Meditations for Troubled Times
“The LORD is a stronghold for the oppressed....” (Psalm 9:9)
As David passed through a multitude of messy situations, the LORD used the furnace of affliction to refine his servant. Chiefly, David learned the trustworthiness of the LORD when the vice of trouble squeezed him. What is the LORD—Yahweh, the covenant-keeping, ever-faithful, never-changing, omnipresent God—like in a season of suffering? He is a stronghold.
This word is one of David’s favorite descriptions of the LORD. In fact, it’s used 13 times in the Psalms, being translated either as a stronghold or fortress. This metaphor for the LORD is the fruit of David’s lengthy conflict with Saul, and it captures precisely what David yearned to find as Saul chased him. The word pictures an impregnable high fortification. It’s associated with a verb that means to be set securely on high. However, we know every high castle or exalted fortification in history has fallen.
Jerusalem is an exalted city, but it fell multiple times. Obadiah describes the Edomites who thought their height in the cleft of the rocks gave them security (Obadiah 1:3-4). The city of Sardis, addressed in Revelation 3:1-6, was a city situated on a high strip surrounded on three sides with sheer cliffs. But, again, the acropolis was captured on several occasions by foreign invaders.
But the truth David here declares is not that some hill in Judah is a stronghold. The fortress is the almighty, doggedly faithful, God. He wraps his might around his people. It’s as though he’s a fire all around to guard us, lifting us above the fray. And for whom specifically is Yahweh an exalted place of protection?
He functions this way for the oppressed. This word literally means those who are crushed, whether that be a physical crushing, as by the terror of the wicked (Psalm 10:18; Psalm 143:3), an emotional crushing in a time of affliction (Psalm 34:18), or when words themselves, like lies, crush us (Proverbs 26:28). The point is, whatever kind of oppression we might experience, whether violence or grief in the soul, our recourse is the same. We turn in our needy state to Yahweh, our stronghold. He is the high tower to whom we can run and be safe.
In our current situation as a nation, many may feel crushed emotionally. It could be that a physical crushing comes by being laid low with sickness. It may be that you were already crushed with lies hurled against you, perhaps as the devil accuses you. What then will you do? Run to the stronghold. Put your hope in your protector. Believe God’s steadfast love does not cease. His mercy is new to you every morning. Cling by faith to the promises of a God who comes close with his comforting presence. May our eyes lock on the LORD our God as difficulty falls!