Blessed are Those Whose Help is the God of Jacob
By Rev Arnold Chow
January 22, 2023
Praise the LORD, my soul.
2 I will praise the LORD all my life;
I will sing praise to my God as long as I live.
3 Do not put your trust in princes,
in human beings, who cannot save.
4 When their spirit departs, they return to the ground;
on that very day their plans come to nothing.
5 Blessed are those whose help is the God of Jacob,
whose hope is in the LORD their God.
6 He is the Maker of heaven and earth,
the sea, and everything in them—
he remains faithful forever.
7 He upholds the cause of the oppressed
and gives food to the hungry.
The LORD sets prisoners free,
8 the LORD gives sight to the blind,
the LORD lifts up those who are bowed down,
the LORD loves the righteous.
9 The LORD watches over the foreigner
and sustains the fatherless and the widow,
but he frustrates the ways of the wicked.
10 The LORD reigns forever,
your God, O Zion, for all generations.
In the Chinese bulletin, you will see that this year, I attempted a translation of the whole psalm into Chinese. In the English translation, I have used the familiar “Hallelujah” (哈利路亞 in Chinese) in place of the line “Praise the LORD” at the beginning and the end of the psalm. “Hallelujah” means “Praise the LORD.” The word “Hallelujah” first appears in the Old Testament in Psalm 104. The psalmists of both psalms call their own souls to praise God.
Why do they call their own souls to “praise”? To “praise” means to recognize, commend, honor and exalt. However, it can also be superficial lip service. One Bible commentator has rightly said that whoever people “praise,” those are often the ones they want to rely on. There are those who often “praise” the people in power in the hope of winning their approval. Other than the LORD, no powers on earth can really “save” or “help” people because man is, after all, finite (v.4). But the psalmist’s trust is in “the God of Jacob” (v.5). Before man “praises” God, He is determined to save and help. That is why the psalmist responds by “praising” the LORD with his soul and life (v.2).
This being the Year of the Rabbit, I was trying to find four-word proverbs in Chinese with the word “rabbit” to celebrate the Chinese New Year. Nevertheless, what I found were stories of rabbits having bad endings. Yet, when we think of Jacob, he is unlike a good student who receives rabbit stamps from the teacher. His life was more like “a cunning rabbit with three burrows” (狡兔三窟) who “flees like a rabbit set free” (動若脫兔). Nevertheless, earthly cleverness and shrewdness could not really “help” him.
When Jacob thought maybe fleeing to Laban could “help” him, he was deceived to work. And when he did cleverly get back his wages and was planning to go home, he was met by Esau, coming with his large group of men. When Jacob thought he could rely on his wives, they vied with the concubines. When he thought about counting on his sons when old, they struggled among themselves. When Jacob thought he could rely on his possession of herds and flocks, there came a great drought. In the end, what he thought he could rely on all his life were no match for the LORD who appeared to him at Bethel back in the early days.
Before Jacob was aware, the LORD had saved his beloved son who was sold to Egypt, accomplishing the redemption plan to “help” his entire family to survive the famine. The God of Jacob is not One who wants human “praises” in exchange for “help.”
“Those whose help is the God of Jacob” are “blessed,” aren’t they? Now, “the God of Jacob” also treat you and me in the same way. “Hallelujah”!