“In my first defense no one came to my side, but they all forsook me—may they not be held accountable.”
~2 Timothy 4:16
Is it normal to feel alone serving God Jehovah?
After all, our worldwide brotherhood and local congregations are supposed to be a haven of love and kindness amidst this wicked world. (Heb. 10:24,25; 1 John 5:19)
But it is unrealistic to assume others will never fail us.
David, who had an army of supporters at different times in his life, wrote:
“Reproach has broken my heart, and the wound is incurable.
“I was hoping for sympathy, but there was none,
“And for comforters, but I found none.” (Ps. 31:12; 69:20; 142:4)
Job’s closest friends also abandoned him during the hardest time of his life. (Job 19:14)
Jesus’ own friends fled from him when he faced death. (Matt. 26:56)
So we should not be too discouraged nor surprised if our support group does not react the way we need them to.
We are all Christians trying to fight the good fight, and part of that is learning to forgive each other. (Col. 3:13)
Such circumstances also teach us to rely on Jehovah’s unfailing love regardless of what happens. (2 Tim. 4:17,18)
“For you have rescued me from death
And prevented my feet from stumbling,
So that I may walk before God in the light of the living.”
When I am experiencing particularly stressful situations and I do not see a clear solution, I may come to lose all hope that anything will ever improve.
There were times when the Psalmist David felt that he was “wandering,” but he was conscious that God kept His eye on him (Ps. 56:8).
He knew he was not truly alone.
“Of this I am confident: God is on my side” (Ps. 56:9).
The knowledge that Jehovah God stood by him in all his trials fostered a thankful attitude in David that in turn infused in him a serious sense of compromise toward God.
“I am bound by my vows to you, O God; I will offer you expressions of thanksgiving,” (Ps. 56:12).
This kept him going even under circumstances that could have made him lose heart.
Likewise, when I feel that I am at my wit’s end, remembering that God is keeping a watchful eye over me can keep me from stumbling even into a spiritual or emotional death.
Meditating on the vows I have made to God can keep me from giving up.
Instead of being afraid, I will trust in Jehovah (Ps. 56:3).
“Though I walk in the valley of deep shadow,
I fear no harm,
For you are with me […]”
There are periods in life which may be likened to dark valleys.
Perhaps we are depressed or experiencing high levels of anxiety.
In another Psalm, David wrote:
“Turn your face to me and show me favor,
For I am alone and helpless.
The distresses of my heart have multiplied;
Free me from my anguish,” (Ps. 25:16, 17).
How, then, does Jehovah God present himself at my side when I feel alone and anxious?
In the next verse, the writer prays: “Pardon all my sins,” making a connection between the sins and his affliction (Ps. 25:18).
One of the ways Jehovah draws close is by forgiving.
But in order to appreciate His pardon I must have the right motives.
“For the sake of your name,
Forgive my error,
though it is great,” (Ps. 25:11).
True repentance involves recognizing that the most important thing at stake is not how I feel, but Jehovah’s name with everything it represents, including mercy.
To have that point of view, I must first cultivate a healthy fear of God and humility to let myself accept His guidance (Ps. 25:12).
At that point, I will no longer fear alone or anxious because God’s “rod and staff” will have reassured me, making the darkness bearable (Ps. 23:4).
The chief of the third group assigned to serve during the third month was Benaiah the son of Jehoiada the chief priest, and 24,000 were in his division.
~1 Chronicles 27:5
The reader may recall from previous passages the story of Benaiah and his loyalty toward King David’s reign (2Sa 23:20-23; 1Ki 1:8, 2:29).
He was one of David’s few confidants who did not betray him even after his death.
What I had not personally reflected upon was his family’s namesake.
His father was “the leader of the sons of Aaron,” that is to say, the Levite priests (1Ch 12:27).
Benaiah did not live off of his father’s spiritual reputation.
He made his own name before God and followed his own career in sacred service, unrelated to priestly duties.
What this teaches me is that even if my mother or father or grandparents are well known in the community for their ministry work, I still need to make my own name before God as an individual.
It is not enough to inherit values; they must also be put to good use.
[…] Ornan said to David: “Take [the site of the threshing floor] as your own, and let my lord the king do what seems good to him. Here, I am providing the cattle for burnt offerings and the threshing sledge for the wood and the wheat as a grain offering. I give all of it.”
~1 Chronicles 21:23
When Jehovah’s angel told King David to build an altar at the site of Ornan’s threshing floor, which Ornan was in the middle of using, Ornan did not ask, “Why me?” (1 Chron. 21:20).
On the contrary, he selflessly and with the utmost generosity offered his belongings up as a contribution toward true worship.
King David proceeded to formalize the acquisition by monetarily reimbursing Ornan, for he did not want to half-heartedly fulfill God’s commandment (1 Chron. 21:24,25).
This site became the place around which the entire temple was eventually built by David’s son (2 Chron. 3:1).
Today, the floor may very well still exist under the Muslim Dome of the Rock (“Araunah.” Watchtower Online Library, Christian Congregation of Jehovah’s Witnesses, June 2015. Web 16 Nov. 2015).
We have many opportunities to demonstrate a sincere, generous attitude toward those in the congregation who dedicate all their time and effort to God’s service.
For example, when we enjoy our overseers biannual visits, we are encouraged to invite them to eat or sometimes even share our home with them.
Other times we are invited to donate resources toward expanding construction projects.
If we take advantage of these opportunities, no doubt we will be pleasing Jehovah.
“Do you think that David is honoring your father by sending comforters to you? Is it not to make a thorough search and to overthrow you and to spy out the land that his servants have come to you?”
~1 Chronicles 19:3
When Hanash, the king of the Ammonites died, King David sought to comfort Hanash’s son.
However, Hanash’s son, King Hanun, received bad advice from his companions and questioned David’s motives.
This suspicion led him to disgrace David’s messengers (1 Chron. 19:4).
Fed by fear of retaliation, the Ammonites eventually waged war on Israel with the help of Syrian soldiers, 47,000 of whom died at the hands of David’s forces (1 Chron. 19:6-10, 18).
All this damage could have easily been avoided if King Hanun had been less skeptical and more grateful toward David.
This passage highlights the importance of not being hyper-critical.
It is not wise to jump to conclusions and assume that anyone reaching out a hand to me really means to harm me.
If I am always defensive and doubting others, I could bring great harm to myself and the congregation.
“Of the tribe of Issachar, who understood the times and knew what Israel should do, there were 200 of their headmen, and all their brothers were under their command.”
~1 Chronicles 12:32
In the time of David, the tribe of Issachar consisted of 87,000 men registered to fight in his army (1 Chron. 7:5).
200 of them, who were particularly wise, headed the tribe.
If we divide 87,000 by 200, it means there was one commander per every 435 men.
Yet, “all their brothers were under their command.”
The men of the tribe of Issachar acted in unity because they humbly respected their elders’ knowledge and intentions (Prov. 14:8; Eccl. 7:19).
Jesus said of the people he tried to teach: “[…] Why do you not know how to examine this particular time?” (Luke 12:56).
Today’s congregation elders try to make us aware of the times we are living in so we do not fall asleep in a spiritual sense and risk losing our spiritual battle (Ro. 13:11,12; Eph. 6:12).
Most congregations worldwide have much fewer than 435 members each, and they benefit from a body of elders who are wise in years of service toward God and Biblical insight.
If the tribe of Issachar was able to carry out their work in unison, we should be able and willing to do the same in our own congregations.