I filled the inside cover of my very first Bible with verses about God’s promises of refuge and safety. They were some of the first promises that touched my heart and covered me with comfort and peace. I could say with a newfound confidence, “the Lord is my refuge!” I had lived too long trying to find the shelter only God can give.
Refuge Meaning in the Bible
We rarely use the word “refuge” today. We might hear safe-harbor, asylum, sanctuary, or hide-out. But the meaning is the same. Refuge means being safe or sheltered from danger, trouble, or pursuit.
Taking refuge in the Lord is a topic mentioned over and over in the Bible. They mention it in a physical form (storms or enemies) or as a spiritual need (shame, loneliness, anguish, distress, etc.) but within the presence of our living God.
The Hebrew word for refuge, chasad, means a refuge, a dwelling place, but with the special meaning that we receive this blessing when we join ourselves with Him.¹
This word contains an aspect of remembering how He brought us through trials in the past and being surrounded by His living and powerful presence today.
So, refuge is not just a place with four walls, or a sturdy tower. What is spiritual refuge? Refuge in our personal God is where we find protection, resting with the hope and trust in Him.
“The eternal God is your refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms.” Deuteronomy 33:27.
Taking Refuge in God
Trials and troubles come into everyone’s lives. It may tempt us to find our shelter in other people to hold us tight or defend us against what worries us.
“It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in man.” Psalm 118:8 ESV.
Or maybe we take refuge in our own strength to stand strong and take control over the trials that come our way.
Maybe our refuge is to lie on the couch with a bag of cookies binging TV shows as an escape.
There is only one Person who sees you and knows your pain intimately. Only God can provide the protection and safe harbor you need in your storm. He alone is in control, on His throne, and has a perfect plan.
He has you in the palm of His hand.
“If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast.” Psalm 139:9-10.
What Does It Mean to Take Refuge in God?
David might have written more about seeking God’s refuge more than any other Bible character. Pursued by his enemies, he often hid in caves, crying out to God for His refuge.
He gives us a beautiful blueprint for taking refuge in God. He cries out to Him, asking to be heard, praises Him, asks for what he needs, and rejoices in His answers.
“To you I call, O Lord my Rock… hear my cry for mercy as I call to you for help… The Lord is my strength and my shield, my heart trusts in him and I am helped… The Lord is the strength of his people.”
“Trust in Him at all times, O people; pour out your heart to him, for God is our refuge.”
“Hear my cry, O God; listen to my prayer. From the ends of the earth, I call to you, I call as my heart grows faint; lead me to the rock that is higher than I. For you have been my refuge, a strong tower against the foe.”
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How to Take Refuge in God
When we need a place of safety and shelter, we can do as David did:
●Call out to Him- reach out to Him and tell Him about your situation, what you fear and are feeling, draw near to His presence- ask Him to be your shelter.
●Name your storm and place all your hope in Him. God is in control; wait patiently. Listen to His voice.
●Put your entire trust in Him. Turn away from the worldly ways of finding refuge. It may not be easy- staying in His will in life’s stressful times means we commit completely to depend on Him alone.
●Believe and trust that His shelter and strength are always near and close to you- an “ever present help in times of trouble.” Is there any situation that is too hard for the Lord? What does your heart truly believe?
●Run to His Word- it is where we find answers to all our problems and worries. Obeying His Word is a place of protection and safety. It is here we find His promises, the beauty of His unchanging character, and the truths of His power and strength.
The deeper you get into His Word, the better you understand and trust Him.
“Every word of God is flawless; He is a shield to those who take refuge in Him.” Proverbs 30:5.
“As for God, His way is blameless; the Word of the Lord is refined; He is a shield to all who take refuge in Him.” 2 Samuel 22:31.
Benefit of Making God Our Refuge
●He is our greatest source of comfort. We don’t need to worry or be afraid; His Spirit dwells within us to give us rest and peace. He promises “rest for our souls” when we lean on Him. (Matthew 11:29)
●He gives us physical and spiritual strength to withstand/fight through the storms. The same word for strength is “power” in Acts 1:8 when Jesus speaks of the indwelling Holy Spirit.
●Taking refuge in Jesus fights off fear. When we believe and trust in His presence and protection, we are confident in His promises and filled with peace.
●He removes our burdens and carries them for us. “Praise be to the Lord, to God our Savior, who daily bears our burdens.” Psalm 68:19. Will you hand over your burdens for Him to carry?
God is our Refuge and Strength
Psalm 46 is David’s confident song of praise describing God’s power and protection over the nation of Israel. Wars, disasters, suffering, and turmoil are no match for God’s protection, peace, blessings, and refuge.
His refuge and protection are everlasting. His power is supreme. He is always there to help, provide refuge, security, and peace. There is no crisis greater than our God!
“God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore, we will not fear, though the earth gives way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea… The Lord Almighty is with us; the god of Jacob is our fortress.” Psalm 46:1,2,7,11.
Take Refuge in the Lord
There is a tender passage in John 6:66-68 regarding a hard teaching of Jesus that caused many of His followers to leave. Jesus turns to the Twelve and asks if they are going to leave Him too.
Peter immediately answers Him, saying “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We believe and know that you are the Holy One of God.”
Can you hear the pain in Jesus’ voice? He knows hard times will always come, even to His followers. We are not immune. But the only place to find the promise of eternal life and the refuge we crave is in His presence.
Bible Verses about Refuge
The Bible is full of hard trials for His people, so maybe that is why there are so many reminders of where we can find refuge.
Psalm 91 describes the security and assurance of God’s protection. He doesn’t promise us a danger free world but does promise His help whenever we encounter it.
“He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, ‘He is my refuge and my fortress, my God in whom I trust … He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge.” Vv1,2,4.
“Blessed are all who take refuge in Him.” It is our choice- what a beautiful promise for those who choose to depend on Him.
Psalm 18 is one of thanksgiving for His help-
“The Lord is my rock, my fortress, and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge; He is a shield for all who take refuge in Him.” Vv2,30.
I love these strong words David uses to express God’s refuge. They are beautiful word pictures to hold in our thoughts when we are seeking refuge.
“The Lord is good, a stronghold in the day of trouble, and He knows those who take refuge in Him.”
“Have mercy on me, O God, have mercy on me, for in you my soul takes refuge. I will take refuge I the shadow of your wings until the disaster has passed.”
Bible Verses about Shelter
“In the shelter of your presence you hide them from the intrigues of men; in your dwelling, you keep them safe from accusing tongues.”
“For in the day of trouble he will keep me safe in his dwelling; he will hide me in the shelter of his sacred tent and set me high upon a rock.”
“You have been a refuge for the poor, a refuge for the needy in their distress, a shelter from the storm and a shade from the heat.”
God is Our Refuge
God provided our ultimate refuge by giving up His Son on our behalf. When we accept this gift of salvation, we receive refuge in God.
He is our only true and secure foundation. When we see refuge elsewhere, we are standing on shaky ground. There is only One who is “mighty to save”, who will catch us when we fall, and provide for our every need.
Why go elsewhere when we need shelter from the storms of life?
Make His refuge a reality in your life. Choose a Bible verse from those above that spoke to your heart, alleviated a fear, or encouraged you to bravely trust in Him. Make it a part of your daily prayer- you will be blessed!
All Scripture is taken from the NIV unless specified otherwise.
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