(Michigan: Zondervan, 1945)

A search on the Amazon website revealed eleven books with the title A Very Present Help, but none of them is the subject of this review. In 1944 Lt. Gen. Sir William Dobbie wrote this small book, drawing on Psalm 46:1, to express his gratitude to God to whom he had prayed fervently during his two years as Colonial Governor and Commander-in-Chief of the British forces on the island of Malta (from 1940-1942). A devout Christian of Brethren background, he saw the hand of God at work constantly during this time. To cite his own words: ‘The story of the Siege of Malta from 1940 to 1942 is so rich in illustrations of God’s help and of His intervention, that it is worth recording.’

The man and the miracle cannot be separated. Malta became the most bombed spot on earth, yet it did not fall. God was a miracle-working God who proved to be a very present help in time of trouble. The enemy-battered island was delivered. The book tells of Dobbie’s experiences during the siege, and rightly portrays the survival of the siege as every bit as miraculous as the evacuation of Dunkirk and the Battle of Britain which took place earlier that same year.

Dobbie writes: ‘God was with us. I know He was, definitely and practically, in our difficult times. It is marvellous in our eyes.’ This book comes from the General’s heart. Humbly and thankfully, he pays tribute to the faithfulness of God. From it, the reader ought to derive courage, peace, and even power.

In his Foreword, Dobbie sets out his purpose in writing: ‘During the course of a long, varied and interesting military career I have had many tokens of God’s great goodness to me. I have experienced His help in all sorts of circumstances. I have seen His over-ruling control in my life, and His guidance in my affairs. I have been amazed at His faithfulness to me, in spite of much unfaithfulness on my part toward Him. I have been specially impressed by His forbearance, and patience with me, and by the way He has loaded me with benefits which I have but ill deserved. I therefore desire to acknowledge my debt to Him, and in this imperfect way to express my gratitude. That is one reason why I have written this book. In all these experiences I have learned lessons which have stood me in good stead.’

To read this book is to know Sir William Dobbie as an intensely sincere, humble and godly man – an all too rare commodity in the world today. Towards the end of the work, he writes: ‘There is no doubt that during this Second World War God has been speaking to the nations, our own included just as He did in the previous World War. It is possible that we did not pay attention to what He said to us then, and that may be the reason why He has had to speak again. God’s voice surely has been plain. We do well to take heed.’

The book is no longer available in print, but it can be obtained as a free download via the link:

– Gary Gillman