A Mighty Fortress Is Our God
It was 3 a.m. and I couldn’t sleep. A lonely darkness was settling in over my soul as I tossed and turned in the bed. Uneasy feelings and vague fears drifted in and out of my mind. Finally I got up and paced the floor, shivering in the cold night air. The worlds’ sufferings, wrongs and prejudices all seemed to be coming alive and haunting me. And my troubles seemed to be so close I could feel them in my bones. I went back to bed and tried to sleep. Life’s’ disappointments seem worse in the middle of the night.
I was tired when I woke the next morning – Sunday morning - and got ready for church. Still a bit depressed I slowly settled into the church pew with my husband and we waited for the service to begin. And then it happened! The Scripture reading for the day was Psalm 46 and it seemed that God was speaking directly to me through the words of this Psalm. Speaking to my disappointments and my disillusionments. Taking away my fears and my loneliness. Pouring living water out into my parched soul. Let’s look at Psalm 46.
1) God is our refuge and strength.
A very present help in trouble.
2) Therefore we will not fear, even though the earth be removed.
And though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea:
3) Though its waters roar and be troubled.
Though the mountains shake with its swelling.
4) There is a river whose streams shall make glad the city of
The holy place of the tabernacle of the Most High.
5) God is in the midst of her, she shall not be moved:
God shall help her, just at the break of dawn.
6) The nations raged, the kingdoms were moved:
He uttered His voice, the earth melted.
7) The Lord of hosts is with us:
The God of Jacob is our fortress.
8) Come; behold the works of the Lord,
Who has made desolations in the earth.
9) He makes wars cease to the end of the earth:
He breaks the bow and cuts the spear in two:
He burns the chariot in the fire.
10) Be still and know that I am God.
I will be exalted among the nations.
I will be exalted in the earth:
11) The Lord of hosts is with us.
The God of Jacob is our fortress.
In the dead of night my problems seemed so big. But God is bigger than all my problems and yours too. The God we worship has been a reliable stronghold in the past. He has got us covered in the present. God is present no matter what the outward circumstances look like. Even if the earth is removed and the mountains are carried into the middle of the sea –even if creation itself seems to become uncreated –ruined –undone-God can put it back together. (Psalm 46:1-2)
Even though I can’t figure out how to untangle the wrongs in my world, I have a God who can do it. We will be victorious in the end. “Though the waters roar and are troubled and though the mountains shake there is a river whose streams shall make glad the city of
.” (Verse 4)
In contrast to the raging environment that threatens death, there is a
peaceful river of supply from God that produces life. God
“God is present and we shall not be moved.” (Verse 5) (from our limited perspective we may feel like we have been moved -or lost out – but from the perspective of eternity, God says that we will not be moved) “God will help us just at the break of dawn.” (Verse 5) His help brings on the dawn of deliverance, dispelling the night of danger.
“The nations raged, the kingdoms were moved: He uttered His voice, the earth melted.” (Verse 6) I interpret this verse to say that truth and goodness will win out. The Psalm says: “The kingdoms will be moved” – so human pride and greed and deception and hatred will not stand. Evil will be overcome with good. God will judge the peoples of the world and all that is false and wrong will “melt” away – or be destroyed. We can only have spiritual health and life when the cancer and disease of evil is gone. “He uttered His voice, the earth melted.” God will judge the earth and evil will be removed or will “melt” away.
“The Lord of hosts is with us: the God of Jacob is our fortress.” (Verse 7) We are reminded that the God who blessed and protected Jacob so long ago is with us today. He was a fortress of protection for Jacob and He will be a fortress of protection for us too.
“Come behold the works of the Lord, Who has made desolations in the earth. He makes wars cease to the end of the earth: He breaks the bow and cuts the spear in two: He burns the chariot in the fire.” (Verses 8-9) I believe these verses speak of the day when God will restore universal peace. God will stop all wars – all misunderstandings – hatreds- backbiting. No more isolation or alienation. No more gossiping or bullying or put downs. Everyone will love each other. What a day!
Our next verse reads: “Be still and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the nations. I will be exalted in the earth.” (Verse 10) In our prayers we talk to God. But we are encouraged here to wait quietly (be still) and listen for God. All the nations will recognize God’s mighty acts. God’s saving act for us in the birth, life, death and resurrection of Christ will be brought to completion at His return.
And our Psalm closes reminding us again that God is with us. “The Lord Almighty is with us: the God of Jacob is our fortress.” Martin Luther wrote his famous hymn, “A Mighty Fortress Is Our God,” after reading this little psalm.
A fortress is a walled barrier or building with armament – a bulwark to protect soldiers from hostile enemies. And in this world we have many hostile enemies that would threaten to undo us. So be on guard! And next time fears and doubts play with your mind and depression is stealing your joy: and when your dreams have been shattered and you don’t know where to go; then turn to God, your Father -your Protector- your Savior – your mighty Fortress. “The Lord of hosts is with us: the God of Jacob is our fortress.” (Psalm 46:11)