Online Text Sermon - Our Strong Tower, Proverbs ch.18 v.10
|Preacher||Rev. Maurice Roberts, Inverness|
|Sermon Title||Our Strong Tower|
|Text||Proverbs ch.18 v.10 |
Links to Bible chapters open in a new window.
"The name of the Lord is a strong tower: the righteous runneth into it, and is safe" (Proverbs 18,10).
1. The believer's never failing refuge
2. The believer's instinct of faith
3. The safety which God promises to those who run to Him
Well now, my friends, you hardly need a preacher to tell you that this is a dangerous world, and it seems to be becoming more dangerous by the day. I was just the other day hearing in a news bulletin on the radio that local councils are beginning to close down play areas and parks which when we were children we enjoyed so much. These parks and playgrounds are being closed down. Why? The children apparently are not safe anymore in them. There are strange people who find their way to these places. In our schools today children are given lessons in what is being called 'stranger danger' - don't trust somebody you don't know. One of the most chilling things you can hear about in our modern world is what we call 'missing persons'. When you pass the police station you see the photograph of someone who has simply vanished, and they tell you that so-and-so was last seen somewhere on such a date - no one has seen him or her since. Not to speak of drugs and of the increase of HIV.
There is danger at every stage in the modern world. The unborn child is not safe in his mother's womb - they have discovered something which they call abortion. And the old person is not safe in their own home - they're inventing something which is on the increase called 'euthanasia'. It really means, We don't want to keep on looking after you because you're so old and frail , you no longer matter. And when we're at school, we're all familiar with bullying. And then you might have read just a day or two ago that a member of Parliament, no less, conducting a meeting with his constituents was attacked by a man with a sword. Truly, this is a very dangerous world. And this is a very dangerous age. And it does raise the question, Is there anywhere at all where we may go and find safety?
Well now, that is what my text is all about - safety. Where do you go to get safety? Listen to the words of my text in Proverbs 18,10: "The name of the Lord is a strong tower: the righteous runneth into it, and is safe." The Bible tells us that there is safety nowhere at all but only in God. God is the safety of those who trust in Him.
Now there are three things in this text I want to look at. First of all, I want to look at the believer's never failing refuge: God is a strong tower. Second, I want to look at the believer's instinct of faith, which is: to run to God in time of trouble. And third, I want to consider with you the safety which God promises to those who run to Him: he will find safety.
1. THE BELIEVER'S NEVER FAILING REFUGE
"The name of the Lord is a strong tower: the righteous runneth into it, and is safe" (text). It is a text that you and I need. We need it today, perhaps, as the world never needed it and we're going to need it every day of our lives. We need it for our wives, our children, and above everything else, as I hope to mention later, we need it for our own souls. We need it because God alone is the one place of safety for His people.
Take the subject in the way which I have indicated and we look first of all then at the believer's never failing refuge: "the name of the Lord is a strong tower". This expression 'the name of the Lord' - what does it mean? Well, 'the name of the Lord' is the Lord Himself as He has revealed Himself to us in His holy Word. 'The name of the Lord' means: everything that God is in and of Himself. So 'the name of the Lord' begins by meaning His glorious Being, His divine essence, His eternal unchanging substance. Now you know that God, according to the Lord Jesus Christ, is a Spirit. Jesus said, "God is a Spirit: and they that worship Him must worship Him in spirit and in truth" (John 4,24). And so God, we are told in the Word of Scripture, is a Spirit who is infinite, eternal, unchanging in His being and in everything to do with His persons. 'The name of God' includes God the Father, and God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit - so that when we are blessing the people of God we bless them in the name of God like this: the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you (2 Corinthians 13,14). So 'the name of God' involves His essence, and His three glorious Persons: the Father ever begetting His Son, and the Son ever begotten of the Father, and the Holy Spirit ever proceeding from the Father and from the Son - One in essence, three in Persons. This is the God of whom we say that His name is a strong tower.
Now 'the name of God' includes also all the things that are true about Him: His eternal power, His eternal wisdom, His eternal knowledge, His eternal purpose, His eternal love toward those who love Him, His eternal kindness to those who trust in Him, His readiness to forgive all sin and blasphemy when men put their trust in Him. All of this is included in the expression 'the name of the Lord'. All of this indicates to us that God is totally for us and entirely with us, and everything that belongs to God is engaged to do us good and to give us safety. That is the meaning of this expression that 'the name of the Lord is a strong tower'.
Well, we can understand this illustration. It is, of course, an illustration. A strong tower is something that men build in order to defend themselves from their enemies. I don't know if you know some of the towers that are to be seen in different parts of the country in the Highlands, but evidently in the days of our forefathers when life was simple and primitive they used to build stone structures - solid, thick, almost impregnable - and when the Vikings, perhaps, or some other raiding enemy came by land or sea, our forefathers would have to leave their fields and their flocks, and they would all gather together - men, women, and children - through the small aperture into this tower and there they were safe. The enemy could not get in. It was a strong tower.
In the days of the Norman Conquest, in this country and in other countries, these Normans built for themselves castles. We've seen many pictures of them. They would have a moat, and they would have a drawbridge, and if the enemy were to attack or approach then the drawbridge was lifted up and they were secure inside.
These are the illustrations which the Word of God here uses: the name of God - all that He is and all that He will be - His eternal faithfulness to His people, His eternal essence, His eternal Persons, His eternal attributes: everything to do with God is a strong tower. He is a castle! He is a place of munitions! He is a place of fortifications! And so this is the promise that God is: He will be a place of safety to all those who put their trust in Him.
Now there are many passages in the Bible that make it clear that this is what is meant. Listen to these promises and these exhortations of Scripture: "Fear thou not: for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am Thy God" (Isaiah 41,10). And that is the text which is round about the top of this great promise of God to be a defence for His people. They run into this tower! and are safe. "Be strong and of a good courage," says the Bible, "be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the Lord thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest" (Joshua 1,9). "Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on Thee: because he trusteth in Thee. Trust in the Lord forever, for in the Lord Jehovah is everlasting strength" (Isaiah 26,3-4). Or again, take these words, "Be careful for nothing; but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus" (Philippians 4,6-7). It is the very meaning of this text: "The name of the Lord is a strong tower: the righteous runneth into it, and is safe".
Well let me take just a moment, before I go on to my second heading, and say to you: My friends, the Bible tells us again and again the reasons why God is a defence to those that trust in Him. First of all, because we are His flock: "Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom" (Luke 12,32). No shepherd worthy of the name ever abandoned one of his flock. When the wolf or the enemy came to attack, every shepherd worthy of the name defends his flock - at the risk of his life! So, the Lord Jesus Christ, who is our Good Shepherd, will never allow the devil to harm one of those that are His. "Thy rod," says David, "and Thy staff they comfort me" (Psalm 23,4). The Heavenly Shepherd has the rod and the staff with Him in order to beat off every avenging foe that comes against His people. And because that is the case, the name of the Lord is a strong tower.
Or again, you could put it like this: the Lord will be a place of defence for His people because He loves them! with an everlasting love. Do you suppose that God who has spent the precious life and blood of His own dear Son to ransom us from the troubles of life and from the grave and from sin itself, Do you think this God, having spent so much care in preparing redemption for us by the life, and death, and blood shedding, and agonies of His own Son is going to let one of those who belong to Him perish? He will not! I do not call you servants, says the Lord Jesus Christ, I call you friends (John 15,15).
And do you think God is going to let the devil trouble His friends beyond a certain measure? No, He will not. And because these things are so, God reassures us that He is for us, and "if God be for us, who can be against us?" (Romans 8,31) The name of the Lord is a strong tower. He that is righteous runneth into it in every time of danger - and he is safe.
Now, your duty and mine, beloved Christian friend, is to take God at His word - and in all the trials of life, be they great or small, personal or public, we are to rest in the confidence that God's word is true. Now, sadly, we don't always do that, do we? I heard of a lady once who got on an airplane. She had never travelled on an airplane before, and as most of us are the first time we travel by air, she was very nervous. And as she was sitting on her seat it was observed that she was pressing on the sides of the seat and sitting right on the very edge. And one of the hostesses on the airplane that came along to see that the passengers were comfortable said, "Madam, why don't you relax and sit comfortably on your seat? Why are you pressing on the sides? Why are you sitting on the edge?" "Oh," said the lady, "I don't want to put all my weight onto this machine - it may crash down and I might be killed." You see the absurdity of it all: "I don't want to put my full weight on the airplane," she said. So she was sitting, as it were, right on the edge, and trying to keep her weight from being too much. You see the absurdity of it.
Is it not much more absurd not to rely on God? Is it not much more ridiculous for us to take the burden of the universe upon our shoulders? My friends, the Lord has looked after this world long before you and I came into it, and He'll be looking after it when you and I are but dust in the grave. All the hairs of your head are numbered. Don't be over-troubled, and don't worry too much even for the state of the church. It is not our church, but it belongs to the Lord Jesus Christ. We bear the burden of it in a measure, but don't let these things crush you or overwhelm you. "The name of the Lord is a strong tower."
2. THE BELIEVER'S INSTINCT OF FAITH
Now the second point we have in our text is this: a God-given instinct which all those that have faith will realize and will use. And this instinct is put like this: "the righteous runneth into it." In other words, when we come to faith in the Lord Jesus Christ we develop a certain 'instinct' and this is the instinct: that when we sense that danger is near, we always run to God. Well, this is the instinct of a little child. When there's any danger a little child will run to the mother, or run to the grandmother, or run to some adult person. It is a child's instinct. They run from danger to mother. And that is the believer's instinct - he runs from danger to God. The righteous runneth into it - he hides himself in God. Listen to this proverb: "The prudent man forseeth the evil, and hideth himself: the simple pass on, and are punished" (Proverbs 22,3; 27,12). This is the instinct of the unbeliever - he doesn't realize the danger that's to come, and so he is secure until it is too late. But the instinct of a believer is that when he senses danger approaching, he runs into the bosom of God.
Let me give you some examples which you'll remember from the Word of God. Take the case of Jacob at Peniel (Genesis 32). His brother Esau was coming with four hundred armed men. They had not met for some twenty years. The last time they'd met Esau had sworn to kill Jacob, and who knew what Esau was planning to do now, twenty years later. So what was Jacob going to do? The danger was facing him square in his mind - what could he do? Well I'll tell you what he did: he ran into this strong tower. He spent all the night wrestling with God: and he prevailed, and he was delivered.
Take David at Ziklag. You know the story in I Samuel 30. King David - he was still being persecuted by Saul; Saul was still living, but it was right at the end of Saul's reign - and David has been conducting an excursion against the enemy. When he got back to Ziklag, which was his base at that time, the Amalekites had come, and they had taken away all the wives, and all the children, and all their goods. There was nothing left: their children - gone, their wives - gone. The people were so furious with David, as the leader, they thought of stoning him. David did not know where to turn, but the Word of God tells us he encouraged himself in God (verse 6). This is what he did: he went to God! He fled into the tower! he ran to the tower of God's grace! and poured out his spirit! And the effect was: he armed his men, and they recovered everything - all the spoils, (much more to the point) the wives, the children; all were brought back. You see the instinct of faith: when things are at their worst you flee to God! and pour out your prayer to Him.
Take King Hezekiah (2 Kings 19). That was a terrible moment, - the savage and brutal Assyrians, were overspreading the land of God's people. This was the judgment upon them. They destroyed Israel in the north; they came south to Judah whose king was good king Hezekiah. They captured all the cities, and they surrounded Jerusalem, the capital city of all. When they got there they couldn't destroy it because it was too well fortified; it was almost impregnable. So king Sennacharib, king of these brutal Assyrians, he contented himself with blaspheming against God. It is what we call 'propaganda'. 'Oh,' he shouted, 'if you people think you're safe because of your walls, think again! I've destroyed every nation to which I have come. Your God is no better than the gods of the other nations! Come down, come out, give in, and you can all live in my country, and you'll have vineyards, and fields, and flocks, and you can worship my god.' And Hezekiah, when he heard the blasphemy, he got the letter which was sent to him, and he spread out this letter before God, and he cried to high heaven against the wickedness of this man Sennacharib (verse 14,15). And an angel was sent from heaven, and a hundred and eighty five thousand of these Assyrians were slain in one night. The righteous ran to God! and God heard him.
Take another case of Paul in the New Testament in Acts 27, in the shipwreck. Day upon day, neither sun, nor moon, nor stars could be seen, this little wooden boat was blown all over the Adriatic Sea and down in the Mediterranean Sea, almost being shattered to pieces. They had to take all sails down; the masts were broken! They had to throw the rigging overboard. They were at their wits end - even the sailors didn't know what to do! They didn't take food, day after day. They were terrified. Everybody expected to die at the very next breath! What was the Apostle Paul doing all that terrible time? He was waiting on God. He was running to his tower. God was his tower! And this is what Paul could say when he came out of his place of prayer. He said this to the sailors: Don't be afraid - God has given me all those who sail with me on this ship; I have prayed for the life of every one in this ship. And the end of the chapter is like this: they all escaped safe to land. You see - in trouble we flee to God! Now this shows how we should behave in time of difficulty. We run into our tower.
Even every animal that God has made has an instinct of self-preservation. The Bible tells us that the wild goats when they're attacked they flee to the high mountains - and they're safe. But the rabbits can't do that; the conies, or rabbits, they haven't got the ability to run up to the high top of the mountain. God has given them a different instinct - they run into the holes in the rocks, and there they cannot be pursued by their predators. And even the hen has a wonderful instinct. John Bunyan tells us this. He says, The hen has three calls, or cries. Two of them are just for ordinary purposes, and when the little chickens hear the hens crying, they gather round and she teaches them something they need to know. But the hen has a third cry, which she only uses in time of terrible danger when there's fire or theft. And this special cry all the chickens immediately recognize! and they run to her! and she opens her wings and she encloses the chickens within her wings - and defends them even to the death! Now, that is the way God calls His people to Himself in time of trouble. He is the defense of His people!
And so, my friends, when trouble comes, and when fear comes, and when anxiety threatens, the way in which we are to behave is given to us in this text. We're not to stand still and worry, and worry, and worry again. We are to run to God with our trouble! and pour out our complaint into His ear! His ear is open to our cry!
We are to put God between ourselves and our trouble. We are to look at our trouble through God. We are not to look at God through our troubles. Now when we do this we discover, to our amazement, that we are more than conquerors through Him that loved us. And this is what gives the Christian man or the Christian woman boldness in time of trouble.
I don't know whether you know the story of Harper, who was a great Baptist minister in Glasgow at the beginning of the century. There's a church still named after him - the Harper Memorial Baptist Church somewhere in the south side of Glasgow. Well, this man Harper drowned and died on his way to America on the Titanic, in 1912. The story is very interesting. The ship, as you know, hit the iceberg and began to sink at a terrific rate. It was the biggest and most luxurious ship ever built, up to that date. And some of the people who were serving on it, they said, God Almighty cannot sink this ship. They were boasting of it, and its watertight bulkheads. But they were so careless they didn't even worry about icebergs, and they skimmed across the iceberg and it just was like a penknife cutting right through the metal at the level just under the water - and it went down at a terrific rate, as everybody knows. There was terrible loss of life. It was human pride that caused it. Well, this man Harper was offered a seat in one of the lifeboats. And as he turned round he saw a poor drunkard beside him, and this Reverend Harper said, "No," he said, "give my seat to this man. I'm ready to meet God. This man isn't," he said. And the next thing is this beloved Baptist minister found himself in the water - cold, icy water. And there were lots of them swimming around. And as Harper came in the water to a man beside him, he cried out: "My friend," he said, "are you saved? Trust in the Lord Jesus Christ!" Harper went down and was drowned, as I said. But this other man was picked up, mercifully! not many were but he was. And he was taken to America and he testified: Mr. Harper this faithful and beloved man died courageously, and as he was dying he was preaching still to trust in the Lord Jesus Christ!
How does a man get that courage? How can a man offer another person his seat when it's certain death to do so? How can a man be preaching confidently of Christ when the waters are coming over his body and mind, almost over his soul? The answer is - he has a strong tower! He knows that God is with him! He knows that all the trials of life cannot destroy him! And his instinct is: he flees to God. The Lord is a strong tower and the righteous runneth into it.
3. THE SAFETY WHICH GOD PROMISES TO THOSE WHO RUN TO HIM
Now, third and finally, I have to say that there is a promise attaching to this text. The believer is sure of safety when he puts his trust in God. Look at what is said here, "The name of the Lord is a strong tower: the righteous runneth into it, and is safe" (text). I don't know if you notice the next verse. I think the two verses go together. Let me tell you how. This is verse eleven: "The rich man's wealth is his strong city, and as an high wall in his own conceit." I think these two verses, in a sense, are connected together. You see, it tells us how different the unbeliever is. When trouble comes to the unbeliever, what does he trust in? What is his strong city? What is his tower? What is his high defence? Well, it's not the Lord! - it is his money, or something. You see the contrast there. The unbeliever trusts in his wealth, or his bank balance, or something of the kind, and he doesn't trust in the Lord. Some unbelievers trust in their friends. Others trust in some other outer thing; a mere show of religion without being converted to Christ. That's the kind of man Jesus refers to when He gives His parable of the two builders: one built upon the rock, and the other built upon the sand (Matthew 7,24-27). And these two houses both looked very good, didn't they? It's much easier building on the sand - you don't have to dig deep and make a foundation. And the house looked fine! just as good as the man who builds on the rock - until. The storm comes, and the rain descends, and the winds blow, and the floods arise. These are the troubles of life: and these troubles test what we're all made of, and they prove what we're all founded on, and what we're all built on. The man that built upon the rock was safe and secure - he was truly converted! he had the grace of God in his life! the Lord was his strong tower. But this other man who was building on the sand, he did not have the Lord. He merely had some profession of faith; he had some smattering of religion, probably went to church once in awhile, called himself 'a Christian,' but he didn't have the grace of God in his soul. And when the floods and the rain and the wind all combined - his house collapsed.
Now, my friends, this is why God sends trouble upon us all. Why does God send trouble upon a nation? and in our families? Why does He send trouble even on the churches? What's the purpose of all these troubles that happen in God's providence? Why doesn't God spare us these experiences? Well, the answer is: it is to prove what you and I are made of! When the trouble comes it separates out men - into 'these' and 'those'. They all seem to be identical before, but when the trouble comes it sifts everybody out, and that's why God sends these things. There must needs be divisions among you, says the New Testament, that those who are approved may be made manifest (I Corinthians 11,19). There's a sifting, sifting process - and so John the Baptist puts it like this, he says that when Jesus Christ will come His "fan is in His hand, and He will thoroughly purge His floor" (Matthew 3,12). What does it mean?
He means that the Lord Jesus Christ when He comes will come in such a manner that His preaching will discriminate between those who are converted and those who are not! They all appeared to be good before, but the discriminating preaching of Christ will determine who are God's and who are not God's people! "Then shall ye return," says Malachi, "and discern between the righteous and the wicked, between him that serveth God and him that serveth Him not" (Malachi 3,18). And so these trials and tribulations, they show the instinct of our souls, and if we're not Christians the instinct of our soul is not to flee to God in our troubles: it is to flee to our money, or to something else that we may think we have to defend us. But the instinct of a man or woman of faith is to flee to God as his one and only defence when trouble comes.
Listen to the way David puts it when he comes to his famous last words. Here's good king David dying, and his famous last words: "Although my house be not so with God; yet He hath made with me an everlasting covenant, ordered in all things, and sure" (2 Samuel 23,5). "The righteous runneth into it, and is safe" (text).
Listen to the apostle Paul, "I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that He is able to keep that which I have committed unto Him" (2 Timothy 1,12). What's that? It's his soul. It's his salvation. It's his eternal wellbeing. My friends, it's the soul that matters. Jesus Christ makes it very clear in the reading I gave you from Matthew 10: "Fear not them which kill the body but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear Him which is able to destroy both body and soul in hell" (Matthew 10,28). You can imagine some little modern preacher in some churches you know and writing in a magazine they would say, 'Oh that's far too strong. That's not very kind. Why did this Son of God talk about hell? We mustn't talk about that. It's a forbidden subject. We're not to talk about anything so serious and terrible as that. You'll upset the people! You won't send them home 'with a spring in their step'. If you talk about hell like that they'll never come back!'
But Jesus Christ loved the souls of men too well to conceal the truth: "Fear Him who hath power both to destroy body and soul in hell." They're not my words - they're the words of the Eternal Son of God. Now why did He put it like that? Well, to remind us that all the troubles that affect our bodies are nothing. It's our soul that matters! It's to get our soul to heaven through Christ that matters!
My friend, we're being shown here something by Christ, and in this text, which is of extreme importance in the Christian. Let me put it like this: always do what is right, and leave all the consequences to God. Now that's not the wisdom which everybody has. Some people start to talk like this: they say, Well, if I do this, then that's sure to happen, and if I do that I'm going to lose friends, I'm going to lose relations, I'm going to make myself unpopular, I'm going to put myself at disadvantage, I'll probably not get on so well in my business, I will lose so many things in this world. That's the devil's logic. Never listen to the argument from consequences. Consequences belong to God! Do what is right, always! Aim at the glory of God, always! and leave everything else to God to work out. That is our duty. And Christ gives us the perfect example of how to do this duty.
Jesus could have spared Himself all the troubles of the Cross. He had no need to die. He deliberately died and gave Himself to God to die on the Cross - because He knew in so doing He was glorifying God and doing His duty. Do you remember when they came to arrest Him in the Garden of Gethsemane? Our Lord was there, with His disciples, and along came Judas with the lanterns, and the sticks, and staves, and so on, and all these officers came to arrest Christ. And do you remember what our Lord did? He turned and looked at them - and they all fell backwards! the whole lot of them. Why did they fall backwards? Well, because He put forth just a tiny little of His power as the Son of God. Had He put forth any more power they would have turned to dust, the whole lot of them! And our Lord could have destroyed His enemies, in an instant! But He didn't. Why not? Well, because it was His own wish to glorify God by suffering the pains of death and of the Cross, for our sakes! And so when He prays to God He says, "I have finished the work which Thou gavest Me to do" (John 17,4), even though it meant putting Himself in the grave.
So must every Christian put God first. Never mind about the consequences - leave them to God. Do what is right! and God will see to the rest. "The name of the Lord is a strong tower, the righteous runneth into it, and he is safe" (text). You will be safe, my friend, if you do what is right. God will never forsake you if you do what is right. Oh, you may suffer the loss of this, or the loss of that, or even the loss of your life! But what's that? Fear not those who can kill the body! Fear God who can destroy body and soul in hell. God will take us to glory forever! But we must do what He requires of us, and we must choose Him, rather than our own comfort.
So now, as I close, very briefly a word or two of application. In this day and age in which we're living, my dear friends, Satan is raging on every hand - he is raging in the state, he is raging in the church - because he knows his time is short. He knows his chain is getting shorter with every passing day. He sees the lake of fire coming towards him. He sees Christ's glorious victory over him. He does the more mischief the closes he gets, therefore, to the Judgment Day. Resist him. And when you're troubled by him don't despair - pour out your soul to God. Flee to your high tower. It's rather like this: you know some days are windy days; maybe yesterday was one of those windy, stormy days - everything seems to be so difficult. But we know very well it's not always going to be like that. Bright, clear days will come again! There will be fair weather and calm sailing yet again. In times when there is a storm - hold fast. Enter into your tower till the wrath be overpast. God will bring comfort and joy to His people again in due season.
But what of those of you here who have no strong tower? If you're not converted, if you have not got Christ, you have no strong tower! Where can you run to when trouble comes? That's the problem of being a non-Christian. It might sound very smart to be an atheist, or to be an unbeliever. It might sound very smart, and very clever, and very modern, and very up-to-date, but the trouble with being an unbeliever is this: when trouble comes you have nowhere to flee to! You've got no defence! no strong tower! Oh, my beloved friend, if you're not a Christian I bid you this day, Turn to the Lord Jesus Christ! and say to Him: My Lord and my God! oh, save me in this world! and when trouble comes at any time, be Thou my dwelling rock to which I ever may resort. Amen.
Download This Text Sermon
This text sermon can be downloaded in HTML format so that it can be viewed off-line using an internet browser, and many other programs. (As you can read this page, you can view HTML format files on this computer.)
Download this sermon now - to download please right click and select "save target as" or "save link target as". Please note: It is strongly advised that you use this link to download a sermon, rather than simply saving the current page.