2. Did we in our own strength confide, our striving would be loosing
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,
from age to age the same; and he must win the battle.”
As we approach Oct. 31, we are focusing on this great Reformation hymn written by Martin Luther. We’ve looked at Psalm 46 which inspired the hymn but Psalm 31 carries a similar fortress theme. It is a psalm of King David.
1. “In you, Lord, I have taken refuge; let me never be put to shame; deliver me in your righteousness.
2. Turn your ear to me, come quickly to my rescue; be my rock of refuge, a strong fortress to save me.
3. Since you are my rock and my fortress, for the sake of your name lead and guide me.
4. Keep me free from the trap that is set for me, for you are my refuge.
5. Into your hands I commit my spirit; deliver me, Lord, my faithful God.”
The word “refuge” is written three times and “fortress” twice. In Swahili the word for refugee is “mkimbizi” or a person who has been forced to run. Certainly refugees are people “running from” evil and “running to” safety. Maybe I am not a political refugee but this psalm understands some of the things I run from. I run from shame (v.1) I run from deaf ears that do not hear me, from loss of voice (v.2) I run from chaos and aimlessness (v.3). I may be running from social or financial traps (v.4). And I run to the hands of God who is faithful (v.5).
The second stanza of “A Mighty Fortress” focuses on our helplessness in many of our life’s problems. Perhaps we call it “control issues” because we feel like we are in control so little. We are hounded to buy insurance for all sorts of things that are going to catch us. But Luther reminds us that we cannot depend on our own strength but must run from self to “the Man of God’s own choosing,” Christ Jesus.
So of the conditions that plague people – shame, invisibility, confusion or lack of direction, and feeling trapped – what might you be seeking refuge from today? We can run to Jesus who does not change and who is a rock to stand on, a refuge to hide in. Thank you, Lord.