a statue of Martin Luther

A Mighty Fortress Is Our God

I grew up in a Lutheran home and we often sang the hymn “A Mighty Fortress Is Our God” at church. This “battle hymn of the Reformation” was written by Martin Luther in the late 1520s, about ten years after he posted his Ninety-Five Theses.

When I began to read the Bible through annually in my early twenties I was stopped by Psalm 46, verses seven and eleven. these verses declare that God is with his people and he is their fortress. My mind went back to the memories of my childhood and the hymn. I found a hymnal and this psalm was listed as the text for the hymn.

Psalm 46- My Sermon

Ten years later I preached on this psalm. The congregation sang “A Mighty Fortress Is Our God” and a Scripture chorus based on the first verses of the psalm, “God is My Refuge, God is My Strength.”

The psalm has three stanzas.

Verses one through three emphasize God as a refuge, strength, and help in times of trouble. His people do not need to fear no matter what happens around them.

The second stanza, verses four through seven, likens God to a river that provides, first for Jerusalem and then for his people in general. Most great cities are built on or near a great river. Jerusalem has no great river. God provides the sustenance that other cities get from a river.

The final stanza, verses eight through eleven, declares that God is in control in history and will, in the end, reign supreme.

The psalm’s two key affirmations are:

God is present with his people. (Psalm 46:1, 7, 11)

God people should not be afraid but be calm and know that God is God. He becomes the speaker in the psalm and commands, “Be still and know that I am God.” (Psalm 46:10).

We need to stop our frenetic activity to experience the security that comes in our relationship with God.

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