There is not just one word that encompasses the idea of refuge in the Old Testament.
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 (Numbers 35:6-34; Joshua 20:1-9).
Most importantly, the biblical writers used the idea of a physical refuge as a metaphor for God: "God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble." – Psalm 46:1; "…yea, in the shadow of thy wings will I make my refuge, until these calamities be overpast." – Psalm 57:1. When David was kept safe from the murderous pursuit of King Saul, he credited his survival to God, Psalm 18:2, “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). Why is God our Refuge? He alone can assuage us in the present and assure us of our future. 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.
If you need a safe place, you need God.
A refuge is safe. "Because thou hast made the LORD, which is my refuge… (10)… There shall no evil befall thee,” – Psalm 91:9-10. You are safe in God, never separated from His love.
A refuge is strong. "A thousand shall fall at thy side, and ten thousand at thy right hand; but it shall not come nigh thee.” – Psalm 91:7. Numbers do not matter when it comes to God's strength. God and you are greater than any opposing force.
A refuge is secure. "Thou shalt not be afraid for the terror by night; nor for the arrow that flieth by day;" – Psalm 91:5. People who are secure in God do not live in fear of what might happen in their life.
A refuge is solid. "I will say of the LORD, He is my refuge and my fortress: my God; in him will I trust." – Psalm 91:2. Think of the solid walls of a mighty castle or fortress. God is like that – solid, immovable, indestructible.
A refuge is a shelter. "He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.” – Psalm 91:1. A shelter is a covering, something over our heads. When you dwell under the shadow of God, you are covered by Him forever.
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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