10. As noted at Isaiah 26:3, a spiritual outlook on life has what advantages?
10 It is no exaggeration to say that a spiritual outlook on life also gives you exceptional knowledge and insight by enabling you to see the world and its future through God’s eyes. Why does God give you such knowledge and insight? He wants you to set sound priorities in your life, to make wise decisions, and to look forward to the future with confidence! (Read Isaiah 26:3.) A brother named Joshua, who lives in the United States, observes, “Staying close to Jehovah keeps everything in the proper perspective.” How true, and what satisfaction that brings!
MAKE TRUE FRIENDS
11. How did David reveal the key to making true friends?
11 Read Psalm 16:3. David knew the secret to finding true friends. He found “great delight” in the company of those who loved Jehovah. Described as “holy ones,” they were morally clean, upright. Another psalmist felt the same way about his choice of friends. He wrote: “I am a friend of all who fear you and of those who keep your orders.” (Ps. 119:63) As we saw in the preceding article, you too can find many good friends among those who fear and obey Jehovah. That includes, of course, those of various ages.
12. What was the basis for the friendship between David and Jonathan?
12 The psalmist David did not limit his circle of friends to just his peers. Can you recall the name of a “majestic” one who became his dear friend? His name was Jonathan. In fact, their friendship was one of the most beautiful recorded in the Scriptures. Did you know, however, that Jonathan was about 30 years older than David? What, then, was the basis for their friendship? Faith in God, mutual respect, and seeing each other’s courage as they fought God’s enemies.—1 Sam. 13:3; 14:13; 17:48-50; 18:1.
13. How can you broaden your circle of friends? Give an example.
13 Like David and Jonathan, we too find “great delight” in loving those who love Jehovah and who show their faith in him. Kiera, who has served God for years, says, “I’ve made friends with people from around the world, people of many different backgrounds and cultures.” When you broaden out in this way, you will see clear evidence of the uniting power of God’s Word and spirit.
PURSUE WORTHWHILE GOALS
14. (a) What can help you to set worthwhile goals in life? (b) How have some young ones felt about setting spiritual goals?
14 Read Psalm 16:8. David’s life was focused on serving God. You too will enjoy a truly satisfying life if you keep service to Jehovah to the fore and set goals with him in mind. A brother named Steven said, “Working toward a goal, accomplishing it, and then looking back on the improvements I have made brings me satisfaction.” A young brother from Germany who now serves in another land stated, “When I’m old, I don’t want to look back on my life and see that everything I did was just about me.” We hope that you feel the same way. If you do, use your gifts to honor God and to do things for others. (Gal. 6:10) Set spiritual goals for yourself, and ask Jehovah in prayer to help you to reach them. He delights to answer such prayers.—1 John 3:22; 5:14, 15.
15. What goals might you set for yourself? (See the box “Some Practical Goals.”)
15 What goals might you set? They could include giving comments in your own words at Christian meetings, sharing in pioneer service, or going to Bethel. You might try to learn another language with a view to serving in a foreign-language field. Barak, a young full-time servant, says, “Waking up every day knowing that I’m giving all my strength to Jehovah is a feeling that no other activity can produce.”
CHERISH YOUR GOD-GIVEN FREEDOM
16. How did David feel about Jehovah’s righteous standards, and why?
16 Read Psalm 16:2, 4. As we saw in the preceding article, God’s righteous laws and principles liberate us by helping us to cultivate love for what is good and hatred for what is bad. (Amos 5:15) The psalmist David recognized Jehovah as his “Source of goodness.” Goodness is moral excellence, or virtue. David worked hard to imitate his God, to make God’s goodness his own. David also cultivated a hatred for what is bad in God’s eyes. That includes idolatry, a practice that debases humans and robs Jehovah of the glory owed to him.—Isa. 2:8, 9; Rev. 4:11.
17, 18. (a) What did David observe about the consequences of false worship? (b) What causes people today to “multiply their sorrows”?
17 In Bible times, false worship often included gross sexual immorality. (Hos. 4:13, 14) To be sure, that form of worship appealed to the sinful flesh. But it did not bring lasting happiness. To the contrary! ‘Those who pursued other gods multiplied their sorrows,’ said David. They also brought untold suffering to countless children. (Isa. 57:5) Jehovah detested such cruelty! (Jer. 7:31) Had you lived in those times, you would no doubt have been very thankful if your parents had faith in Jehovah and obeyed him.
18 Today, too, false worship often condones sexual immorality, even homosexuality. But the end results of reveling in so-called moral freedom have not really changed since Bible times. (1 Cor. 6:18, 19) People “multiply their sorrows,” as you may have observed. So young ones, listen to your heavenly Father. Be fully convinced that obedience to him is in your best interests. Impress on your heart that the harm caused by wrongdoing far outweighs any temporary pleasure. (Gal. 6:8) Joshua, quoted earlier, said, “We can use our freedom any way we want, but misusing it isn’t satisfying.”
19, 20. What blessings await young ones who have faith in Jehovah and obey him?
19 Jesus said to his followers: “If you remain in my word, you are really my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (John 8:31, 32) That freedom includes freedom from false religion, ignorance, and superstition. And it involves more. As we have seen, it will ultimately include “the glorious freedom of the children of God.” (Rom. 8:21) Taste that freedom even now by ‘remaining in Christ’s word,’ or teachings. In this way, you will come to “know the truth” not just by learning about it but also by living it.
20 Young ones, cherish the freedom God has given you. Use that freedom wisely, and thereby lay a fine foundation for the future. One young brother said: “Using freedom wisely as a young person really helps when later you are faced with bigger decisions, such as finding a suitable job or choosing whether to marry or to remain single for a time.”
21. How can you remain on the path to “the real life”?
21 In this old system, even a so-called good life is at best uncertain and short. We do not know what tomorrow will bring. (Jas. 4:13, 14) The wise course, then, is to stay on the path that leads to “the real life”—everlasting life. (1 Tim. 6:19) Of course, God does not force us to walk that path. The choice is ours. Make Jehovah your “portion.” Cherish the many “good things” he has given you. (Ps. 103:5) And have faith that he can give you “abundant joy” and “happiness . . . forever.”—Ps. 16:11.