A Mighty Fortress
By Pastor James Stewart
‘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, though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble.’ at its swelling. Selah.’
Psalm 46:1-3 ESV
Psalm 46 was written at a time where there seemed to have been a national crisis for the nation of Israel; there was some great threat appearing on the horizon which was striking fear into the hearts of the people.
The purpose of the psalmist was to instil confidence into his fellow Israelites. How does he do that? He focuses on the greatness of God and their relationship with Him.
There are a number of things that he stresses:
Firstly, he states, ‘God is our Refuge.’ What is a refuge? In simple language, it is a place of safety. It is a place where we can go and be secure. If we are caught in bad weather, we run for home, the light and warmth of the family home is pleasant and welcoming, this is true in the storms of life; we find comfort in our loved ones.
If we are in a saving relationship with God, He is always our refuge. God is both the place and person we go to at all times. It is very comforting to know this.
Is God your refuge?
Is He the person and the place that you go to?
Secondly, the psalmist reminds them that God was their Strength. This clearly implies that they needed strength from outside of themselves. God is the one who gives strength to the weary. As the prophet Isaiah says:
‘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.’
Here the prophet is speaking of spiritual strength, and an inner peace and confidence. This comes through God’s word and His Spirit.
When the psalmist said that God was their strength, he was speaking of an inner reality based on God’s word; a confidence, something that was owned and could be testified to. He was not speaking of some pie in the sky, no, he was speaking about a strength and courage that would enable them to continue, in spite of their circumstances.
It is a wonderful thing to experience the strength that God gives; we are able to live and to continue, and to function even when our circumstances would naturally swallow us up or bury us alive.
Is God your strength?
Do you know what it is to have His strength actively at work in your soul?
Thirdly, the psalmist stresses that God is a Helper in times of trouble. God is not a distant abstract figure. No, He is ‘a very present help in trouble,’ to His people.
Gordon Brown, one of our former Prime Ministers, when questioned on certain matters, would, at times, say, “We will do everything in our power.” Those words stressed intent but they also expressed human limitations. We will do our best … but we can do no more.
Not even the people who know us the best and love us the most can be ‘a very present help,’ all the time. This is what crushes so many of us, we can only do our best to help, but it is often not enough when the storms of life really start to blow.
What happens when our best and the best of our friends, families and professionals is not enough? What then? What happens when the storms are too great for us? When the earth gives way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea?
God is the true help of all who come to Him.
The psalmist stresses that because God is their refuge, strength and helper, they will not fear though the earth gives way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea.
His words are not delusional, no, they are anchored to the reality of God’s historical works.
God’s greatest help is seen in the fact that He sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to save sinners! This is an historical fact and a present reality to all who know Him. He is the refuge, strength and helper of all who know Him, in life, and in death!
Death is the biggest and wildest storm that any of us will face. That is truly the earth giving way and the mountains falling into the heart of the sea. But if Jesus Christ is our refuge, strength and help we will not fear!
Is Jesus your refuge, strength, and help?