Saturday, August 13, 2011

Psalm 11 - An Epiphany about Refuge, Finally

This is the last Psalm that I read when I started reading through them back in February and I have been excited about sharing it since I started the blog.  It was an "aha" moment and I hope it brings you some insight, too.

Psalm 11 starts with the line, "in the Lord I take refuge."  If you've read any other post, you have probably heard me talk about refuge as being elusive: something I expect from God, but never really find.  It has been a source of great frustration to me to feel like I was missing something that I so desperately wanted (for more on this, see my post about Psalm 5).  So, when the word refuge came up yet again, I decided to do something of a word study to see all the times it is mentioned in the Psalms.

It's a lengthy list, so I'm only going to include the parts of the verses that relate to my "epiphany," even though that might leave out some of the context of each verse.  After all, I'll get to these Psalms later.

  • Psalm 2:12 - "Blessed are all who take refuge in him."
  • Psalm 5:11 - "But let all who take refuge in you be glad..."
  • Psalm 7:1 - "LORD my God, I take refuge in you..."
  • Psalm 9:9 - "The LORD is a refuge for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble." 
  • Psalm 11:1 - "In the LORD I take refuge."
  • Psalm 16:1 - "Keep me safe, my God, for in you I take refuge."
  • Psalm 17:7 - "Show me the wonders of your great love, you who save by your right hand those who take refuge in you from their foes."
  • Psalm 18:2 - "My God is my rock, in whom I take refuge..." 
  • Psalm 31:2 - "Turn your ear to me, come quickly to my rescue; be my rock of refuge, a strong fortress to save me." 
  • Psalm 34:8 - "Blessed is the one who takes refuge in him." 
  • Psalm 36:7 - "People take refuge in the shadow of your wings." 
  • Psalm 46:1 - "God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble." 
  • Psalm 62:8 - "...for God is our refuge."
  • Psalm 71:1 - "In you, LORD, I have taken refuge..."
  • Psalm 91:2 - "He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust."
  • Psalm 144:2 - " shield, in whom I take refuge..." 
According to my concordance, I found 16 places where the word "refuge" is used in the Psalms.  Of those 16 times, the word refuge is used in the context of "taking refuge" 10 times.  An additional time, refuge is in the context of "finding refuge."  

So, perhaps all this time, the thing that has been missing hasn't been God's provision of refuge, but my own action of seeking it out and grabbing on to it.  Have I not been taking advantage of the refuge he's already providing?  It gives a whole new perspective to my anger at God, realizing that maybe his promises of refuge weren't empty after all.  Maybe my anger and desperation has blinded me to all the ways he was trying to give me a refuge.  God is safety, deliverance, peace - all those things I associate with refuge.  But somewhere between college and now, I have somehow stopped actually taking refuge in God.  

I don't know if anyone can fully understand the relief this brings unless they have ever been torn between trusting in God's character and feeling like he's breaking with that character.  It's humbling to think that all this time my pride might have been the thing making me feel like God was standoffish.  That isn't to say that my feelings of anger and bitterness are completely resolved, because they are not, but it at least gives me something to think about.

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