God: Our Stronghold

Castle-ClipArt--Graphics-Fairy2Imagine you are traveling during biblical times, or you are a warrior in David’s army, you notice an overwhelming force coming at you. You see the army of your enemy coming down on you right where you are with such anger, hate, and violence. You are all alone—you look around and see that you stand in the path of this terrible force—you have no chance of survival. What can you do except stand and fight and be surely killed?

During biblical times there were fortresses, castles, or strongholds where the king and his army would, if necessary, retreat and be able to defend from within the walls of their refuge. When a king received news that an opposing army was marching to attack and plunder his kingdom, he would send out word for all of his subjects to retreat to within the walls of the fortress. When the word spread of this oncoming attack, the people would then pack all of their valuables and hightail it to the fortress in the hopes of making it on time, before being overtaken by the aggressing army, to take refuge within its walls.

Some strongholds had a fortress within a fortress. It was a place where the king and his army would make their last stand if the outside walls of the stronghold had been breached. These strongholds served to give people hope that they would be able to withstand an attack on their kingdom. It gave them a sense of security to know that they could always retreat within the walls of the fortress. All through the land fortresses could be seen from great distances because of their immense size.

Some of these fortresses were carved into a mountain or sometimes they were a cave where the king would hide, such as in the case of David when he was hiding from King Saul. Saul was seeking to kill David, so David would hide by day and travel at night to stay out of sight.[1] David hid in the caves of the mountain ranges in the En-gedi, such as Wady Charitun, which at one time sheltered thirty thousand warriors from their enemy.[2] Fortresses served as places of protection and hope.

Now imagine you are going about your day in your normal life and your phone rings. It’s your wife; she tells you that the bank has sent notice that they are going to foreclose on your home because you have missed a few payments. We all know that the economy is taking its toll on our finances. Imagine your wife tells you that the doctor said that you two will never be able to have a baby and start a family of your own.

Imagine that your car has broken down and you have no money to fix it; it is your only transportation. You ask your friend for a ride every morning to work but he is unreliable and sometimes you are late, or you just do not have a way into work. Your boss is tired of this problem and he lets you go, he fires you. Now you cannot pay your bills because you do not have a job, and you cannot fix your car to go look for a job. This is not really too big of a deal for those of us who live in a city where there is a public transportation system, but it could spell real trouble for someone in a rural area.

You are being overwhelmed and you do not know if you can take it anymore. You need somewhere that you can retreat and call your stronghold to help you face your problems head on. So today we are going to be looking at Psalm 62, more specifically verses 5-6, to see what we can learn that will help us in our daily struggles.

It is important for us to understand the type of literature that the verses we are studying come from. We read a newspaper differently than we do a novel. When we read a history book, we do not approach it as if we were reading a poem. So we must first present what type of literature Psalm 62 is.

The Psalms in general are poetic writings, or hymns. They represent the way that the Hebrews worshiped God. They can be seen today as a modern hymnal.[3] Knowing this aids us in understanding what the author is presenting to the reader.

So now we know not to approach the psalms as a history book, for example, because the author does not intend for us to discover historical facts within the verses, but instead worship that is given to God. In general the psalms can be broken down into psalms of lament and psalms of praise.[4]

This particular psalm would fall under the lament category of psalms, but to do it justice this psalm is served better by calling it a psalm of confidence. This psalm was written at the time when Absalom, David’s son, had rebelled against his father the King and had taken Jerusalem from his father and driven David out of the city.[5] In this psalm David is speaking metaphorically when he calls God his rock, his stronghold, and his refuge. We will be focusing on God as a stronghold in this study, because at times in our lives we need to know that we have hope and protection.

What does David mean when he calls God his stronghold? From the beginning of his rule as the King of Israel, from the time that Samuel had anointed David as the King, he has had to be on the run from King Saul. Saul wanted to kill David out of jealousy. However, at the time that David is writing this psalm, Psalm 62, he is running from his oldest son, Absalom. David calls God his stronghold for a very good reason. When we look in the Bible at the word “stronghold” as it is used here in Psalm 62 we begin to see what David means by this metaphor.

In second Samuel, David wrote a psalm of deliverance wherein he says that God is his rock, his fortress, his deliverer in who he takes refuge (2Sam 22:2-3a). He goes on to say that God is his shield, the horn of his salvation, his stronghold, and his refuge (2Sam 22:3b). He ends verse three by calling God his savior, who saved him from violence (2Sam 22:3c). In verse one of this same chapter of second Samuel, it is explained that David wrote this psalm the day that the Lord saved him from all of his enemies including King Saul. Here we see the acknowledgement that God is in control and He delivers those that are His from all of their enemies.

David also says that God is a stronghold for those who are oppressed, and in times of trouble He delivers His people (Psalm 9:9). In Psalm 9 David is thankful for God’s judgment against his enemies and he writes that God can be trusted because He is a stronghold for the oppressed and He is a stronghold in times of trouble.

Furthermore, David writes that God is a stronghold and a refuge in the day of his distress (Psalm 59:16). In Psalm 59 David is asking for deliverance from his enemies and concludes the psalm with the proclamation that he will sing praises to God for being his stronghold. In Psalm 144 David says that God is his lovingkindness, his fortress, his stronghold, his deliverer, his shield, and the one in who he takes refuge (Psalm 144:2).

We get the idea that God is where we should turn in times of trouble and distress. Times where we do not know what to do and have no clue how we are going to make it through any of our problems. God is the stronghold we can run to when attacked. He is the fortress that the army seeks shelter in during a war, so to speak.

In Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary the definition for stronghold is: a fortified place, a place of security or survival.[6] From our study here we come up with a similar definition, except our stronghold is not a place; our stronghold is God. God provides us with security and the means of survival in the world by His constant watch over us. God as our stronghold sustains us from all kinds of evil and attacks that can be hurled at us by the world. His high impregnable walls surround us day and night. We can find safety inside of His walls, safety from the arrows that are launched at us by the enemy.

In applying what we have learned to our lives, we need to remember three things. The first thing to remember is that God is in control. In other words God is sovereign. This means that God is King; He is the supreme ruler and lawgiver of the entire universe. Nothing happens without God’s knowledge.  The Bible says that God is the ruler over the kingdoms of men and that He does with it as He pleases (Dan 4:17). Knowing this, we can be assured that whatever happens to us, God knows it and sees it.

The second thing to remember is that God is merciful. This means that although we do not deserve His mercy, God has compassion on us and extends His mercy towards us anyway. Because God is merciful, He will ensure that there will be justice for those that are His; for the oppressed and the persecuted.

The third and last thing to remember is that God loves us. This one goes kind of hand in hand with merciful. Because God loves us He has compassion to extend His mercy towards us. God will not deny us protection or provision if we are His children. John writes in the New Testament that God’s love made it possible for God to present His son as an atoning sacrifice for us (1John 4:10). If God’s love for us allowed Him to do that for us, then we can be sure that He will be our stronghold.

Remembering these three things aids us in applying our lesson, for it is because of these three things that we make God our stronghold and why David can metaphorically call Him his stronghold. God is God and there is no other; He is in control and nothing can harm Him. He is the fortress of all fortresses that stands in the way of the arrows that the enemy throws at us; a fortress that is an impregnable force in which we can hide and seek security when attacked by the enemy.

This does not mean that nothing will happen to you when you turn to God for protection. The Bible never says that we will not be harmed by the enemy, but actually it tells us to expect to be harmed. When we obey God’s Word and dedicate our lives to Him, the enemy attacks full force. The fiery arrows that the enemy throws our way come fast and are many.

In ancient times when armies attacked a fortress and the people poured into the gates of the fortress for safety (due to the tall, strong walls), there were still some that were wounded and even died. In the same sense, we can expect to be wounded by the enemy. However, God always stands as our stronghold; He has His plan that we all must live by. Although we may get wounded, He is always there to heal us and protect us according to His plan.

When the King sent out word for the people to retreat to the fortress to prepare for the oncoming attack by an aggressing army, the people ran for safety inside of the fortress. In the same way we must turn to God and trust Him for our protection when we come under attack.

When your wife calls you and tells you that the bank is going to foreclose on your home, remember that God will work it out according to His plan and provide the safety that you need from this problem in your life. When the doctor tells you and your wife that you two will never have a baby of your own, remember that your stronghold, which is God, will provide the security that you need. This is not to say that God will stop these things from happening, but He will provide you with the strength to overcome these things and to bounce back from them.

When you pray it would be right to acknowledge God as your stronghold in your prayers. God was David’s stronghold in David’s time and He is our stronghold in our time. So acknowledging that He is our stronghold is the right thing to do. God does not leave you alone to handle troubled times on your own. He is there providing you with the strength to overcome by being your stronghold who you can retreat into for security. Pray to God and acknowledge Him as your stronghold, because He is.

In ancient days as armies retreated into their fortress they had trust and confidence that they would survive the onslaught that the aggressing army was about to unleash. Today as we go through our daily struggles of disappointments, temptations, and attacks, we can retreat into our fortress (God) because He sustains us and keeps us secure from harm according to His plan.

David, in this same psalm, also writes in verse eight to trust in God at all times and that God is a refuge for us. The word refuge means shelter; similar to stronghold. So whatever ails us, whatever is happening in our lives, no matter the attack coming from the enemy, we have a stronghold that we can retreat into. God our stronghold is always there, Amen.


 

[1] William Sanford LaSor, David Allan Hubbard and Frederic William Bush, Old Testament Survey: the Message, Form, and Background of the Old Testament, 2nd ed. (Grand Rapids, MI: William. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1996), 177.

[2] Alfred Edersheim, Bible History: Old Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1876), 126.

[3] John H. Tullock, The Old Testament Story, 8th ed. (Upper Saddle River, NJ.: Prentice Hall, 2009), 357.

[4] Ibid, 356.

[5]Psalms: Willem A. VanGemeren, Proverbs: Allen P. Ross, Ecclesiastes: J. Stafford Wright and Song of Songs: Dennis F. Kinlaw, The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Songs (Volume 5), ed. Frank E. Gaebelein (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1991), 420.

[6] Merriam-Webster, Inc. Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary. Eleventh ed. Springfield, MA: Merriam-Webster, Inc., 2003.

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About Peter van Brussel

Peter is the Director of For His Glory Prison Ministry. Peter holds a BA in Pastoral Studies from Southwestern College, a MA in Theological Studies, and a M.Div. from Liberty University. Peter is married to Niki, and has two children. He has been saved by grace and seeks to share the Gospel with those who have been forgotten.
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