Our Refuge, Our Fortress

“Those who are with us are more than those who are with them.”

“God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.”

“The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress.”

These sentences speak of the Lord and His care for us.

The first one comes from 2 Kings 6. There we read of Elisha the prophet and his servant in the town of Dothan. The king of Syria had strategized a number of attacks on Israel only to see them thwarted, as God exposed these plans to His man, who then informed Israel’s king.

Once aware of Elisha’s location, the Syrians plotted an ambush and dispatched an army to Dothan. The prophet’s servant awoke and panicked at the sight of the chariots and horses that surrounded them.

The prophet prayed for God to open this man’s eyes to the true picture. Soon the reality of the situation was made visible. The host of the Lord – a force of horses and chariots of fire – was on hand to provide protection for Elisha and his servant. He saw that those who were with them were much more.

Another prayer from Elisha left the soldiers blinded and at the prophet’s mercy. The invaders were led to the courtyard of Israel’s king, where they were fed, treated with kindness and mercy, and sent back home. Enemies were served as guests and delivered from destruction.  Sounds like a crazy and unworldly strategy, does it not? Precisely. This victory came not by the arm of man’s flesh, but by the grace and purpose of God. It was a witness and testimony to Him. The result:  Syria never raided Israel again.

This is a great story of God’s supernatural provision for His people. It should bring comfort and joy to our hearts. Think of it, we are encompassed by angels. In these days when we are hearing about such turmoil and trouble in our city and cities like it, we can rest in the reality of what the Lord has done and  is doing.

But there is more to how God protects and keeps us.

Our Very Present Help

Let’s now consider the other two sentences that we read. These sentences both come from Psalm 46. It is a song attributed to the sons of Korah and taught to the congregation. The words of the psalm emphasize the height and depth and breadth of God’s presence and protection.

The opening lines declare the Lord Himself as our refuge and as our very present help in trouble. Disasters strike the earth as it groans and writhes under the curse of Adam’s fall. Earthquakes, eruptions, storms, and tsunamis are real things that happen and affect multitudes of people.

Throughout the Bible, we read of the nature of the sea and its unpredictability. As we read in Revelation, this is also the nature of men in their wars and riots and confusion and abominations as they are driven by lusts for power, pleasure, and possessions: “The waters that [John the Apostle] saw … are peoples and multitudes and nations and languages” (see Revelation 17:15).

Psalm 46 covers all of this. Nations rage and kingdoms are toppled. The seas of life are whipped into a frenzy by the principalities and powers of the devil. But the wicked one touches us not. For Jesus speaks to us and to them with the Word of His power. Just the utterance of His voice quiets everything on earth.

But there is a river. And the streams from this river bring gladness to the city of God. Click To Tweet

Oceans and seas are imposing images of waters that churn, foam, and swamp. These are salty waters not fit for consumption. But there is a river. And the streams from this river bring gladness to the city of God.

The Lord is at rest in His City, and He is at work in this world.

The Holy Spirit moves and there is a flow of life into people. We are delivered from the kingdom of darkness and transformed in mind and heart. We call upon the Name of Jesus and become citizens of His Kingdom, a realm that is above and beyond all that we see, hear, and know.

Because He is moving, because He fills all in all, our place is just this:  to be still and know. Stop and consider. There is His river, a river that shall never run dry. The nations one day will see Him in His glory and His Kingdom shall have no end. The earth itself shall be renewed and restored – purified by a fire only Heaven can fuel.

This is what is to come, and this is what is here and now. The Lord is present. His angel armies are all about. He cannot forsake us. It just cannot happen. Faithful is He who called us.

The God of Jacob

This brings me to the third sentence: ““The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress.”  It appears twice in Psalm 46 (verses 7 and 11).

That last part is important for us. Angel armies, it seems, provide pretty significant protection. But our fortress is God Himself, the One who met Jacob in the wilderness and wrestled with the man till the break of dawn. This One clothes us with His righteousness.

Jacob, a deceptive and manipulative man, encountered God and became Israel, meaning “prince with God.” The Lord made this man new. God does more than send His armies to help us. He takes us – each of us – to Himself. We are hid with Christ in God (see Colossians 3:3).

More than making sure that we are safe, the Lord has personally saved us through and through; He has delivered us to the uttermost. All of us were once very much like Jacob in some way or another. But the Son of Man came to make us one with Him as He is One with the Father and the Spirit.

Our hearts He would not entrust even to the angels. Rather, He made a way to be at home in us. He is our fortress.  May we be still and know this more and more.