“Thou Knowest”

“I have preached righteousness in the great congregation: lo, I have not refrained my lips, O LORD, thou knowest. I have not hid thy righteousness within my heart; I have declared thy faithfulness and thy salvation: I have not concealed thy lovingkindness and thy truth from the great congregation.” —Psalm 40:9,10

IN THIS PROPHECY of Jesus’ faithfulness throughout his entire life here on earth, he is represented as saying, “I have preached righteousness in the great congregation: lo, I have not refrained my lips.” The ‘great congregation’ mentioned here probably refers to the people of the Jewish nation who were alive during his First Advent, and not just the priestly class, who at that time often were thought of as God’s special servants. As we are invited to be the ambassadors of Christ, we are to follow in our Master’s footsteps. And in our activities along these lines, the ‘great congregation’ might comprise the whole world of mankind to whom we endeavor to spread the Gospel message.

That Jesus did ‘preach righteousness’—the message of the coming kingdom, the truth, which magnifies God’s righteousness—throughout Israel, came to light in a bold observation by the Master himself, when he was on trial for his life. We read that “the High Priest then asked Jesus of his disciples, and of his doctrine.” Jesus’ reply was, “I spake openly to the world; I ever taught in the synagogue, and in the Temple, whither the Jews always resort; and in secret have I said nothing. Why askest thou me? ask them which heard me, what I have said unto them: Behold, they know what I said.”—John 18:19-21

Here is a marvelous testimony! Will we be able to give such a report as we near the end of our Christian walk? A serious weakness with some of us is to procrastinate—it is so easy to put things off. We may hear of various opportunities for service, but we might wait until ‘a more favorable time’ comes to avail ourselves of them. Today, we reason, it is too hot, or too cold, to go downtown to insert a radio or TV ad in the newspaper. Tomorrow it may be more temperate. This disposition to wait until a more ‘favorable time’ (for us!) to serve the Lord along any particular line, could easily be continued throughout our entire lifetime. Indeed, some have testified that this has happened to them, and that finally, when they realize they are too aged or unable for other reasons to perform services for the Lord, possibly having but a short time remaining on this side of the veil, they looked back with regret upon the wasted years.

This was not true of Jesus. All Israel could testify that it was not true! As Jesus told the High Priest, if he wanted to know what he had been teaching all across the land, he had simply to ask the people. ‘They heard me speak—they know what I said, and they saw my works of healing the sick and afflicted of Israel’, said the Master. Will this be true of us?

In the prophecy Jesus said, “I have not hid thy righteousness [truth] within my heart.” This implies the possibility that such could be done. This statement carries different connotations, and one of them might well be the erroneous viewpoint that the Lord wants us to treasure up the truth in our hearts, using it principally as a power in our lives to help us make our own “calling and election sure.” In a sense this viewpoint is true. Where it comes short of the full truth is in its failure to realize that the truth is most potent in molding our own lives into the character-likeness of the Master when we are faithful in making it known to others. Certainly we are not developing into the image of Christ unless we are doing as he did, and he surely did not conceal the truth within his heart.

But this viewpoint, we think, is just another of Satan’s misleading sophistries in his continuous effort to keep people from knowing the truth concerning the lovingkindness of our God. Beginning soon after the apostles fell asleep, the Devil, the great deceiver, became successful in his efforts to distort the truth. After a few generations false concepts of the kingdom and its doctrines almost completely supplanted the real Gospel of the kingdom in the hearts and minds of the professed people of God.—I Tim. 4:1

When the end of the age came and the great truths of the divine plan were restored to God’s people, with the error identified and exposed, those who received these great truths were enthusiastic in making them known to others. Again Satan endeavored to distort the message. But there are still thousands throughout the world who have not been deceived, and rejoice to know and believe that an opportunity for salvation has been provided for all during the times of restitution of all things, and that this was the glorious theme song of all God’s holy prophets since the world began. (Acts 3:19-21) These have kept themselves free, or have extricated themselves, from human philosophy and are insisting that every doctrine they accept and teach must be supported unequivocally by the unadulterated Word of God. Satan, however, has not given up in his efforts to deceive and entrap them. Despite this, the Lord sustains and keeps them so that they continue to hear the “joyful sound” of truth, and to walk in the light of his countenance.—Ps. 89:15


James wrote that if we resist the Devil, he will flee from us. (James 4:7) But this does not mean that he will not come back and try again, and again. At the beginning of his ministry, Jesus resisted Satan, yet Satan later did all he could to discourage and to destroy the Master. And so he does with us. He is the prince of darkness and, as such, wants to keep the world in darkness. So, if he cannot succeed in blinding the minds of those who have the light of truth, then he employs devious methods to hinder them from actively proclaiming it. One of these is the deceptive idea that the Lord gave his people the truth to treasure up in their own hearts, and not to proclaim it to the world.

Another of Satan’s methods to prevent the promulgation of the truth is to induce discouragement. He is quick to call attention to the meager results of light-bearing, using the argument that if it were the Lord’s will to spread the message there would be greater results. But Jesus did not say, “Let your light so shine before men if the results are good, otherwise hide your light under a bushel.” Those who know the truth expect that the results of their activities in its service will be small. They know that it has required an entire age to find and prepare a “little flock” to live and reign with Christ, so it is not to be expected that suddenly large numbers will now accept the truth, and consecrate themselves to the Lord and to his service.

In this era of high tensions and nervous strains it is almost inevitable that at times minor misunderstandings will arise among the brethren. These little difficulties are not in themselves serious, but Satan is quick to seize upon them as something he can use to confuse and to discourage those involved, thus destroying their zeal for the service of the truth. Solomon tells us of seven things which the Lord hates. One of them is, “He that soweth discord among brethren.” (Prov. 6:19) Satan is the one most guilty of this, and he is quick to use whatever situations he can to do it.

But let us not be ignorant of Satan’s devices, and thus play into his hands. If the slightest suggestion is brought to us concerning any brother or any sister, anywhere, which, if believed, would cause us to have a little less confidence in that brother or sister, let us not begin to wonder whether or not it is true. If we are reasonably sure that it is not true, then we should at once dismiss it from our minds. If we have a doubt, then we should go to the one involved and find out directly for ourselves. If we start asking others about it, we are helping to spread the rumor and getting second-handed opinions concerning the matter at issue. Besides, by following this unscriptural method we are cooperating with the Devil. He would like to have all the brethren lose confidence in one another, for then he would know there would be little activity in the proclamation of the truth.


If our hearts are right before the Lord, and we are sincerely and zealously doing all we can in the service of the truth and of the brethren, we will automatically conclude that others are doing the same. This in itself will be an encouragement to us. In this connection the important consideration is that the Lord knows what we are doing, and how sincere we are in doing it. This was a great consolation to Jesus, who stood alone in making his supreme sacrifice. He said, “I have not refrained my lips, O Lord, thou knowest.” Although none was able to understand his position, or the meaning and value of the great sacrifice he was making, Jesus was comforted by the realization that his Heavenly Father knew and understood.

How precious this realization should be to us! Actually it should not matter at all what others are doing, or what they may think of our efforts. We should not be faithful simply because we see others faithfully serving. The all-important consideration to us should be that the Lord knows, for it is he whom we are serving, and it is his name we are endeavoring to glorify by our service.

To maintain this viewpoint requires strong faith, and yet if we are serving with any other thought in mind the Lord will not be pleased with our efforts. Jesus realized how important it was that the Heavenly Father knew of his faithfulness. Later, in his messages to the “seven churches” Jesus emphasized that he had similar knowledge concerning all his professed followers throughout the age. “I know thy works,” he said to “the church of Ephesus,” “and thy labor, and thy patience.” (Rev. 2:2) To the “church in Smyrna” Jesus also said, “I know thy works.” Likewise to the five other churches. See Rev. 2:9,13,19; 3:1,8,15.

This precious truth should be of great encouragement to every one of the Lord’s people, especially the isolated. There is a proper enthusiasm engendered in working with others. Brethren in an ecclesia who can work together in the ministry of the truth are highly favored. But in the Lord’s providence many of his people are alone. There is no one to encourage them. In cases like this how sweet must be the words of Jesus, “I know thy works,” I know you are using as much of your time, your strength and your means in my service as you possibly can. Yes, “I know thy works,” and if you continue faithfully in the same zealous manner until your life is consumed, “I will give thee a crown of life.”—Rev. 2:10

“I know thy works”—‘I know that deep down in your heart you would rather be serving me and serving my Heavenly Father than doing anything else. I know that at times you get discouraged, that your flesh becomes weary; but, knowing and understanding this, I will give you comfort and courage for your every time of need’. Yes, “I know thy works”—thy “love, and service, and faith,” and “patience.” (Rev. 2:19) ‘I know that even though you see little or no result from your sacrifices, you will continue to lay down your life in the service of the truth, for my sake, and because you know that it is the will of my Father and your Father that you should thus let your light shine’.

Whether we are isolated workers or among those privileged to serve with others, it is equally true that the Lord knows the intents and desires of our hearts. Realizing this, can we, with confidence, go to our Heavenly Father as Jesus did, and say to him, “I have preached righteousness in the great congregation: to, I have not refrained my lips, O Lord, thou knowest”?

Our faith assures us that the Lord does know, but are we glad to have him know? Are the little sacrifices we make from day to day to show forth his praises, so absolutely the best we can do that when we hear the Lord say through his Word, “I know thy works,” the realization of this knowledge encourages us, and we can respond in prayer, saying, ‘Yes, Lord, I am glad thou knowest’?

The Lord in his great kindness has given us to know the “mysteries of the kingdom of heaven”—the truth. (Matt. 13:11) Those who know the truth are the only ones who are in a position to declare the Lord’s “faithfulness” and his “salvation.” Are we doing it? Or are we just rejoicing that we have a better understanding of the Bible and of God’s plan of salvation than others? When we hear the Lord say, “I know thy works,” do we rejoice in the knowledge that we are not among those who have not hidden the loving kindness of God in our hearts?

Our responsibility in carrying out the terms of our covenant of sacrifice is to the Lord, not to the brethren. We can rejoice in this because we realize that when he says, “I know thy works,” he knows us also—all our weaknesses, all the things which hinder us from being more active, all our handicaps. He also knows how earnestly we would like to do more to show forth his loving kindness if we were able to do so. Our Heavenly Father knows this, and Jesus, our sympathetic High Priest and Advocate, also knows it. And we know that our acceptableness to God is not on the basis of what we accomplish in his service, but upon the sincerity of our desire to serve and praise him.

So when we go to our Heavenly Father and say, “O God, thou knowest,” we can be assured that his reply is, ‘Yes, my child, I do know. I know that today you did the very best you could. I know all about the situation which prevented you from doing more. In fact, I permitted it in order to see if you would be faithful in the little things that you could do, rather than to be enthusiastic simply because you could render some outstanding service for me’.

When we say to our God, “Thou knowest,” we also realize that he knows not only how zealously we have endeavored to serve him, but also the motive which prompted our zeal. If we are doing things in the Lord’s service to be seen and known of men, we will be a little embarrassed to say to our Heavenly Father, “Thou knowest.” And yet he does know; hence the importance of searching our hearts to make sure that they contain no selfish motives, no bitterness, no pride, no human ambition to ‘shine’, but are filled only with love for God, for the brethren, and for all mankind. We may speak “with the tongues of men and of angels,” we may “give our bodies to be burned,” yet if we have not love, these “works” will profit us nothing.—I Cor. 13:1-3

Let us be faithful to the great privilege of being the Lord’s ambassadors during this dark nighttime of the reign of sin and death—to preach of the soon coming time when all mankind will be enlightened concerning the loving kindness of our God!

Dawn Bible Students Association
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