The name of the Lord is a strong tower; the righteous run into it and are safe. The wealth of the rich is their strong city; in their imagination it is like a high wall.
Much of what we do in life is about finding safety. We find safety in our work, our wages, our homes, our relationships, our pensions, and our families. In the West we have been taught to think of security as owning our own homes, having good jobs, getting a good education, doing well within the system. As a nation we place our faith in strong alliances and nuclear weapons to keep us safe. In many parts of our world these things, and safety itself, could only be dreamt of. The poor can’t find security in wealth. The oppressed can’t hide behind home and family when the despots are after them. Poorer nations look for aid and have to ally with powerful countries who want their resources.
The Psalmist wrote in a difficult age. Israel was never really secure – the promised land was plundered from other races and tribes who wanted it back. The superpowers of the age saw Israel as being a buffer state between them. Invasion was all too common, after the tragedy of the Exile, the Greeks and then the Romans invaded. Kings were tempted to put their trust in foreign alliances – sealed with marriage to pagan wives – only to find that these alliances were fickle and easily broken. Of course the rich, then as now, would seek security in their wealth – a strong city, a high wall yet these offered little security in the end.
Instead the Psalmist, like the prophets who came later, asked the people to put their trust in God – not foriegn policy, not wealth, not even high walls. How might we trust in God for our safety? How might our nations?
O God you are our high tower, help us to put our trust in you, not in borders, armies or alliances. O God you are our refuge, help us to put our trust in you, not in wealth, buildings or qualifications. O God, help us to run to you and rely on your saving presence. Amen.
The Rev’d Andy Braunston works with four churches in and around Glasgow.