“The name of the Lord is a fortified tower; the righteous run to it and are safe.
The wealth of the rich is their fortified city; they imagine it a wall too high to scale.” (Proverbs 18:10-11)
As I write this article my computer screen is being bombarded by various news reports that the president is growing restless with the global shutdown of the economy due to COVID-19 and is pondering lifting quarantine restrictions by Easter. He seems to be advocating this timeline against the best advice and best virus containment practices recommended by health professionals.
So much in our world can evoke a sense of insecurity and feeling unsafe. The word ‘safe’ means to ‘be protected from or not exposed to danger or risk’. Our most primal fears are connected to our sense of safety (‘What will become of me?’) The scripture passage above seems to indicate that ‘safe’ is not just a mere feeling. God’s standard of safety is more so a state of being that only He can provide.
Safety is a Matter of Faith
The text above gives 2 contrasting objects of faith – God’s Name and worldly wealth. The ‘righteous’ see The Name of The Lord as a ‘fortified tower’ into which they ‘run’. But the ‘rich’ see their wealth as a ‘fortified city’ and imagine it to be too high for anything or anyone to threaten them. The righteous are safe because of their faith in God. But the rich only ‘imagine’ themselves to be safe because of their wealth. The text shows us that the righteous are only deemed righteous because of their unconditional trust in God. Such a person’s sense of safety is never dependent upon the conditions or circumstances that surround them. The rich, on the other hand, have a more temporal connection to safety that is completely dependent upon their ability to procure, grow and sustain wealth. In this sense, the rich have a fragile sense of psychological safety that springs from their imagination.
Safety is a Matter of Perspective
Our text tells us that the perspective of the rich is achieved from a self-constructed ‘wall of wealth’ that exists in their minds. But walls tend to crack and crumble over time. The current volatility of the stock market illustrates the unreliability of money to keep us safe. In contrast, all those who have a relationship with ‘Yahweh’ (I Am) are granted perspective by running into The Fortified Tower of His Name. The word picture intended here is that trusting in The Lord’s Name immediately deems us safe. This is because our fate is not tied to the growth or containment of a virus nor is it determined by restless presidents eager to restore an American economy. No. Our safety is obtained in The Strong Tower of God’s Character, His Promises, and His Plan. That is, God and God alone is The Source of our safety.
In biblical times people would build fortified towers on their city walls so that they could see danger coming from all directions. The point here is that it is foolish to build a wall without a tower. No matter how high or strong your walls are, It doesn’t matter unless Someone is watching over you. This is a metaphor for the limitations of wealth and our collective need for God in troublesome times. All that we are required to do is run. When fearful, we run into the tower of ‘The Name of The Lord’.
What walls have you built around yourself to make you feel safe? What do you do when these walls fail to keep you safe? It’s not too late. You can still run into The Tower. There’s still room.