We think of October 31, 1517, as the birth date of the Protestant reformation. It was likely a decade or more later that Luther wrote the hymn we know as “A Mighty Fortress Is Our God.” While we may think of it as the battle-hymn of the reformation, Luther likely saw it as a hymn of comfort and confidence in trials. Around 1527–1528 the plague was resuming. Radical fringe movements were threatening to undermine the reformation. His daughter, Elizabeth, born a sickly baby in December of 1527 died months later in 1528. A friend of Luther’s was martyred. Luther turned to the Psalter for comfort, paraphrased Psalm 46 ,and apparently wrote the music for the hymn as well. Focus on that Psalm today.
Trust the God who is your refuge and strength. Chaos may surround you. This is a Psalm of trust. Problems, even chaos, surrounds the author, one of the sons of Korah, but the language is general enough that we don’t know the circumstances. The imagery of 2 and 3 is that of an earthquake. Mountains being tossed into the sea sounds drastic to us, but especially for someone in the ancient Middle East, where the sea pictured chaos (roaring and foaming), but the mountains were what stood firm. While we can’t rule out a literal earthquake as part of the background, the language also suggest that this is a picture of the chaos that results as an invading army wreaks havoc. Where do you turn when the relatively tiny nation of God’s people has the might Assyrians or Babylonians sweep through their territory? The language of cosmic unsettling brings to mind the end of the created order as we know it, cataclysmic judgment. Even at that point you are secure. You may face disruption, even chaos in your life. When the doctor says, “I’m sorry, it’s malignant,” that seems to put everything else in life on hold. When your secure job vanishes, when you’re left alone by the death of a spouse, what happens to your life? And sometimes it’s not the big things, but the little details that seem to go far differently than we expect, and we feel that we’re losing control. Whether the problems we face are the direct result of sin, or the result of living in a sin-cursed world, God is still your refuge.Continue reading “The LORD of Hosts Is with Us”