“Finding One Pearl of High Value”
“The kingdom of the heavens is the goal toward which men press, and those pressing forward are seizing it.”—MATTHEW 11:12.
1, 2. (a) What rare quality did Jesus portray in one of his Kingdom parables? (b) What did Jesus say in the parable of the pearl of great price?
IS THERE something that you value so highly that you would give everything you own or sacrifice all that you have in order to gain possession of it? Though people speak about dedication in their pursuit of some goal—money, fame, power, or position—it is rare that a person comes across something so very desirable that he is willing to give up everything for it. Jesus Christ referred to this rare but admirable quality in one of his many thought-provoking parables about the Kingdom of God.
2 It is a parable, or illustration, that Jesus told his disciples in private, one often referred to as the parable of the pearl of great price. This is what Jesus said: “The kingdom of the heavens is like a traveling merchant seeking fine pearls. Upon finding one pearl of high value, away he went and promptly sold all the things he had and bought it.” (Matthew 13:36, 45, 46) What did Jesus want his listeners to learn from this illustration? And how can we benefit from Jesus’ words?
High Value of Pearls
3. Why were fine pearls so valuable in ancient times?
3 From antiquity, pearls have been valued as ornamental objects. One source observes that according to the Roman scholar Pliny the Elder, pearls occupied the “topmost rank among all things of price.” Unlike gold, silver, or many gemstones, pearls are produced by living things. It is well-known that certain types of oysters can turn irritants—small fragments of stone, for instance—into lustrous pearls by enveloping them in layers of a secretion known as nacre. In ancient times, the finest pearls were harvested mainly from the Red Sea, the Persian Gulf, and the Indian Ocean—far from the land of Israel. This is no doubt the reason that Jesus spoke of “a traveling merchant seeking fine pearls.” To find truly valuable pearls, a great deal of effort is involved.
4. What is the central lesson of Jesus’ parable of the traveling merchant?
4 Even though fine pearls have long commanded high prices, it is evidently not their monetary value that constituted the central lesson of Jesus’ parable. In this parable, Jesus did not simply liken the Kingdom of God to a pearl of high value; he called attention to “a traveling merchant seeking fine pearls” and to his response upon finding one. Unlike an ordinary shopkeeper, a traveling pearl merchant, or dealer, was what might be called a connoisseur in the trade, one who had the keen eye or the sensibility needed to discern the aesthetic qualities and subtleties that mark a pearl as extraordinary. He would know the genuine article when he saw it and would not be fooled by inferior or counterfeit merchandise.
5, 6. (a) What is particularly noteworthy about the merchant in Jesus’ parable? (b) The parable of the hidden treasure reveals what about the traveling merchant?
5 Something else about this particular merchant is worthy of note. A common merchant might first figure out the market value of the pearl so as to determine how much he would pay for it in order to make a profit. He might also consider if there was a market for such a pearl so that he could sell it quickly. In other words, he would be interested in making a quick return on his investment, not in owning the pearl. But not so with the merchant in Jesus’ parable. His interest was not monetary or material. In fact, he was willing to sacrifice “all the things he had”—possibly all his personal belongings and properties—in order to acquire what he had been searching for.
6 In the eyes of most merchants, what that man in Jesus’ parable did was probably unwise. An astute businessman would not think of undertaking such a risky venture. But the merchant in Jesus’ parable had a different sense of values. His reward was, not any financial advantage, but the joy and satisfaction of possessing something of surpassing value. This point is made clear in a parallel illustration that Jesus gave. He said: “The kingdom of the heavens is like a treasure hidden in the field, which a man found and hid; and for the joy he has he goes and sells what things he has and buys that field.” (Matthew 13:44) Yes, the joy that comes from discovering and owning the treasure was enough to move the man to give up everything he had. Are there individuals like that today? Is there a treasure worth such a sacrifice?
Those Who Appreciated the High Value
7. How did Jesus show that he keenly appreciated the high value of the Kingdom?
7 In telling his parable, Jesus was talking about “the kingdom of the heavens.” He himself certainly appreciated the high value of the Kingdom. The Gospel accounts bear powerful testimony to that fact. After his baptism in 29 C.E., Jesus “commenced preaching and saying: ‘Repent, you people, for the kingdom of the heavens has drawn near.’” For three and a half years, he taught multitudes about the Kingdom. He traversed the length and breadth of the land, “journeying from city to city and from village to village, preaching and declaring the good news of the kingdom of God.”—Matthew 4:17; Luke 8:1.
8. What did Jesus do to demonstrate what the Kingdom will accomplish?
8 By performing numerous miracles throughout the land—including healing the sick, feeding the hungry, subduing the elements, even raising the dead—Jesus also demonstrated what God’s Kingdom will accomplish. (Matthew 14:14-21; Mark 4:37-39; Luke 7:11-17) Finally, he proved his loyalty to God and to the Kingdom by giving his life, dying a martyr’s death on a torture stake. Just as that traveling merchant willingly gave everything he had for the “pearl of high value,” Jesus lived and died for the Kingdom.—John 18:37.
9. What rare quality was seen among Jesus’ early disciples?
9 Not only did Jesus focus his own life on the Kingdom but he also gathered together a small band of followers. These too were individuals who keenly appreciated the high value of the Kingdom. Among them was Andrew, who was originally a disciple of John the Baptizer. Upon hearing John’s testimony that Jesus was “the Lamb of God,” Andrew and another of John’s disciples, most likely one of the sons of Zebedee also named John, were immediately drawn to Jesus and became believers. But matters did not stop there. Right away, Andrew went to his brother Simon and told him: “We have found the Messiah.” In quick order, Simon (who became known as Cephas, or Peter) as well as Philip and his friend Nathanael also came to recognize Jesus as the Messiah. In fact, Nathanael was moved to say to Jesus: “You are the Son of God, you are King of Israel.”—John 1:35-49.
Stirred to Action
10. How did the disciples respond when Jesus came and called them some time after his first encounter with them?
10 The excitement experienced by Andrew, Peter, John, and the others when they discovered the Messiah might be compared to that experienced by the traveling merchant when he found the pearl of high value. What would they do now? The Gospels do not tell us much about what they did immediately after this first encounter with Jesus. Apparently, most of them returned to their normal course of life. From about six months to a year later, however, Jesus once again came upon Andrew, Peter, John, and John’s brother James at their fishing business by the Sea of Galilee.* Seeing them, Jesus said: “Come after me, and I will make you fishers of men.” What was their response? About Peter and Andrew, Matthew’s account says: “At once abandoning the nets, they followed him.” As for James and John, we read: “At once leaving the boat and their father, they followed him.” Luke’s account adds that they “abandoned everything and followed him.”—Matthew 4:18-22; Luke 5:1-11.
11. What likely accounts for the disciples’ prompt response to Jesus’ call?
11 Was the disciples’ prompt response a spur-of-the-moment decision? Hardly! Even though they did return to their family fishing business after their first contact with Jesus, there is no doubt that what they had seen and heard on that occasion left a deep impression on their heart and mind. The passing of nearly a year would have allowed them plenty of time to reflect on such matters. Now the moment of decision had come. Would they be like the traveling merchant whose heart was so stirred by the discovery of the priceless pearl that, as Jesus described it, “away he went and promptly” did what he must to buy that pearl? Yes. What they had seen and heard stirred their heart. They recognized that the time for action had come. Thus, as the accounts tell us, without hesitation they gave up everything and became Jesus’ followers.
12, 13. (a) In what way did many who heard Jesus respond? (b) What did Jesus say about his faithful disciples, and what do his words imply?
12 How different these faithful ones were from some others mentioned later in the Gospel accounts! Many were the ones who were cured or fed by Jesus but who simply went about their own business. (Luke 17:17, 18; John 6:26) Some even begged off when Jesus invited them to become his followers. (Luke 9:59-62) In sharp contrast, concerning the faithful ones, Jesus later said: “From the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of the heavens is the goal toward which men press, and those pressing forward are seizing it.”—Matthew 11:12.
13 “Press” and “pressing forward”—what do these terms imply? With regard to the Greek verb from which these expressions are derived, Vine’s Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words says: “The verb suggests forceful endeavour.” And regarding this verse, Bible scholar Heinrich Meyer states: “In this way is described that eager, irresistible striving and struggling after the approaching Messianic kingdom . . . So eager and energetic (no longer calm and expectant) is the interest in regard to the kingdom.” Like the traveling merchant, these few individuals quickly recognized what was truly precious, and they willingly gave up all they had for the sake of the Kingdom.—Matthew 19:27, 28; Philippians 3:8.
Others Joined the Search
14. How did Jesus prepare the apostles for the Kingdom-preaching work, and what was the result?
14 As Jesus continued in his ministry, he trained and helped others to reach out for the Kingdom. First, he selected 12 from among his disciples and designated them as apostles, or ones sent forth by him. To these, Jesus gave detailed instructions on how they were to carry out their ministry as well as warnings about the challenges and hardships that lay ahead. (Matthew 10:1-42; Luke 6:12-16) For the next two years or so, they accompanied Jesus on his preaching tours throughout the land, enjoying a close relationship with him. They heard his sayings, witnessed his powerful works, and saw his personal example. (Matthew 13:16, 17) All of this no doubt touched them deeply, so much so that like the traveling merchant, they were zealous and wholehearted in their pursuit of the Kingdom.
15. What did Jesus say was the real reason his followers had for rejoicing?
15 In addition to the 12 apostles, Jesus “designated seventy others and sent them forth by twos in advance of him into every city and place to which he himself was going to come.” He also told them about the trials and hardships ahead and instructed them to tell people: “The kingdom of God has come near to you.” (Luke 10:1-12) When the 70 returned, they were overjoyed and gave Jesus this report: “Lord, even the demons are made subject to us by the use of your name.” But perhaps to their surprise, Jesus revealed that an even greater joy was in store for them because of their zeal for the Kingdom. He told them: “Do not rejoice over this, that the spirits are made subject to you, but rejoice because your names have been inscribed in the heavens.”—Luke 10:17, 20.
16, 17. (a) What did Jesus tell his faithful apostles on the last night he was with them? (b) What joy and assurance did Jesus’ words bring to the apostles?
16 Finally, on the last night that Jesus was with the apostles, Nisan 14, 33 C.E., he instituted what came to be known as the Lord’s Evening Meal and commanded them to commemorate the event. In the course of the evening, Jesus told the 11 who remained: “You are the ones that have stuck with me in my trials; and I make a covenant with you, just as my Father has made a covenant with me, for a kingdom, that you may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom, and sit on thrones to judge the twelve tribes of Israel.”—Luke 22:19, 20, 28-30.
17 What joy and satisfaction must have filled their heart when the apostles heard those words from Jesus! They were being offered the highest honor and privilege that any human could have. (Matthew 7:13, 14; 1 Peter 2:9) Like that traveling merchant, they had given up much to follow Jesus in pursuit of the Kingdom. Now they were assured that the sacrifices they had made thus far had not been in vain.
18. Who besides the 11 apostles would also eventually benefit from the Kingdom?
18 The apostles present with Jesus that night were not the only ones to benefit from the Kingdom. It was Jehovah’s will that a total of 144,000 be taken into the Kingdom covenant as corulers with Jesus Christ in the glorious heavenly Kingdom. In addition, the apostle John saw in vision “a great crowd, which no man was able to number, . . . standing before the throne and before the Lamb, . . . saying: ‘Salvation we owe to our God, who is seated on the throne, and to the Lamb.’” These are the earthly subjects of the Kingdom.*—Revelation 7:9, 10; 14:1, 4.
19, 20. (a) What opportunity is open to people of all the nations? (b) What question will be considered in the next article?
19 Shortly before Jesus ascended to heaven, he commanded his faithful followers: “Go therefore and make disciples of people of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the holy spirit, teaching them to observe all the things I have commanded you. And, look! I am with you all the days until the conclusion of the system of things.” (Matthew 28:19, 20) Thus, people out of all nations would come to be disciples of Jesus Christ. These too would set their heart on the Kingdom—whether for a heavenly or for an earthly reward—as the traveling merchant did with regard to the fine pearl.
20 Jesus’ words indicated that the task of disciple-making would be extended all the way to “the conclusion of the system of things.” So in our day, are there still individuals like the traveling merchant, who are willing to give their all in the pursuit of God’s Kingdom? This question will be considered in the next article.
John, the son of Zebedee, might have followed Jesus and witnessed some of the things he did after their first meeting, thus enabling John to record them so vividly in his Gospel account. (John, chapters 2-5) Nonetheless, he did return to his family fishing business for some time before Jesus called him.
For more details, see chapter 10 of the book Knowledge That Leads to Everlasting Life, published by Jehovah’s Witnesses.
Pursuing the “Pearl of High Value” Today
“This good news of the kingdom will be preached in all the inhabited earth for a witness.”—MATTHEW 24:14.
1, 2. (a) How did the Jews in Jesus’ day feel about God’s Kingdom? (b) What did Jesus do to impart proper understanding of the Kingdom, and with what results?
THE Kingdom of God was a subject of intense interest among the Jews when Jesus came to earth. (Matthew 3:1, 2; 4:23-25; John 1:49) At first, however, most of them did not fully comprehend its scope and power; neither did they understand that it would be a heavenly government. (John 3:1-5) Even some who became Jesus’ followers did not fully understand what God’s Kingdom is or what they must do to receive the blessing of becoming associate rulers with Christ.—Matthew 20:20-22; Luke 19:11; Acts 1:6.
2 As time went on, Jesus patiently taught his disciples many lessons, including the parable of the pearl of high value considered in the preceding article, pointing out to them the importance of exerting themselves in the pursuit of the heavenly Kingdom. (Matthew 6:33; 13:45, 46; Luke 13:23, 24) This must have touched their heart deeply because they soon became tireless and courageous proclaimers of the Kingdom good news to distant parts of the earth, to which fact the book of Acts amply testifies.—Acts 1:8; Colossians 1:23.
3. With reference to our time, what did Jesus say about the Kingdom?
3 What, then, about today? The blessings of an earthly paradise under the Kingdom are set out before millions. In his great prophecy about “the conclusion of the system of things,” Jesus specifically stated: “This good news of the kingdom will be preached in all the inhabited earth for a witness to all the nations; and then the end will come.” (Matthew 24:3, 14; Mark 13:10) He also explained that this monumental task is to be carried out in spite of formidable obstacles and challenges, even persecution. Nevertheless, he gave this assurance: “He that has endured to the end is the one that will be saved.” (Matthew 24:9-13) All of this calls for the kind of self-sacrifice and dedication manifested by the traveling merchant in Jesus’ parable. Are there individuals today who demonstrate such faith and zeal in the pursuit of the Kingdom?
The Joy of Discovering the Truth
4. What effect does Kingdom truth have on people today?
4 The merchant in Jesus’ parable was overjoyed when he found what he perceived to be a “pearl of high value.” That joy moved him to do everything within his power to acquire the pearl. (Hebrews 12:1) Today, the truth about God and his Kingdom likewise draws and motivates people. This brings to mind the comments of Brother A. H. Macmillan, who wrote about his personal search for God and His purpose for mankind, in the book Faith on the March. He said: “What I have found thousands of people are still finding every year. And they are people just like you and me, because they come from all nationalities, races, walks of life and are of all ages. Truth is no respecter of persons. It attracts all kinds of persons.”
5. What fine results are seen in the 2004 service year report?
5 The truth of those words is seen as year after year hundreds of thousands of honesthearted individuals are moved by the good news of God’s Kingdom to dedicate their life to Jehovah and to do his will. The 2004 service year, which ran from September 2003 to August 2004, was no exception. In those 12 months, 262,416 people publicly symbolized their dedication to Jehovah by water baptism. This took place in 235 lands, in which Jehovah’s Witnesses are conducting 6,085,387 home Bible studies weekly in order to help people from all walks of life and out of many nations, tribes, and tongues to take in the life-giving truth from God’s Word.—Revelation 7:9.
6. What accounts for the steady increases over the years?
6 What made all of this possible? There is no doubt that Jehovah draws these rightly disposed ones to him. (John 6:65; Acts 13:48) However, not to be minimized are the selfless spirit and tireless efforts on the part of those who have expended themselves in the pursuit of the Kingdom. At age 79, Brother Macmillan wrote: “From my first glimpse of the promises held out to sick and dying mankind my hope in what that message of the Bible has revealed has not faded. Right there I determined to find out more about what the Bible teaches so that I might be able to help others like myself who are seeking knowledge about the Almighty God, Jehovah, and his good purposes toward mankind.”
7. What experience typifies the joy and eagerness of those finding Bible truth?
7 That eagerness is also seen among Jehovah’s servants today. Take, for example, Daniela from Vienna, Austria. She said: “Since my childhood, God has been my very best friend. I always wanted to know his name because for me ‘God’ was too impersonal. But I had to wait until I was 17 years of age, when Jehovah’s Witnesses came to my door. They explained everything that I wanted to know about God. I had finally found the truth, and it was wonderful! I was so excited that I started to preach to everyone.” Her enthusiastic approach soon brought ridicule from her schoolmates. “For me, though, it was like seeing Bible prophecy being fulfilled,” Daniela continued, “because I had learned that Jesus said that his followers would be hated and persecuted for his name’s sake. I was so happy and amazed.” Soon, Daniela dedicated her life to Jehovah, was baptized, and started to pursue the goal of missionary service. After she was married, Daniela, together with her husband, Helmut, took up the preaching work among the African, Chinese, Filipino, and Indian populations in Vienna. Daniela and Helmut are now serving as missionaries in southwest Africa.
They Do Not Give Up
8. What is one rewarding way in which many have demonstrated their love for God and loyalty to his Kingdom?
8 Indeed, the missionary service is one of the ways in which Jehovah’s people today demonstrate their love for God and loyalty to his Kingdom. Like the merchant in Jesus’ parable, those who take up this service are willing to travel to faraway places for the sake of the Kingdom. Of course, these missionaries are not traveling to find the Kingdom good news; they are taking it to people living in the far-flung corners of the earth, teaching and helping them to become disciples of Jesus Christ. (Matthew 28:19, 20) In many lands, they have to endure extraordinary hardship. But their endurance is richly rewarded.
9, 10. What exciting experiences are enjoyed by missionaries in such faraway places as Central African Republic?
9 Take, for example, the Central African Republic, where last year the attendance at the Memorial of Christ’s death was 16,184, about seven times the number of Kingdom publishers in that land. Since many parts of that country are without electricity, the people usually do their daily chores out-of-doors under the shade of a tree. So it is only natural for the missionaries to do their work the same way—conduct Bible studies out-of-doors under a shady tree. Not only is it brighter and cooler outside but there is also another advantage. The people have a natural love for the Bible, and discussing religious subjects is as common as talking about sports or the weather in other cultures. Often, passersby take note of what is happening and simply join in the study.
10 Thus, when one missionary was conducting a Bible study out-of-doors, a young man who lived across the street came over and said that since he had not been called on, the missionary should come over and study the Bible with him too. Of course, the missionary was happy to comply, and the young man is making rapid progress. In that country, the police often flag down the Witnesses on the road, not to give them a summons or a fine, but to ask for the latest issues of the Watchtower and Awake! magazines or to thank them for an article that they particularly enjoyed.
11. In spite of trials, how do longtime missionaries feel about their service?
11 Many of those who entered the missionary service 40 or 50 years ago are still faithfully serving in the field. What an example of faith and perseverance for all of us! Over the past 42 years, one couple has served together as missionaries in three different countries. The husband says: “There have been difficulties. For example, we battled malaria for 35 years. Yet, we never regretted our decision to be missionaries.” His wife adds: “There has always been so much to be grateful for. The field ministry is such a joy, and it is easy to start Bible studies. When you see the students come to the meetings and get to know one another, it is like a family get-together each time.”
They “Consider All Things to Be Loss”
12. How is true appreciation for the value of the Kingdom expressed?
12 When the traveling merchant found a pearl of high value, “away he went and promptly sold all the things he had and bought it.” (Matthew 13:46) This willingness to give up what may be held as valuable is characteristic of those who truly appreciate the value of the Kingdom. As one who would have a share with Christ in Kingdom glory, the apostle Paul said: “I do indeed also consider all things to be loss on account of the excelling value of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord. On account of him I have taken the loss of all things and I consider them as a lot of refuse, that I may gain Christ.”—Philippians 3:8.
13. How did one individual in the Czech Republic demonstrate his love for the Kingdom?
13 In the same way, many today are willing to make major changes in their life in order to gain the blessings of the Kingdom. For example, in October 2003, the 60-year-old headmaster of a school in the Czech Republic came across the Bible study aid Knowledge That Leads to Everlasting Life. After reading it, he immediately contacted Jehovah’s Witnesses in his area to have a Bible study. He made fine spiritual progress and soon started to attend all the meetings. What, though, about his plans to run for the office of mayor and to enter the race for election to be a senator? He chose to enter a different race—the race for life, as a Kingdom proclaimer. He said, “I was able to place a lot of Bible literature with my students.” He symbolized his dedication to Jehovah by water immersion at a convention in July 2004.
14. (a) What has the Kingdom good news moved millions to do? (b) What sobering questions could each of us ask himself?
14 Millions of others around the world have responded to the Kingdom good news in a similar way. They have come out of the wicked world, put off their old personality, left their former associates, and given up their worldly pursuits. (John 15:19; Ephesians 4:22-24; James 4:4; 1 John 2:15-17) Why do they do all of this? Because they esteem the blessings of God’s Kingdom over and above anything that the present system of things can offer. Do you feel the same way about the Kingdom good news? Are you motivated by it to make the necessary changes to bring your life-style, values, and goals into harmony with what Jehovah requires? Doing so will result in rich blessings for you, now and in the future.
The Harvest Reaching Its Climax
15. What was prophesied that God’s people would do in the final days?
15 The psalmist wrote: “Your people will offer themselves willingly on the day of your military force.” Those who have offered themselves include the “company of young men just like dewdrops” and “a large army” of “women telling the good news.” (Psalm 68:11; 110:3) What has been the result of the diligence and self-sacrifice on the part of Jehovah’s people—men and women, young and old—in these final days?
16. Give an example of how God’s servants are reaching out to help others learn about the Kingdom.
16 A pioneer, or full-time Kingdom proclaimer, in India wondered how the more than two million deaf people in that land might be helped to learn about the Kingdom. (Isaiah 35:5) She decided to enroll in an institute in Bangalore to learn sign language. There she was able to share the Kingdom hope with many deaf ones, and Bible study groups were formed. Within a few weeks, over a dozen people began to come to the meetings at the Kingdom Hall. Later, at a wedding reception, the pioneer met a young deaf man from Calcutta who had many questions and showed a keen interest in knowing more about Jehovah. However, there was a problem. The young man was to return to Calcutta, some 1,000 miles [1,600 km] away, to start college, and there were no Witnesses there who knew sign language. With much effort, he persuaded his father to allow him to go to school in Bangalore instead so that he could continue his Bible study. He made fine spiritual progress, and after about a year, he dedicated his life to Jehovah. He, in turn, studied the Bible with a number of deaf individuals, including a childhood friend. The branch office in India is now arranging for pioneers to learn sign language to help in that field.
17. Relate what you find particularly encouraging about the 2004 service year report on pages 19 to 22.
17 On pages 19 to 22 of this magazine, you will find the worldwide report of the field activity of Jehovah’s Witnesses for the 2004 service year. Take a little time to examine it, and see for yourself the evidence that Jehovah’s people around the earth are intensely focused on pursuing the “pearl of high value” today.
Keep “Seeking First the Kingdom”
18. What information did Jesus not include in the parable of the traveling merchant, and why not?
18 Coming back once again to Jesus’ parable of the traveling merchant, we note that Jesus did not say anything about how the merchant was going to maintain his livelihood after having sold all that he had. Realistically, some might ask: ‘How would the merchant find food, clothing, and shelter now that he had nothing to fall back on? What good would that precious pearl be for him?’ Those would be reasonable questions from a fleshly point of view. But did Jesus not urge his disciples: “Keep on, then, seeking first the kingdom and his righteousness, and all these other things will be added to you”? (Matthew 6:31-33) The main point of the parable is the need to demonstrate wholehearted devotion to God and zeal for the Kingdom. Is there a lesson in this for us?
19. What key lesson can we learn from Jesus’ parable of the pearl of high value?
19 Whether we have just learned about the wonderful good news or we have been pursuing the Kingdom and telling others about its blessings for decades, we must continue to make the Kingdom the focus of our interest and attention. These are difficult times, but we have solid reasons for believing that what we are pursuing is real and beyond compare—like the pearl that the merchant came upon. World events and fulfilled Bible prophecies provide convincing proof that we are living in “the conclusion of the system of things.” (Matthew 24:3) Let us, like the traveling merchant, demonstrate wholehearted zeal for God’s Kingdom and rejoice in the privilege of proclaiming the good news.—Psalm 9:1, 2.