What does it mean that God is a mighty fortress?
While I appreciate hymns very much, I like the simpler language and musical style of the contemporary Christian music. However, at a recent writers conference, the old hymn, “A Mighty Fortress is Our God” was sung, which I hadn’t heard in a long time. It gripped me, and my eyes welled as I was struck with how the words relate to our world today.
On the way home, I played it over and over (I even found a contemporary version, which is below).
“A Mighty Fortress is Our God” was written in 1527 by Martin Luther and is his most famous hymn. It is based on Psalm 46, which begins, “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.” According to staugustine.com, “It is said to be the greatest hymn of the greatest man in the greatest period in German history.” The hymn had such great impact in those days, it was dubbed, “The Battle Hymn of the Reformation.” “A Mighty Fortress” is a victory cry and has been sung in times of plague, persecution, and war.
But let’s remember, there can be no victory unless there’s a fight. Yes, our God is a Mighty Fortress, but we are the warriors who must fight this spiritual war. Not in our own strength, but in prayers and arming ourselves with the Word of God. He triumphs “through us,” as the hymn says, but our strength and ability to be victorious is only through Him.
Psalm 91 begins, “He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, ‘He is my refuge and my fortress; my God, in Him I will trust'” (v1-2). Whether personally or collectively as a nation, the question is not of God’s faithfulness. The question is, are we faithful to Him? Are we dwelling in His secret place (obedience to His Word and prayer)? When He is our refuge, then we can be sure He will be a Mighty Fortress for us. And we can be sure of victory (2 Chronicles 7:14)!
Check out the words below. I hope they bless you as they did me. You can also have a listen at the links provided after the lyrics.
1 A mighty fortress* is our God, (an impenetrable military defense; Psalm 92:1-2)
a bulwark never failing; (a protective wall)*
our helper he, amid the flood (My help comes from the Lord… Psalm 121:1-2)
of mortal ills prevailing.
For still our ancient foe (satan; We do not battle against flesh and blood…but spiritual forces of evil… Ephesians 6:12)
does seek to work us woe;
his craft and power are great,
and armed with cruel hate,
on earth is not his equal.
2 Did we in our own strength confide,
our striving would be losing, (Without Him, we are nothing. John 15:5)
were not the right Man on our side,
the Man of God’s own choosing.
You ask who that may be?
Christ Jesus, it is he;
Lord Sabaoth his name, (God of Heaven’s Armies, or Lord of Hosts)
from age to age the same; (“For I am the Lord, I do not change; therefore you are not consumed.” Malachi 3:6)
and he must win the battle. (For He must reign till He has put all enemies under His feet. 1 Corinthians 15:25)
3 And though this world, with devils filled,
should threaten to undo us,
we will not fear, for God has willed
his truth to triumph through us. (If God is for us, who can be against us? Romans 8:31)*
The prince of darkness grim, (satan)
we tremble not for him;
his rage we can endure,
for lo! his doom is sure;
one little word shall fell him. (Then comes the end, when He delivers the kingdom to God the Father, when He puts an end to all rule and all authority and power. 1 Corinthians 15:24)*
4 That Word above all earthly powers
no thanks to them abideth;
the Spirit and the gifts are ours
through him who with us sideth. (Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. Romans 8:37)
Let goods and kindred go,
this mortal life also;
the body they may kill: (Do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul… Matthew 10:28)
God’s truth abideth still;
his kingdom is forever! (“The kingdoms of this world have become the kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ, and He shall reign forever and ever!” Revelation 11:15)*
*The word fortress (metsudah), is an “inaccessible place.” The enemy cannot reach us when we are in His refuge, His stronghold, His fortress. By abiding in and submitting to Him, we resist the devil, and will flee (John 15:7, James 4:7).
I’d love to hear your thoughts. What’s your favorite line in this hymn? How do you see the words relating to our world/nation today?
I so appreciate you stopping by!
Are you signed up to receive my blogs/newsletters? I don’t flood your inbox, but I’ll send an occasional blog and let you know of upcoming book releases. Watch for Pursuing Prayer for America – 30 Battles Cries Using Scripture to Fight in Prayer for Our Nation; and The Wake-up Prayer picture book for children, releasing soon! And when you subscribe, I have a free gift for you. Just scroll down here til you see the download button.
Pursue more about prayer here.