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  • Writer's pictureVicar Matt Doebler

Matins Devotion: September 20, 2023


Psalm 46, which we sang responsively this morning is an important Psalm for Lutherans. That’s because the refrain, “The LORD of hosts is with us, the God of Jacob is our fortress” gave Luther the inspiration to pen his famous hymn, “A Mighty Fortress is Our God.” This Psalm as well as Luther’s hymn, is a psalm about trust in God. It’s a psalm that shapes God’s people by forming them in their faith. Teaching them how to respond to the churning chaos they see in the world around them. Teaching God’s people what it looks like to have God as our refuge.


There’s a wonderful progression in this psalm that I want to explore with you for a moment. A wonderful way in which this psalm, as do all the psalms, points us to Christ—the object of our faith. First, we have the theme of God’s revelation to his people. God is a “very present help in trouble” we are told. The idea here is that God is not hiding himself from his people when trouble strikes—instead he manifests himself to them. But where is he found? We are told that “God is in the midst” of the city of God. This is not an image of an earthly city—rather, the city of God is a picture of God’s people. Those whom he has called to himself and made his own through faith in his promises. And where God’s people are, there God himself is found in their midst—identifying himself with them in their struggle against the chaos that surrounds and threatens them. Finally, the psalmist declares that the “Lord of hosts is with us.” Now that title, Lord of hosts is loaded with significance. It’s a military term. We might also translate it the “Lord of heaven’s armies.” The Lord of hosts is “very present” and stands “in the midst” of his people so that he can show himself to be “with” them—for them—fighting for them against their enemies.


Of course, it’s not hard to see how this Psalm points us to Jesus. Jesus shows us the “very present” God. The God who doesn’t hide himself, but makes himself known to his people. Jesus takes on human flesh to be in the midst of his people. That’s what St. John means when he writes “the Word became flesh and dwelt among us.” Jesus disguises his glory so that he can walk among his people, identifying himself with their weaknesses and comforting them in their distress. And, of course, Jesus is Emmanuel. He is God who is with us—who is for us—the Lord of heaven’s armies who conquers the power of sin, death, and the devil through his death and resurrection.


Jesus shows us the ultimate significance of what it means to say that “God is my refuge.” Christ is our champion who has come to fight—the one whom God himself elected—the Lord of hosts—he comes for you—he fights for you—he wins the victory for you.

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