Psalm 46 not only inspired Be Still My Soul, but, amazingly, Martin Luther’s A Mighty Fortress is Our God, a song all about spiritual warfare. Martin Luther would often say to his melancholy and frightened friend, Philip Melanchthon, “Come Philip, let us sing the forty-sixth.” They certainly faced a frightening battle, but because of their trust in God, were used by Him to lead the Reformation. Thank God.
Shortly after Steve’s diagnosis, our daughter Sally told him she wanted to sing a hymn for him in church that Sunday. He requested A Mighty Fortress, for God had told him to fight. (We didn’t understand what our true battle was yet, but we did know we were in a battle.)
What happened that Sunday I will never forget. This is from The God of All Comfort.
Sunday, August 17th
Two weeks after Steve’s diagnosis
Sally sang “A Mighty Fortress” in church this morning. Annie and Beth on one side of Steve, pressed into him, and me on the other, John in the pew behind him with his hand on Steve’s shoulder. Sally sang it as a fighting song — I’d never heard it sung that way — I don’t think I’d really understood it before. I’ve heard it sung majestically, but never with righteous anger. Yet, it seemed so right. It is a call to battle against Satan and all the spiritual workers of darkness. Sally kept shaking her fist at Satan, at “the prince of darkness grim,” at the one “armed with cruel hate,” at the one who must not “this battle win.” Each verse grew stronger, and our hearts found courage for the fight ahead.
But when Sally got to the phrase “let goods and kindred go, this mortal life also,” she looked at Steve and faltered. It was too much for her, and she stopped, paralyzed with grief. Suddenly — and I will never in all my life forget this — Judy (the pianist) began to sing, then the congregation rose — standing in the gap for us, finishing Sally’s song for her. They are with us.
THE QUESTIONS (Take one or two a day or all at once.)
1. Take Psalm 46 slowly:
A. What do you learn about life and about God from verses 1-3?
B. What is “the city of our Lord?” Who is she, and what do you learn about her from verses 4-6?
C. (Challenge question!) Why do you think that in this context God is called “The God of Jacob?” What lie does this title defeat?
2. Comment on the above story in this post from The God of All Comfort? What application do you see for your life?
3. Do some research on Luther, the battle he had, his friend Philip, the writing of A Mighty Fortress and share what you learn.
4. Tell us about your favorite renditions of this song.
5. Memorize the first verse of A Mighty Fortress and as you do, what do you learn about our enemy? About our God?
6. Memorize the second verse of A Mighty Fortress and as you do, what do you learn about yourself? What does “Lord Sabboath” mean?
7. How does this meet you where you are right now?
You can find more help for these questions in the studyguide The God of All Comfort, but you can also find answers in other ways. We have an amazing group. We are in a battle against the enemy, but we are definitely in it together. Let us pray for one another as we begin this part of the study, for we need one another’s prayers.
Lord, I thank You for the women you have called to this study, and who are diligently pressing into You. I see You transforming their lives and their lives rippling out to transform others. Protect us, put a shield around us, and remind us continually of your great love, for the enemy wants us to believe you do not love us. I ask this in Jesus name.