JTTH: A Mighty Fortress Is Our God (Part Three)

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

In Psalm 8, David asks the Lord, “What is man that You take thought of him?” In other words, what is there in man that would make the Most High take notice of him?

The answer to that age-old question is simple: nothing. Man is nothing, and less than nothing, a sigh that passes away in a moment, like a shadow across the face of eternity. There is nothing strong in us, nothing wise or powerful. Trusting in ourselves will only lead to our own ruin. We cannot even resist the slightest temptation without the help of the Holy Spirit—how can we stand before stronger enemies on our own? If we tried to deliver ourselves from the evil one, we could do nothing. Our greatest efforts would be a lost cause.

Which is why we rejoice that we are not left to deliver ourselves. We are not alone, and our efforts have nothing to do with the outcome of the battle. The Lord has already won the victory through His eternal power and might.

Stephen Charnock, a Puritan minister who lived during the time of England’s Charles the Second, wrote this concerning the power of God:

“Who is able to count all the monuments of his [God’s] power? How doth this little which I have spoken of exceed the capacity of our understanding, and is rather the matter of our astonishment than the object of our comprehensive knowledge? The power of the greatest potentate or the mightiest creature is but of small extent; none but have their limits; it may be understood how far they can act, in what sphere their activity is bounded; but when I have spoken all of divine power that I can, when you have thought all that you can think of it, your souls will prompt you to conceive something more, beyond what I have spoken and what you have thought. His power shines in everything, and is beyond everything. There is infinitely more power lodged in his nature, not expressed to the world. The understanding of men and angels centered in one creature, would fall short of the perception of the infiniteness of it. All that can be comprehended of it are but little fringes of it, a small portion. No man ever discoursed, or can, of God’s power according to the magnificence of it. No creature can conceive it; God himself only comprehends it, God himself is only able to express it. Man’s power being limited, his line is too short to measure the incomprehensible omnipotence of God: ‘The thunder of his power who can understand?’ that is, none can.”

As I’ve stated before, the power of God is a comfort to His saints. We don’t have to fear ruin because as Christians, we don’t hope in our own strength. We know we have none—therefore we trust solely in the might of our Savior to bring about His victory.

And notice how Luther describes this great Savior.

Were not the right Man on our side

The Man of God’s own choosing

Christ is spoken of as God’s chosen Man, but more interestingly He is called the right Man. Why? Because all of the rest of us are wrong!

Not one other man who has ever walked or ever will walk this earth is the one for the job that had to be accomplished at Calvary. This Savior had to be, as Job said, one who could lay one hand on God and the other on man at the same time and take on the role of mediator between them. No other man could do that; if he attempted it, he would be incinerated by the wrath of God’s holiness that would be stirred up for his own sins! Christ, the God-Man, Deity incarnate, was the only one who could be this Mediator; indeed, He is the only one who is this Mediator.

There’s also another designation that we don’t hear very often given to Christ in this hymn: Lord Sabaoth. There are two Scripture passages that mention this specific title.


And just as Isaiah foretold,

Romans 9:27-29 (NASB)

Behold, the pay of the laborers who mowed your fields, and which has been withheld by you, cries out against you; and the outcry of those who did the harvesting has reached the ears of the Lord of Sabaoth.

James 5:4 (NASB)

This title basically means “Lord of hosts” or “Lord of armies.” I think it’s interesting to note that both passages that use this name for Christ have to do with His justice in judgement. If Christ is just and all-powerful, and is “from age to age the same,” what do we have to fear from the evil one? Because Christ will see justice done, and crush all of His enemies beneath His feet forever!

That’s why the last part of this second verse makes sense. Christ “must win the battle” because there is no other possible outcome! There is no enemy that can stand against Him and prevail. There is no evil He will not judge justly, nor is there an opponent who is strong enough to withstand His justice and power. How much should this knowledge make us sing “a mighty fortress is our God”!

SDG <><

This is the thirteenth installment in the Journey Through the Hymns series. A new installment will be posted each Wednesday until the series’ completion. (I know, I know, this the second week of posting off-schedule. Hopefully next week I’ll be back to posting an installment every Wednesday.)

Bottom Photo by Leighton Smith on Unsplash

One thought on “JTTH: A Mighty Fortress Is Our God (Part Three)

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  1. “As I’ve stated before, the power of God is a comfort to His saints. We don’t have to fear ruin because as Christians, we don’t hope in our own strength. We know we have none—therefore we trust solely in the might of our Savior to bring about His victory.”



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