Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Strong Towers and Mighty Castles

Outside Stirling Castle in front of a statue of
Robert the Bruce
     Anyone who knows me very well is aware that I am afraid of heights.  It seems crazy, I know, because I can fly in an airplane, ride in a cable car or gondola and feel perfectly at ease.  I love looking out the windows at the earth dropping far below and think what a beautiful sight it is.  However, when I am standing high on top of a mountain (even if there is a fence all around), I am very uneasy.  Therefore, when we took our trip to Europe, I was faced with some challenges when we went to visit some castles as well as some mountain peaks.  As we would climb another incline and walk many steps up, I heard myself asking my husband, "Why did they all have to build these castles on mountain tops?"  He would smile and say, "For obvious reasons dear.  They were easier to defend."
     Of course, that is the reason that kings chose the side of the mountain for their fortress.  Being high up gave them the advantage of being able to see any attacking force coming towards them.  In Edinburgh, the castle was built up high where there was a view of the harbor.  Any approaching ship could easily be spotted.  As I thought about this, several scriptures came to mind.  
A view from Stirling Castle Wall overlooking the town
and the William Wallace Memorial
     When David comforted himself, he wrote of the Lord's ability to protect and deliver His children.  Psalm 27:1 reads:  "The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear?  The Lord is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?"  Verse 5 says:  "For He will hide me in His shelter in the day of trouble; He will conceal me under the cover of His tent; He will lift me high upon a rock."  God is here described as a stronghold, shelter, tent and rock.  He is the deliverer when difficulties come our way.  Just like the castle, God protects those who run to Him in faith.  In fact, He lifts them up on high - above the fight below and keeps His children in the hollow of His hand.  What a comforting thought!  Having seen the thickness of the walls, the moats that surrounded the castles and how high they were built upon the hills and mountains, I now understand the imagery that David uses in a new way.
High above the city of Edinburgh stands the Castle
     Another Psalm of David speaks of God as a Rock.  In verses 2 and 3, David writes:  "....from the end of the earth I call to You when my heart is faint.  Lead me to the rock that is higher than I, for you have
At the top of Steep Hill in Lincoln, England stands the castle
been my refuge, a strong tower against the enemy."  Again, as in the other Psalm, David speaks of God as a rock and a refuge who stands like a tall tower in which David can take refuge.  Looking at the design of the castles we visited, it is easy to see that they provided shelter for the townspeople who lived below the fortress.  Many of my history courses talked about this very thing.  When a village was under attack, the peasants who lived around the castle came to take refuge in the center of its thick walls to find protection from the enemy.  Essentially, this is what God does for us as believers.  He is the source we are to run to when life's slings and arrows come flying our way.  He is the guard of our heart and the source of our peace.  We only get in trouble when we try to take on life under our own power.  
Heidelberg Castle high above the town
     Proverbs 18:10 reads:  The name of the Lord is a strong tower; the righteous man runs into it and is safe."  A great word picture for every one of us.  He is our help, our fortress, our rock, our tower, our castle.  God is not only our Creator but our Sustainer.  We need never fear that His walls will crumble or that He will lack in strength for He promised to never leave nor forsake us.
     Yes, we may have troubles in this life and sorrows.  Yet, our Heavenly Father is the strong tower to which we can run with certainty.  He is our comforter and the lifter of our head.
     Many of the old castles we visited have areas that need some repair or work done on them.  With today's modern warfare, they would not last long under attack.  However, God is not like that for as Jesus told us, His Word will never pass away.  His truth is everlasting and the gates of hell will not prevail against His church.  In this, we can rejoice and take comfort.
High in the Bavarian mountains is Neuschwanstein Castle
     Personally, I still have trouble with high places like castles on the side of mountains.  However, now I look at the experience in a new light as I think on the descriptions written in God's Word.  Isn't it amazing that all Creation...even the castles created by man are pictures of the mighty protection that only God can give to us as we walk in this world.  He IS our strong tower and a mighty refuge in time of trouble!  Selah!

I welcome your thoughts and insights.  Please feel free to leave your comments.


Patricia said...

I hear you, Barbara. I can't even watch tightrope walkers. Even watching a video that gives you the feeling you are up high makes my legs week.

But I LOVE that passage and how I memorized it when we sang it in worship. I recently taught it to Gavin when he was building with blocks.

Wonderful encouraging post, Barbara. Thank you.

Barbara Thayer said...

Yes, Pat. I am a chicken when it comes to heights but oh how I love that God is our strong tower and He lifts us up. We all need His mighty power each day. As we walked in those castles, it became so clear to me what the Bible was trying to say. Thank you for your visit and sweet words!