[Watchtower study for the week of April 7, 2014 – w14 2/15 p.3]
This week’s Watchtower study covers the 45th Psalm. It is a beautiful prophetic allegory of our Lord Jesus becoming King. I hope you haven’t studied the Watchtower yet. Ideally, you should read the entire 45th Psalm before reading anything else. Read it now, then when you are done, asks yourself, “How does it make me feel?”
Please don’t read any more of this post until you’ve done that.
Okay, now that you’ve read the Psalm without any bias-producing thoughts from anyone else, did it bring up the imagery of war and devastation to you? Did it make you think of war in heaven or on earth? Was your mind drawn to any particular year as the time for those events to occur? Did it make you aware of any strong need to be submissive?
With those questions in mind, let’s see what the Watchtower article makes of this Psalm.
Par. 4 – “The kingdom message became especially “good” in 1914. Since then, the message no longer concerns a future kingdom but has to do with the real government now functioning in the heavens. This is the “good news of the kingdom” that we preach “in all the inhabited earth for a witness to all the nations.”
In the introductory paragraphs of our study, the enchanting imagery of the newly enthroned King depicted by the psalmist has been turned into a vehicle to support our false teaching concerning 1914. No evidence is provided for this statement. Like evolutionists who simply state evolution as a fact, we blithely claim 1914 as a historic occurrence –a given that needs no further comment. Further, we then presume to state that the message of Christ, the “good news”, is all about the 1914 enthronement we herald. True, the phrase “good news of the kingdom” is biblical. It occurs six times in the Christian Scriptures. However the term “good news” occurs over 100 times, often by itself but frequently with modifiers such as “the good news about Jesus Christ” or “the good news about your salvation”. We make the good news all about the kingdom as if there was no other aspect to it. Worse than that, we make it all about the 1914 enthronement. We would imply that mankind has been waiting 2000 years for Jehovah’s Witnesses to pop-up and clarify what “the good news of the kingdom” really means.
(At this point, you may recall that Paul warned the Galatians about those who would “distort the good news about the Christ” and called for such ones to be accused. – Gal. 1:7,8)
We conclude paragraph 4 with exhortations to greater zeal in the preaching work, and to making extensive use of the written Word in our preaching work. It is not entirely clear if by that we mean just the Bible, or all publications of the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society.
It is fascinating that we have been able to extract all of the above scriptural application from just the first verse of the 45th Psalm which actually reads:
“My heart is stirred by something good.
I say: “My song is about a king.”
May my tongue be the stylus of a skilled copyist.”
Par. 5,6 – Reviewing the second verse of the Psalm, we are encouraged to imitate the King by using graciousness of speech in our preaching work.
Par. 7, 8 – We now jump two verses and consider Psalm 45:6, 7. We show how Jehovah anointed Jesus personally using the Holy Spirit. We then state something which is not evident in the Psalm: “Jehovah installs his Son as Messianic King in the heavens in 1914.” (par. 8) We are still beating on this drum.
We conclude paragraph 8 with the words, “Are you not proud to be serving Jehovah under such a mighty, God-appointed King?” Why do we phrase it this way? The entire Psalm is praising the King. Therefore, we should be asked if we ‘are proud to be serving the King that Jehovah has appointed’. Of course by serving the King, we serve Jehovah as well, but through Jesus. By its phrasing, the article minimizes the King’s role as the one to whom all service must be rendered. Does the Bible not say that every knee should bend before Jesus? (Philippians 2:9, 10)
Par. 9, 10 – We now return to the skipped verses, and analyze Ps. 45:3,4 which speak of the King strapping on his sword. Not content with the allegory, we have to assign a specific time when this occurred, so again we beat the 1914 drum. “He strapped on his sword in 1914 and was victorious over Satan and his demons, whom he hurled out of heaven to the vicinity of the earth.”
I recall a time when, before making any statement like this, we would attempt to provide at least some scriptural support. However, for some time now that has not been the case. We seem completely free to make bold assertions to our readers without feeling the need to provide any evidence whatsoever.
The rest of the paragraph speaks of other things Jesus will do such as destroying false religion, destroying the governments and the wicked, and abyssing Satan and the demons. Notice now the subtlety of the closing sentence of paragraph 10: “Let us see how Psalm 45 prophesied these exciting events.” By this, we are preprogrammed that what follows in the article is an accurate interpretation. However, it is equally possible that what is being referred to in the verses we will consider is the preaching work that Jesus and his disciples accomplished. Any war fought and any conquest achieved could well be that over the hearts and minds of men. Whether or not this is the application of the Psalm is not really the point. The real point is that we are not permitted to even consider this possibility.
Par. 11-13 – Verse 4 speaks of the King riding to victory in the cause of truth, humility, and righteousness. We spend the next three paragraphs extolling the need for loyal submission to Jehovah’s sovereignty and obedience to Jehovah’s standards of right and wrong, with the closing sentence being: “Every inhabitant of that new world will be required to conform to Jehovah’s standards.” No sincere and honest Bible student would take exception to giving absolute subjection and obedience to Jehovah God. However, any long-time Witness reading these paragraphs understands that there is an important subtext here. Since the Governing Body is the appointed channel by which Jehovah communicates his righteous standards of right and wrong, it is subjection to and obedience to this human authority which is implied.
Par. 14-16 – Verse 4 states, “Your right hand will accomplish awe-inspiring things.” Going beyond the things written, the article puts a sword in the King’s right hand, even though the Psalmist never depicts the sword leaving the King’s scabbard.
Jesus has accomplished many awe-inspiring things with his right hand, sans sword. However that doesn’t fit our message, so we put a sword in it and start talking about Armageddon. But not just Armageddon, we again take the opportunity to refer to events we say occurred in 1914 like the ousting of Satan from heaven. The 45th Psalm gives not a hint of heavenly nor earthly battles, but with just a slight change to the inspired Word, we can turn a single stanza into three paragraphs of prophetic fulfillment.
Par. 17-19 – Now we link the arrows of vs. 5 with Revelation 6:2 where the rider is carrying a bow. Perhaps that is the representation, or perhaps it is more allegorical, as in the use to which arrows are put poetically at these verses: Job 6:4; Eph. 6:16; Ps. 38:2; Ps. 120:4
One has to ask why Jehovah inspired this imagery to be relayed as a poem. One of the key differences between poetry and prose is that the former is used to convey emotion and feelings, rather than just rare facts. When you read Psalm 45, what imagery comes to mind? What emotions are being conveyed?
Do you get a sense that this is talking about war and destruction? Do you see what is described in paragraph 18? “The carnage will be earth wide…. Those slain by Jehovah…will be from one end of the earth to the other….he cried…to all the birds…’Come here, be gathered together to the great evening meal of God…”
If the sons of Korah were alive today, they might well paraphrase the lyrics of Melanie Safka and say, “Look what they’ve done with my Psalm.”
We have a beautiful piece of God-inspired poetry in the 45th Psalm. Having read it in its entirety, would you say that it evokes images of death and destruction?
There are different ways to get people to submit to authority. Jehovah’s way is by love. Jehovah has set up a king the likes of whom no nation has ever known. This king inspires love and loyalty not by fear but by example. We want to be like him. We want to be with him. Yes, he will bring Armageddon as a necessary means to prepare the way for the redemption of all mankind. However we do not serve him out of fear of being destroyed at Armageddon. Fear of punishment as a way to get submission is from Satan. Men use it to control their subjects, because the way of love just won’t work when the rulers are imperfect men.
The allegorical beauty of Psalm 45 easily inspires us to greater loyalty to our King Jesus Christ. So why do we use it on four separate occasions to bolster belief in 1914, a date that has no support in Scripture? Why do we emphasize the need for complete and utter submission? Why do we focus so much on the destruction which we claim is imminent?
1914 is crucial, because without it, we cannot claim that in 1919 Jesus appointed Judge Rutherford as the first member of the faithful slave. Without that, the current Governing Body has no claim to divine appointment. Obedience and submission to the authority of these men is achieved by maintaining the belief that only with the Organization can salvation be achieved. The doubts that creep in when we witness failures in prophetic interpretation are squelched by maintaining a climate of fear that Armageddon is just around the corner, hence constant reminders of that devastation must be kept before us.
To keep the rank and file marching in step, the Governing Body has to keep beating the same tune on the drum. Jehovah has given us so much wonderful instruction in his word, so much depth of knowledge to enrich the soul and strengthen the Christian for what lies ahead. So much more nutritional spiritual food could be dispensed, but alas, we have an agenda.
I will pledge to donate what I can when I can, after all its voluntary not compulsory.
probably for some legal reasons, still its back door tithing, and is made compulsory, and the elders know what you give, I my self will pledge to give what I can when I can.
“At that time, the lifesaving direction that we receive from Jehovah’s organization may not appear practical from a human standpoint. All of us must be ready to obey any instructions we may receive, whether these appear sound from a strategic or human standpoint or not.” I’ve read those words before. This time when I read them, I get an ominous feeling. I feel like this is going to come down to money somehow. Them wanting yours. It certainly would not appear sound or practical to sell, sell, sell what you have and donate, donate, donate to the organization. Especially impractical… Read more »
Wait until you hear what’s coming in May. The GB wants the congregations to send most of the money they have in their bank accounts to the society.
It’s an interesting development. Our congregation has a monthly loan payment to the Society. I think there’s two more years before it’s paid off. Now the loan is cancelled. However, we are expected to make a monthly donation in the same amount (or more) of the loan. The difference is that in two years, the loan would have been gone and the burden on the congregation would have been lifted. Now we have the same amount to pay indefinitely. Even in congregations that have no loan, the elders are expected to pass out slips of paper so that each can… Read more »
With all the money WTS has received from the sales of their properties, many wonder why all the major cutbacks. A common practice among many businesses is to regularly refinance owned properties. This provides essentially a low interest loan for operations. I wonder if this was the case with WTS and when the housing/property market tanked they suddenly found themselves underwater on their mortgages. Of course because of the lack of transparency, we may never know.
I reallly enjoyed your article Meleti and I’m so glad you wrote it. I know that I would have never (at least in the past) read the Bible first before reading the WT that it is supposedly founded on. Where in this WT do we actually hail Christ as King? In 14 of the 19 paragraphs we make reference to Jehovah as constant reassurance that Christ knows what he is doing . I’m taken aback by paragraph 16 “Who will be Christ’s fellow warriors making up the heavenly “armies” that follow him into battle? ” Does the GB believe that… Read more »
“The queen has taken her stand at your right hand, adorned in gold of Ophir.” – Oh how I long for this day to finally stand beside you, my King, at your very right hand. You will glorify me and adorn me with your precious gold. Your kind words endear me. “Listen, O daughter, pay attention and incline your ear; Forget your people and your father’s house.” – I do listen. I am paying attention, my Lord. You are all that matters. I have left my brothers and the comfort of my fatherly home and will follow you wherever you… Read more »
Well analyzed Meleti. Not certain that ‘analyze’ is the word as everyone should see it as I see its root word but analyzing is a process that at least lays a foundation of proof. In this we have nothing more than a followup article to create even greater expectation to the GB bold premise taken in paragraph 17 of the “8 Dukes” study: “At that time, the lifesaving direction that we receive from Jehovah’s organization may not appear practical from a human standpoint. All of us must be ready to obey any instructions we may receive, whether these appear sound… Read more »
Hi everyone – Sorry to come back on so quickly. I have just had a look at the publication – and I saw the picture at the top of the study – I certainly don’t get that feeling when reading Psalm 45. I know the Psalm says at verse 3 – Gird your sword upon (your) thigh, O mighty one, (With) your dignity and your splendour. What does this tell us? Heartfully and literally (as an old Law student and someone about to study the thing again) – all it tells me is to just simply put on a sword… Read more »
Hello there Meleti I read this lovely Psalm. From the beginning, it made me feel very comfortable and you can immediately pick out to whom the Psalmist is rejoicing in. Such lovely exaltation. Such lovely feelings. Such loving words to use. Everything is there, the thought of someone being nicely appreciated, the support that He gives, the people who want to be there at His right hand to serve Him. I got as far as the start of the WT study, but I just wanted to spend a bit of time posting this reply before the actual study. There is… Read more »
Meleti, As an example I propose the first century takeover of a religious body who, though claiming to be worshipers of the God of Abraham, were actually men who were hypocrites and white washed graves. Christ came and replaced their priests with his Apostles and every lowly man and woman who loved God and their brother. If the Catholic Church could produce a Pope Francis so too Jehovah’s Witnesses have among them sincere Christian men who can, and will, turn us toward God’s Son. The Governing Body will hit rock bottom then hope for change will become a reality at… Read more »
I admire your optimism. However, as Jesus said, you cannot sew a new patch on an old garment. The first century example you propose as a model ended up with the destruction of the old religious body. What Jesus did wasn’t to remake it from within, but to reject it outright and start afresh.
I cannot see another outcome for us, yet there is always the hope that collectively, we will repent of our works and turn around to receive seasons of refreshing.
(Mat. 9:16; Heb. 6:4-8; Mat. 23:38; Acts 3:19)
This keeps me up at night. The only comfort I find is waking up spiritual minded ones in my circles with the beautiful gospel message. I have a deep love for all my Christian brothers because there is a sharing in Jesus’ blood. I hope men made barriers will soon be a thing of the past.
It appears the Governing Body is not only incapable of producing sound teaching but is also ready and willing to sacrifice an untold number of Witnesses on their altar of egotistic self-glorification. People are spiritually dying for lack of food. They are in need of some honesty and love. But the Governing Body is too busy looking in the mirror and expects the friends to buck up and get some spine while they themselves are too spineless to tell them the truth. Times have changed. Even the powerful Catholic Church had to recognize that things could not stay as usual,… Read more »
I wish this could happen. I feel as you do, Daytona. However, I can’t think of one case in the history of the religious denominations that Christianity has spawned where the well-established pattern we are following has been reversed.
Beautiful comment Daytona!
Thank you Daytona for your lovely comment. Wouldn’t it be just something if the windows at Bethel could be opened just a slight nick – just think how refreshing it would be to actually talk about our loving Father and His lovely Son the way that they should be talked – about their love for us and our love for them. I wonder just how much Jehovah would like to hear people just simply saying that all we have to do is to love, and that one day, His day will come. I know that we know that Jehovah knows… Read more »
Before we try to open the windows at Bethel a wee bit, we might try opening them first in our own congregations. Speak from the heart during Bible Highlights and focus on the Master, Christ.
Love your post Daytona.
Excellent point about being motivated by Jesus love. The GB continues to use fear to get people to submit. We were recently shown a propaganda video to get us to submit to going to Detroit for our international convention. Some congregations are doing there own thing. As people begin to no longer view the GB as special they will crack down harder just like any totalitarian regime. As for people actually reading palms in its entire context, don’t count on it. As one brother told me this week with a smile “Jehovah’s witnesses are lazy, heck I’m lazy.” Like spiritual… Read more »
Sargon, That video was annoying . It was a promotional video for Ford Field or for downtown Detroit . ( plush seating ,” state of the art…”) I am sure the Ford Family and Dan Gilbert would be proud. This GB seems to really have their sights set on “fleshly” things rather than spiritual . Everyone is so enamored with the festivities surrounding this convention that there will be little focus on the “spiritual” menu prepared by the GB. Perhaps the witnesses who have abandoned our conventions over the last 6 years will come back . I know of a… Read more »
Hi Meleti and just replying ahead of time so I don’t I miss all those faster readers than me 🙂 (my disability from day one … no teasing please) 🙁
According to my ESV bible study notes,
This Psalm i…To the choirmaster: according to Lilies. A Maskil of the Sons of Korah, a love song.
Maskil is considered a (probably) to be a musical or liturgical term.
It is a wedding song.
Meleti, I went and read Psalms 45 straight away and came away with positive feelings, hopeful feelings. Nothing about destruction came to mind, it was a celebration if anything…
How could the WTBTS make such a farce out of this scripture? Has Jehovah left the organization now? Things are so distorted that I am really amazed and now completely disillusioned.
This is really serious now, no room for joking as far as I am concerned.