Fortress of Steadfast Love
Mike Heisler

These past two months I feel like I’m hiding in a fortress. We are confined to our homes, protecting ourselves and others from an invisible enemy. In my huddle time I have been participating in a Lectio Divina prayer practice where we have been reading in the Psalms. It’s not like I haven’t read the Psalms before. But the scripture is alive, and I’ve learned that it changes, or what I see in it changes. I see new things in the light of my own growth and experience. This time around I’ve been struck by how often the Psalmists mention God as a fortress, stronghold or refuge. What are they hiding from?

The English Standard Version (ESV) uses fortress 14 times, stronghold (hill-fort) 7 times and refuge 47 times. Ps 144:2 uses all three. When I’ve seen these words in the past I have always just thought of them as a place to hide, a place to be safe, a place to get away. But as I contemplated the Psalms and I considered God as a fortress, it begged the question, “Is there more to a fortress than hiding?”.

David authored many of the Psalms. He was well acquainted with battle, security, treachery and adversity. Over and over he turned to God for strength, safety, help, provision, healing and more. Then I noticed something in Ps 59. The power of David’s fortress is the steadfast love of God.

Here in Psalms these terms of refuge are repeatedly tied to God’s steadfast love. The Hebrew word is chêsêd, often translated as mercy or lovingkindness in the KJV. And that is what took me beyond a hiding place or a refuge, to a place of support, strength and hope.

A stronghold or fortress may provide a refuge from the weariness of battle, or just life. But if that’s all it does it’s just a temporary measure. Life goes on. Like the defenders at the fortress of Helms Deep in “Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers”, our enemy does not come to destroy our homes and crops. He comes to destroy the people.

As Aragorn tells the king “Open war is upon you. Whether you would risk it or not.” [1]. The fortress of God’s love is a protected place and a place of security. A fortress is also a defensible place from which to fight.

A fortress is a place to resupply. We get drained in the battle. God’s love is like going to a stronghold to get fresh supplies. Not to hide but to regroup, reorganize and return to the fray. Now if He just had toilet paper.

A fortress is a place to be equipped. Sometimes we get attacked unprepared. We need masks and gloves when all we have is toilet paper. This is one of the purposes of the church, to equip the saints. We go to the armory to be equipped in HIs love and trust in HIs plan. [2]

A fortress is a place to train. Maybe we’ve been given some weapons, we’ve put on the armor of God but we don’t know how to use it. This is another aspect of the church’s equipping of believers. Training us on using the weapons so we don’t hide behind the bars of the fortress. We are sons and daughters of the King! As Eowyn shows, develop some skill with the Blade (the Sword of the Spirit). [3]

A fortress is a place of healing. God’s loving kindness brings healing to our body, mind and heart.

A fortress is a place of rest. God’s steadfast love provides a shelter and supply, healing and hope. A place of rest for all who are weary and heavy laden.

God’s steadfast love is a fortress. We, the church, are the body of Christ. We are a place of ministry when we equip, train, supply, and provide rest and healing. We are a base of ministry who reach out to others to teach, serve and bring healing.

Take on the enemy from a place of security and strength. Live in the fortress of God’s steadfast love among the comradery of His people.

I think I’ll go watch “The Two Towers”.

Psalms to consider:
Ps 55:8, Ps 59:9, Ps 59:16, Ps 59:17, Ps 18:2,39, Ps 27:1, Ps 71:17, Ps 6:2-4, Ps 144:2
Video clips mentioned above:
[1] Open War Is Upon You
[2] Getting equipped
[3] A Daughter of Kings – The Two Towers