We Are “Wonderfully Made”
“In a fear-inspiring way I am wonderfully made.”—PSALM 139:14.
1. Why do many thinking people credit God for earth’s wonders?
THE natural world is filled with wonderful creations. How did they come to be? Some believe that the answer can be found without referring to an intelligent Creator. Others hold that arbitrarily ruling out a Creator limits our ability to understand nature. They believe that earth’s creatures are far too complex, too varied and, you might say, too wonderful to have originated by chance. To many people, some scientists included, the evidence shows that the universe had a wise, powerful, and benevolent Maker. *
2. What moved David to praise Jehovah?
2 King David of ancient Israel was one who was convinced that a Maker deserves praise for His wonderful creations. Although David lived long before today’s scientific era, he perceived that he was surrounded by marvelous examples of God’s creative work. David needed only to consider his own makeup to be profoundly awed by God’s creative ability. “I shall laud you because in a fear-inspiring way I am wonderfully made,” he wrote. “Your works are wonderful, as my soul is very well aware.”—Psalm 139:14.
3, 4. Why is it important for each of us to think seriously about Jehovah’s works?
3 David gained this strong conviction by thinking seriously. Today, school curriculums and the media are replete with faith-destroying theories about man’s origin. For us to have faith like that of David, we too must think seriously. We cannot afford to let others think for us, especially on such fundamental issues as the existence and role of a Creator.
4 Moreover, contemplating Jehovah’s works strengthens our appreciation for him and gives us confidence in his promises for the future. That, in turn, can motivate us to get to know Jehovah even better and to serve him. Let us therefore consider how modern science has confirmed David’s conclusion that we are “wonderfully made.”
Our Marvelous Physical Development
5, 6. (a) How did all of us begin life? (b) What role do our kidneys play?
5 “You yourself produced my kidneys; you kept me screened off in the belly of my mother.” (Psalm 139:13) All of us began our existence inside our mother’s body as a single cell smaller than the period at the end of this sentence. That microscopic cell was extremely complex—a miniature chemical laboratory! It grew rapidly. By the end of your second month in the womb, your major organs were already formed. Among them were your kidneys. When you were born, your kidneys were ready to filter your blood supply—removing toxins and excess water but retaining useful substances. Your two kidneys, if healthy, filter the water in your blood—about five quarts [6 L] in an adult—every 45 minutes!
6 Your kidneys also help control the mineral content of your blood as well as its acidity and pressure. They perform many other vital functions, such as converting vitamin D to an active form necessary for proper bone development and producing the hormone erythropoietin, which stimulates red blood cell production in your bones. No wonder the kidneys have been called “the master chemists of the body”! *
7, 8. (a) Describe an unborn baby’s early growth. (b) In what way is a developing baby “woven in the lowest parts of the earth”?
7 “My bones were not hidden from you when I was made in secret, when I was woven in the lowest parts of the earth.” (Psalm 139:15) The original cell divided, and the new cells continued to divide. Soon the cells began to differentiate, or specialize, to become nerve cells, muscle cells, skin cells, and so forth. Cells of the same type grouped together to form tissues and then organs. For instance, during the third week from conception, you began to develop a skeletal system. By the time you were just seven weeks old and only about an inch [2.5 cm] long, early forms of all 206 of your adult bones were in place, although they had not yet ossified, or turned into hard bone.
8 This amazing developmental process took place within your mother’s womb, hidden from human sight as if buried deep in the earth. Indeed, much about how we develop remains unknown to man. What, for example, activated specific genes in your cells to set in motion the process of differentiation? Science may eventually find out, but as David next observed, our Maker—Jehovah—has fully understood it all along.
9, 10. How is the formation of an embryo’s parts “down in writing” in God’s “book”?
9 “Your eyes saw even the embryo of me, and in your book all its parts were down in writing, as regards the days when they were formed and there was not yet one among them.” (Psalm 139:16) Your first cell contained the complete plan for your entire body. This plan guided your development during your nine months in the womb before birth and then through more than two decades of growth to adulthood. During this time, your body passed through many stages, all directed by the information programmed into that original cell.
10 David had no knowledge of cells and genes, being without even a microscope. But he correctly discerned that the development of his own body attested to advance planning. David may have had some knowledge of how embryos develop, so he could reason that each step must take place according to a preexisting design and timetable. In poetic language, he described this design as being “down in writing” in God’s “book.”
11. How did we come to have our physical characteristics?
11 Today, it is known that characteristics you inherited from your parents and forebears—such as your height, facial features, eye and hair color, and thousands of other traits—were determined by your genes. Each of your cells contains tens of thousands of genes, and each gene is part of a long chain made of DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid). Building instructions for your body are “written” in the chemical structure of your personal DNA. Every time your cells divide—to make new cells or to replace old cells—your DNA passes those instructions on, thereby keeping you alive and maintaining your basic appearance. What an outstanding example of the power and wisdom of our heavenly Maker!
Our Unique Mind
12. What especially sets humans apart from animals?
12 “So, to me how precious your thoughts are! O God, how much does the grand sum of them amount to! Were I to try to count them, they are more than even the grains of sand.” (Psalm 139:17, 18a) Animals too are wonderfully made, and some possess certain senses and abilities that exceed those of humans. But God gave humans mental faculties that far surpass those of any animal. “As similar as we humans are in many ways to other species, we are unique among the earth’s life forms in our ability to use language and thought,” notes one science textbook. “We are also unique in our profound curiosity about ourselves: How are we put together physically? How were we formed?” These are questions that David likewise pondered.
13. (a) How could David meditate on God’s thoughts? (b) How can we follow David’s example?
13 Most important, in contrast with animals, we are unique in our ability to contemplate God’s thoughts. * This special gift is one of the ways that we are made “in God’s image.” (Genesis 1:27) David made good use of this gift. He meditated on the evidence of God’s existence and the good qualities reflected in the earth around him. David also had the early books of the Holy Scriptures, which contain revelations by God about himself and his works. These inspired writings helped David to understand God’s thoughts, personality, and purpose. Meditating on the Scriptures, on creation, and on God’s dealings with him moved David to praise his Maker.
What Faith Involves
14. Why do we not need to know everything about God in order to have faith in him?
14 The more David contemplated creation and the Scriptures, the more he realized that comprehending the full range of God’s knowledge and ability was beyond his grasp. (Psalm 139:6) The same is true of us. We will never understand everything about all of God’s creative works. (Ecclesiastes 3:11; 8:17) But God has ‘made manifest’ enough knowledge through the Scriptures and in nature to enable truth-seekers living in any era to acquire faith that is based on evidence.—Romans 1:19, 20; Hebrews 11:1, 3.
15. Illustrate how faith and our relationship with God are linked.
15 Having faith involves more than merely acknowledging that life and the universe must have had an intelligent Source. It includes trusting in Jehovah God as a person—a person who wants us to get to know him and to maintain a good relationship with him. (James 4:8) We might think of the faith and trust one has in a loving father. If a skeptic questioned whether your father would really help you in a crisis, you might not be able to convince him that your father is trustworthy. If through experience you have accumulated evidence of your father’s good character, however, you can be confident that he will not let you down. Similarly, coming to know Jehovah by studying the Scriptures, contemplating creation, and experiencing his help in answer to our prayers moves us to trust in him. It makes us want to learn ever more about him and to praise him forever out of unselfish love and devotion. That is the most noble purpose that anyone can pursue.—Ephesians 5:1, 2.
Seek Our Maker’s Guidance!
16. What can we learn from David’s close relationship with Jehovah?
16 “Search through me, O God, and know my heart. Examine me, and know my disquieting thoughts, and see whether there is in me any painful way, and lead me in the way of time indefinite.” (Psalm 139:23, 24) David was aware that Jehovah already knew him thoroughly—everything that he thought, said, or did was within the scope of his Maker’s view. (Psalm 139:1-12; Hebrews 4:13) Such intimate knowledge on God’s part made David feel secure, just as a small child feels secure in the arms of his loving parents. David cherished this close relationship with Jehovah and strove to maintain it by thinking deeply about His works and by praying to Him. In fact, many of David’s psalms—including Psalm 139—are essentially prayers set to music. Meditation and prayer can likewise help us to draw close to Jehovah.
17. (a) Why did David want Jehovah to examine his heart? (b) How does the way we exercise our free will affect our lives?
17 Being made in God’s image, we are endowed with free will. We can choose to do good or to do bad. With that freedom comes moral accountability. David did not want to be classed with the wicked. (Psalm 139:19-22) He wanted to avoid making painful mistakes. Thus, upon contemplating Jehovah’s all-encompassing knowledge, David humbly asked God to examine his innermost person and to guide him in the way that leads to life. God’s righteous moral standards apply to everyone; so we too need to make right choices. Jehovah urges all of us to obey him. Doing so brings us his favor and many benefits. (John 12:50; 1 Timothy 4:8) Walking with Jehovah day by day helps us to cultivate inner calm, even in the face of grievous problems.—Philippians 4:6, 7.
Follow Our Wonderful Maker!
18. What did David conclude from his contemplation of creation?
18 As a youth, David was often outside, shepherding the flocks. The sheep lowered their heads to graze, but he raised his eyes to the heavens. In the evening darkness, David reflected on the grandeur of the universe and what it all meant. “The heavens are declaring the glory of God; and of the work of his hands the expanse is telling,” David wrote. “One day after another day causes speech to bubble forth, and one night after another night shows forth knowledge.” (Psalm 19:1, 2) David understood that he needed to search for and follow the One who had made all things so wonderfully. We need to do likewise.
19. What lessons can young and old draw from being “wonderfully made”?
19 David exemplified the counsel that his son Solomon later offered to young people: “Remember, now, your Grand Creator in the days of your young manhood . . . Fear the true God and keep his commandments. For this is the whole obligation of man.” (Ecclesiastes 12:1, 13) As a youth, David already discerned that he was “wonderfully made.” Acting on this insight brought him great benefits throughout his life. If we, young and old, praise and serve our Grand Creator, our present and future life will be delightful. Regarding those who stay close to Jehovah and live by his righteous ways, the Bible promises: “They will still keep on thriving during gray-headedness, fat and fresh they will continue to be, to tell that Jehovah is upright.” (Psalm 92:14, 15) And we will have the hope of enjoying our Maker’s wonderful works forever.
^ par. 1 See the June 22, 2004, issue of Awake! published by Jehovah’s Witnesses.
^ par. 6 See also “Your Kidneys—A Filter for Life,” in the August 8, 1997, issue of Awake!
^ par. 13 The words of David at Psalm 139:18b seem to mean that if he spent all day until he fell asleep at night counting Jehovah’s thoughts, upon awakening in the morning, he would still have more to count.
Can You Explain?
• How does the way an embryo develops show that we are “wonderfully made”?
• Why should we meditate on Jehovah’s thoughts?
• How are faith and our relationship with Jehovah linked?
[Pictures on page 23]
A baby’s development in the womb follows a predetermined design
Unborn fetus: Lennart Nilsson
[Picture on page 24]
Like children who trust a loving father, we have confidence in Jehovah
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Pondering Jehovah’s handiwork moved David to praise Him