A bulwark is a fortified wall or something that provides protection or support. The term bulwark is used primarily in the King James Version of the Bible. For example, “Mark ye well her bulwarks” (Psalm 48:13). “Thou shalt build bulwarks against the city that maketh war with thee” (Deuteronomy 20:20). “He made in Jerusalem engines, invented by cunning men, to be on the towers and upon the bulwarks, to shoot arrows and great stones withal” (2 Chronicles 26:15). The NIV has “ramparts,” “siege works,” and “corner defenses,” respectively, in the above verses.
We are probably familiar with the term bulwark because of its use in the English translation of the classic hymn “A Mighty Fortress is Our God” by Martin Luther. That hymn presents God’s power on our behalf in the midst of a raging spiritual war. The first line is “A mighty fortress is our God, a bulwark never failing.”
The concept of God as a bulwark is a recurring theme of the Old Testament. Many passages refer to God as a strong tower (Proverbs 18:10; Jeremiah 16:19), a fortress (2 Samuel 22:2; Psalm 91:2; 94:22), and a refuge (Psalm 91:2, 9; 142:5). God’s children are invited to run to Him to find shelter in times of storm (Psalm 64:10; 118:8). As a bulwark, the Lord defends the weak and helpless (Psalm 9:9; 12:5). He provides safety for the righteous who take refuge in His name (Proverbs 18:10). We take refuge in Him by trusting in His promises rather than placing our faith in what we can see or understand (Proverbs 3:5–6).
Isaiah 26 contains a wonderful picture of God’s gracious salvation of His people:
“In that day this song will be sung in the land of Judah:
‘We have a strong city;
God will appoint salvation for walls and bulwarks.
Open the gates,
That the righteous nation which keeps the truth may enter in.
You will keep him in perfect peace,
Whose mind is stayed on You,
Because he trusts in You’” (Isaiah 26:1–3, NKJV).
We praise the Lord that His salvation is a true bulwark. Those who are in Christ have found their only defense against the world, the flesh, and the devil. Let Satan do his worst; we have in God “a bulwark never failing.”