You don’t have to drive very far in Europe before seeing a castle or at least the ruins of one. Even the hilltops around Basel are dotted with ancient stone strongholds. There are over 500 castles in Switzerland most of which lie in disrepair. A few have been restored but most of them are shells, reminders of a former time and need.
It’s hard for us in the 21st century to imagine how significant these places once were. In a different era they were essential to the protection and care of the population who were vulnerable to an advancing army or roving thieves. They were the last form of defence and protection.
Walking around these places and learning about their importance has helped my understanding of some Biblical imagery. For example, Proverbs 18:10 says, “The name of the LORD is a strong tower; the righteous runs into it and is safe.”
A strong tower wasn’t just a reference to the solid construction of the building but also its location. It meant the tower was high above other ground, too high to be captured. A strong tower was safe because it was considered inaccessible to the enemy. A high tower or strong tower would be difficult or impossible to capture. When a community was in danger, the townspeople could run to the highest point and shut themselves up in the fortification. There they would rest because they were in the safest place.
There are times when we all just need to know there is a safe place to run when we feel the enemy is on the move. It’s not a physical place but it’s just as real. Our God is a mighty fortress, a strong tower and our defender. He is the one we can retreat to in the midst of our daily battle. In him, we find a place of safety and security that still stands today.