“Praise Jah! . . . How pleasant and fitting it is to praise him!”—PS. 147:1.
SONGS: 9, 23
1-3. (a) Apparently, when was Psalm 147 written? (b) What can we learn from studying Psalm 147?
WHEN someone has done well at an assigned task or has displayed a remarkable Christian quality, he deserves praise. If that is true of humans, how much more do we have reason to praise Jehovah God! We can praise him because of his immense power, as seen in the wonders of his creation, or because of his warm dealings with humankind, as evidenced by his provision of the ransom sacrifice of his own Son.
2 The writer of the 147th Psalm was moved to praise Jehovah. He also encouraged others to join him in giving God praise.—Read Psalm 147:1, 7, 12.
3 We do not know who wrote this psalm, but the psalmist apparently lived about the time when Jehovah restored the Israelites to Jerusalem from Babylonian exile. (Ps. 147:2) The restoration of God’s people to their place of true worship would certainly have moved the psalmist to praise Jehovah. Still, he stated additional reasons to do so. What were they? What reasons do you have to cry out “Hallelujah!” in your own life?—Ps. 147:1, ftn.
JEHOVAH HEALS THE BROKENHEARTED
4. When King Cyrus liberated the exiled Israelites, how must they have felt, and why?
4 Imagine how the exiled Israelites must have felt in Babylon. Their captors jeered: “Sing for us one of the songs of Zion.” By then Jerusalem, their greatest reason to rejoice in Jehovah, had been desolated. (Ps. 137:1-3, 6) The Jews did not feel like singing. Their hearts were broken, and they needed comfort and consolation. However, true to God’s prophetic word, deliverance came through Cyrus, king of Persia. He conquered Babylon and proclaimed: “Jehovah . . . has commissioned me to build him a house in Jerusalem . . . Whoever there is among you of all his people, may Jehovah his God be with him, and let him go up.” (2 Chron. 36:23) What a comforting effect this development must have had on the Israelites dwelling in Babylon!
5. What does the psalmist observe about Jehovah’s healing power?
5 Jehovah gave comfort not only to the nation of Israel as a whole but also to each individual. The same is true today. The psalmist wrote of God: “He heals the brokenhearted; he binds up their wounds.” (Ps. 147:3) Yes, Jehovah cares for those who are having problems—whether physical or emotional. Today, Jehovah is eager to comfort us and to soothe our emotional wounds. (Ps. 34:18; Isa. 57:15) He gives us wisdom and strength so that we can cope with any troubles we may face.—Jas. 1:5.
6. How can we benefit from the psalmist’s seeming change of subject at Psalm 147:4? (See opening picture.)
6 The psalmist then turns his attention to the heavens above, telling us that Jehovah “counts the number of the stars” and “calls all of them by name.” (Read Psalm 147:4) Why the seeming change of subject and reference to heavenly bodies? Consider this: The psalmist could see the stars with his physical eyes, but he had no idea of how many there really are. Over the years, the number of stars that we can see has increased tremendously. Some think that there are billions of stars in our Milky Way galaxy alone. And there may be trillions of galaxies in the universe! To us, stars are indeed without number! But the Creator gives all of them a name or a designation. This means that each star is unique to Jehovah. (1 Cor. 15:41) What about his human creatures on earth? The God who knows where each star is at any given time also knows you as an individual—exactly where you are, precisely how you feel, and specifically what you need at any given moment!
7, 8. (a) When Jehovah saves his people from their trials, what does he take into consideration? (b) Illustrate how compassionate Jehovah is in helping imperfect humans.
7 Not only is Jehovah interested in you as a person but he also has the power and empathy needed to help you with life’s problems. (Read Psalm 147:5.) You may feel that your situation is too difficult and the load too heavy for you to carry. God understands your limitations, ‘remembering that you are dust.’ (Ps. 103:14) Being imperfect, we make the same mistakes again and again. Oh, how we regret that slip of the tongue, those fleshly tendencies that flare up every now and then, or those inclinations to envy what others have! Jehovah does not experience such shortcomings himself; yet, his understanding of us is immeasurable, unsearchable!—Isa. 40:28.
8 You may already have experienced how Jehovah’s mighty hand helped you to recover from some trial. (Isa. 41:10, 13) Take, for example, Kyoko, a pioneer sister who became very discouraged after moving to a new assignment. How did Jehovah show his understanding of her problems? In her new circumstances, Kyoko found herself surrounded by individuals who could understand her feelings. She felt that Jehovah was telling her: “I love you, not just because you are a pioneer, but because you are my daughter and dedicated to me. I want you to enjoy your life as one of my Witnesses!” In your case, how has the Almighty shown that “his understanding is beyond measure”?
JEHOVAH PROVIDES WHAT WE NEED
9, 10. What comes first when Jehovah extends help to us? Illustrate.
9 Sometimes your needs may be physical. For instance, you may worry that you will not have enough food to eat. However, it is Jehovah who created the natural cycle needed to grow food, even for young ravens that call out for it! (Read Psalm 147:8, 9.) If he continues to feed the ravens, you can trust that Jehovah will provide your material necessities too.—Ps. 37:25.
10 Most important, Jehovah provides spiritual sustenance, giving us “the peace of God that surpasses all understanding.” (Phil. 4:6, 7) Consider, for example, Mutsuo and his wife, who experienced Jehovah’s sustaining power following the 2011 Japan tsunami. By climbing to the roof of their house, they barely escaped the tsunami. However, that day they lost almost everything they owned. They spent the dark, cold night in a room on the second floor of their battered home. In the morning, they looked for some spiritual encouragement. The only book they could find was the 2006 Yearbook of Jehovah’s Witnesses. Immediately, the heading “The Deadliest Tsunamis Ever Recorded” caught Mutsuo’s eye. It was about an earthquake in Sumatra that in 2004 triggered the most devastating tsunamis in recorded history. Mutsuo and his wife wept as they read through the experiences. They felt God’s warm, loving care in providing the right spiritual encouragement just when they needed it. Jehovah also lovingly provided for them materially. Through their spiritual brothers, they received relief supplies. But what strengthened them most were the visits made to the congregation by the representatives of God’s organization. Mutsuo says: “I felt that Jehovah was right next to each one of us and caring for us. What comfort!” God provides spiritual sustenance first, and then he satisfies our physical needs.
BENEFIT FROM GOD’S SAVING POWER
11. What is required of those who hope to benefit from God’s saving power?
11 Jehovah is always ready to step in and ‘raise up the meek.’ (Ps. 147:6a) But how can we benefit from his readiness to act in our behalf? We have to have a good relationship with him. To have that, we need to cultivate meekness. (Zeph. 2:3) Meek ones wait on God to correct any wrongs and to undo the injuries inflicted on them. Jehovah looks on such ones with his smile of approval.
12, 13. (a) To benefit from God’s help, what should we avoid? (b) With whom does Jehovah find pleasure?
12 On the other hand, God “hurls the wicked to the ground.” (Ps. 147:6b) These are strong words! To benefit from Jehovah’s loyal love and to avoid his wrath, we have to hate what he hates. (Ps. 97:10) For instance, we are to hate sexual immorality. This means that we have to stay away from anything that could lead us into such wrongdoing, including pornography. (Ps. 119:37; Matt. 5:28) This may be a hard fight, but having Jehovah’s blessing is worth any effort we must put forth.
13 In fighting this battle, we need to rely on Jehovah, not on ourselves. Will he be pleased if we try to save ourselves with “the power of the horse,” that is, where humans turn for help? No! Neither are we to rely on “the strong legs of a man,” acting as if we or some other human could bring salvation. (Ps. 147:10) Rather, we must approach Jehovah, begging for his help. Unlike human counselors, he never gets tired of hearing our petitions, even when we ask for his help over and over. “Jehovah finds pleasure in those who fear him, in those waiting for his loyal love.” (Read Psalm 147:11) We can trust that in his loyal love, he will stick with us and help us to conquer our wrong desires.
14. What conviction strengthened the psalmist?
14 Jehovah gives us a basis for being convinced that he will help his people when they are in need. In thinking about the restoration of Jerusalem, the psalmist sang about Jehovah: “He makes the bars of your city gates strong; he blesses your sons within you. He brings peace to your territory.” (Ps. 147:13, 14) How reassuring it was for the psalmist to know that God would strengthen the city’s gates to provide protection for his worshippers!
15-17. (a) How might we at times feel about our trials, but how does Jehovah use his Word to help us? (b) Illustrate how ‘God’s word runs swiftly.’
15 You may face difficulties that cause you to become anxious. Jehovah can give you the wisdom to cope. The psalmist said of his God that “he sends his command to the earth; his word runs swiftly.” Then, referring to Jehovah as ‘sending the snow, scattering the frost, and hurling down the hailstones,’ the psalmist asks: “Who can withstand his cold?” He adds that Jehovah “sends out his word, and they melt.” (Ps. 147:15-18) Our all-wise, all-powerful God, the one who controls the hail and the snow, can help you to surmount any obstacles that you encounter.
16 Today, Jehovah guides us with his Word, the Bible. And “his word runs swiftly” in that he readily gives us spiritual direction when we need it. Think about how you benefit from reading the Bible, examining the publications of “the faithful and discreet slave,” watching JW Broadcasting, visiting jw.org, talking with the elders, and associating with fellow Christians. (Matt. 24:45) Have you not seen that Jehovah is swift to provide you with his guidance?
17 Simone has experienced the power of God’s Word. She had very low self-worth, to the point of doubting that she was the kind of person God would approve of. However, during times of discouragement, she persevered in prayer, turning to Jehovah for his help. She also kept busy in her personal study of the Bible. She says, “I have never been in a situation where I have not felt Jehovah’s strength and his guidance.” This has helped her to try to remain as positive as possible.
18. Why do you feel favored by God, and what reasons do you have to cry out “Praise Jah!”?
18 The psalmist knew how favored God’s ancient people were. They were the only nation given God’s “word” and “his regulations and judgments.” (Read Psalm 147:19, 20.) Today, we are blessed to be the only ones on earth called by God’s name. Knowing Jehovah and having his Word at work in our lives, we have come to enjoy a privileged relationship with him. Like the writer of Psalm 147, do you not have many good reasons to cry out “Praise Jah!” and to encourage others to do the same?