In early medieval times, churches were built as places of physical as well as spiritual refuge. A case in point is the Old Aker church in Oslo, Norway, the oldest Lutheran church in Scandinavia. It is so old that the date for its having been built is not available. Its small narrow windows, sturdy bell tower and two-storey construction attest to the fact that it is a fortress in addition to a place of worship. Later medieval cathedrals with their soaring arches, graceful pillars and large stained-glass windows, all emphasizing beauty, would not offer the physical safety of these early churches.
The psalmist, writing long before the Christian era, is thinking along lines parallel to the early medieval focus on physical safety when he asks God to be his stronghold. It is tempting to think Martin Luther found inspiration in this and other psalms like it when he penned the great Reformation hymn “A Mighty Fortress is Our God” during this stress-filled time. Luther had every confidence that God would shelter him no matter what happened.
The psalmist, it is evident, also has confidence in God, using strong nouns such as “rock,” “refuge” and “fortress,” to name a few, to ascribe strength and steadfastness. No matter what, God will be there.
God of strength, bear us up. Amen. — AEA