A mighty fortress is our God, a bulwark never failing;
Our helper He, amid the flood of mortal ills prevailing:
For still our ancient foe doth seek to work us woe;
His craft and power are great, and, armed with cruel hate,
On earth is not his equal.
Did we in our own strength confide, our striving would be losing;
Were not the right Man on our side, the Man of God’s own choosing:
Dost ask who that may be? Christ Jesus, it is He;
Lord Sabaoth, His Name, from age to age the same,
And He must win the battle.
And though this world, with devils filled, should threaten to undo us,
We will not fear, for God hath willed His truth to triumph through us
The Prince of Darkness grim, we tremble not for him;
His rage we can endure, for lo, his doom is sure,
One little word shall fell him.
That word above all earthly powers, no thanks to them, abideth;
The Spirit and the gifts are ours through Him Who with us sideth:
Let goods and kindred go, this mortal life also;
The body they may kill: God’s truth abideth still,
His kingdom is forever.
Words and Music by Martin Luther, 1529
“‘I love You, O Lord, my strength.’
The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer,
My God, my rock, in whom I take refuge;
My shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.
I call upon the Lord, who is worthy to be praised,
And I am saved from my enemies.”
Psalm 18:1 – 3
You know there are days when everything seems to go perfect and it seems nothing can go wrong. Then there are the others. Those days when it seems that nothing is going right. Those days when it seems the whole world is set against you. This is where David found himself just prior to 2 Samuel 22, in danger from enemies and pursued by Saul. It is here that he utters the words found in Psalm 18, “The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer.”
Martin Luther, the author of “A Might Fortress”, as well found himself hunted and persecuted by the leadership of the church, but God delivered him. It is here that Luther writes the words to one of the most powerful hymns of all time.
A Mighty Fortress lays out, from beginning to end a clear portrayal of God’s ultimate victory over Satan and how no matter what struggles and threats we may feel, God is our refuge and strength to face whatever may come.
What I find really interesting, however, is how Luther chooses to end this hymn. “Let goods and kindred go, this mortal life also; The body they may kill.”
A hymn that starts with the phrase, “A might fortress is our God” comes to a conclusion not that we will come safely through everything, but that we may lose everything (belongings, family and even life). How does this seem a victorious song? Because Luther ends with these words, “God’s truth abideth still, His kingdom is forever.”
God has not guaranteed that we will not suffer loss, simply that His truth and kingdom will last forever and there is nothing Satan can do to stand in the way. What is this truth? I think it is best summed up in John 3:16, “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only son, that whoever believes in Him will not perish, but have everlasting life.” It is because of this that we can declare with Luther, “We will not fear, for God hath willed His truth to triumph through us.”
Find out more about “A Mighty Fortress.”