Wednesday, September 30, 2009

“Throw Your Burden Upon Jehovah”—How?

(here's some extra material in relation to today's text discussion, from pgs 8-10 of the 7/1/83 Watchtower issue)

“Throw Your Burden Upon Jehovah”—How?
David, the well-known king of the ancient 12-tribe kingdom of Israel, gave us this encouragement: “Throw your burden upon Jehovah himself, and he himself will sustain you. Never will he allow the righteous one to totter.”—Psalm 55:22.
Why is such counsel especially appropriate when coming from King David? And how can you heed it?

David had a very eventful career in serving Jehovah God. As a mere youth he killed a lion, a bear and the giant Goliath. David excelled in warfare, extending the boundaries of ancient Israel to their God-ordained limits. Moreover, he was without equal in composing music and writing psalms. Yet David tasted not only the joys of success and prosperity but also the dregs of remorse and adversity.—1 Samuel 16:18; 17:34-36; 18:7.

Why David ‘Threw His Burden Upon Jehovah’
When David said “throw your burden upon Jehovah,” he was, first of all, talking to himself. How can that be said? Because from the context it is apparent that David composed this psalm when his royal prerogatives were at their lowest ebb. This was when his ambitious son Absalom almost succeeded in wresting the throne from his father. David’s desperate plight is apparent from the opening words of Psalm 55: “Do give ear, O God, to my prayer; and do not hide yourself from my request for favor. Do pay attention to me and answer me. I am driven restlessly about by my concern, and I cannot but show disquietude.” For six more verses he continues in this vein.
Why did David find himself in this condition? Because of his foes. He next prays for God to take action against his enemies and particularly singles out a friend who had turned traitor. No doubt this was Ahithophel, of whom it could well be said: “For it was not an enemy that proceeded to reproach me; . . . But it was you, . . . one familiar to me and my acquaintance, because we used to enjoy sweet intimacy together; into the house of God we used to walk with the throng.”—Verses 12-14.
After describing his lot and the cause of it, David says, in part, of his confidence in Jehovah: “As for me, to God I shall call out; and Jehovah himself will save me.” (Verse 16) Then after counseling himself, “Throw your burden upon Jehovah,” David concludes the psalm with the same note of confidence in the Most High, saying: “You yourself, O God, will bring them down to the lowest pit. . . . But as for me, I shall trust in you.” And how true David’s words proved to be! His ambitious son Absalom and his deceitful counselor Ahithophel came to untimely ends, whereas David continued to rule as God’s anointed king.—Verses 22, 23.

Burdens or Responsibilities
Before considering how we can heed David’s divinely inspired counsel to throw our burdens upon Jehovah, it seems appropriate to note that there are some responsibilities we must bear ourselves. The Christian apostle Paul wrote: “For each one will carry his own load.” (Galatians 6:5) Such ‘loads’ are the responsibilities that are our own because we are husbands, wives, parents, children, employees, Jehovah’s Witnesses or, for example, appointed elders in the Christian congregation. We cannot totally and irresponsibly throw such loads upon Jehovah but should willingly bear them ourselves. It is similar when it comes to making decisions. God’s Word provides laws and principles, but we must apply them to the problems facing us. Of course, we can and should ask God for wisdom, strength and his holy spirit to aid us in bearing these loads, but we must not try to get rid of them.
Then what are the burdens that we can throw upon Jehovah? They are anxieties, worries, disappointments and fears regarding the future, such as those David experienced. And they also include the burdens involving our weaknesses and failings. These are the burdens that we are to throw upon Jehovah, for the apostle Peter says: “Throw all your anxiety upon him.” Why? “Because he cares for you.”—1 Peter 5:6, 7.

Jesus Christ gave similar counsel in his Sermon on the Mount. ‘How so?’ you may ask. Well, not only did he tell us to stop being anxious about what we are to eat, drink and wear but he also told us the reason why we should not have such anxiety. Jesus gave this assurance: “If . . . God . . . clothes the vegetation of the field, . . . will he not much rather clothe you, you with little faith? . . . Your heavenly Father knows you need all these things.”—Matthew 6:25-32.

By Prayer
Yet, how can we really ‘throw our burden upon Jehovah’? One way is by regularly going to him in prayer. Is it not true that one of the burdens we daily have to bear is a consciousness of having come short of God’s righteous requirements? Yes, but by going to God in prayer we can be relieved of this burden. Jesus illustrated this in the case of the tax collector who, because of humbly and sincerely praying to God to be gracious to him, was proved more righteous than a hypocritical Pharisee. In other words, the tax collector was thereby relieved of his burden of guilt. But a word of caution: Depending upon our spiritual condition, the gravity of our sin and the nature of our guilt, we may need to enlist the aid of others, such as congregational elders, so as to become free of our burden.—Luke 18:9-14; Galatians 6:2; James 5:14-16.

If our prayers are to help us to throw our burdens upon Jehovah we must be really earnest, truly serious about matters. That is why we are commanded: “Do not be anxious over anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication along with thanksgiving let your petitions be made known to God.” This will help to unburden us, for then ‘the peace of God that excels all thought will guard our hearts and mental powers.’—Philippians 4:6, 7.

Please note that Paul mentions supplications as well as prayers. What are supplications? They are fervent prayers. And what does it mean to be fervent? This word comes from a root meaning “to be hot, to boil.” So to be fervent means to be ardent, warm in feeling, intense. That is how our prayers should be if by them we are to succeed in ‘throwing our burdens upon Jehovah himself.’
If we really are earnest in our prayers, we will also persevere in prayer. After illustrating the need for perseverance in prayer, our Lord Jesus Christ urged: “I say to you, Keep on asking, and it will be given you; keep on seeking, and you will find; keep on knocking, and it will be opened to you. For everyone asking receives, and everyone seeking finds, and to everyone knocking it will be opened.” (Luke 11:2-10) Indeed, keep on asking, seeking, knocking, and our heavenly Father will assume the burdens that may fittingly be thrown upon him.

Faith and Works
With our prayers, as with every other aspect of our Christian life and ministry, this principle applies: “According to your faith let it happen to you.” (Matthew 9:29) We must have the faith that pleases God. Not only must we wholeheartedly believe that he exists but we must also be confident that he rewards those earnestly seeking him. (Hebrews 11:6) We must have faith that God will hear us. To have such strong faith, we need to study God’s Word. We should endeavor to read it and related Christian publications daily. It is easy to forget the Bible’s admonition and its grand assurances. So many things of a secular nature keep crowding in on us! But only by feeding regularly on God’s Word can we become truly acquainted with Jehovah, his marvelous qualities and his ways of dealing with his earthly servants. How Jehovah’s Word highlights his loving care for his people! Again and again we read of how he answered the prayers of his servants. (Genesis 20:17; Acts 12:5, 17) And never forget that Jehovah remains the ever-dependable “Hearer of prayer.”—Psalm 65:2.

Helpful in more ways than one is the memorizing of Bible texts, especially those that assure us of God’s loving watchcare. Among these are those quoted above, as well as certain psalms, such as Psalms 23 and 103. What better way to keep our mind occupied and drive out distracting thoughts than memorizing and reciting some of God’s Word! By having Bible texts in our mind we can feed on his Word even when we are in no position to read from a copy of the Bible. For instance, we can meditate on the Scriptures if we are unable to sleep at night. (Compare Psalm 63:6.) Truly, all of this is an aid in ‘throwing our burden upon Jehovah.’
Furthermore, ‘throwing our burden upon Jehovah’ involves our doing our part. Remember that “faith without works is dead.” (James 2:26) Jesus indicated as much in his Sermon on the Mount, for after counseling us not to be anxious but to have faith in God’s care, he commanded: “Keep on, then, seeking first the kingdom and his righteousness, and all these other things will be added to you.” Truly, heeding that counsel will help us to remain free from anxious care.—Matthew 6:33.

Helpful, too, will be learning to discipline our mind. We may have got into a rut of negative thinking. Having earnestly presented our petitions to Jehovah and thrown our anxieties upon him, we should leave them there without continued worrisome concern. We must also discipline ourselves as to our words and actions. We must make progress and not keep making the same mistakes over and over again, ‘going around in circles,’ as it were. Rather, let us be like the apostle Paul and ‘pummel our bodies, leading them about as slaves.’ We must also heed Jesus’ counsel to “keep on the watch and pray continually,” for “the spirit . . . is eager, but the flesh is weak.”—1 Corinthians 9:27; Matthew 26:41.

So, how can you “throw your burden upon Jehovah”? By earnestly persevering in prayer, by regularly feeding on God’s Word, by seeking first God’s Kingdom and by exercising self-discipline. Then, true to Jehovah’s promise, he will sustain you and never allow you to totter.