God Our Refuge

“A mighty fortress is our God, a bulwark never failing. Our helper He, amid the flood of mortal ills prevailing” – Martin Luther, ca. 1527

One of the primary purposes of the holy scriptures is to reveal the nature and character of God.  He is frequently described throughout the Bible as being a place of refuge for his people – A place of safety, a place of comfort, a place of hiding.   Martin Luther penned the famous hymn “A Mighty Fortress Is Our God” based on Psalm 46, which begins “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble”.  

Below is a sample of many similar references:

Psalm 31: 2-3 “Bow down your ear to me, deliver me speedily; Be my rock of refuge, a fortress of defense to save me.  For you are my rock and my fortress; Therefore, for your name’s sake, lead me and guide me.”

Psalm 5:11-12 “But let all who take refuge in you rejoice; let them ever sing for joy, and spread your protection over them, that those who love your name may exult in you.  For you bless the righteous, O Lord; you cover him with favor as with a shield.”

Psalm 18:2 “The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.”

Psalm 71: 3 “Be to me a rock of refuge, to which I may continually come; you have given the command to save me, for you are my rock and my fortress.”

Proverbs 18:10 “The name of the Lord is a strong tower; the righteous man runs into it and is safe.”

Nahum 1:7 “The Lord is good, a stronghold in the day of trouble; he knows those who take refuge in him.”

Psalm 91 in its entirety is a beautiful depiction of the protective relationship of God and his people, “He will cover you with his pinions, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness is a shield and buckler.” (verse 4) 

 How does the follower of Jesus lay hold of God as a refuge and protector?

The answer begins in another command found in Proverbs 4:23, 

“Watch over your heart with all diligence, for from it flow the springs of life.” 

 Here we learn that our heart is of vital importance, and it is to be cared for, watched over with ALL diligence, and protected.  It is crucial to understand why God places such a high value on our heart and its condition:  The healthy, pure, tender heart is the key to kingdom life.  That “heart of flesh” gifted to those who are found in Christ.  God wants his own heart to beat within the heart of the believer, and when this human-divine relationship is fully engaged that is where his kingdom is made manifest.  That is where Heaven meets Earth.  

Which is why Satan targets the hearts of mankind.  This battle is for your heart.  The negative circumstances of life, the pain and suffering of the fallen world in which we live, the consistent attacks of the world system against the heart of every human being on the planet – the goal is to take us out, from the inside out.  To turn the heart away from its creator, to plant the seeds of bitterness and unbelief – to traumatize, wound, steal, kill and destroy. 

How does the believer partner with God so that their heart is watched over and protected? What does it mean to take refuge in Him? 

One way is to take your heart to the secret place of prayer, to the sacred place of his presence.  Simply spending time with God in his presence is healing!  Process life’s events with him.  Talk to him about the ups and the downs.  Pour out your praises and your laments.  Allow him to speak into these things and let his love and his very presence be your refuge. 

“Watch over” your heart in this way diligently, tending its soil like a faithful farmer who tills and keeps his soil healthy.  Uprooting the weeds as they sprout, anything not of God’s kingdom: Bitterness, division, jealousy, envy, strife, etc.  God is the one who heals and restores, but he needs us to partner with him in the process.  Most of our part resembles simply showing up and spending time with him in his presence and in the spiritual disciplines (scripture study, prayer and fasting). 

Take your heart to God every day, let him be your refuge!

And that’s the mid-week memo.

By Michael Kurtz



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