Lord my Fortress
Psalm 18:2 (H4686 )
The LORD is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer; my God, my strength, in whom I will trust; my buckler, and the horn of my salvation, and my high tower.
Here is how the word is translated in the King James Version:
fortress 6, hold 6, snare 2, strong hold 1, castle 1, net 1, strong place 1, hunted 1, strong hold 1, fort 1, defence 1
I wrestle with these compound names. It has been two weeks since I wrote about the last compound name. I've been quiet, but believe me, I have not been idle. I do not just want to write to be writing something and this name especially has taken some prayer and thought and meditation to clarify this concept in my mind.
Several weeks ago we looked at Jehovah-Machsi - Lord my Refuge. A refuge can be found many places. If a tornado or other strong wind arises and you are caught out in the wide open places, it is often suggested that you take refuge in any small depression in the ground, a farm ditch for example.
A fortress, a strong hold, or a bunker or a fort of defense on the other hand is a much less common place. You could carry a little tent with you as a place of refuge from the rain. You cannot carry a fortress with you. A fortress is massively solid and substantial. You must go to the specific place of the fortress.
The uses of the refuge and of the fortress differ also. When you think about it, you use a place of refuge against a trouble that is not specifically aimed against you. I related how I had found refuge a few years ago in a little lean-to out on a golf course for protection from a sudden storm. I do not believe that that storm was designed specifically to trouble me. It was just a common little summer cell of wind and thunder and lightning that happened to cross my path. That same refuge that gave shelter to my friend and I against the rain and wind would not have been of much use in shielding us from a roving gang of armed men who were out to specifically harm us. We would have needed something more substantial than the little lean-to. We would have needed a strong place, a fortress to protect us from an evil directed specifically against us.
A refuge can be sought and used almost anywhere, while a fortress is a base from which you operate and come back to only as required. You cannot find a fortress just anywhere. You cannot take a fortress with you. It specifically must be sought out. Can it be then that God in a role of our strong place has the same requirements?
It may be thought that the difference between the two roles of God are the differences between tactics and strategies. Really neither is more or less important than the other. A tank or a jet fighter are instruments of tactics. They are used to deal with a specific situation or a particular skirmish. That might be likened to the role of God as a refuge. An aircraft carrier or a nuclear submarine are instruments of strategy. An overall theatre of conflict or an entire nations purpose is projected by these vehicles. These would be comparable to God's role of a fortress in our lives.
We cannot survive without either or both of these instruments. An aircraft carrier with its dozens of fighters and fleet of attendant ships takes months to get into position. It projects raw power. It is an in your face display focusing and vividly illustrating any nations might who commands it. A nuclear submarine, while also strategic, on the other hand takes a position in some remote corner of the ocean and sits quietly, trying to remain completely undetected as an asset of last resort, invincible in its invisibility and secrecy.
We need God in His role of refuge for us, in the tactics in our daily battles. How do we handle the stress of financial setbacks? He is there for those needs, in His protections, in His answering of our prayers, in His promise of providing for His beloved. How do we fight the battle of cancer? How do we cope with an unfaithful spouse? How do we handle the death of a child? These are hard fought and terrible battles, but as hard as they are they are still individual battles and not the entire theatre of our war (or at least they should never become our entire war . . . there is a great danger of losing sight of that in difficult battles. One battle is never an entire war, unless you surrender.) . . . We have much longer term spiritual requirements also. This is where we need a God of fortress or a God in our strategic battle planning.
All of us face both short term and long term threats to our salvation. Salvation involves not only getting saved, but also must require our staying saved. This is the strategic need we have. How do we maintain our fire long term? How do we resist the lure of the world over decades of life? How do we keep from gradually compromising and compromising until we are indistinguishable from the world we live in? Once the first blush of passion is passed in our relationship with Him, how do we stay in love? . . . stay on fire to the end? How do we suffer the loss of one battle and have the fortitude to continue to fight the war? This is the God of the fortress that we need.
We must be completely confident of our strategic base. If we are not confident of our aircraft carrier we will never risk sending it where it is needed. We must be sure of God as a fortress. We must be completely filled with faith in Him or we won't step forth in our faith and thereby be blessed by Him. Peter had the faith to step out of the boat. He was sure of God as his fortress. This allowed Peter the strength of that strategic power of God as his fortress. I am certain that Peter fed for years off the memory of his steps upon the water. He lost a battle. He suffered a tactical defeat in his denial of Jesus, he lost one skirmish, but . . . but . . . BUT . . . HE WON THE WAR!!!! God had a strategic role in Peter's life. God was a strategic power in Peter's life. God was a fortress for Peter, a place of strength for Peter that did not allow the defeat of one battle to turn into the loss of the entire war.
For Peter, the most it could have been is what? Maybe two years? Probably much less . . . two years in which he walked on the water, denied Jesus, and preached the message on the day of Pentecost. We know for sure that denying Jesus and his preaching on the day of Pentecost were only a few weeks apart, less than 50 or so days. . . That degree of change cannot take place without Peter's knowing a place of utter safety, his abiding in a totally safe place, having a fortress where he could go and heal from the wounds of his tactical loss.
We must have that also. We must have both. We must have a place of refuge from our day to day trials, but no matter the outcome of any single battle, we must also have a deep fortress of invincible and utter impregnability for the long term campaign of our life. . . We must have Jehovah-Metshodhathi, the Lord my Fortress.
Thank you my God. . .
My Stronghold. . .
My Fortress. . .
My Strategic Defense. . .
Friday, October 19, 2007
Lord my Fortress