In you, LORD, I have taken refuge;
let me never be put to shame.
In your righteousness, rescue me and deliver me;
turn your ear to me and save me.
Be my rock of refuge,
to which I can always go;
give the command to save me,
for you are my rock and my fortress.
Deliver me, my God, from the hand of the wicked,
from the grasp of those who are evil and cruel.

For you have been my hope, Sovereign LORD,
my confidence since my youth.
From birth I have relied on you;
you brought me forth from my mother’s womb.
I will ever praise you.
I have become a sign to many;
you are my strong refuge.
My mouth is filled with your praise,
declaring your splendor all day long.

Do not cast me away when I am old;
do not forsake me when my strength is gone.
For my enemies speak against me;
those who wait to kill me conspire together.
They say, “God has forsaken him;
pursue him and seize him,
for no one will rescue him.”
Do not be far from me, my God;
come quickly, God, to help me.
May my accusers perish in shame;
may those who want to harm me
be covered with scorn and disgrace.

As for me, I will always have hope;
I will praise you more and more. (Psalm 71:1–14 NIV)

I am terrible at remembering passwords. It’s one of my glaring weaknesses. It doesn’t help that we need too many passwords for online life! Just when you think you’ve memorized one, someone tells you it’s been compromised and you need to change it again! I often have a hard time finding the passwords to the accounts we use the most and end up feeling grumbly, but my husband is great at this kind of thing. He knows how to find where I’ve stored them. He rescues me regularly from my password forgetfulness. I am grateful our strengths and weaknesses come together in ways that balance each other. He’s good at taking care of me, so I always know where to go to for help.

In this psalm, the writer spends time recounting confidence in God’s rescue, maybe to combat their own forgetfulness. The psalm expresses confidence in the Lord’s deliverance, confidence in his ability to erase shame – all because the writer has taken refuge in God. When circumstances seem to be coming against the psalmist, he reminds himself all the ways God has shown up for him.

He describes this refuge as a fortress. Throughout history, fortresses have been designed to protect and give military personnel a safe harbor from the enemy. They are often placed up high, with a 360-degree vantage point of the surrounding territory. This way, its inhabitants dwell inside in the high ground and can see any threat from afar – before it ever gets to them. Fortresses are usually reinforced by rock walls and often hold needed supplies within. The verb “fortified” means to be strengthened, heartened, or encouraged; made stronger or more secure; having a place of defense against attack. All this gives great confidence to those inside; they know their advantage and protection means enemies cannot overtake their position. That confidence gives the psalmist great peace.

The psalmist has enemies, but they are no match for having God as a fortress. All around us in the world, even in our NAB world, people are dealing with wars and rumors of war. Our North American wars may not be with bombs and missiles, but they are wars on our personhood or confidence in God’s truth, on our sense of security or wholeness, and we are weary from it. Here, in this psalm, we are reminded again that we have a fortress place with God that is fortified so greatly we can rest with confidence that comes from being protected, provided for, safe, and at peace. That assurance is the best kind of feeling. This is what God is offering us.

Where do you need to recount the ways God has been a fortress to you? What peacefulness does this assurance bring? The psalmist concludes, “As for me, I will always have hope; I will praise you more and more.” Let this hope fortify you today.
Christine Okken is the executive assistant to Dr. Harry Kelm.