The Cycle of God—in 30 Words

The cycle of God:

God: You can’t rule yourselves

A&E (first humans): Watch us.

God: Alright, I will, and when you make a hopeless hash of everything, I’ll shove it aside and bring in what I meant to all along.

How could anyone miss that UNLESS they had also missed another cycle, one that plays out each year:

“Even the stork in the sky knows its seasons; The turtledove and the swift and the thrush keep to the time of their return.” (Psalm 148:7)

Is there a link between that verse and the above ‘cycle of God?’ Seems to be, as is evident from the remainder of the verse:

“But my own people do not understand the judgment of Jehovah.”

“Seasons of the stork” parallels the “judgment of Jehovah.” It was a thought to be gleaned, not stated directly, from the Watchtower Study article “Learn More About Jehovah Through His Creation.” (March 2023)

“His invisible qualities are clearly seen from the world’s creation onward, because they are perceived by the things made,” served as theme scripture. (Romans 1:20)

Therefore it helps to get one’s head out of the city, where ‘creation’ is obscured by schedules and smokestacks. Even I was in my 50s before I realized that on a grey day, a far-off cloud seemingly connected as if by bands to the earth meant that it was raining there. Hemmed in by city/suburb, I’d had few opportunities to take in that big picture.

What does that instruct as to God? Trust farmer Mort to tell us (we were visiting his congregation). Commenting on the verse that God makes it rain on the righteous and the wicked, he pointed out that his neighbor gets just as much rain as him, “even though he uses foul language.”

Someone recalled how birds build their nest, but then having done that, do little else, for they are birds. It recalled a talk (by a speaker in that Hall) on how people can be like that, devoting major portions of their lives (sometimes all) to building the most luxurious nest—whereas what might be better is build a simple nest then use all that excess time/capacity for greater things.

Then there was a sis who works as a nurse and all day long must deliver anti-depressant medications as though they were M&Ms. But in Japan, she says, they don’t even begin drug treatment for depression until after a period of “forest bathing” gives them a head start or even replacement.

My wife’s favorite scripture (one of them) was not in the study article: “ A bull well knows its buyer, And a donkey the manger of its owner; But Israel does not know me, My own people do not behave with understanding.” But Psalm 148:7 is close enough that the two of them in the same study might be redundant.

What I liked, and I almost stuck it in even though it doesn’t directly fit, but didn’t—was Bro Malenfont’s recent kickback at those ‘physical men’ who say they have no need of the crutch that is God. ‘Of course you do!’ he said. They will be senile or in diapers in not too many years, and hobbled even if they avoid such indignities. How can anyone with those prospects say they need no crutch?


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Discipline on the Ropes—Psalms 69 and 70

The talk Sunday, one of about 150 in rotation, not counting special talks, was entitled, “Your View of Authority Matters to God.” It is one of the hottest topics of our time. People aren’t keen on authority, lest it be abused, as it certainly will be if put it into the hands of humans. Yet, whose else’s hands is it going to be put into? You’re stuck with humans. Anarchy is worse.

The speaker came to the congregation via Zoom, unusual since the post-COVID 19 resumption of in-person meetings. He didn’t make the mistake of shutting down his camera immediately upon conclusion of his talk. It’s tempting to do that because otherwise, with no seat to return to, you risk looking like a deer caught in the headlights. But if you shut down the camera, your name blazes across the screen, as though rolling the credits for the star of the show.

People are touchy on authority, especially in the West. It’s in the air. One prior speaker spun it as if alerting another to his tire low on air. “Oh, yeah? Well, you’re car has a dented fender!” comes the retort.

The talk broke authority down into three areas: with regard to family, with regard to government, and with regard to congregation. Most people are familiar with family and government authority. Jehovah’s Witnesses know the added concept of authority in the congregation.

It is a concept all but incomprehensible to even much of the church world. Ronald J. Sider’s book, The Scandal of the Evangelical Conscience, quotes Haddon Robinson on the current church climate, a climate he calls ‘consumerism:’

Too often now when people join a church, they do so as consumers. If they like the product, they stay. If they do not, they leave. They can no more imagine a church disciplining them than they could a store that sells goods disciplining them. It is not the place of the seller to discipline the consumer. In our churches, we have a consumer mentality.”

It once not this way. Sider writes: “Church discipline used to be a significant, accepted part of most evangelical traditions, whether Reformed, Methodist, Baptist, or Anabaptist . . . In the second half of the twentieth century, however, it has largely disappeared.”

But in the world of Jehovah’s Witnesses, it has not. Moreover, it is hard not to connect retaining authority with how Witnesses have stayed the course on many moral issues over which mainstream religion long ago threw in the towel.

In time, the Witnesses’ rare breed of authority becomes the special target of a world intent on embracing new mores. It becomes the special target even of former members who want to bring those new mores into the congregation so as to keep up with the times. Do it too insistently and they can find themselves disfellowshipped by a congregational authority that aids members to stay true to what they signed up for.

That human authority ultimately traces up to the Jehovah’s Witness Governing Body. It thereby becomes the focus of special criticism. Sometimes it becomes the focus of outright attack through ‘framing mischief by decree.’ (Psalm 94:20) In the eyes of their burgeoning critics, its member become sinister cult ‘manipulators’ intent on ‘controlling’ people. An industry of ‘anticult’ activists plots their downfall.

Completely lost is that if they are a cult, it is because the Bible is a cult manual. The Witness Governing Body is but an authority holding to traditional Christian discipline, which Sider states was once common, but is now scarce.

The Witness Governing Body is scrutinized for misstep or evidence of human frailty. Should they show any, they are promptly pilloried over it. Even when they don’t, it is reinterpreted that they do. In such a climate, how can they not look inwardly and hope that any flaw on their part, or any perceived flaw, does not become the rationale for stumbling people?

It is impossible for me to think that Psalm 69:5-6, when applied to the modern day, is not primarily about them:

O God, you are aware of my foolishness, And my guilt is not hidden from you. May those hoping in you not be put to shame because of me, O Sovereign Lord, Jehovah of armies.  May those seeking you not be humiliated because of me, O God of Israel.”

Many verses of Psalm 69 are prophetic of Jesus. See, for example, verses 4, 7, 8, 9, and especially 21. Sometimes the connections are made by the New Testament writers themselves. Sometimes they are just so plain that few Bible commentators fail to pick up on them.

But verses 5-6 falter when applied to Jesus.  What “guilt” did that one have? What blunders did he commit so that he might worry ones be “put to shame” or “humiliated because of me?” Paul specifically calls him “innocent, undefiled, separated from the sinners.” (Hebrews 7:26) Of course, he was found “guilty” in Pilate’s court of law, such as it was, and his ‘guilt’ was used to shame and humiliate his followers, not to mention discourage others from becoming such, but none of that was due to his own “foolishness.” Our Lord was a victim of slander.

But drop a notch down and the verses can readily be applied to his apostles and to those spearheading the work he launched, that of proclaiming the gospel worldwide. And if so in the first century, why not today as well? These undershepherds will be the “earthen vessels” in which we have the “treasure” that is the ministry. (2 Corinthians 4:7) These ones, particularly when put under the microscope, will continually provide pretext for slander, for followers to be “put to shame” or “humiliated.” All humans will. It’s part of the definition of being human.

This application of verses 5-6 to the Governing Body is nothing that body has ever made to itself, to my knowledge. It is mine. Its members will frequently apply such verses to the Christian congregation as a whole, but not specifically to themselves. They are not out there crying, ‘Poor me.’ And of course, the beauty of the Scriptures is that they can be widely applied to persons in all sorts of difficulties, whether of there own making or not.

But I think the first application is to them. After all, there is a limit to how many people most of us can cause to be “put to shame” or “humiliated.” Most don’t get around enough for that to happen. “Ah, well, we always knew Harley is a yo-yo,” a few can say, as only a handful of others dumb enough to hang onto his every word will be distressed. But every word of the Governing Body is carefully measured. Every word or action can come back to bite them. It’s tricky enough to live in a fishbowl. To live in a fishbowl where enemies hope to break the glass is trickier still.

In a world hyper-sensitive to authority, they must wonder as to how to present themselves. They must wonder whether they are doing so too forcefully or not forceful enough. They are the shepherd, insofar as that term devolves to humans. The trouble with shepherding a multitude of people is that one will say, “Thanks for the new rule!” whereas his fellow will say, “Huh? Did you say something?” They don’t want be overbearing, but neither do they want to find themselves in the shoes of Lot, whose sons-in-law thought he was joking.

They can and do identify themselves with the 2 Corinthians 1:24 verse of being “not masters over your faith but fellow workers for your joy.” Nonetheless, there will be plenty of people to take their word almost as though the word of God. It’s how people are. Does that distress them? Or do they say, “Well, they’ll grow eventually. Meantime, that’s not an unsafe place to be.” Or, has their harshest critics allege, do they say, ‘hee hee hee—we hope to keep them that was forever?

And why can’t you skip over to the next psalm, psalm 70, and also apply it to those taking the lead in the worldwide congregation? Here, verse two, “May those seeking to take my life be put to shame and disgraced. May those who delight in my calamity retreat in humiliation,” is qualified by verse four, “But let those who are seeking you exult and rejoice in you. May those who love your acts of salvation always say: “May God be magnified!”—so you know that everything is in the context of worship. It’s not just the boilerplate Machiavellian scheming characteristic of many elements societal elements.

What of this taking “delight in my calamity?” Who does that? I have suffered some calamity in life, as have most people. Nobody took delight in it. They all felt bad. At worst, they shrugged it off as, ‘Well, that’s his problem, not mine.’ But I nobody piled on. People just aren’t that way unless they have a serious score to settle. Even then, they often aren’t. They know their turn to suffer “calamity” will also come some day.

But the Christian headship that has authority to discipline and even to expel? Oh yeah! In a previous age, people allowed discipline to do its work. “You need to endure as part of your discipline,” says Hebrews 12:7. “God is treating you as sons. For what son is not disciplined by his father?” Quite a few of them, these days. It’s not the slam-dunk rhetorical question it once was.

Nor is the verse 9 statement, “Furthermore, our human fathers used to discipline us, and we gave them respect.” Neither discipline nor respect are the staples they once were. So, the statement of verse 11 is lost upon many: “True, no discipline seems for the present to be joyous, but it is painful; yet afterward, it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.” An individualistic world fumes at the notion of being “trained” by another and looks for opportunities to kick back at the source.

5AB66E4F-3708-4B34-ABDC-DF30D9E2A48AIt is well to yield to discipline, even knowing it will be called incorrectly from time to time. Every so often, the sports ref makes a clunker of a call and there you are in the penalty box for a dumb reason. Nobody quits the game on that account. And when they drag out the instant replay equipment, sometimes it reveals that the ref had a point after all.

(Photo: Pixabay)

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Psalm 15–On Gaining God’s Friendship

I liked the song derived from Psalm 15 (#217–Gaining Jehovah’s Friendship) as much if not more than the psalm itself. It adds rhyme, memorable tune, and tested my range even at the time, to say nothing of now. Alas, it did not survive the cut into the revised songbook.

The psalm:

1 Jehovah, who will be a guest in your tent? Who will reside in your holy mountain?

2 He who is walking faultlessly and practicing righteousness And speaking the truth in his heart.

3 He has not slandered with his tongue. To his companion he has done nothing bad, And no reproach has he taken up against his intimate acquaintance.

4 In his eyes anyone contemptible is certainly rejected, But those fearing Jehovah he honors. He has sworn to what is bad [for himself], and yet he does not alter.

5 His money he has not given out on interest, And a bribe against the innocent one he has not taken. He that is doing these things will never be made to totter.


The song (first stanza): (verses 1-3) Note the triple rhyme bolded at the end of the stanza.

Who will, Jehovah God, your loyal friendship gain?

Who in your tent as guest will you forever let remain?

’Tis he who faultlessly

does serve God fearlessly,

Yes, he who’s pure in heart and speaks and acts most truthfully.

To whom, Jehovah God, do you your friendship give?

Who will in your great holy mountain with you really live?

The one whose speech reflects

that he e’er checks

his neighbor never to vex.

 Jehovah, may we be your friends eternally.


The second stanza: (verse 4 and 5)


O who, Jehovah God, will with you e’er reside?

Who can become your friend, the one with whom you will abide?

Yes, he who keeps his word,

despite all pains incurred,

In love does walk uprightly, and with truth his loins will gird.

We do, Jehovah God, your friendship so desire.

Your Word informs and clearly states what you of us require.

We must our ways now mend,

your rules ne’er bend

so as to keep you as Friend.

Jehovah, may we be your friends eternally.


The third stanza is sort a summary and expansion:


With you, Jehovah God, we ever want to dwell.

Your peace surpasses ev’rything; all thought it does excel.

Through Jesus Christ, our Lord,

you have to us restored

Your true pure worship. Hence by multitudes you’re now adored.

And so, our God Most High, we lovingly will guard

Your precious friendship and thus keep our very lives unmarred.

As one united band,

we take our stand

on your high mountain so grand.

Jehovah, may we be your friends eternally.


The first verses are just plain good principles to live by: walk faultlessly, practice righteousness, speak truth, don’t slander, don’t sabotage, don’t backbite. Don’t hang out with lowlife. Stay true to your word. Don’t hustle people. Don’t take bribes. 2D8280B5-5B98-4B83-AF3E-5AE2531528EA

Sandwiched in is an element of loyalty: “But those fearing Jehovah he honors,” (verse 4) since God is the source of those qualities—implanted through conscience and reinforced through instruction.

(Pixabay photo)


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Psalm 53: Commentary—What a Bunch of Schmucks

The foolish one says in his heart: “There is no Jehovah.” Their unrighteous actions are corrupt and detestable; No one is doing good.  (vs 1)

[He doesn’t say it out loud. He just acts as though it were so.]

But God looks down from heaven on the sons of men To see whether anyone has insight, whether anyone is seeking Jehovah. (2)

[Can’t you just picture that? ‘Hmm—how they doing down there?’]

They have all turned away; They are all alike corrupt.  No one is doing good, Not even one. (3)

[‘What a bunch of schmucks!’]

Do none of the wrongdoers understand? They devour my people as if they were eating bread. They do not call on Jehovah. (4)

[‘What on earth is wrong with them?’]

But they will be filled with great terror, Terror they have never felt before, For God will scatter the bones of those attacking you. You will put them to shame, for Jehovah has rejected them. (5)

[‘No matter. I’m gonna mess them up.’]

O that Israel’s salvation may come from Zion! When Jehovah gathers back his captive people, Let Jacob be joyful, let Israel rejoice. (6)

[All’s well that end’s well.]


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Do God a Favor Through Sacrifice? — Psalm 50 Commentary

Do God a favor by sacrificing to him?

The best answer to that question is Psalm 50:12. “If I were hungry, I would not tell you.

9FA37A99-17AF-4056-9998-2E0249C0C0C6Of course not. We’re in position to help God out? Isn’t it the other way around? People bluff as though they hold the better hand when they don’t.

Instead, it works this way:

Offer thanksgiving as your sacrifice to God, And pay your vows to the Most High; Call on me in the time of distress.  I will rescue you, and you will glorify me.” (vs 14-15)

Other reasons to conclude you’re not in position to bail God out of a spot:

I do not need to take a bull from your house, Nor goats from your pens.  For every wild animal of the forest is mine, Even the beasts upon a thousand mountains. I know every bird of the mountains; The countless animals of the field are mine. . . . For the productive land and everything in it is mine.

Don’t think you can lend him a chicken a help him out.  (vs 9-12)

Then He lays into pig-headed and surly people who carry on as though they do hold all the cards:

But God will say to the wicked: “What right do you have to relate my regulations Or to speak about my covenant? For you hate discipline, And you keep turning your back on my words.”  (vs 16-17)

How’s that working out for them?

When you see a thief, you approve of him, And you keep company with adulterers. You use your mouth to spread what is bad, And deception is attached to your tongue. You sit and speak against your own brother; You reveal the faults of your own mother’s son.” (vs 18-20)

Thieves and liars are put in high places, their misdeeds ignored. Adultery and slander is the way to go. How many will say this isn’t reality today?

And then (doesn’t this resonate?) when they’re not rebuked instantly, they figure they have the green light:

When you did these things, I remained silent, So you thought that I would be just like you.” (vs 21)

But now I will reprove you, And I will state my case against you. Please consider this, you who forget God, So that I may not tear you to pieces with no one to rescue you. The one who offers thanksgiving as his sacrifice glorifies me, And as for the one who follows a set course, I will cause him to see salvation by God.” (vs 21-23)

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Jehovah’s Witnesses: an American Religion? I Don’t Think So: An Exploration of Psalm 33

Most Russians think Jehovah’s Witnesses are an American religion. In this age of poisoned East/West relations, that’s not good.

That’s not the main reason the Witness organization was banned in that country in 2017, but it’s a sabotaging corollary. Obviously, their HQ is in America. Everyone has to be somewhere. But do they pick up on and push the nationalistic policies of the country? They do not. They just exist there.

So how to fix that misconception that they are an American religion?

1A5C7823-40C7-484F-B578-099BCA0F1447A) You can’t. If the tract ‘Jehovah’s Witnesses: Christians or Communists?’ designed to fix just the opposite impression, doesn’t do the trick, nothing will. First published in 1951, it was used into the early 1970s. I remember carrying it myself at that tail end of that period, though I rarely used it. By then, everyone knew Witnesses weren’t communist. Imagine. Russians are saying Witnesses are American, and just a few decades ago Americans were saying Jehovah’s Witnesses were Russian [Soviet]! The 70-year-old tract has become a collectible. And to think you used to be able to pick up a handful of them for free!

1BA3D765-5DD0-4917-923E-502998D6511AB) There is also a second, more complicated solution (said 1974 Murder on the Orient Express Hercule Poirot, before opting for the simpler one even though he knew the second one was right).

The more complicated solution presents when Dwight D. Eisenhower, at his swearing in as president, suggested either that his country was or would be the country identified with Psalm 33:12: “Happy is the nation whose God is Jehovah, The people he has chosen as his own possession.”

‘Oh, no you don’t!’ the Watchtower said in effect. ‘That verse is referring to something else—the Israelite nation of antiquity whose God really was Jehovah* and the modern day spiritual descendant of it, which is NOT the country in which HQ is located, nor is it any other earthly nation.

*(“Now if you will strictly obey my voice and keep my covenant, you will certainly become my special property out of all peoples, for the whole earth belongs to me. You [ancient Israel] will become to me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.’ These are the words that you are to say to the Israelites.” Exodus 19:5-6)

How’s that for evidence Jehovah’s Witnesses is not an American religion, Mr. Putin? [whose leadership is being considerably undermined by some ‘anti-cult’ loons] Eisenhower says his country is “the nation whose God is Jehovah.” Oh, no it isn’t, says HQ.

It’s from a two-paragraph segment wedged in to the Watchtower Study article of November 15, 1968. The entire congregation would have considered it. It reads downright strange today. It would have read downright strange to non-Witnesses even then, most likely. But active Witnesses would have picked up on it instantly. It would have been ‘food at the proper time’ for them.

What few of the general public knew then, and none of them do today, is that the 34th president of the United States had been raised a Witness. Back then it was called ‘the International Bible Students’—the name ‘Jehovah’s Witnesses’ was adopted in 1931. Eisenhower was raised as one. He left his Witness background behind upon reaching adulthood (and his family to this day does all it can to obscure that former connection), but he was raised that way.

My question is—did any Witnesses of his era come to regard him as ‘our guy’ who became deliverer—almost like a Moses? If so, I’ve never heard it before, but it makes sense that some might. He liberated the Nazi concentration camps where many of them were imprisoned. He won World War II—it was he who was appointed Supreme Military Commander of Allied troops. Even today’s Watchtower, without naming names, necessarily include him in the earth that swallows up the waters of persecution emitting from rivers, the more stable elements of this world vanquishing the more unstable.

Eisenhower followed a familiar path: the victorious general gets elected president. It worked for Washington, Jackson, Taylor, Grant—it worked for Eisenhower. The prestige of the United States rode very high immediately after World War II. Learning a lesson from World War I, it was magnanimous towards its beaten enemies, and worked to rebuild their economies. True, it had to dump that megalomaniac McArthur, who in time wanted to pepper North Korea with 50 of those new-fangled atomic bombs (if that country is unhinged today, it is not as though someone didn’t seed their paranoia). But he was most magnanimous in rebuilding Japan. (Historians attribute the reason to his desire to be adored, but that still does not mean he was not that way.) Moreover, under the Marshall plan, Germany too was rebuilt.

President Eisenhower would have overseen all this—he, the one raised a Jehovah’s Witness, though never baptized. Some training would have stuck, though. I’ve gone so far as to suggest his warnings of a coming “military-industrial complex” (it was going to be “military-industrial-congressional” complex, but he didn’t want to offend that prickly body) is patterned after those one-time continual Witness characterizations of a big business, big government, big religion deleterious triumvirate—a characterization you never hear today but used to be heard frequently.

So were there some Witnesses then who regarded him as a deliverer? I guess he was in the sense that Cyrus was also a deliverer. But Cyrus has no background in Jehovah’s worship. Eisenhower did. Did Witnesses regard his as one of ‘theirs’—the hometown boy that turned out incredibly good, swatting a grand slam, not just for them, but for the whole wide world?

Any such notion is tamped down firmly in that November 15th Watchtower. Two paragraphs of the 22 paragraphs are devoted to it. ‘The Happiness of the Nation Whose God is Jehovah’ is the title of that article, and the remaining 20 paragraphs identify just what is that nation. It is neither Eisenhower’s country nor any other earthly one today.

“No, it is not the most powerful and prosperous nation on earth today,” said that Watchtower in paragraph 3. It wasn’t the one whose “thirty-fourth president was being inaugurated for his second term in office. Following the custom, he was being sworn in with his right hand resting upon an open Bible. This Bible was not the British King James or Authorized Version Bible, but was the American Standard Version of the Bible as published in the year 1901 C.E. This particular copy had been given him by his God-fearing mother when he was about to graduate from the national Military Academy at West Point, New York, in 1915 . . .”

Good old mom, who, like moms everywhere, never gives up hope that junior will return to the fold.

During that inauguration, Eisenhower’s hand “purposely rested at Psalm 33:12, which, in the American Standard Version, reads as follows: ‘Blessed is the nation whose God is Jehovah, the people whom he hath chosen for his own inheritance.’”

‘Don’t even think it,’ is the thrust of the next paragraph (4):

“By this gesture the reinaugurated president may have been suggesting that the United States of America was that blessed or happy nation or that he would serve in the presidency to make it such. But during his two terms in the presidency did he lead his nation into the blessedness or happiness spoken of in Psalm 33:12?” then the article goes on to document a litany of unhappy woes, such as we are good at doing—though by today’s standards those woes seem downright cheery.

So if there is some historical context to think that the victorious U.S really is that Ps 33:12 nation in which all is hunky-dory, the Watchtower does not let that notion stand. Does it anticipate or acknowledge that some brothers did?

On the JW Library app, if equipped with research notes, pressing the number of any particular Bible verse will bring up, in the adjacent column, a host of previous articles that have commented on the verse. Pressing ‘12’ for the 12th verse brings up that November 15th Watchtower, but not as the first offering. Pressing ‘10’ does bring it up as the first offering. What is verse 10?

Jehovah has frustrated the schemes of the nations; He has thwarted the plans of the peoples.” as though one of the “schemes of the nations” is to claim that one of them is the happy nation whose God is Jehovah! As though Eisenhower himself is trying to pull a fast one, but the Watchtower won’t let him get away with it!

There’s two other locations (verse 16 and 17) which also pull up that November 15th Watchtower, though not as the first item. “No king is saved by a large army; A mighty man is not saved by his great power. The horse is a false hope for salvation; Its great strength does not ensure escape,” they read. Okay? Just because you have a large army—horses being the ancient equivalent of tanks, don’t think you get Psalm 33:12 status from it. U.S. has huge military might these days. So does Russia, for that matter. So does China. Doesn’t make them the happy nation.

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Psalm 11: What Are the Foundations that Are Torn Down?

Back up a psalm to #11. “When the foundations are torn down, What can the righteous do?” (verse 3)

Q: “What are “the foundations” that are torn down?

The foundations are justice, law, and order​—the foundations on which society rests. When there is a breakdown in the social order, with no possibility of justice, what should the God-fearing person do? Trust in Jehovah. He is on his heavenly throne, sees everything that is going on, and will not fail us.” (Watchtower: August 15, 1986)

Yeah, that works pretty well as an explanation. There are people who instantly grasp this. To others, righting the ship of human self-rule is only a politician away. Just throw the current bums out for a new set of bums and you’re golden.

And if we’re trusting in Jehovah it probably has corrosive effect to be watching those revenge movies in which the tormented hero finally gets to extract payback, since “Jehovah examines the righteous one as well as the wicked one; He hates anyone who loves violence.” Verse 7 carries the day: “For Jehovah is righteous; he loves righteous acts. The upright will see his face.”

***Meanwhile, on Psalm 13

Only 6 verses in Psalm 3. Look at how this fellow is just baarrrrrelllly holding on

How long, O Jehovah, will you forget me? Forever? How long will you hide your face from me?” has “anxious concern” “grief in my heart each day.

Desperate plea, “Look upon me and answer me, O Jehovah my God. Give light to my eyes”

In the end, he hangs onto: “trust in your loyal love” “rejoice in your acts of salvation” and “will sing to Jehovah, for he has richly rewarded me.”

It’s in keeping with that recent Watchtower Study on prayer which made the point that thanksgiving and praise ought ever to form the backdrop of prayers even when the immediate subject of the prayer is much different. Or that psychologist I spoke to once who made the point that it is well not to entertain certain thoughts, “even if those thoughts seem the most accurate way to view matters.”

Falling back on ‘the greater picture’ will do it for those who believe God’s promises, but maybe not for those who don’t.


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Come on Everybody—Clap Your Hands: Psalm 30

“You have changed my mourning into dancing;” (Psalm 30:11)

Whoa. Footnote on this leads to a 1962 Watchtower article on dancing. In it is quoted this 1961 New York Times article:

“CAFÉ society, having ignored rock ’n’ roll for years, has suddenly, by an apparent process of mass hypnosis, embraced the teen-age craze. The elite of the social set and celebrities of show business have discovered a sensuous dance called the Twist, performed to rock ‘n’ roll, and are wallowing in it like converts to a new brand of voodoo.”

Changing times.

“Come on everybody, clap your hands! Ah, you're lookin' good! I'm gonna sing my song. It won't take long. We're gonna do the twist and it goes like this...”

Chubby Checker—and you know he just called himself that because Fats Domino was already taken.

***“The White House firmly denied today that President Kennedy or anyone else danced ‘the Twist’ at a party there.” (New York Times, November 15, 1961)


An exhaustive article, mainly on whether you should do the Twist or not, appears here in 1962. It’s not that Witnesses took a firm stance on it—so what else is new?—it’s that the overall world, as represented by NWT and Newsweek, also did. The Times even felt obliged to point out that Kennedy wasn’t doing the Twist, so shocking was the notion, so detrimental to the well-being on the nation’s youth. It calls to mind a circuit overseer saying, ‘50 years ago the difference between Jehovah’s Witnesses and the world in general was doctrinal, not moral.’

This was before the Beatles—the British group that upended society. Their signature long hair inspired others (like me) to do the same. My ‘long hair’ was outlandishly short by today’s reckoning, yet my dad had a fit. He’d been brought up on the farm where you shear animals. He would pick up a pair of barber clippers and would do the same with his kids. Typical of my haircuts was a complete buzz cut, save for a little tuft of hair front and center, like a hood ornament.

Yet, some thought the Beatles a step up from the ‘decadence’ of the Twist. Their first song (in the US—it was different overseas) was “I Want to Hold Your Hand.” See? apologists said. That’s all they want to do—not like that bad Twist.


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Psalm 12: The Word is Greater Than the Deed as the Pen is Mightier than the Sword.

Psalm 12 is a psalm about words. Words are greater than deeds, same way that ‘the pen is mightier than the sword.’ The two statements run parallel: Words > deeds. Pen > sword. 3145F958-2C08-4399-93B6-6084EC55EEE4It’s not that deeds are nothing. It’s that words are more.

Somehow the verse that punches most is vs 8: “The wicked walk around unrestrained because the sons of men promote depravity.” What a picture to visualize: ‘promoting depravity.’

It is a dire picture because “faithful people have vanished from among men,” something to be expected “for the loyal one is no more”—loyal to God, or in fact, anyone. No wonder the psalm begins with the cry, “Save me, O Jehovah.”

They speak lies to one another; They flatter with their lips and speak with deceitful hearts.” They say, “We will prevail with our tongues.  We use our lips as we please; Who will be our master?” Prevailing with tongues? Slick people do it all the time.  It’s because the word is greater than the deed, as the pen is mightier than the sword. No wonder James likens the tongue to the tiny flame that sets the forest ablaze and the small rudder that steers the huge ship.

There is the appeal to Jehovah, whose sayings “are pure,” who “will rise up to act,” and “will save [the afflicted] from those who treat them with contempt.” Of course. “You will guard them, O Jehovah; You will protect each one of them from this generation forever.” Why does one think of that verse about the generation that is pure in its own eyes, whereas in reality they’ve not been washed from their own sh*t? (Proverbs 30:12) Whoa! How’s that for an image? ‘Promoting depravity,’ they are.

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Psalm 18–Bending Those Heavens Like Einstein

Imagine needing rescue from “the faultfinding of the people.” (Psalm 18:43) Bad news to be harangued by those characters—dinging away at you while they claim to be on your side. “When you know as well as me you’d rather see my paralyzed,” Dylan puts it.

It’s not so bad as being caught up in a “flash flood of worthless men.” (vs 9) Weathering Hurricane Ian is less terrifying than that—even B2D285A7-C155-4AC6-9090-7FEA9FAB3A5Dthough Ian completely took out the Fort Myers Beach pier that I had walked on many times.

That devastated resort area completely gives the lie to my remark in ‘Go Where Tom Goes,’ that while many of the book’s short travelogues were written years ago, including that of Fort Myers Beach, not much will have changed. My bad. There’s nothing left of it.

“Flash floods of worthless men” trigger God to “bend the heavens down and descend,” an image for which you can be forgiven if you think of Einstein. It is trouble for the troublemakers when he does that. They’ve been encircling the loyal ones with whom God himself will act loyally (vs 25) with “ropes of death, (vs 4) “ropes of the Grave,” and “snares of death.” They call to Jehovah and he heeds them.

It’s all but target practice then. Thick gloom is beneath his feet as he descends (vs 9), but he lights it up with “his lightning” to throw “them into confusion.” (vs 14) Things covered are uncovered: “The streambeds became visible; The foundations of the land were exposed by your rebuke. (vs 15) Things (like the psalmist) in danger of being covered over are uncovered: “He reached down from on high; He took hold of me and pulled me from deep waters,” like pulling a Floridian from Ian.

Upon which, the psalmist is thankful. Would you not be too? “[Jehovah] rescues me from my angry enemies; You lift me high above those who attack me; You save me from the man of violence. That is why I will glorify you among the nations, O Jehovah, And to your name I will sing praises.” (48-49)

Only a small minority of translations render Psalm 18:4 as “flash floods of worthless men.” Most don’t add any human element at all—a common rendering is “torrents of destruction.” But the fact that some do suggests to me that the ones that don’t are wussing out. Maybe they succumb to the modern trend that while its okay to judge actions, one ought not judge people—whatever harshness the Hebrew writer has uttered they will soften. “Rivers of wickedness” is a common choice, as though rivers themselves can be wicked.

Floods “of ungodliness” or of “ungodly men” is the better choice of some. One might think of the Watchtower’s explanation that “the knowledge of Jehovah” being widespread throughout the earth is a circumstance that does not affect zebras, or any other animal. Rather, it is a circumstance of humans who once lived as animals. Therefore, while the Isaiah 11 prophesy of “the lion shall lay down with the lamb” may well find fulfillment in animals getting along, the real fulfillment lies in how persons who once ripped and devoured each other like wild beasts will no longer do so.

Similarly, waves don’t get ungodly all by themselves, but waves “of the worthless” (YLT) do.

***five of the Biblegateway translations had significantly different readings. NABRE is an example, which renders 18:4 as: ”Praised be the Lord, I exclaim! I have been delivered from my enemies.” There’s a note somewhere that it is a Masoritic correction. I have to research it further. It does have in common with the others that the trouble is with humans—enemies—and not just with some vague ‘forces of destruction,’ or ‘perdition’ as some translations say. 


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