The Fragility of Fortresses
Meditation on Psalm 62:8 by Cris Cramer
Let's take a look at Psalm 62:8:
Trust in him at all times, O people;
pour out your hearts to him,
for God is our refuge.
To me, this verse really needs some pondering. The verses before this are full of imagery and metaphor about solid things, rocks and fortresses, and then we get this sudden switch to saying "trust in God and pour out your hearts to him." You don't (usually) talk to a rock, and wouldn't (rationally) pour out your heart to a castle. Those things may be trusted for physical security, but you're not going to expect emotional reassurance from them. So what kind of refuge are we talking about here? Why do we have this apparent right-angle turn from physical metaphor to emotional urging?
Partly I think it's a reminder that ultimate security is not physical, at least not yet. In the most stark terms, everyone dies, even the faithful. All the tragedy that can befall humankind strikes everyone impartially. God does give us physical protection, he is always perfectly able to do so, but he also chooses to let hardships and hard blows fall into our lives sometimes. He doesn't give us a literal, physical fortress.
There are other kinds of security than physical security, though. This verse talks explicitly about emotional security, for one; "pour out your hearts to him." Not to a stone in a fortress, but to a person, to one who cares infinitely and promises to listen and provide help. A divine sounding-board and counselor and shoulder to cry on. This verse reminds us that our refuge is not impersonal, not stone. It comes by knowing a personal, living God who listens and guides and always, always stands with us, no matter what.
And further, the psalm says over and over that God is our salvation, along with being our rock, refuge, and fortress. Read from a Christian frame of understanding, how can we not be reminded of our source of salvation, the Son of God? The refuge given us is that of shelter from condemnation, permanent removal of our guilty record. Complete healing and security is not promised to happen in this world, but it is promised. Not by huddling inside strong walls or on top of sheer rock. By trusting the Person whose promises are never broken and whose power to create and restore is endless.
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