The 16th century was a difficult time for Christianity. Voices stirred by a fresh reading of scripture spoke out loudly against traditions and innovations they thought had desecrated the way of God.
It didn’t go over well.
Martin Luther remarked during that time someone was martyred every day for speaking out against the established religion. Among them would be Luther’s friend Leonhard Kaiser, who was burned alive in 1526. In response, it is said that Luther wrote his most famous hymn – A Mighty Fortress Is Our God – and the sentiment for the hymn was taken from Psalm 46.
This psalm is the first of six hymns known as the “Psalms of Zion” (see also Psalms 48, 76, 84, 87, 122, and 132) which exalt the city of God as the Lord’s dwelling place. these psalms contain certain characteristics: all speak of the city of God (or “Zion”), a river that brings blessing, peace secured by the Lord and particularly provided to His city and the integration of all nations into the worship of the Lord.
In Psalm 46, two points stand out to me: First, God is determined to be appreciated by the world. It should happen because of the testimony of God’s people, but God is determined that it will happen. We should be just as determined.
Second, God is pictured here not as a divine warrior, but as a divine peacemaker. The people of God must, by their thoughts and actions, also be a people of peace. To do otherwise would make us untrue to our heritage and calling. I think about this whenever I see Christians begin to buckle on the implements of war to serve what they feel are righteous causes, and I am reminded of it whenever I am tempted to do the same. The one who brings peace does not use weapons of war, but breaks and shatters them. You cannot make peace by being unpeaceful.