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  • Mary Kassian

Run Into the Stronghold (Psalm 9:9-10)

The Lord is a stronghold for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble. 10 And those who know your name put their trust in you, for you, O Lord, have not forsaken those who seek you. —Psalm 9:9-10

In Peter Jackson’s epic film, The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, King Théoden and his people take refuge from Saruman’s evil horde in the stronghold of the Hornburg at Helm’s Deep. The impressive defensive fortification was nestled along the edge of a mountain range and overlooked a deep valley. The location was strategic. It blocked access to the kingdom and forced enemies to approach from a vulnerable position below. The massive walls of the fortress were hewn out of rock and surrounded by a deep gorge. Residents of the country boasted that no enemy had ever taken the stronghold of Hornburg. It was considered the strongest, safest place in the land.

The psalmist describes the LORD as a “stronghold for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble.” The Hebrew term misgav, which is translated stronghold, means a high place of refuge. A stronghold was a fortification of last resort where people sought safety during an enemy attack. It could be a city’s defensive tower/citadel, a walled fortification, a rocky fortress, or a cave or enclave in the mountains. The word is associated with the notion of height, and refers to any high, safe, secure place to which people flee for refuge, defense and protection. King David’s use of the metaphor of God as a stronghold can be attributed to the fact that he often experienced safety in such places, when fleeing for his life from his sworn enemy, King Saul.

The image of the LORD as a stronghold emphasizes the confidence that we can have in His strength and protection in our time of need. The writers of Scripture realized that a person’s strength and defense did not depend on fortifications of brick and stone, weapons, security systems, absence of conflict, a big bank account, or an easy life free of trouble. They urged God’s people to put their trust in the LORD as their source of strength and security (2 Samuel 22:2-3, 33; Proverbs 10:29; Isaiah 25:4; Jeremiah 16:19; Joel 3:16; Nahum 1:7). “The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?” (Psalm 27:1).

Those of you familiar with The Lord of the Rings trilogy know that the enemy eventually breached the seemingly impregnable wall and swarmed the stronghold. Even the most secure man-made defenses can fail. But God is a stronghold like no other. He is a secure, dependable haven in times of unrest or distress. As King David attested, “The name of the Lord is a strong tower; the righteous man runs into it and is safe” (Proverbs 18:10).


For Reflection

  1. Who or what do you depend on for your sense of safety and security in times of trouble?

  2. Why does Scripture tell you to make the LORD your stronghold?

  3. What do you think you need to do in order to “run into” the strong tower of the Lord?

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