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Rev. VanderWal is pastor of Hope Protestant Reformed Church in Redlands, California.

“Happy is he that hath the God of Jacob for his help, whose hope is in the Lord his God.” 

Psalm 146:5

Disappointed! Ashamed!

Deep, bitter disappointment must be the lot of those who put their “trust in princes, in the son of man, in whom there is no help” (v. 3).

There are those who put their trust in princes, in the son of man. The child of God is surrounded by them wherever he goes. He hears them boast of men, the words and deeds of men. The wonders of technology! The feats of engineering! The marvels of modern medicine! Our age is an age of progress. This time is a time of human accomplishment. All of man. All for man. All by man.

Such is the gospel of man you hear: Consider my knowledge! Behold my accomplishments! Trust in me! Put your confidence in me!

How utterly vain. Vain boasting. Vain trust.

Hear the judgment of Scripture upon such who put their trust in princes, and in the son of man, in whom there is no help. “His breath goeth forth, he returneth to his earth; in that very day his thoughts perish” (v. 4).

One man is just as weak and vain as another. Man’s own weakness is the very reason why he seeks help and confidence from another. But why seek help from princes? Why from the son of man, in whom there is no help? Why should any man think that other men are different? Why should he think that the same weakness and helplessness that is in him does not lie also in other men? Yet vain men continue to put their trust in princes, in the sons of man, in whom there is no help.

Man perishes. Man returns to the earth.

Deep, bitter disappointment must be the lot of those who put their trust in themselves. They boast of their works and their righteousness. They are positive that they shall be justified on the last day because of the good that they have done.

All those works of men are vain. They partake of corruption. The very best of them merits nothing from God. Men and all their works are only evil without God.

Because man and all his works are altogether corrupt, “his breath goeth forth, he returneth to the earth; in that very day his thoughts perish.”

Deep, bitter disappointment, that ends in hell!

Of his trust he shall be wholly ashamed.


There is another man. He is far from those who place their trust in man. Happy is he.

This man is altogether different from those others. Unlike them, he has repudiated all trust in men. He knows that with them there is no help. He knows that when man’s breath goeth forth, he returns to the earth, and his thoughts perish.

Happy is that man!

This man is happy because he has placed his trust in God. He has the God of Jacob for his help. Therefore, happy is he!

His help is the God of Jacob! This God is the God of Jacob’s grandfather Abraham. Abraham passed away a happy man. Happy because Jehovah was his God. Of Jehovah’s power the first patriarch was confident, “fully persuaded that, what he had promised, he was able also to perform” (Rom. 4:21).

This same God is the God of the generations of Abraham, of Isaac, and of Jacob. This is the God of Israel, according to the promise, in their generations. This is the God of all the children of Abraham according to the promise, though they be not children according to the flesh. This God is the God of Jacob, the God of His people in every generation. He endures forevermore.

How far above men is Jehovah, the God of Jacob! The breath of man goes forth, and he returns to the earth. God’s breath, the Holy Spirit, goes forth and works with almighty power to accomplish the Lord’s counsel. The thoughts of men perish. Jehovah’s thoughts are eternal. Man is made of dust and perishes. God is eternal, from everlasting to everlasting, enduring forever. His throne continues. He is the great I AM.

Happy is the man that hath this God for his help, whose hope is in Him!

This is the God of Abraham, of Isaac, and of Jacob, who remembered His Word to them. He promised to redeem them. That promise the eternal God remembered … and performed.

God performed that promise without the help or aid of man! Without the help of man whose thoughts perish in the very day of his death.

That promise God performed by Himself through the wonderful incarnation of His only begotten Son. He performed it by the accursed death of the cross, giving His only begotten Son to that death as a sacrifice for the sins of His people. By that wonder the promise is realized. Redemption is accomplished. The stain of guilt is wholly removed. Heaven is now secured, not by promise alone, but now by the very blood of the Lamb. The gates of heaven are now opened for all His redeemed to enter therein.

Happy is the man that hath this God of Jacob for his help.

Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob had the God of Jacob for their help. Their hope was in the Lord their God. They were not put to shame. With wondrous might, God realized the promises He made to them. He gave Abraham seed, not in Isaac, nor in Jacob, but in the seed, our Lord Jesus Christ. Christ is the seed of Abraham in whom Abraham became a blessing to all nations! He gave to Abraham and his promised seed a home, not in earthly Canaan, but the eternal, heavenly Jerusalem. Jerusalem, the city that hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God, the city that cannot be moved forever and ever!

In God alone is help, mighty help. In Him is all help to bring eternal happiness.

That happy man, who has the God of Jacob for his help, knows his need of help. He has well learned and well applied what the world ignores. Turning away from weak man and man’s vain boasting, he turns to Jehovah, the God of Jacob. To God alone he looks for help. In Jehovah he finds a sovereign friend, a mighty ally, worthy of all confidence.

Therein lies his happiness. In Jehovah his God he finds all the help and all the aid that he needs. No uncertainty shadows his paths. He will never be put to shame.

The word of Scripture goes yet further here. It brings us into the future. This man is also happy because his hope is in Jehovah his God. It refers to a man exploring his way. He stretches out with his mind to the future. He knows precious little of what lies in store for him, but as he explores, and as he contemplates his own future, he knows that Jehovah his God will forever be near to him. Near to him as his help.

The happy man knows that his path will sometimes lead through times of prosperity, perhaps great prosperity. There may be times of wealth and peace, times of health and strength. The happy man also knows that his path will sometimes lead through times of adversity, perhaps heavy adversity. His way may lead through a fierce inferno, or through deep waters. So many possibilities attend his way! Yet there is one thing that makes him happy: his hope is in the Lord his God.

The happy man knows other things that are certain. He knows well his own mortality. He knows the weakness of his body and the frailty of his mind. He knows that he shall die, if Jehovah tarry. Yet he is happy even in the face of death, the last enemy. His hope is in the Lord his God. All his future is firmly in the hand of his sovereign friend.

There is one more thing to make this man happy. Yes, he has the God of Jacob for his help. Yes, his hope is in the Lord. The additional reason for happiness is found in the very last words: the Lord his God.

His God! The Lord, Jehovah, the great I AM, is his. God is this man’s help. His hope is in God. God has given Himself to this man, to be his God. Friend gives Himself to His friend. Friend-sovereign to friend-servant.

Thus this man is able to say, “This God of Jacob is mine.” He speaks of God, “My help, my hope, my God!”

Happy is this man. He has help from God. He has hope from God. Most precious to him is the knowledge that he has the mighty God of Jacob for his God. Jehovah is his sovereign friend.

What happiness!

This happiness is not as we often think of it, a temporary display on the face. It is not some vague, fleeting emotion. This happiness is not found merely in a smile. It is not merely heard in the lilt in one’s voice, or seen in his general bearing or appearance. This man who has Jehovah as his trust may have deep sorrow. His voice may break and his eyes may be filled with tears. But this man’s happiness is rooted deep in his heart. In his heart this happiness is firm and unshakable. This treasure will continue to be his, sustaining him through every sorrow and grief.

Enduring happiness is easy to understand when we consider that the word translated here as “happy” is the same word found at the beginning of Psalm 1, translated there as “blessed.” This man’s true happiness begins with the blessing that God gives to him. But that blessing is also received, known, and enjoyed by a living faith. The hand of faith lays hold upon God. The mouth of faith drinks deeply of God. The man who so drinks by faith, putting his hope in the Lord his God, is satisfied and filled with the enjoyment of the abundance of God. He tastes and sees that the Lord is good. He is happy in the Lord his God. Having the God of Jacob for his help, and having his hope in the Lord his God, he has everything.

Happy is he!

Happy are you, to have this God for your help. Happy are you, to have your hope in this God. Happy are you, to have the Lord for your God!

Thus we testify with this Scripture and with all the children of the promise: Happy is he that hath the God of Jacob for his help, whose hope is in the Lord his God.