God in the Psalms No.11
Psa 7:1 O LORD my God, I take refuge in you; save and deliver me from all who pursue me
We have seen previously (Meditation 3) God as a shield, the one who stands between us and our enemy and provides protection, but the idea of God being a refuge takes us on beyond that to a fuller and more intimate picture of God with us.
Yes, there is the same idea of God being a protector and He does it by being a deliverer (as we saw in Meditation 4), to save David from those who pursued him and sought to kill him (v.2). So what’s the difference between a shield and a refuge? A shield is something you hold out in front of you to protect you from the enemy, while a refuge is a place you retreat into to receive that same protection. A shield is before you and a refuge is all around you. A shield you have to hold up strongly, but a refuge is something you retreat into when you are weak and unable to defend yourself. The refuge provides the strength and you need do nothing except get into it.
In mountain areas, there is sometimes a refuge in high places which is either a hut or simply a wall in a square shape with a single opening. In both cases the climber or walker simply gets into the refuge to escape the weather. When wives have been beaten by husbands who are bullies, we now have ‘refuges’ where they can go where the husband cannot. All they need do is flee into the refuge and they are safe.
Thus, similarly, we can have a sense of the Lord’s presence surrounding us and when that happens, the noise of the winds of adversity are cut off and we have peace. God is our refuge. There are times when the enemy seems to rage against us and affliction comes in a variety of ways, and we cry out to the Lord and then, suddenly all is still, the struggle seems to be terminated. God is our refuge. It is simply His presence being manifested and whenever He comes into our circumstances, He takes control and peace comes. The picture of Jesus asleep in the boat with the disciples, in the storm (Mt 8:24 -), although an historical event, is also a good analogy of this. A storm blew up that threatened the boat. They woke Jesus and he returned to their conscious world and rebuked the wind and the waves. Suddenly there was peace. Thus was God manifest. God was their refuge.
In Num 35:9 onwards we find God giving Moses the law for the cities of refuge. These were simply places where someone who had committed manslaughter could go to get protection against the avenger. We have an accuser, Satan, for that is what his name means. When we fail and sin, we confess it and when he accuses us we have to flee to the refuge that is Jesus and all he’s done of us on the Cross. That was why John wrote in 1 Jn 2:1,2 about how, should we sin, we have one who speaks in our defence, the one who died for us, Jesus. When we are accused we are to flee to God, our refuge, for He alone has provided safety and protection for us against the demands of Satan and the Law, so that we might live and not die. He is our refuge because of who He is and what He’s done. Psa 126:1 says, “Keep me safe, O God, for in you I take refuge.” This is what a refuge does, it keeps us safe; it makes us feel secure. That is far more than the work of a shield. As we said, the refuge surrounds us and it is His strength, not ours, that prevails against the enemy. We just have to cry to Him and then let Him be Himself for us, for His very presence acts as a refuge from all the enemy can bring against us. Hallelujah!