OUR MIGHTY FORTRESS
Martin Luther is one of the key figures in the church history. He was a mighty man used by God to bring reformation to the church in 1517. The year 1527 though, was the most difficult in his life. After 10 years of the reformation a dizzy spell overcame him in middle of his sermon on April 22, which forced him to stop preaching. Luther feared for his life. Shortly after this on July 6 while eating he felt an acute buzzing in his ear and lay down, convinced he was at the end of his life. He somewhat regained his strength, but discouragement set in as a result and to add more discouragement he began to have severe intestinal complications and heart problems. During this ordeal, Luther wrote, “I spent more than a week in death and hell. My entire body was in pain, and I still tremble. Completely abandoned by Christ, I labored under the vacillations and storms of desperation and blasphemy against God.”
What was worse as one historian said is “The Black Plague had entered Germany and spread to Wittenberg. Many people fled, fearing for their lives. Yet Luther and his wife Katherina remained, believing it was their duty to care for the sick and the dying.” Luther and Katherina (who was pregnant at the time with their second child) used their house as a hospital where he watched many of his friends die. And without warning during this time Luther’s one year old son Hans became desperately ill; with death surrounding him on all sides. Psalm 46 became his strength for his soul. Which lead him to pen the Christian classic “A Mighty Fortress is Our God” Based on Psalm 46, the hymn is a celebration of the sovereign power of God over all earthly and spiritual forces, and of the sure hope we have in Him because of Christ.
Steve Lawson wrote “It’s majestic and thunderous proclamation of God who is our all-sufficient refuge in our weakest moments.”
Martin Luther said “We sing the Psalm to the praise of God, because God is with us, and powerfully and miraculously preserves and defends his church and His word, against all fanatical spirits, against the gates of hell, against the ruthless hatred of the devil, against all the assaults of the world, the flesh and sin.”
The precious Psalms speak to us in various different subject matters or styles to express the glory of God over whatever you may be faced with. This Psalm that is before us this morning speaks of God’s mighty power. The sons of Korah penned this Psalm to console troubled hearts when they grow in fearful, and tremble, due to the imminent dangers and trails of life. This is what this Psalm demonstrates to you and me as we rest in His mighty Fortress of grace and mercy.
My question for you is….. Can you relate to Martin Luther about your life? Like Luther, the author of this Psalm found comfort and refuge in God during difficult times.
God Is Our Immovable Refuge (v1-v3)
The Psalmist doesn’t waste any time in letting us know that God is a strong refuge for His people. He provides safety from discouraging and devastating times. God being our refuge is a picture of a strong shelter from danger, an unconquerable fortress, or a walled city where protection is found. Prov 18:10 reminds us. “The name of the LORD is a strong tower; the righteous man runs into it and is safe.” God is our strength (v1) ”Strength” means that God is the One who upholds and enables you and I stand through the fiery trials that we go through. As David said “God alone is our all in all.” For God alone my soul waits in silence; from him comes my salvation. He alone is my rock and my salvation, my fortress; I shall not be greatly shaken. How long will all of you attack a man to batter him, like a leaning wall, a tottering fence? They only plan to thrust him down from his high position. They take pleasure in falsehood. They bless with their mouths, but inwardly they curse. For God alone, O my soul, wait in silence, for my hope is from him. He only is my rock and my salvation, my fortress; I shall not be shaken. On God rests my salvation and my glory; my mighty rock, my refuge is God. Trust in him at all times, O people; pour out your heart before him; God is a refuge for us.” Psalm 62:1-8
God is our help in times of trouble (v1) “Trouble” means to be in tight places, to be restricted, tied up, or to be in a narrow, cramped place. It’s that expression “You are stuck between a rock and a hard place. And there is no way out.” Gods is our ever present help in that trouble…… ”Present” reminds us that God is immediately present and constantly available to His people. Knowing this truth we can say with the psalmist “We will not fear”
With God on our side, how ridiculous
would fear be!
Where He is…. all power is, and all love, why therefore should we cower in fear? A wonderful reminder that we tend to ignore when fear sets in our hearts.
But we need to understand God is
our refuge at all times.
He is our shelter or protection from danger or distress as we continue to go through the trials of this life for His glory. A stronghold which protects you and I, through the blessings of His adoption, a place that is inaccessible to an enemy. According this Psalm it literally means, “A place of trust” As the Psalmist says He is sufficient in all our circumstance…“a very present help in trouble” (v1) This is a blessed promise of God’s divine providence in our lives. “The LORD is a stronghold for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble.” Psalm 9:9
What does that mean for me when I’m going through seasons
of fear and loneliness though? It means to be safely placed into the arms of God despite your circumstances and how you feel in the moment! Take this for example:
When I'm Weary and exhausted…...You're not.
When I'm Confused and discouraged……You're not.
When I'm Inconsistent and unfaithful…..You're not.
When I'm Doubtful and disheartened……You're not.
When I'm Fearful and anxious……You're not.
When I'm Short-sighted and fearful……You're not.
When I'm Tired and want to quit…….You're not.
When I'm Lacking in hope and love…….You're not.
When I'm Angry with-holding grace……You're not.
When I'm Selfish and miserable……..You're not.
When I fell I’m losing my way because of my circumstances.
God is always there! This is what it means when the Psalmist says “He is our refuge” So my question to you and me is...... Do you believe this? Seriously! Because the Bible says “For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, "Abba! Father!" Rom 8:15. Jesus said “And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear Him who can destroy both soul and body in hell.” Matt 10:28. Jesus also would remind his trouble hearted disciples this truth. “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.” John 14:27. David penned these words “The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The LORD is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?” Ps 27:1. So we can say with the Hebrew writer “......The Lord is my helper; I will not fear; what can man do to me?" Heb 13:6
This is where I, the Christian, put their hope and trust into. The sovereign hands of Almighty God, who is, not a, but is our refuge. The only place where a person will ever find refuge and strength in times of troubles or distresses. God is our shelter in time of storms who gives us the strength to endure as Isaiah said, “Have you not known? Have you not heard? The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; His understanding is unsearchable. He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might He increases strength. Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted; but they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.”
Regardless of what the psalmist and the people of God face daily, they have no reason to fear……God is in control. Especially when you are faced with the question “Why LORD?” Or when the world is crumbing all around you! (v2b-v3) Though we might face earthshaking circumstances, as a mountain crashes into the sea; and the sea responds by flooding the land. Though everything in my life seems to be spinning out of control, God isn’t, and He has you right where He wants you to be…right now! We need to rest in His strong tower and stop making our own, because it will not be able to withstand the heavy rain and winds of this life.
God Is Our Inexhaustible River (V4-V7)
This is a picture that God is the satisfying river who protective presence is ready to destroy the enemies of God people. Though the water may seem turbulent, roaring, and foaming at the mouth like a lion. The streams of God are continual and make glad the inhabitants of the city of God. “Streams” is perhaps a reference to the stream of Siloam, which was the only water supply for the inhabitants of Jerusalem. The Prophet Zechariah wrote “And there shall be a unique day, which is known to the LORD, neither day nor night, but at evening time there shall be light. On that day living waters shall flow out from Jerusalem, half of them to the eastern sea and half of them to the western sea. It shall continue in summer as in winter.” Zech 14:7-8
This could be reference to the river that flows from the throne of God. ”Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb through the middle of the street of the city; also, on either side of the river, the tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit each month. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. No longer will there be anything accursed, but the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and his servants will worship him. They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. And night will be no more. They will need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light, and they will reign forever and ever.” Rev 22:1-5
Jerusalem was often designated as the “city of God”. “Great is the LORD and greatly to be praised in the city of our God! His holy mountain, beautiful in elevation, is the joy of all the earth, Mount Zion, in the far north, the city of the great King.” Psalm 48:1-2 This was the place where the “Most High” dwells, the place that housed the temple, and the Ark of the Covenant. Though it might sound like the city of God was under attack and they seemed to be vulnerable. (v6) The people of God were to remind themselves that all was well because God would help. (v5, v7) “God of Jacob” is our fortress that God Himself was a high and safe place, a place of refuge. ”Within her citadels God has made himself known as a fortress. For behold, the kings assembled; they came on together. As soon as they saw it, they were astounded; they were in panic; they took to flight. Trembling took hold of them there, anguish as of a woman in labor. By the east wind you shattered the ships of Tarshish. As we have heard, so have we seen in the city of the LORD of hosts, in the city of our God, which God will establish forever.” Psalm 48:3-8. Remember God displays Kingship and strength in His earthly kingdom. The powerful presence of God is Jerusalem (v7) “The LORD of host is with us.”
God Is Our Invincible Ruler (v8-v11)
The battle belongs to the Lord because He will fight the evil forces that threaten His children. It’s God who delivered the Israelites, from the conquest of the Promised Land into the period of the monarchy. God is the one who make wars cease and to end on this earth. “He shall judge between the nations, and shall decide disputes for many peoples; and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore.” Isaiah 2:4
In different times and seasons, God has allowed, permitted, but understand! Nothing is outside the boundaries or control of Almighty God. (v9) declares this truth… “He makes, He breaks, He burns.” For the sole purpose that His name might be exalted before them. In the midst of all the ciaos He is strengthening you and I to live godly lives in godly peace with one another.
He is never far away and is always helping His own. God protects the righteous from their enemies by His ever-abiding presence.
Why could Luther pen such a beautiful hymn considering the circumstances of his own life? Because this Psalm reminds you and me that no matter what we face, an obstacle, a hindrance, our own doubting and fear, that God is our refuge and ever present strength. Like Luther, this psalm was Christ’s psalm and its promises were Christ’s promises for His people.
Why could Horatio Spafford pen such a beautiful song
“It Is Well With My Soul”? This hymn was written after many traumatic events in Spafford's life. Finishing up some business in Chicago he told his wife and daughters to go on ahead of him and he would meet them there in a couple of days. Word got back to Horatio from a telegraph by his wife “Saved alone" Spafford traveled to meet his grieving wife; he was inspired to write these words as his ship passed near where his daughters had died. How could he write such comforting words? Because this Psalm reminds you and me that God is bigger than us and what we go through in this life.
He is our Immovable Refuge
He is our Inexhaustible River
He is our Invincible Ruler
The Bible declares that His refuge doesn’t exempt you from problems or your best life now due to the level of your circumstances. He doesn’t pity us, He is our conquering King who is over us. His presence makes it easier to endure for His glory and our good. So what do the sons of Korah tell us to do?
“Be still, and know that I am God.” (v10)
“Be still” is not a contemplative call for reflection. But a redemptive call to surrender and know God personally and intimately. As Paul said “that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death” Phil 3:10. John penned this reminder. “And we know that the Son of God has come, and has given us understanding so that we may know Him who is true; and we are in Him who is true, in His Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God and eternal life.” 1 John 5:20
Steve Lawson wrote, “This is why it is important to keep our eyes fixed on God. Focusing upon our problems breeds fear. But looking to God increases faith, bringing peace and comfort.”
This Psalm… reflects, gives us hope, daily hope, to His immovable, inexhaustible and invincible strength that flows to God’s people from their faith in the strength of God. When you and I know the strong God of Psalm 46….we can confess “The LORD of hosts” literally means “The Lord of armies” is with us; the God of Jacob” the “covenant mercy of God” is our fortress.” (v11) This gives us confidence that God indeed, is our very present help in trouble.
“Therefore we will not fear though
the earth gives way.” (v2)