Normally when we think of a stronghold (speaking in spiritual terms) it refers to when we give the devil a place to rest or enter our lives and hold on. We give him influence in our lives in our sin and then we have to fight to take that piece of our lives back. This mainly comes from the wording in Ephesians 4:26-27:
BE ANGRY, AND yet DO NOT SIN; do not let the sun go down on your anger, 27 and do not give the devil an opportunity.
Yet there is more than one way to look at the term “stronghold” or “foothold.” In Psalm 48, the sons of Korah worshipped God by looking at His countenance as a stronghold and encouraged the people to look at the many strongholds and towers in the land as a reminder of God’s goodness and protection of His people. In verse 3 we see that God makes Himself known as a stronghold. This is translated from the original Hebrew of misgab which literally means: a high place, refuge, place to retreat to.
Do we “retreat” to God? Many times we feel we have to “be strong and fervent in the Lord.” There are times that yes, God calls us to stand our ground in faith. But we must also remember that it is ok to take refuge in God. He wants us to! For those of you who are parents, how does it make you feel when your child comes and curls up to you in fear and just needs to tuck him or herself into your arms to feel safe?
The psalmist paints a picture as if the rulers of the world are chasing us to hunt us down and kill us and we are running for our lives. We approach the castle of the Lord and enter and the rulers stop in their tracks as they stare in wonder at the enormity of God’s stronghold. Once we are inside and protected by its power we are encouraged to adventure through it, noticing the complexity and enormity of God’s stronghold. Count the numerous towers, see the beauty of the many palaces, admire the height of its walls we are encouraged to soak in the enormity of God’s protection of us.
I think that we too often forget how much and to what extent God is for us. Our pride gets in the way of relying on Him for even the smallest of protections against whatever might come against us: bacteria, insects, spiritual nuisances and even sometimes we are bold enough to take on the bigger enemies because we feel we need to prove ourselves as “big kids” who can “handle themselves” on the playground against the big bully. Maybe we can, but if our motivation is fueled by selfish pride…what does it matter?
I have witnessed people, and even have done it myself, try to prove the enormity of their faith or demonstrate their own physical or emotional power by taking on battles they could not win or were supposed to win. We think of the story of David and Goliath but forget about David hiding in the caves taking refuge in the Lord. Let us not forget that God is our refuge, our strong tower, our citadel and wants us to trust in Him and take solace in the fact that He is always there to protect us.