The Hebrew word mauz (מָעוֹז) means a place of safety or protection. In the King James Version of the Bible, it is usually translated “strength,” sometimes “rock,” “fortress” or “fort,” and once, in the book of Nahum, it is translated “strong hold:”

The Lord is good, a strong hold in the day of trouble; and he knoweth them that trust in him.

Nahum 1:7, emphasis added

The Hebrew word mibstar (מִבְצָר) means a fortification or an enclosure, and it is sometimes also translated “strong hold,” as in the following verses:

All thy strong holds shall be like fig trees with the firstripe figs: if they be shaken, they shall even fall into the mouth of the eater.

Nahum 3:12, emphasis added

Draw thee waters for the siege, fortify thy strong holds: go into clay, and tread the mortar, make strong the brickkiln.

There shall the fire devour thee; the sword shall cut thee off, it shall eat thee up like the cankerworm: make thyself many as the cankerworm, make thyself many as the locusts.

Nahum 3:14-15, emphasis added

The concept of strongholds is an important one in the Book of Mormon, particularly in the war chapters near the end of the book of Alma:

  • Captain Moroni “did prepare strongholds against the coming of their enemies, round about every city in all the land” (Alma 50:6).
  • Many of the Nephite army’s strategies involved tricking their enemy into leaving their strongholds. (See Alma 52:19-24, Alma 56:21-36, Alma 58:1-22.)
  • Moroni put the prisoners to work, building up the fortifications around the city of Bountiful, until it “became an exceeding stronghold ever after” (Alma 53:5).

When the Savior visited the American continent, he quoted another Old Testament passage which relates to strongholds. Speaking of the turmoil which will precede his Second Coming, He said:

I will cut off the cities of thy land, and throw down all thy strongholds;

3 Nephi 21:15; see also Micah 5:11

Here’s what I conclude from all of these passages:

  1. It’s good to establish places of safety to protect you and your loved ones from danger.
  2. When you are under attack, it is important to stay inside of your places of safety. Your enemy will try to convince you to leave, so that you will be more vulnerable.
  3. Any stronghold we build is imperfect. We do the best we can, but we must remember that every man-made stronghold can fail. God is our only perfect stronghold.

Today, I will place my trust in God, knowing that He can be a stronghold in a time of trouble. I will take appropriate precautions to protect myself and those I love, but I will remember that our ultimate safety and refuge comes from Him.

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