The history of Haiti is a history of abuse and suffering. Spain had
turned the island into a sugar factory run by slave labor. Having ravished
the land, Spain abandoned the country to the French who established
a brutal slave operation until the revolution of 1791, when, as many
other colonies were doing, the Haitians managed to yank themselves from
under the yoke of France. But revolution did not bring freedom or a
better life. Brutal dictators and corrupt governments have further devastated
the people, leaving them to live in hopeless poverty.
Now an earthquake has leveled cities, and reports indicate that the
loudest cry is that of the preachers of the land preaching the imminent
return of Jesus, and repentance or further judgment from God. The vast
majority of the people of Haiti adhere to the teachings of the Roman
Catholic Church. Protestants are the minority. The Haitians mix their
faith with the idolatrous, spirit-world religion of voodoo, and perhaps
fear that disquieted spirits are to blame for the earthquake. The evangelical
preacher Pat Robertson links the judgment of God in this quake to the
rumor that the Haitians, in their desperate attempt to throw off the
Catholic French in the late 1700's called upon the devil to help them.
Preachers, who would rather avoid the public outcry against Robertson's
statement, either ignore the concept of judgment or blame the terrible
suffering on the devil and call upon God to sooth this devastated nation
with his love and mercy. For those who imagine a common grace of God
displayed in the progress man makes in this world, the island of Haiti
appears to have fallen between the cracks.
The world gnashes its teeth against anyone who "wastes" their time
on reasons (especially religious reasons) and calls upon everyone to
pitch in with whatever they can to help these people in this time of
great need. If the Haitian preachers want to babble about judgment,
so be it, let's show them the power of human compassion and money. Let's
salvage what we can, and use this terrible event as a springboard to
demonstrate what man can do when we set aside prejudice and unite for
the good of fellow men and women. Maybe this is where common grace fits
in: Haiti offers an opportunity for the fruits of common grace - the
relief organizations, technology, and human care - to be displayed on
a grand scale for all the world to see. God won't take all the glory,
but in willing helplessness gives opportunity for man to link the power
of grace with human resourcefulness and share in the glory. That is
Nobody, except for a believer in the absolute sovereignty of God, could
find anything offensive with the common grace approach to redeeming
the Haiti situation. The Haitian believer sitting alone among the rubble
of his home, who knows the sovereignty of God in his or her salvation,
finds no comfort in a god who can't control the tectonic plates of the
earth and depends on man to reveal love and mercy through the power
of a common grace. Certainly he receives earthly gifts from man with
thankfulness, but he also recognizes that this earth is not his abiding
home. A gift from a fellow brother or sister in the Lord (and in the
name of the Lord) to alleviate earthly needs would make such a saint
rejoice and give thanks to his covenant God, and when we can, let us
give in the name of the Lord. While the earth groans under the judgments
of God, the saint hears the footsteps of his Lord and Savior coming
to deliver those whom He has redeemed from sin. With the psalmist and
the church of all ages he sings Psalm
"Praise ye the Lord: for it is good to sing praises unto our God;
for it is pleasant; and praise is comely. The Lord doth build up Jerusalem:
he gathereth together the outcasts of Israel. He healeth the broken
in heart, and bindeth up their wounds. He telleth the number of the
stars; he calleth them all by their names. Great is our Lord, and
of great power: his understanding is infinite. The Lord lifteth up
the meek: he casteth the wicked down to the ground. Sing unto the
Lord with thanksgiving; sing praise upon the harp unto our God: Who
covereth the heaven with clouds, who prepareth rain for the earth,
who maketh grass to grow upon the mountains. He giveth to the beast
his food, and to the young ravens which cry. He delighteth not in
the strength of the horse: he taketh not pleasure in the legs of a
man. The Lord taketh pleasure in them that fear him, in those that
hope in his mercy. Praise the Lord, O Jerusalem; praise thy God, O
Zion. For he hath strengthened the bars of thy gates; he hath blessed
thy children within thee. He maketh peace in thy borders, and filleth
thee with the finest of the wheat. He sendeth forth his commandment
upon earth: his word runneth very swiftly. He giveth snow like wool:
he scattereth the hoarfrost like ashes. He casteth forth his ice like
morsels: who can stand before his cold? He sendeth out his word, and
melteth them: he causeth his wind to blow, and the waters flow. He
showeth his word unto Jacob, his statutes and his judgments unto Israel.
He hath not dealt so with any nation: and as for his judgments, they
have not known them. Praise ye the Lord" (Psalm
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Happy is He!
A meditation by Rev. Martin VanderWal
From the September 15, 2006 issue of The
"Happy is he that hath the God of Jacob for his help, whose hope is
in the Lord his God." - Psalm
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.
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.
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" (Romans
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
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
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
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.
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.