A Mighty Fortress is our God

Be Still and Know that I am God! Psalm 46:10

How many times have we reminded ourselves of this verse? Mostly we associate it with being at peace knowing that God is in control. In the midst of our tumultuous and busy lives we sit back at the end of the day and say, “Be still and know that I am God.” We see it on wall hangings with scenes of quiet streams and beautiful mountains. 

The Psalmist, however, had other reasons for writing these words. He was part of a nation that was surrounded by enemies.  Israel was in a land that God gave them out of the hands of its previous occupants.  The surrounding nations were constantly at war with Israel and hated the people who had the God who brought them out of Egypt.  Through God’s display of power through his people, the other nations were witness of his glory. Hearing a message like “Be still and know that I am God” would not have been terribly comforting to the other nations.  It was not a message for them.  It was a message for God’s people alone. Israel’s wall hanging was a picture of enemies who wanted to kill them.

Essentially God was saying that his people are to be in awesome reverence before him because he is the supreme ruler as creator of the entire universe.  While the nations rage, God utters his voice and the earth melts (46:6). He has made desolations of arrogant cities and caused armies to go down in flames (46:7-8). His work is a work of salvation and judgment according to his holiness and to the praise of his glory.  His people should look at all his works and know that our God is the one who will be exalted over all the nations (46:10). He is our mighty fortress between us and our enemies (46:11). When we are in Christ, there is nothing in this world that has ultimate victory over us.

Be still and know that he is God.  His enemies will be defeated and this statement will be to you a statement of reverent hope or cause you to hide under a rock in fear. God’s people can stand resolute in the power of his mighty salvation. We alone have reverent hope in a God in whom we stand still and know….and love…and worship.

Now imagine being Martin Luther, standing before the Holy Roman Emperor and the state Princes.  He is accused of heresies against the Roman Church and is unable by matter of conscience to recant. He says, “Here I stand, I can do no other.” He is resolute in the salvation of God and the truth of his word.  He knows that the enemies of God will not endure or have victory over the cross of Christ.  Martin Luther’s statement of “Here I Stand” comes from the same confidence portrayed in God’s words to the Psalmist, “Be still and know that I am God!” Rome wasn’t built in a day, but God can destroy it in a second.

On the basis of Psalm 46, Luther wrote his most famous hymn, A Mighty Fortress is our God.  We are singing it on Sunday as we thank God for the reformation. Prepare yourself to sing this hymn on Sunday with hearts of praise.  We are God’s people and through Christ we share in his victory.