How exactly is God our refuge and what does it mean for God to be your refuge?
I began studying the Bible in earnest almost 35 years ago. On the inside cover of my very own first personal Bible, I wrote out Psalm 31:20 and Proverbs 29:25.
What did they have in common? They are promises of safety and refuge. They were some of the first truths that touched my heart.
We find the word “refuge” approximately 90 times in the NIV; I guess it’s an important topic!
Part of my daily praise include the tender words of Peter to Jesus- “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.” John 6:68. (Many of Jesus’ disciples had deserted Him over hard teachings. He had asked the Twelve, “You do not want to leave too, do you?” v67.)
I can almost hear the pain in Jesus’ voice. He asks hard things of His followers. He knows it will not always be easy, but wants us to be with Him forever. What better statement to Jesus than to tell Him daily that He is the one and only refuge we need, especially when life throws us curveballs!
Refuge Meaning in the Bible
What does refuge mean? The world’s definition of refuge is a place or institution that brings safety and shelter from pursuit, danger, or trouble.
The definition of refuge in the Bible is similar, except that God is the person we run to when we need a safe place to rest, protection from distress or tragedy, and His fortress of secure strength.
The Hebrew word for refuge also means a confident trust and hope. They also described refuge as a “dwelling place”, and a “high tower”. These words represent the attributes of His refuge. He wants to be all these things for us; to hold us safe in His everlasting, powerful arms.
“The eternal God is your refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms.” Deuteronomy 33:27.
Bible Verses about Refuge
The Bible is full of difficult trials for His people, so maybe that is why there are so many reminders of where we can find refuge. ♥
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. It even inspired Martin Luther to write his famous hymn, “A Mighty Fortress is our God.” Luther sang Psalm 46 during particularly discouraging times in his life.¹
“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.
Psalm 91 describes the security we enjoy under God’s protection. He doesn’t promise us a danger free world but does promise His help whenever we encounter it.
“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.” vv2,4.
Psalm 2:12b– “Blessed are all who take refuge in Him.”
God made us to be joyful, which we only truly find in the blessed state of fellowship with 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.
Don’t you love these strong words David sang to express God’s refuge? They are beautiful word pictures to hold in our thoughts when we need His refuge.
Bible Verses about Shelter
Don’t stand out in the pouring rain when storms hit! Seek shelter in the presence of the Lord. 😊
Psalm 31:20: “In the shelter of your presence you hide them from the intrigues of men; in your dwelling, you keep them safe from accusing tongues.”
Psalm 27:5: “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.”
Isaiah 25:4: “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.”
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The Lord is My Refuge and Strength
We can read many Bible verses about God being our refuge and strength, but how can we turn what we read into the tangible comfort, strength, and rest His refuge provides?
What Does it Mean to Take Refuge in God?
We take refuge inside when a dangerous storm hits- we can see 4 walls and feel protected. But how can we take refuge in God?
David probably wrote more about God’s refuge than any other Bible character. He often hid in caves when he was being pursued by his enemies. While there, he cries out to God, asking to be heard, praising Him, asking for what he needs, and rejoicing in God’s 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…” Psalm 28:1,2,7,8.
When we need a place of safety and shelter, we can do as David did:
- Call out to Him- tell Him what you need, what you fear, ask for Him to be your shelter and shield.
- Name your storm. Ask Him to either calm you or calm the storm. If the storm remains, ask Him what lesson you are supposed to learn.
- Trust Him deep in your heart. Do you? When we believe He is our shelter, strength, and refuge, and shield, we can face difficult circumstances with the confidence of David. David was so confident God would help him fight his battles he marched towards Goliath to fight him!
“Trust in Him at all times, O people; pour out your hearts to him, for God is our refuge.” Psalm 62:8.
- Believe and trust that His safety and strength are always near and close to you- an “ever present help in times of trouble.” (Psalm 41) Is there any situation that is too hard for the Lord?
The Lord is My Shelter
Sometimes we seek shelter in other ways- the advice of friends or family, keeping too busy to think about our problems, time-consuming hobbies, or going ahead of God and trying to fix problems on our own. We may even try to seek shelter by “numbing” ourselves with food, drugs, or alcohol.
No matter what circumstance we face, God is always our safest place to take refuge. He gives us His strength to withstand whatever we face. It may not be easy- staying in God’s will during stressful times means we completely commit to depend on Him alone.
But it is always, always, worth it.
Benefit of Making God our Refuge
- God comforts us. He is there when our strength and best intentions fail, to pick us up and give us rest and peace.
- He gives us His strength. God can give us physical and spiritual strength. 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 that He will protect and never leave us, we can be confident in His promises and filled with His peace.
- He gives us guidance and instruction. As we take refuge in His Word, we will find the answers we need.
- His refuge brings rest. He promises “rest for our souls” when we lean on Him. (Matthew 11:29)
- He will remove our burdens and carry them for us. “Praise be to the Lord, to God our Savior, who daily bears our burdens.” (Psalm 68:19) Picture yourself handing over your burdens for Him to carry.
God is our Refuge and Strength
God provided our ultimate refuge by giving up His Son on our behalf. Jesus defeated the power of sin and death; we have an eternal future with Him to look forward to. He gives us 24/7 access to His throne of grace and mercy. His Spirit lives within us!
He is our only true, secure foundation. When we seek refuge elsewhere, we are standing on shaky ground. There is only One who is “mighty to save” and will catch us when our world collapses. He is everything we need. Why go elsewhere?
This is my new daily prayer towards making Him my refuge a reality: “Keep me safe, my God, for in you I take refuge.” Psalm 16:1. Will you join me? Choose a Bible verse from those above that spoke to your heart, alleviated a fear, or encouraged you to bravely trust. You will be blessed!
Blessings of Refuge!
All Scripture is from the NIV unless specified otherwise.
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