"A mighty fortress is our God, a trusty shield and weapon; He helps us free from ev'ry need that hath us now o'ertaken. The old evil foe now means deadly woe; Deep guile and great might are his dread arms in fight; On earth is not his equal.
"Though devils all the world should fill, all eager to devour us, We tremble not, we fear no ill; they shall not overpow'r us. This world's prince may still scowl fierce as he will, He can harm us none. He's judged; the deed is done; One little word can fell him."
David challenged the giant Goliath, an enemy far more powerful than the young shepherd boy. We stand in David's sandals, facing, according to the hymn, "the old evil foe," who "means deadly woe." He is armed with "great might" and employs "deep guile," something that has always been a tactic of this foe. He is the one our Lord called "a murderer from the beginning" and "a liar and the father of lies" (see John 8:44).
David knew what we know; we can't face this battle alone. In the words of the shepherd boy, we challenge our foe, "The LORD saves not with sword or spear. For the battle is the LORD's, and He will give you into our hand" (1 Samuel 17:47). David's Lord fought for him, and his Champion is our Champion, too. We ask, "Who is this?" "Jesus Christ it is," Martin Luther responds in this hymn, "of Sabaoth Lord." Our Champion—the promised Son of David—is the Lord of Sabaoth, that is, the Lord of the armies of heaven. But the Lord does not fight with sword or spear. Our Champion won by falling in battle, His weapons a cross, nails, and a bloody crown of thorns. Satan tried to destroy Jesus, but it was the devil who fell in defeat in the battle at a place called Golgotha.
Thrashing in his death throes, the evil foe still seeks to tear us from our Champion, but he cannot succeed. "One little word can fell him." Speaking of this battle hymn of the Reformation, Luther explained the meaning of that "one little word" in two ways: the little word is the Name of Jesus, the crucified and risen Lord who defeated Satan at the cross and empty tomb. But, according to Luther, the one little word is also the defiant shout, "Liar!" Satan may try to bring you down, raising doubts, trying to convince you that your sins are too great, that you cannot be forgiven. When the foe employs such "deep guile," Luther tells us to defy Satan to his face: "Devil, you lie!" As surely as the sling-shot stone brought Goliath down, our defiance in the Name of our Lord and Champion will bring the devil down. The Word, Jesus our Champion, remains always by our side in the fight. And in this earthly battle, if all else is taken from us, even our lives, the lying devil cannot win. The victory has already been won and "the kingdom ours remaineth."
THE PRAYER: Lord Jesus, our Champion in the fight, deliver us from evil. Be our strong fortress in every time of trouble. Amen.
This Daily Devotion was written by Dr. Carol Geisler. It is based on the hymn, "A Mighty Fortress Is Our God," which is found on page 656 of the Lutheran Service Book.
1. Have you ever had to deal with a bully? How did that work out for you?
2. What's your conception of the devil and the spirit world? Is Satan and his twisted minions just waiting to trip you up?
3. How do you apply God's Word to your life when you feel assailed by the enemy?
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