Fear Jehovah—Be Happy!
“Happy is the man in fear of Jehovah.”—PSALM 112:1.
1, 2. What can the fear of Jehovah bring?
HAPPINESS does not come easily. Real happiness is contingent on making the right choices, doing what is right, and turning away from what is wrong. Our Maker, Jehovah, has given us his Word, the Bible, to teach us how to enjoy the very best way of life. By seeking and following Jehovah’s direction, thus displaying the fear of God, we can be truly satisfied and happy.—Psalm 23:1; Proverbs 14:26.
2 In this article, we will consider Biblical and modern-day examples that show how genuine fear of God gives one strength to resist pressure to do what is wrong and courage to do what is right. We will see that godly fear can bring us happiness by moving us to correct a wrong course, as King David had to do. We will also see that the fear of Jehovah is a truly precious heritage that parents can pass on to their children. Indeed, God’s Word assures us: “Happy is the man in fear of Jehovah.”—Psalm 112:1.
Regaining Lost Happiness
3. What helped David to recover from his sins?
3 As considered in the preceding article, David on three notable occasions failed to show proper godly fear and sinned. However, his response to Jehovah’s discipline showed that he was essentially a God-fearing person. His reverence and respect for God moved him to admit his guilt, correct his course, and reestablish a good relationship with Jehovah. Although his errors brought suffering on him and others, his genuine repentance won Jehovah’s continued support and blessing. David’s example can surely instill courage in Christians today who may fall into serious sin.
4. How can the fear of God help a person regain happiness?
4 Take Sonja’s case. * Though serving as a full-time evangelizer, Sonja got into bad company, became involved in unchristian conduct, and had to be disfellowshipped from the Christian congregation. Coming to her senses, Sonja did everything necessary to repair her relationship with Jehovah. In time, she was reinstated in the congregation. Through all of this, Sonja never gave up her desire to serve Jehovah. Eventually, she again entered the full-time pioneer ministry. Later, she married a fine Christian elder, and now she happily serves with him in the congregation. Though Sonja regrets having temporarily strayed from the Christian path, she is happy that her fear of God helped her to come back.
To Suffer Rather Than Sin
5, 6. Explain how and why David twice spared Saul’s life.
5 It is much better, of course, when the fear of God helps one to avoid sinning in the first place. This proved true of David. Once, pursuing David with three thousand troops, Saul entered a cave—the very cave where David and his men were hiding. David’s men urged him to strike Saul. Was not Jehovah giving David’s mortal enemy into his hand? Silently, David crept up to Saul and cut off the skirt of his garment. Because David feared God, even that relatively harmless act tormented his conscience. David dispersed his agitated men, saying: “It is unthinkable, on my part, from Jehovah’s standpoint, that I should do this thing to my lord, the anointed of Jehovah.” *—1 Samuel 24:1-7.
6 On a later occasion, Saul was encamped for the night, and he and all his men fell into “a deep sleep from Jehovah.” David and his bold nephew Abishai slipped into the very middle of the camp and stood right over the sleeping Saul. Abishai wanted to do away with him once and for all. David restrained Abishai, asking: “Who is it that has thrust his hand out against the anointed of Jehovah and has remained innocent?”—1 Samuel 26:9, 12.
7. What held David back from sinning?
7 Why did David not strike Saul down when he twice had the opportunity? Because he feared Jehovah more than he feared Saul. Out of proper fear of God, David was prepared to suffer, if necessary, rather than sin. (Hebrews 11:25) He had complete confidence in Jehovah’s care for His people and for him personally. David knew that obeying and trusting in God would bring happiness and many blessings, while ignoring God would earn him God’s disfavor. (Psalm 65:4) He also knew that God would fulfill His promise to make David king and would remove Saul in His own time and way.—1 Samuel 26:10.
Fearing God Brings Happiness
8. How does David’s conduct under pressure serve as an example?
8 As Christians, we can expect ridicule, persecution, and other trials. (Matthew 24:9; 2 Peter 3:3) At times, we may even experience difficulties involving fellow worshippers. However, we know that Jehovah sees all things, hears our prayers and, at the right time, will straighten out matters according to his will. (Romans 12:17-21; Hebrews 4:16) Therefore, rather than fear our opposers, we fear God and look to him to deliver us. Like David, we do not avenge ourselves, nor do we compromise righteous principles to avoid suffering. In the end, this brings happiness. But how?
9. Give an example of how fearing God can result in happiness despite persecution.
9 “I think about a certain mother and her teenage daughter who because of their Christian neutrality refused to buy political party cards,” relates a longtime missionary in Africa. “They were brutally assaulted by a crowd of men and then were told to go home. As they walked along, the mother tried to comfort her weeping daughter, who struggled to understand why this had happened. They were not joyful then, but they had a clean conscience. Later, they were very happy that they had obeyed God. Had they bought the party cards, the crowd would have been ecstatic. The men would have given them bottles of soft drinks and danced around them all the way home. But the girl and her mother, knowing they had compromised, would have been the most unhappy people in the world.” Their fear of God spared them all of that.
10, 11. What good results came from one woman’s fear of God?
10 Showing godly fear also results in happiness when facing trials involving respect for the sanctity of life. When Mary was pregnant with her third child, the doctor urged her to have an abortion. “Your condition is dangerous,” he said. “You could have a crisis at any time and die within 24 hours. Then the baby would die too. In any case, there is no guarantee that the baby will be normal.” Mary had been studying the Bible with Jehovah’s Witnesses but was not yet baptized. “Still,” Mary says, “I had decided to serve Jehovah, and I was determined to remain obedient to him, no matter what.”—Exodus 21:22, 23.
11 During her pregnancy, Mary kept busy studying the Bible and caring for her family. Finally the baby came. “The birth was a little harder than the first two, but there were no major complications,” relates Mary. Fearing God helped Mary to keep a good conscience, and she was soon baptized. As that baby grew up, he too learned to fear Jehovah, and he is presently serving at one of the branch offices of Jehovah’s Witnesses.
‘Strengthen Yourself by Jehovah’
12. How did the fear of God strengthen David?
12 David’s fear of Jehovah did more than just restrain him from doing wrong. It strengthened him to act decisively and wisely under difficult circumstances. For a year and four months, David and his men took refuge from Saul at Ziklag in the Philistine countryside. (1 Samuel 27:5-7) Once while the men were away, marauding Amalekites burned the city and carried off all the men’s wives, children, and flocks. Upon returning and seeing what had happened, David and his men wept. Grief quickly turned to bitterness, and David’s men spoke of stoning him. Though distressed, David did not despair. (Proverbs 24:10) His fear of God moved him to turn to Jehovah, and he “took to strengthening himself by Jehovah.” With God’s help, David and his men overtook the Amalekites and recovered everything.—1 Samuel 30:1-20.
13, 14. How did fear of God help one Christian to make good decisions?
13 God’s servants today also face situations that require trust in Jehovah and courage to act decisively. Take Kristina as an example. As a youth, Kristina studied the Bible with Jehovah’s Witnesses. But she wanted to become a concert pianist, and she made considerable advancement to that end. Moreover, she felt self-conscious about preaching and was therefore afraid to accept the responsibilities that would come with baptism. As Kristina continued to study God’s Word, she began to sense its power. She was learning the fear of Jehovah, and she realized that Jehovah expects his servants to love him with their whole heart, mind, soul, and strength. (Mark 12:30) This moved her to dedicate herself to Jehovah and get baptized.
14 Kristina asked Jehovah for help to make spiritual advancement. “I knew that the life of a concert pianist involves constant travel and contracts to play as many as 400 concerts a year,” Kristina explains. “So I decided instead to become a teacher so as to support myself financially and serve as a full-time evangelizer.” At that time, Kristina was already slated to give her debut performance in her country’s best-known concert hall. “My debut concert turned out to be my retirement concert,” she relates. Kristina has since married a Christian elder. Together, they now serve at one of the branch offices of Jehovah’s Witnesses. She is happy that Jehovah gave her the strength to make right decisions and that she can now use her time and energy in his service.
A Precious Heritage
15. What did David want to pass on to his children, and how did he do so?
15 “Come, you sons, listen to me,” wrote David. “The fear of Jehovah is what I shall teach you.” (Psalm 34:11) As a father, David was intent on passing on to his children a precious heritage—the genuine, balanced, wholesome fear of Jehovah. By words and by deeds, David portrayed Jehovah, not as a demanding and fearsome God, ready to pounce on any infraction of His laws, but as a loving, caring, and forgiving Father of His earthly children. “Missteps who can keep track of?” asked David. Then, indicating his confidence that Jehovah is not constantly scrutinizing our errors, he added: “Hold me clear of unnoticed things!” David was sure that if he put forth his best effort, his words and thoughts could be acceptable to Jehovah.—Psalm 19:12, 14, Byington.
16, 17. How can parents teach children the fear of Jehovah?
16 David stands as an example for parents today. “Our parents raised us in a way that made being in the truth enjoyable,” says Ralph, who along with his brother serves at a branch office of Jehovah’s Witnesses. “When we were young, they included us in their conversations about congregation activities, and we became as enthusiastic about the truth as they were. They brought us up to believe that we could do good things in Jehovah’s service. In fact, for several years our family lived in a country where there is a great need for Kingdom publishers and helped to establish new congregations.
17 “What kept us on the right path was not a collection of rigid rules but the fact that to our parents, Jehovah was real and very, very kind and good. They sought to get to know Jehovah better and to please him, and we learned from their genuine fear of God and love for him. Even when we did something wrong, our parents did not make us feel that Jehovah no longer loved us; nor did they angrily slap arbitrary restrictions on us. Most of the time, they sat us down and just talked to us, Mom sometimes with tears in her eyes, trying to reach our heart. And it worked. We learned through our parents’ words and deeds that the fear of Jehovah is a beautiful thing and that to be one of his Witnesses is a joy and a pleasure, not a burden.”—1 John 5:3.
18. What will we gain by fearing the true God?
18 Among “the last words of David,” we read: “When one ruling over mankind is righteous, ruling in the fear of God, then it is as the light of morning, when the sun shines forth.” (2 Samuel 23:1, 3, 4) Solomon, David’s son and successor, apparently got the point, for he requested that Jehovah grant him “an obedient heart” and the ability “to discern between good and bad.” (1 Kings 3:9) Solomon recognized that to fear Jehovah is the course of wisdom and happiness. Later, he summarized the book of Ecclesiastes with the words: “The conclusion of the matter, everything having been heard, is: Fear the true God and keep his commandments. For this is the whole obligation of man. For the true God himself will bring every sort of work into the judgment in relation to every hidden thing, as to whether it is good or bad.” (Ecclesiastes 12:13, 14) If we heed that counsel, we will indeed find that “the result of humility and the fear of Jehovah” is not only wisdom and happiness but also “riches and glory and life.”—Proverbs 22:4.
19. What will enable us to understand “the fear of Jehovah”?
19 From Biblical examples and modern-day experiences, we see that the proper fear of God plays a positive role in the life of true servants of Jehovah. Not only can such fear prevent us from doing what is displeasing to our heavenly Father but it can also give us the courage to face our adversaries and the strength to endure the trials and hardships that come our way. Therefore, let us, young and old, apply ourselves diligently in studying God’s Word, meditating on what we learn, and drawing close to Jehovah in regular and heartfelt prayers. By doing so, we will not only find “the very knowledge of God” but also understand “the fear of Jehovah.”—Proverbs 2:1-5.
^ par. 4 The names have been changed.
Can You Explain?
How can the fear of God
• help one to recover from serious sin?
• bring happiness under trials and persecution?
• strengthen us to do God’s will?
• be a precious heritage for our children?
[Picture on page 26]
Fear of Jehovah kept David from striking King Saul
[Pictures on page 29]
Fear of God is a precious heritage that parents can pass on to their children