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Jesus Christ: Our Eternal Fortress

Aug 27, 2023 | Sunday Devotional | 0 comments

Proverbs 18:10-11  “The name of the LORD is a strong tower: the righteous runneth into it, and is safe. The rich man’s wealth is his strong city, and as an high wall in his own conceit.”

Let’s look at two Fortresses from our text in Proverbs 18:10 – 11, where we read.

The mere reading of these two verses shows that, contrary to the usual rule in the Book of Proverbs, they have a bearing on each other. They are intended to suggest a very strong contrast, and that contrast is even more emphatic in the original than in our translation; because, as the margin of your Bibles will tell you, the last word of the former verse might be more correctly rendered, ‘the righteous runneth into it, and is set on high.’ It is the same word which is employed in the next verse-’a high wall.’

So we have ‘the strong tower’ and ‘the strong city’; the man lifted up above danger on the battlements of the one, and the man fancying himself to be high above it {and only fancying himself} in the imaginary safety of the other.

  1. Consider then, first, the two fortresses.

One need only name them side by side to feel the full force of the intended contrast. On the one hand, the name of the Lord with all its depths and glories, with its blaze of lustrous purity, and infinitudes of inexhaustible power; and on the other, ‘the rich man’s wealth.’ What contempt is expressed in putting the two side by side! It is as if the author had said, ‘Look on this picture and on that!’ Two fortresses! Yes! The one is like Gibraltar, inexpungable on its rock, and the other is like a painted castle on the stage; flimsy canvas that you could put your foot through-solidity by the side of nothingness. For even the poor appearance of solidity is an illusion, as our text says with bitter emphasis-’a high wall in his own conceit.’

‘The name of the Lord,’ of course, is the Biblical expression for the whole character of God, as He has made it known to us, or in other words, for God Himself, as He has been pleased to reveal Himself to mankind. The syllables of that name are all the deeds by which He has taught us what He is; every act of power, of wisdom, of tenderness, of grace that has manifested these qualities and led us to believe that they are all infinite. In the name, in its narrower sense, the name of Jehovah, there is much of ‘the name’ in its wider sense. For that name ‘Jehovah,’ both by its signification and by the circumstances under which it was originally employed, tells us a great deal about God. It tells us, for instance, by virtue of its signification, that He is self-existent, depending upon no other creature. ‘I AM THAT I AM!’ No other being can say that. All the rest of us have to say, ‘I am that which God made me.’ Circumstances and a hundred other things have made me; God finds the law of His being and the fountain of His being within Himself.

‘He sits on no precarious throne, Nor borrows leave to be.’

His name proclaims Him to be self-existent, and as self-existent, eternal; and as eternal, changeless; and as self-existent, eternal, changeless, infinite in all the qualities by which He makes Himself known. This boundless Being, all full of wisdom, power, and tenderness, with whom we can enter into relations of amity and concord, surely He is ‘a strong tower into which we may run and be safe.’

But far beyond even the sweep of that great name, Jehovah, is the knowledge of God’s deepest heart and character which we learn in Him who said, ‘I have declared Thy name unto My brethren, and will declare it.’ Christ in His life and death, in His meekness, sweetness, gentleness, calm wisdom, infinite patience, attractiveness; yearning over sinful hearts, weeping over rebels, in the graciousness of His life, in the sacredness and the power of His Cross, is the Revealer to our hearts of the heart of God. If I may so say, He has builded ‘the strong tower’ broader, has expanded its area and widened its gate, and lifted its summit yet nearer the heavens, and made the name of God a wider name and a mightier name, and a name of surer defence and blessing than ever it was before.

And so, dear brethren! it all comes to this, the name that is ‘the strong tower’ is the name ‘My Father!’ a Father of infinite tenderness and wisdom and power. Oh! where can the child rest more quietly than on the mother’s breast, where can the child be safer than in the circle of the father’s arms? ‘The name of the Lord is a strong tower.’

Now turn to the other for a moment: ‘The rich man’s wealth is’ {with great emphasis on the next little word} ‘his strong city, and as a high wall in his own conceit.’ Of course we have not to deal here only with wealth in the shape of money, but all external and material goods, the whole mass of the ‘things seen and temporal,’ are gathered together here in this phrase.

Men use their imaginations in very strange fashion, and make, or fancy they make, for themselves out of the things of the present life a defence and a strength. Like some poor lunatic, out upon a moor, that fancies himself ensconced in a castle; like some barbarous tribes behind their stockades or crowding at the back of a little turf wall, or in some old tumble-down fort that the first shot will bring rattling down about their ears, fancying themselves perfectly secure and defended-so do men deal with these outward things that are given them for another purpose altogether: they make of them defences and fortresses.

It is difficult for a man to have them and not to trust them. So Jesus said to His disciples once: ‘How hardly shall they that have riches enter into the Kingdom’; and when they were astonished at His words, He repeated them with the significant variation, ‘How hard is it for them that trust in riches to enter into the Kingdom of God.’ So He would teach that the misuse and not the possession of wealth is the barrier, but so, too, He would warn us that, nine times out of ten, the possession of them in more than a very modest measure, tempts a man into confidence in them.

The illusion is one that besets us all. We are all tempted to make a defence of the things that we can see and handle. Is it not strange, and is it not sad, that most of us just turn the truth round about and suppose that the real defence is the imaginary, and that the imaginary one is the real? How many men are there in this chapel who, if they spoke out of their deepest convictions, would say: ‘Oh yes! the promises of God are all very well, but I would rather have the cash down. I suppose that I may trust that He will provide bread and water, and all the things that I need, but I would rather have a good solid balance at the banker’ s.’ How many of you would rather honestly, and at the bottom of your hearts, have that than God’s word for your defence? How many of you think that to trust in a living God is but grasping at a very airy and unsubstantial kind of support; and that the real solid defence is the defence made of the things that you can see?

My brother! it is exactly the opposite way. Turn it clean round, and you get the truth. The unsubstantial shadows are the material things that you can see and handle; illusory as a dream, and as little able to ward off the blows of fate as a soap bubble. The real is the unseen beyond-’the things that are,’ and He who alone really is, and in His boundless and absolute Being is our only defence.

In one aspect or another, that false imagination with which my last text deals is the besetting sin of Manchester. Not the rich man only, but the poor man just as much, is in danger of it. The poor man who thinks that everything would be right if only he were rich, and the rich man who thinks that everything is right because he is rich, are exactly the same man. The circumstances differ, but the one man is but the other turned inside out. And all round about us we see the fierce fight to get more and more of these things, the tight grip of them when we have got them, the overestimate of the value of them, the contempt for the people who have less of them than ourselves. Our aristocracy is an aristocracy of wealth; in some respects, one by no means to be despised, because there often go a great many good qualities to the making and the stewardship of wealth; but still it is an evil that men should be so largely estimated by their money as they are here. It is not a sound state of opinion which has made ‘what is he worth?’ mean ‘how much of it has he?’ We are taught here to look upon the prizes of life as being mainly wealth. To win that is ‘success’-’prosperity’-and it is very hard for us all not to be influenced by the prevailing tone.

I would urge you, young men, especially to lay this to heart-that of all delusions that can beset you in your course, none will work more disastrously than the notion that the summum bonum, the shield and stay of a man, is the ‘abundance of the things that he possesses.’ I fancy I see more listless, discontented, unhappy faces looking out of carriages than I see upon the pavement. And I am sure of this, at any rate, that all which is noble and sweet and good in life can be wrought out and possessed upon as much bread and water as will keep body and soul together, and as much furniture as will enable a man to sit at his meal and lie down at night. And as for the rest, it has many advantages and blessings, but oh! it is all illusory as a defence against the evils that will come, sooner or later, to every life.

  1. Consider next how to get into the true Refuge.

‘The righteous runneth into it and is safe,’ says my text. You may get into the illusory one very easily. Imagination will take you there. There is no difficulty at all about that. And yet the way by which a man makes this world his defence may teach you a lesson as to how you can make God your defence. How does a man make this world his defence? By trusting to it. He that says to the fine gold, ‘Thou art my confidence,’ has made it his fortress-and that is how you will make God your fortress-by trusting to Him. The very same emotion, the very same act of mind, heart, and will, may be turned either upwards or downwards, as you can turn the beam from a lantern which way you please. Direct it earthwards, and you ‘trust in the uncertainty of riches.’ Flash it heavenwards, and you ‘trust in the living God.’

And that same lesson is taught by the words of our text, ‘The righteous runneth into it.’ I do not dwell upon the word ‘righteous.’ That is the Old Testament point of view, which could not conceive it possible that any man could have deep and close communion with God, except on condition of a pure character. I will not speak of that at present, but point to the picturesque metaphor, which will tell us a great deal more about what faith is than many a philosophical dissertation. Many a man who would be perplexed by a theologian’s talk will understand this: ‘The righteous runneth into the name of the Lord.’

The metaphor brings out the idea of eager haste in betaking oneself to the shelter, as when an invading army comes into a country, and the unarmed peasants take their portable belongings and their cattle, and catch up their children in their arms, and set their wives upon their mules, and make all haste to some fortified place; or as when the manslayer in Israel fled to the city of refuge, or as when Lot hurried for his life out of Sodom. There would be no dawdling then; but with every muscle strained, men would run into the stronghold, counting every minute a year till they were inside its walls, and heard the heavy door close between them and the pursuer. No matter how rough the road, or how overpowering the heat-no time to stop to gather flowers, or even diamonds on the road, when a moment’s delay might mean the enemy’s sword in your heart!

Now that metaphor is frequently used to express the resolved and swift act by which, recognising in Jesus Christ, who declares the name of the Lord, our hiding-place, we shelter ourselves in Him, and rest secure. One of the picturesque words by which the Old Testament expresses ‘trust’ means literally ‘to flee to a refuge.’ The Old Testament trust is the New Testament faith, even as the Old Testament ‘Name of the Lord’ answers to the New Testament ‘Name of Jesus.’ And so we run into this sure hiding-place and strong fortress of the name of the Lord, when we betake ourselves to Jesus and put our trust in Him as our defence.

Such a faith-the trust of mind, heart, and will-laying hold of the name of the Lord, makes us ‘righteous,’ and so capable of ‘dwelling with the devouring fire’ of God’s perfect purity. The Old Testament point of view was righteousness, in order to abiding in God. The New Testament begins, as it were, at an earlier stage in the religious life, and tells us how to get the righteousness, without which, it holds as strongly as the Old Testament, ‘no man shall see the Lord.’ It shows us that our faith, by which we run into that fortress, fits us to enter the fortress, because it makes us partakers of Christ’s purity.

So my earnest question to you all is-Have you ‘fled for refuge to lay hold’ on that Saviour in whom God has set His name? Like Lot out of Sodom, like the manslayer to the city of refuge, like the unwarlike peasants to the baron’s tower, before the border thieves, have you gone thither for shelter from all the sorrows and guilt and dangers that are marching terrible against you? Can you take up as yours the old grand words of exuberant trust in which the Psalmist heaps together the names of the Lord, as if walking about the city of his defence, and telling the towers thereof, ‘The Lord is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer; my God, my strength, in whom I will trust; my buckler, and the horn of my salvation, and my high tower’? If you have, then ‘because you have made the Lord your refuge, there shall no evil befall you.’

III. So we have, lastly, what comes of sheltering in these two refuges.

As to the former of them, I said at the beginning of these remarks that the words ‘is safe’ were more accurately as well as picturesquely rendered by ‘is set aloft.’ They remind us of the psalm which has many points of resemblance with this text, and which gives the very same thought when it says, ‘I will set him on high, because he hath known My name.’ The fugitive is taken within the safe walls of the strong tower, and is set up high on the battlements, looking down upon the baffled pursuers, and far beyond the reach of their arrows. To stand upon that tower lifts a man above the region where temptations fly, above the region where sorrow strikes; lifts him above sin and guilt and condemnation and fear, and calumny and slander, and sickness, and separation and loneliness and death; ‘and all the ills that flesh is heir to.’

Or, as one of the old Puritan commentators has it: ‘The tower is so deep that no pioneer can undermine it, so thick that no cannon can breach it, so high that no ladder can scale it.’ ‘The righteous runneth into it,’ and is perched up there; and can look down like Lear from his cliff, and all the troubles that afflict the lower levels shall ‘show scarce so gross as beetles’ from the height where he stands, safe and high, hidden in the name of the Lord. I say little about the other side. Brethren! the world in any of its forms, the good things of this life in any shape, whether that of money or any other, can do a great deal for us. They can keep a great many inconveniences from us, they can keep a great many cares and pains and sorrows from us. I was going to say, to carry out the metaphor, they can keep the rifle-bullets from us. But, ah! when the big siege-guns get into position and begin to play; when the great trials that every life must have, sooner or later, come to open fire at us, then the defence that anything in this outer world can give comes rattling about our ears very quickly. It is like the pasteboard helmet which looked as good as if it had been steel, and did admirably as long as no sword struck it.

There is only one thing that will keep us peaceful and unharmed, and that is to trust our poor shelterless lives and sinful souls to the Saviour who has died for us. In Him we find the hiding-place, in which secure, as beneath the shadow of a great rock, dreaded evils will pass us by, as impotent to hurt as savages before a castle fortified by modern skill. All the bitterness of outward calamities will be taken from them before they reach us. Their arrows will still wound, but He will have wiped the poison off before He lets them be shot at us. The force of temptation will be weakened, for if we live near Him we shall have other tastes and desires. The bony fingers of the skeleton Death, who drags men from all other homes, will not dislodge us from our fortress-dwelling. Hid in Him we shall neither fear going down to the grave, nor coming up from it, nor judgment, nor eternity. Then, I beseech you, make no delay. Escape! flee for your life! A growing host of evil marches swift against you. Take Christ for your defence and cry to Him,

The little book of Proverbs is overflowing with great truths which, if taken to heart by believers and applied to their every-day Christian life, would turn the tables on the wiles of the wicked one, whose evil desire is to render the witness of born-again believers as impotent.

God identified His name to Moses as: “I AM that I AM,” for He is everything that we need in every area of life. One beautiful picture of the Lord can be seen as a Strong Tower, where “the righteous runs into it and are safe.” What a precious promise for all God’s children.

The Lord began to unveil His holy name and perfect attributes from the first verse of Genesis, where we discover Him to be the all-powerful Creator. To Adam, He became his relational Lord, and Abraham saw Him as the Almighty God Who was His Master and Provider. To Moses, the friend of God, He became his Banner and Sanctifier, while Gideon found Him to be his Perfect Peace which passes all understanding. David discovered the Lord was his Tender Shepherd Who laid down His life for the sheep, and Ezekiel worshiped the Righteous God Whose name is JESUS.

All of us who run to Him as their Creator and Redeemer, discover Him to be our Perfect Peace, our Gracious Shepherd, and our Everlasting Righteousness. To myriads of men and women, the Lord has proved Himself to be the Righteousness of God, in Christ: “For God made Him Who had no sin to be sin for us, so that we might become the righteousness of God – in Christ.”

When fallen man can look beyond his rebellious, prideful myopia, and recognise that by God’s eternal power the worlds were made, he can start to glimpse into the very character and heart of God Who loved the world so much that He sent His only begotten Son to pay the enormous price for your sins and mine. And His name is Jesus.

Let us run to Jesus, our Strong Tower, knowing that in Him alone will be found our refuge and strength, our peace and our safety.

The Dictionary meaning of Tower

  1. A building or structure typically higher than its diameter and high relative to its surroundings that may stand apart (such as a campanile) or be attached (such as a church belfry) to a larger structure and that may be fully walled in or of skeleton framework (such as an observation or transmission tower)
  2. A towering citadel : FORTRESS

A strong tower was a central place in ancient cities where people could run to when facing danger and then find safety and protection. What do these buildings have in common? The Empire State Building, One World Trade Center, Sears Tower, the Chrysler Building. These buildings are known for their architecture, height, and beauty. They are important but they will not last forever, and they cannot save you from your sins.

The Lord is a strong tower in fearful and scary times. It is the name of the Lord that is our strong tower. It is the place of safety which God promises to those who run to Him. The name of the Lord is a Biblical expression for the whole character of God. The name of the Lord refers to God’s person and character. The Lord is our rock, our refuge, our fortress, our shepherd, our king, and our redeemer.

In the Bible the Lord has revealed to us that He is merciful, kind, and caring. The Lord’s name is above all names because His name is holy. The name of God is a place where righteous people find safety. Believers who call on God with faith are declared righteous and are protected from all enemies because they are safe in the strong spiritual tower of God. Let us run to Jesus our strong tower knowing that He is our refuge and strength. Let us run to Jesus with our concerns and troubles so that we find eternal comfort from His words of joy and strength.

“The name” of God represents His character. The righteous person finds security in all that the Lord is. Much of the book of Proverbs is encouragement to rely on godly wisdom (Proverbs 1:7) instead of worldly foolishness (Proverbs 3:35). Exodus 34:5 tells us the Lord descended in the cloud and stood with Moses at Mount Sinai, and there He proclaimed His name. He said, “The LORD, the LORD, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and bounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, keeping steadfast love for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin” (Exodus 34:6–7).

When hard times come on believers in Christ, they can take refuge in the Lord’s mercy, grace, love, faithfulness, and forgiveness. Physical safety is not always part of God’s plan (Job 13:15; John 16:33), but Christians know their ultimate hope is not in this world (1 John 2:17). He will always work everything for their good and His glory (Romans 8:28–30). Proverbs 29:25 affirms, “The fear of man lays a snare, but whoever trusts in the LORD is safe.” Believers have no reason to fear, knowing how good the Lord is.

How is the name of the Lord a strong tower (Proverbs 18:10)?

The Bible informs us that Lord God Himself is our rock, our fortress, and our deliverer. In Him, we can take refuge because He is our shield of protection, our horn of salvation, and our stronghold (Psalm 18:2). Over and again, Psalms compares God to a high and strong tower of protection and a shelter where His people can safely hide. But Proverbs 18:10 reveals a similar truth about God’s name: “The name of the LORD is a strong tower; the righteous man runs into it and is safe” (ESV).

In ancient times, a person’s name was much more than a random identifier or title. A name expressed the person’s nature and individual attributes. Thus, God’s name represents His essential character and authority. The person of God and the name of God cannot be separated. The Lord’s name is a strong tower because the infinite heights and depths of His person, presence, and power are apprehended in that name. The righteous—those who are made right with God through a relationship with Jesus Christ—can run to Him in all His revealed perfection, faithfulness, power, authority, mercy, and love, and be set on high, barricaded inside His tower of protection, safe from all harm.

The name of the Lord is equivalent to the Lord Himself. It speaks of the revealed essence of God or the revelation of Himself in the history of salvation. The Lord shows Himself faithful and trustworthy to all who confide in Him: “From the ends of the earth, I cry to you for help when my heart is overwhelmed. Lead me to the towering rock of safety, for you are my safe refuge, a fortress where my enemies cannot reach me” (Psalm 61:2–3, NLT). The ESV renders the phrase “for you have been my refuge, a strong tower against the enemy” (verse 3). The name of the Lord is a strong tower because He is our defense. As we discover what God has revealed about His character, we can trust in Him (Psalm 91:2).

The name of the Lord and the character of God are interchangeable phrases. David said, “Those who know your name trust in you, for you, LORD, have never forsaken those who seek you” (Psalm 9:10). God makes His character known to us through His Word, through the person of Jesus Christ, and through the multi-faceted revelations expressed through His many names.

As Elohim, He is Creator; as Yahweh, He is the covenant-keeping, eternal I AM; as El Shaddai, He is the all-sufficient, all-powerful, God Almighty; as Jehovah Jireh, He is our Provider; as Yeshua, He is Savior. He is the Good Shepherd, who leads, guides, and protects; He is the Lamb of God, who lays down His life for us; He is Jesus, the Incarnate Son and Christ the Risen Lord; and He is the eternal, glorious, highly exalted, King of Heaven! Psalm 8:1 rightly acknowledges, “LORD, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth! You have set your glory in the heavens.”

The name of the Lord can also be understood as His nature representing itself. One aspect of that nature is a strong, high tower offering a citadel of safety capable of holding off every hostile attack. Into this tower, the righteous can run and hide, safely guarded above all danger: “For in the day of trouble he will keep me safe in his dwelling; he will hide me in the shelter of his sacred tent and set me high upon a rock” (Psalm 27:5). The name of the Lord is a strong tower because it is capable of safeguarding all who call upon that name. When the prophet Joel foresaw the Lord’s return, he saw a terrifying day of judgment and terror. Yet he declared, “And everyone who calls on the name of the LORD will be saved” (Joel 2:32). That same promise of salvation in the name of the Lord echoes in the New Testament (Romans 10:13; Acts 2:21). When we call upon the name of the Lord, we call upon God Himself. The Lord’s name signifies everything that God is in Himself—His compassion, loving-kindness’, mercy, grace, power, judgment, holiness, perfection, knowledge, and more. Everyone who knows and trusts in Him discovers that He is indeed a strong tower.

In days of overwhelming uncertainty, there is an encouraging promise given by God to every believer. Proverbs 18:10 says, “The name of the Lord is a strong tower: the righteous runneth into it and is safe.” The verse is short and simple, but the promise is profound and powerful.

  • The Place – “the name of the Lord”: Every person eventually faces times of desperation and trouble. However, people flee to many different places looking for peace and protection. Some turn to the bottle as a source of comfort and joy. Proverbs 23:29 says that this simply brings added sorrow. Others turn to wealth and riches. While Proverbs 18:11 says that “the rich man’s wealth is his strong city,” Proverbs 11:28 says that “he that trusteth in his riches shall fall.” Still others hope fame and power will provide answers during difficult times. God’s response to this is found in I Peter 5:5-6, where he says, “God resisted the proud, and giveth grace to the humble. Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time.” For the Christian, the place to run in times of trouble is straight to the name of the Lord!
  • The Protection – “is a strong tower”: Every source of protection developed and promoted by man will ultimately fail you in the day of adversity, but the name of the Lord is a strong tower. Psalm 124:8 says, “Our help is in the name of the Lord, who made heaven and earth.” Psalm 18:2-3 describes the strength that is found in God. “The Lord is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer; my God, my strength, in whom I will trust; my buckler, and the horn of my salvation, and my high tower. I will call upon the LORD, who is worthy to be praised: so shall I be saved from mine enemies.”
  • The Participant – “the righteous”: Those who are living in active opposition to God by choosing a life of sin will be seeking safety in the manmade avenues discussed earlier. But the righteous will know that only the name of the Lord can provide the dependable protection that is needed. The word “righteous” in this passage literally refers to one who is just and lawful in conduct and character.
  • The Practice – “runneth into it”: Sometimes Christians know where to go in their time of need, but they do not get there in haste. Often there is the tendency to spend a while seeking to deal with trouble through human wisdom and might. God wants his children to flee to him with haste at the first sign of trouble.
  • The Promise – “and is safe”: The world makes many promises, but it will leave you empty and hopeless in the end. However, the person who runs to the name of the Lord is promised safety!

May the Lord bless you and keep you now and forever Amen!!!!

The Rev’d Engr Vincent Ifeanyi Nweke
Nike Diocese
nwekevincent38@gmail.com

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