[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.