God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way, though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea. –Psalm 46:1-2
One of my favorite trips I’ve ever taken to was to Scotland. The scenery is beautiful, this history is rich and amazing, and everywhere you look there’s something to commemorate what happened in that spot, either in recent or ancient times. While there I was able to take in a number of castles and fortresses. Some were very clearly used only for official functions like royal audiences or summer homes, with buildings and walls that were more decorative than anything. But then there were the fortresses—massive refuges, usually tucked away in a difficult-to-reach place, with thick walls and foundations that reached down into the bedrock of the hills. These weren’t merely for decoration or fancy royal events. These were built to last through attacks and storms, to give people a safe place to live, even if everything outside the walls was falling apart.
In our devotional reading from Psalm 46, the psalmist describes God as a refuge. In the last verse, the psalmist says, “The God of Jacob is our fortress.” These were the verses that inspired Martin Luther to write the comforting hymn “A Mighty Fortress Is Our God.” God is described as a place of security. He keeps His people safe. Later on in the psalm it says, “There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy habitation of the Most High,” painting the picture of a secure city with strong walls, well-supplied by a stream of pure water that provides all that the citizens need.
That doesn’t mean that those who take refuge in God will never see trouble. In fact, fortresses draw attacks from enemies who want to overthrow them. The devil will attack our mighty fortress. The world will rage against the God who points out sin and who forgives as only He can do. “The nations rage, the kingdoms totter,” the psalmist says. People don’t run to the safety of a fortress because things are good. They run when they need protecting.
Very often, people think that if they just get their religious life in order, then things will be easy for them. That isn’t always the case. They’ll still suffer attacks and troubles. But that doesn’t mean that they’re doing something wrong. It just means that they need to take refuge in God, their fortress, their very present help in trouble.
So yes, outside the walls of our Mighty Fortress we may see the earth giving way and the mountains falling into the heart of the sea. But those troubles are passing. Our life is safely hidden in God. “Be still, and know that I am God,” the Lord says to us at the end of the psalm. He promises to defend us and heal us, to provide all that we need from his rivers of mercy and love. So we rejoice, even when the world is upside down outside the walls, for “the Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress.”
Almighty God, You are our refuge and powerful protector. Help strengthen our faith in Your ability to save and in Your never failing love for us, no matter what we may see in this quickly passing world. In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen