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What Does It Mean to Seek Refuge with God?

What Does It Mean to Seek Refuge with God?

Scripture uses the word refuge eighty-eight times. One of the most famous passages with a focus on refuge is Psalm 46. The chapter begins and ends declaring that the Lord is our refuge. Webster’s Dictionary tells us that a refuge is “shelter or protection from danger or distress.” We need a safe place to go to in the midst of difficulties. God is the one who welcomes us and holds us safely in His arms.

When studying the names of God, one of His titles is Refuge – Menusi or Makhsi in Hebrew. When we pay attention to the names that the Lord has given to Himself, we can cry out to Him based on our circumstances. This not only reminds us how God can meet our needs in any situation, but it allows us to proclaim who He is in worship every day.

Where Is the Term Refuge Used in Scripture?

Some Bible verses with the word refuge include:

Psalm 46:1 “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.”

Psalm 91:2 “I will say to the Lord, ‘My refuge and my fortress, My God, in whom I trust!’”

Proverbs 14:26 “In the fear of the Lord there is strong confidence, and his children will have refuge.”

Isaiah 25:4 “For You have been a defense for the helpless, a defense for the needy in his distress, a refuge from the storm, a shade from the heat; for the breath of the ruthless is like a rain storm against a wall.”

Jeremiah 16:19 “O Lord, my strength and my stronghold, and my refuge in the day of distress. To You the nations will come from the ends of the earth and say, ‘Our fathers have inherited nothing but falsehood, futility and things of no profit.’”

Hebrews 6:17-18 “In the same way God, desiring even more to show to the heirs of the promise the unchangeableness of His purpose, interposed with an oath, so that by two unchangeable things in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have taken refuge would have strong encouragement to take hold of the hope set before us.”

Jason Custer from Leading Captivity Captive says, “Interestingly enough, the primary use of the word refuge” in the Old Testament before the Psalms is in reference to the 'Cities of Refuge.’ That is what I find particularly odd. The Cities of Refuge were six cities that were safe-havens for anyone who had accidentally killed someone to flee to. The killer was safe in the city from any avenger, yet could not leave the city until the high priest had died. Which makes for an interesting idea of God – a refuge – a place to flee when one is being pursued. This is not a usual place to reside, but one that only those in dire need come to.”

When we think about the difficulties we are currently facing, we may not be physically running for our lives, but we could be spiritually seeking out a safe haven. We are in the midst of a great spiritual battle in which the Lord already won. However, we are still on the battle grounds awaiting His return.

When Do We Need a Refuge?

We can go to our Lord any day, but we can specifically ask Him to be our refuge when we feel afraid, when we feel attacked, or in the midst of trials. It is a comforting thought to ponder, that no matter what our circumstances, we can always find a shelter in God. This means we can bring Him our fears and be vulnerable in our emotions. We can share honest concerns and God will care for us and tend to our needs. He will protect us from the enemy’s schemes. He will encourage us in our weaknesses. He will strengthen us by His Spirit to go back out again. 

We Do Not Live at a Refuge

One thing to note is that people who went to a refuge in the Bible did not live there. When we imagine a refuge situation, we can picture a temporary place of protection. We are not always in times of trouble, but when we do face them, the Lord is there with His great compassion and comfort in the trials. Sometimes we need to step away from the battles in which we are facing and be alone with the Lord to be ministered to. However, we are called to actively participate with Him in His kingdom work. May we never consider a refuge as a homestead. 

We are not called to comfort and isolation. We are called to pick up our crosses and love others. We cannot do this in a place of shelter. When the Psalmist shares that God is our refuge in Psalm 46, he also says to “be still and know.” There are specific times or seasons in our lives when we need to get away and be still in the presence of the Lord. We need extra refreshment after a busy time. We might have experienced a loss. We may have gone through a physical challenge and need rest. These are times when we seek God as our Refuge. Then, after we have been in the safe hiding place of the shadow of His wing, we put on His armor and head back out to the spiritual battle.

Do you need a refuge today? Are you feeling weary and worn down by the attacks from the enemy? Do you need to get to the quiet place of God’s presence for a special time of restoration? Seek Him today and He will shelter you in the storms of life and minister to your heart. Never forget that Our Savior has more than we could ever need. He takes care of us and is aware of the challenges that we are facing in life. He is our Refuge and strength, He is always with us to help in our time of need.

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Photo credit: ©Getty Images/Lara Zanarini

Emma DanzeyEmma Danzey’s mission in life stems from Ephesians 3:20-21, to embrace the extraordinary. One of her greatest joys is to journey with the Lord in His Scriptures. She is wife to Drew and mom to Graham. Emma serves alongside her husband in ministry, she focuses most of her time in the home, but loves to provide articles on the Bible, life questions, and Christian lifestyle. Her article on Interracial Marriage was the number 1 on Crosswalk in 2021. Most recently, Emma released Treasures for Tots, (Scripture memory songs) and multiple books and devotionals for young children. During her ministry career, Emma has released Wildflower: Blooming Through Singleness, two worship EP albums, founded and led Polished Conference Ministries, and ran the Refined Magazine. You can view her articles on her blog at emmadanzey.wordpress.com and check out her Instagram @Emmadanzey.