May 21, 2013
More than 40 times the book of Psalms urges us to take refuge in God. But what does that mean?
The word “refuge” makes us think of fleeing into a castle tower where we are protected from danger. That’s comforting.
But how do we actually take refuge in God? And when we do, what dangers will He protect us from?
It was Sunday morning before our worship gathering. I had been through a tough week — feeling fear, doubt and discouragement.
So I pulled out my packet of memory verses to fight the fight of faith, and started with Psa 36:7 —
The children of mankind take refuge in the shadow of your wings.
That sounded encouraging. But I wondered — what does that mean?
Feasting And Drinking
I kept reading, to see if David gave any clues in the next verse —
They feast on the abundance of your house, and you give them drink from the river of your delights.
Hmm. Feasting on the abundance of God’s house, and drinking from the river of God’s delights, means seeking and finding my joy in God. But what does that have to do with taking refuge in God?
To see if there was a connection, I read both of these verses together —
The children of mankind take refuge in the shadow of your wings. They feast on the abundance of your house, and you give them drink from the river of your delights.
Reading them together was helpful– it sounded like taking refuge in God means feasting on the abundance of His house and drinking of His delights.
And as I prayed over that truth, God used it to encourage, strengthen, and prepare me for Sunday morning.
But over the next few days I had a nagging question — do any other verses connect refuge in God with joy in God?
To answer this, I looked at other Psalms which mention taking refuge in God, to see if any of them make the same connection.
What I found surprised me —
Psalm 16:1-2 — Preserve me, O God, for in you I take refuge. I say to the LORD, “You are my Lord; I have no good apart from you.”
So taking refuge in God means seeing that I have no good apart from God. It means seeing that all my good — all my joy — is in God Himself.
Psalm 34:8 — Oh, taste and see that the LORD is good! Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him!
Why should I taste and see that the Lord is good? It’s because the one who takes refuge in Him is blessed. Which shows that taking refuge in God means tasting and seeing that the Lord is good.
Psalm 64:10 — Let the righteous one rejoice in the LORD and take refuge in him! Let all the upright in heart exult!
Notice how rejoicing in the Lord is linked with taking refuge in Him. And both of those are summarized as exulting in God, which means having great delight in Him.
Psalm 73:28 — But for me it is good to be near God; I have made the Lord GOD my refuge, that I may tell of all your works.
For the psalmist it is good to be near God, which means God Himself is his highest joy. And he explains that having God as his greatest good is the same thing as making God his refuge.
Psalm 142:5 — I cry to you, O LORD; I say, “You are my refuge, my portion in the land of the living.”
For God to be my refuge means I see Him as my portion, my inheritance, my prize. It means I am seeking Him as my all-satisfying Treasure.
Putting This Together
These passages convinced me. Taking refuge in God means seeking and finding my joy in God.
Here’s how this works.
Let’s say I’m seeking my joy in money. In that case, a recession would threaten me, because it could hurt my money, which would hurt my joy.
So if my joy is in money, a recession is like a thousand Orcs with clubs and swords and spears marching toward defenseless me. Trouble.
But there’s something I can do. There’s a massive, fully-stocked tower I can run into as my refuge — joy in God.
God promises that through faith in Jesus Christ He will fill me with joy in Himself now and forever (John 6:35; John 7:37-38), and He will provide money and whatever else I need in the meantime (Phil 4:19).
So if my joy is in God, and not money, a recession can’t threaten me. Just like if I was in a strong, impregnable tower with limitless supplies of food and drink and joy forever, a thousand Orcs can’t threaten me.
Joy in God is that strong, impregnable tower.
But knowing this is one thing. Experiencing it is another. So —
How Can We Experience This?
Start by turning to Jesus Christ just as you are, with your fears, worries, and concerns.
Confess that you are seeking your joy in things besides Him. Ask Him to forgive you. Receive His assurance of complete forgiveness through the Cross (1 John 1:9).
Admit that you can’t change your heart by yourself. Trust that His power can change you. Ask Him to help you turn from those other joys so you can experience Him as your all-satisfying joy (Psa 79:9; Luke 18:27; Psa 4:6-7).
Turn your heart from whatever else you have been seeking for joy, and turn to Him. Set your heart on who He is as revealed in God’s Word. Pray over Scriptures which describe His love (Gal 2:20), power (Mark 6:41-42), wisdom (John 7:46), and glory (John 1:14).
Pray over those Scriptures until you feel the Holy Spirit strengthening your faith so you once again feel Jesus Christ as your all-satisfying joy (John 4:13-14; John 6:35; John 7:37-38; 2Cor 3:18). When Christ is your all-satisfying joy — no trial can threaten you. You are in an impregnable tower.
Pray over God’s promises that He will take care of every need brought about by future trials — needs for wisdom (James 1:5), finances (Matt 6:33), strength (Phil 4:13), and anything else (Phil 4:19). The tower is fully stocked.
Taking Refuge In God
When we seek our joy in anything besides Christ, we are defenseless, and the Orcs are coming.
But nearby is a massive, impregnable, fully stocked tower.
How can we enter that tower? By seeking our joy in Christ, trusting His promises to fully satisfy us in Himself, and relying on Him to take care of everything else we need.
When we do, we’ll be safe. Forever.
So run for the tower.
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And here are some related posts you might find helpful –
- Is This Trial From Satan Or God?
- Asking Why? Here’s God’s Loving Purpose For Every Trial
- How Spurgeon Saw His Trials And Suffering
- Facing A Trial? Jesus Is The Super-Piling
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