When God is Our Refuge

Posted on February 8, 2013 by Dr. Jerry Rankin in Devotional Reflections

Rankin-Devotional“Protect me, God, for I take refuge in You….I keep the Lord in mind always. Because He is at my right hand I will not be shaken.” Psalm 16:1, 8

A refuge is a place of safety, somewhere we can feel secure. Birds seek refuge in their nests, something often used as an analogy of a place of rest. We read about refugees in war-torn countries of the world seeking to cross the border and find a place of safety from threats and dangers. Christians often feel that they are in a battle, wearied by stress and pressures to meet expectations or trying to live in conflict with the contrary values of a secular society.

We know in theory that God is our refuge and our only protection against temptations and the constant forces of worldly pressures. But how do we stay safe and secure in that eternal refuge? It is by practicing the presence of Christ. We are to be mindful that He is always with us. It is when we feel that God is not with us and we are all alone, left to our own fallible emotions and weak intentions that we are overcome. But when threatening situations arise that would destroy our joy and sense of peace, being mindful of the Lord as our refuge reminds us He is present and in Him we cannot be shaken.

Is this playing mind games? Perhaps, but we live by faith, not by sight, believing the truth of God’s word regardless of our feelings or experience. And this is what the Psalmist says we have when we acknowledge God as our refuge: He preserves and cares for us, He assures of us of salvation (“You will not abandon me to Sheol” v. 10) and He gives us delight in fellowship with other believers (“as for the holy people who are in the land…are my delight” v. 2).

When we take refuge in God He keeps us from being distracted to other gods (“those who take another god…I will not speak their names with my lips” v. 4). We would not think of making offerings to idols or giving credibility to Buddha and Mohammed, but we need a refuge from the gods of wealth, success and personal gratification that divert us from the sense of security in God. Also, the capacity for goodness comes only from taking refuge in God rather from within ourselves. “I have no good besides you” (v. 2).

The blessing of this Psalm, however, is a description of what we gain from taking refuge in God. He determines a blessed course of life and gives us a good heritage. “Lord, you are my portion and my cup of blessings; You hold my future. The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; indeed, I have a beautiful inheritance” (vv. 5-6).

God guides us in life’s decisions and provides counsel and instruction along the way. “You reveal the path of life to me” (v. 11); “I will praise the Lord who counsels me, even at night my conscience counsels me” (v. 7). The reason we get in trouble and are desperate to find refuge from the consequences of our behavior is because we too often seek to determine our own course and make decisions without the guidance and counsel of the Lord.

But the ultimate blessing of finding refuge in God is the fullness of joy that results. These are not just short-lived pleasures and a sense of well-being when everything works out. He does not bring us to the mountain-top only to be thrust back into the valley of failure and despair, but in His presence are “eternal pleasures” (v. 11). The blessing and joy of finding security in God is forever!

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