What Is a Refuge? There is not just one word that encompasses the idea of refuge in the Old Testament, there are 5.
A maoz was a place or means of safety – Nahum 3:11. A manos was the noun form of a verb that meant "to flee" a place to flee for protection – Psalm 59:16. A mahseh was a refuge or shelter -Psalm 46:1. A misgav was a stronghold – Psalm 46:7. A seter was a hiding place – Psalm 32:7.
But they all mean the same thing: a place of safety and protection—like the six "cities of refuge" where people accused of a crime could flee for protection mentioned in Numbers 35:6-34.
Most importantly, the biblical writers used the idea of a physical refuge as a metaphor for God as we read in Psalm 46:1, “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.”
When David was kept safe from the murderous pursuit of King Saul, he credited his survival to God in Psalm 18:2 where we read, “The LORD is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer; my God, my strength, in whom I will trust; my buckler, and the horn of my salvation, and my high tower.” Ruth found refuge under the wings of the God of Israel (Ruth 2:12). Strangely enough, these Old Testament words—refuge, shelter, stronghold, hiding place—rarely occur in the New Testament because of the notion of our already being "in Christ," a phrase occurring 87 times. Hebrews 6:18 is an exception, reminding us that God is the One to whom we have fled for refuge. "(We) who have fled for refuge to lay hold upon the hope set before us:…”
Think of the characteristics of an Old Testament refuge, stronghold, or hiding place. When you think of those in human terms, God is the only one who qualifies.
A refuge is safe. In Psalm 98:9-10 we read, "Because thou hast made the LORD, which is my refuge, even the most High, thy habitation… no evil shall befall you." You are safe in God, never separated from His love.
A refuge is strong. In Psalm 91:7 we read, "A thousand may fall at your side, and ten thousand at thy right hand; but it shall not come nigh you." Numbers do not matter when it comes to God's strength. God and you are greater than any opposing force.
A refuge is secure. In Psalm 91:5 we read, “Thou shalt not be afraid for the terror by night; nor for the arrow that flieth by day;” People who are secure in God do not live in fear of what might happen in their life.
A refuge is solid. In Psalm 91:2 we read, "I will say of the LORD, 'He is my refuge and my fortress; my God, in Him I will trust.” Think of the solid walls of a mighty castle or fortress. God is like that—solid, immovable and indestructible.
A refuge is a shelter. In Psalm 91:1 we read, “He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.” A shelter is a covering, something over our heads. When you dwell under the shadow of God, you are covered by Him forever.
This week if you need a safe place, you need God. He is the only refuge we have that will never disappoint.
In His Amazing Grace,
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