Sunday, March 30, 2008

The Refuge of a Name

“The name of the LORD is a strong tower; the righteous runs into it and is safe.” Proverbs 18:10

In the late eighth and ninth centuries, men from modern-day Denmark and Norway began to sail across the North Sea to raid and pillage Ireland. At first the Viking raids were conducted by a small number of ships, which would land in a coastal community, pillage and burn the settlement, then head back to their homeland with the booty. Because of their brutality in the treatment of those they subdued, the Viking warriors terrified all who lived within their reach. Over a period of time, the intensity of the raids increased. The Vikings, encouraged by the spoils of previous raids, now brought large numbers of boats and set up camp to conduct extensive raids over the surrounding countryside for several months at a time.

Monasteries were found to be the best sources of valuable booty, both in riches and slaves. At the beginning, the monasteries were an easy mark, as they were peaceful settlements and largely defenseless. However, after suffering heavy losses during the early years of raids in both valuables and personnel, the monks began to build defensive tall stone towers, or Round Towers, near the monasteries. When approaching Viking raiders were sighted, the monks would grab as many valuables and as much food as they could carry and hurry to the tower. They would climb a rope ladder to the door, which was located one story up from the ground. Once all were safely inside, the monks would pull the ladder inside and close the door. There they would remain in safety until the threat of danger had passed.

The old hymn, “Be Thou My Vision,” was written during this time period. Verse three reflects the reality of the Viking threat and Round Tower defense:

Be Thou my breastplate, my sword for the fight,
Be Thou my whole armor, be Thou my true might,
Be Thou my soul's shelter, be Thou my strong tower,
O raise Thou me heavenward, great power of my power.

Solomon utilized the same metaphor while writing the proverb at the top of this page. He likened the name of the Lord to a strong tower, which offers protection to the righteous when they shelter within its walls.

How is the name of God a refuge to us? Romans 10:13 tells us, “Whoever will call on the name of the Lord will be saved.” By calling on the name of the Lord, we receive safety from certain condemnation and consequent wrath of God. Instead of an awful eternal fate, our destiny for destruction is replaced by hope and peace with God.

The name of God also is protection from an attacker who would like to see us destroyed. Revelation 12:10 reveals Satan as the one “who accuses [the brethren] before our God day and night.” His goal is to incapacitate us, and with that goal he whispers accusing words of inadequacy and shame into our ears. In this case, too, the name of the Lord is our strong tower. Our worthiness and effectiveness is in the fact God has loved us, saved us, and will enable us to live for Him. So we can answer Satan’s accusations in the affirmative. Yes, we are unworthy. Yes, we are weak. You are correct, Satan! But we have a Savior that supplies all we need. Our hope is in the Lord, not ourselves. So accuse all you want, Satan. It is not about us at all.

Like the round towers of the monasteries of Ireland, the name of the Lord is our singular stronghold while the world around us goes crazy. These days many standards are now seemingly subjective. Morality and even our ideas about the character of God are whatever one decides them to be. In a society where we are rapidly losing objective measurement, the name of the Lord offers an absolute standard. Its strong, unmovable, and unshakable walls offer stability and safety in a rapidly changing world.

There is power in the name of the Lord. When Jesus was being arrested in the Garden of Gethsemane, the Roman cohort asked Him if He was Jesus of Nazareth. When Jesus answered “I am He,” they drew back and fell to the ground (John 18:6). Just the mention of His name was enough to knock strong soldiers off their feet.

The name of the Lord was a strong tower in Solomon’s day, and continues to be our own refuge today. Its consistency and dependability stand in strong contrast to the contrary winds that buffet our lives. It is a name that will never lose its power nor fail to prove its worth. It is consistent because the God it represents is consistent. “Those who know Your name will put their trust in You. For You, O Lord, have not forsaken those who seek You.” Psalm 9:10

1 comment:

Digging for Pearls said...

If you have a few minutes, I would love your input on my blog in regards to the ten struggles that Christian women face. Thank you!