God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.
At the time when this Psalm was written, the largest cities were entirely enclosed by sturdy walls. Those walls made those cities into fortresses that people used as a refuge whenever there was trouble. Farms and the small homes where most people lived were outside of this refuge. When enemy armies approached, people could move from their homes and farms into the safety of the fortress walls. Even when times were peaceful, people could look at those walls and know that they always had a place to flee to when they were in trouble.
The writers of this Psalm called God their refuge. They might even have been thinking of the walled city of Jerusalem, where the Psalm was sung in the Temple. They realized that it was God, not sturdy walls, who protected them when enemies came. God was always there to help them with his promises, and they sang his praises.
Today God remains our refuge and strength. When our enemy the devil accuses us of sin, we flee to the forgiveness won for us by Jesus. When our own consciences accuse us, we remember that Jesus took the punishment for our guilt by his death on the cross. When we are in trouble here on the earth, we always remember the promise of heaven, and we sing God’s praises.
This year we are celebrating the 500th anniversary of Martin Luther advancing the Reformation of the Church. This was one of Luther’s favorite Psalm verses. He looked to God for help in trouble whenever the devil, his enemy and ours, attacked him. Luther said, “So when the devil throws your sins in your face and declares that you deserve death and hell, tell him this: ‘I admit that I deserve death and hell. What of it? For I know One who suffered and made satisfaction on my behalf. His name is Jesus Christ, Son of God, and where he is, there I shall be also!’”
O God, be my mighty fortress, my trusty shield and weapon. Amen.