Everything changes. Our world is constantly changing and in the midst of instability and danger, our God is a fortress of safety and strength. The temptation is to build our own walls, but God challenges us to trust in him as our only shield. This weekend, we are continuing to sing a new song that reminds of this ageless truth by updating Martin Luther’s song, “A Mighty Fortress is Our God”.
I know, I know. Some might claim that we should just sing Luther’s song the way it was written, but the interesting thing is that I believe Luther would have been the biggest supporter of this rewrite.
“Why do you say that?” you ask.
I say that because Luther left the liturgy of the Catholic Church behind and used common tunes from his culture to promote congregational singing.
Lyrically, both songs are a paraphrase of Psalm 46 which starts like this…
God is our refuge and strength,
an ever-present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear…
The Lord Almighty is with us;
the God of Jacob is our fortress.
Which leads us to VERSE 1…
A mighty fortress is our God
A shield that never fails
Amid the flood of mortal ills
His power will prevail
Our ancient foe is cruel and armed with hate
Yet with one word he’ll bow to Jesus’ reign
As I’m reading this, one phrase that jumps out is “amid the flood of mortal ills”. It jumps out because I wonder, “What does THAT mean?” I’m not 100% sure, but I think he’s talking about all the problems that come from us being mortal. Or in other words, the Fall of man brought us death (mortality) and that also brought a LOT of problems. That is why, the next line refers to “our ancient foe” who is Satan, the Evil One. But even as all the problems of the Fall flood over us, God’s power will prevail.
Moving on, the CHORUS takes us over to Psalm 42, which reminds us to “put your hope in God”.
Hope in God, O my soul
He is strong and He is strong to save
Hope in God
He’s a rock and your hiding place
He’s a mighty fortress
As Luther said, “We sing this Psalm for the praise of God because God is with us and powerfully and miraculously preserves and defends his church…” This isn’t something we can do in our own strength and power. Which brings us to VERSE 2…
We dare not trust in our own hand
Or all would be in vain
Our confidence is in the One
Who holds the worlds in place
He fights for us, the sovereign Lord of hosts
From age to age the triumph’s His alone
If you haven’t picked up on it yet, this is a WAR SONG! The Lord is both our fortress and our warrior and the song has a powerful, rocking feel to support that. This weekend, let’s sing this song loudly as we remind ourselves to “hope in God”.