The Blessing of God's Refuge
Where do you run when you need a shelter? To whom do you turn when you need help? Most of us have a default ‘go to’ solution – when we’re feeling down, when we’re confused, when we sense danger, when life is pressing in on us. Where do you go?
The remarkable thing about David is that he trained himself to turn to God in times of trouble. In Psalm 34 we read his reflection after God saved him from a dangerous situation.
In the prescript before the first verse, we learn that this Psalm is ‘Of David, when he changed his behaviour before Abimelech, so that he drove him out, and he went away. That story is recorded in 1 Samuel 21.10-15. David fled from the mad king Saul and sought refuge with Achish, king of Gath, one of the Philistine cities. But when he heard that he was recognised as the leader of Saul’s army, he got nervous, afraid the king would have him killed.
To escape, David feigned madness, and it worked. Achish told his men, ‘Then Achish said to his servants, “Behold, you see the man is mad. Why then have you brought him to me? Do I lack madmen, that you have brought this fellow to behave as a madman in my presence?’
In reading the story, it seems David was clever and worked his own way out of trouble. But as he reflects on the events, he recognises it was God who save him. There are four key lessons we learn from Psalm 34.
PLACE: God is our place of our refuge.
Look at what David says in verse 8:
Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him!
There is a blessing that comes to those who take refuge in God. This is a key theme in scripture:
Proverbs 18:10 The name of the Lord is a strong tower; the righteous man runs into it and is safe.
Psalm 46:1 God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.
2 Samuel 22:2 The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge.
God is a rock, a fortress, a strong tower, a deliver – a safe place of refuge. God is a safe place we can run to in time of need.
2. PROCESS: We experience God’s refuge by calling on him.
The process of experiencing God as refuge is simply to call on him. Again, this is a theme all through scripture. Here in Psalm 34:6, David says
This poor man cried, and the Lord heard him and saved him out of all his troubles.
And in Psalm 62:7-8, the Psalmist writes:
On God rests my salvation and my glory; my mighty rock, my refuge is God.
Trust in him at all times, O people; pour out your heart before him; God is a refuge for us.
Notice that phrase, pour out your heart before him. This paints a picture of an honest plea for help. The process of running to God as our place of refuge is simply to call on him, to pour out your heart. In short – ask God for help.
PAYOFF: those who run to God experience benefits.
The idea that God is our refuge is not just a cerebral, cognitive, academic matter. This is a matter of experience, of embracing the tangible benefits on offer, available as we try to navigate life’s challenges.
Notice how David describes these benefits:
v4: I sought the Lord, and he answered me and delivered me from all my fears.
v5:Those who look to him are radiant, and their faces shall never be ashamed.
v8: Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good!
Look at these benefits – deliverance, radiance, lack of shame, experiencing God’s goodness. God is Good, and he invites us to take refuge in him and discover it.
PRAISE: Giving God thanks for his deliverance.
In a sense, this Psalm is out of order. It begins with praise, and then David explains why he is praising. The why is verse 4 – I sought the Lord, and he answered.
But in verses 1-3, David teaches us how to praise well:
I will bless the Lord at all times; his praise shall continually be in my mouth. My soul makes its boast in the Lord;let the humble hear and be glad. Oh, magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt his name together! Psalm 34:1-3
First, we bless the Lord at all times, regardless of circumstances.
Second, we boast in the Lord, that is – we point to God’s greatness, not our own cleverness.
Third, we magify the Lord – we use our words to describe God’s glory and greatness – and we do that with each other.
Powerful praise grows out of experience God’s protection.
So what to do? RUN TO THE LORD!!!