Lord, My Strong Refuge (1)
In the part of the world to which this writer hails from, when children are playing and one mistakenly hurts his partner and that friend wants to avenge himself the child who has injured his partner would flee from the person who wants to beat him back. While fleeing he will also be apologizing, telling his friend that he is sorry because it was a mistake.
However, in most cases because of the immediate pain and ego of children the child would not accept the apology and would keep pursuing the child to hit him back as a revenge.
While this child continues to flee from his partner he may see an elder person around and he would run to the person to stand behind the person or by the person’s side and say, “I take refuge with uncle or daddy or grandpa”.
When that avenger sees that he has taken refuge with the person he would become handcuffed and would back off what he plans to do for his friend as a sign of respect for the elder person.
The elder may ask of the history of the pursuance and his strong determination to revenge. After the history has been gotten, he would then settle the case amicably in between them.
The author of the book of psalms 71 having passed through different things and phases in life recognizes the position and function of refuge in life and he states in this book whom his refuge was in verse seven of the book.
“I am as a wonder unto many; but thou art my strong refuge.” (Psa 71:7)
To shed light on this topic, I shall define the key words there, talk about attributes of refuge, his experience for acknowledging the person as his refuge.
Strong is defined as having physical power or having powerful effect on the body and mind of people, or hard to resist or attack or it is something that cannot be easily broken.
The Hebrew word for strong is “עוז עז”, Romanized form is ‛ôz ‛ôz (pronounced as oze, oze) which means strength, might, force.
Refuge is said to have come from French word which means “to flee”. It is defined in relationship to the state, place and something or someone.
In definition to state, it is said to mean the state or position of safety or protection or shelter in the time of danger; while in relationship to place it is defined as the place of shelter or protection from danger and with respect to something (or someone) it is defined as someone or something one turns to for safety or assistance in time of danger.
In Hebrew however, it (refuge) is written as “מחסה מחסה”, while its Romanized form is machăseh machseh (phonetic spelling is makh-as-eh', makh-seh') which means shelter, place of refuge, place that can be trusted.
Having seen the definitions of the key words in the topic, shall we see some of the attributes of refuge.
Attributes of Refuge
Here in are some of the attributes of refuge as could be deduced from the definitions and others.
1. Hardness: Place of refuge are also hard. Like in the ancient times when the warriors flee to the rock to hide, we can see that the rock that is serving as the place of refuge for those people are hard and they have confidence in it that it can protect them.
2. Height: Sometimes place of refuge could be fled to because of its height. There was a story about my village in the 19th century that when war broke out between my village and the neighboring villages and towns, the inhabitants of the town would flee to the top of the mountain from where they would have upper hand over their enemies, because the mountain is steep and slippery. That mountain serves as place of refuge for them because of its height.
3. Well Protected House/Building: Houses could also be place of refuge. The ancient middle easterners used to have house of refuge which would be fortified. God also commanded the people of Israel to build house of refuge that the people who mistakenly killed another person could flee to so that the avenger of blood would not kill him or her. (Deut 19: 5-10)
4. Countries: It could be countries and or cities too where people could flee to, to seek for asylum. Most of the time this is being explored by the political leaders of nations, some activists.
5. Powerful People: Like the story shared in the introductory portion of this article, people could become place of refuge for someone else. But the person who shall become refuge place for another person would be the person who is powerful and could overcome the enemies.
Who His Refuge is
The one who is the refuge of the man is clearly stated in the book and he is Lord God.
“For thou art my hope, O Lord GOD: thou art my trust from my youth.” (Psa 71:5)
The Hebrew word for Lord here is “אדני”, Romanized form is 'ădônây (pronounced as ad-o-noy') which means my Lord. And the Hebrew word used for God here is “יהוה”, Romanized form is yehôvih (pronounced as yeh-ho-vee') which means Jehovah, God.
He calls Jehovah Adonai his God and he is the one whom he said is his refuge.
Why He Makes Him His Strong Refuge
The experience he has had part of which are shared in this chapter was why he made Elohim his refuge. Here are some of it.
1. He is His Hope: Hope is defined as a belief that something you want will happen. It is said that what one has seen one cannot hope for it, it is what one has not seen that one hopes for its manifestation and its coming to pass.
We shall see in verse five of the chapter that the author says Jehovah is his hope.
“For thou art my hope, O Lord GOD: thou art my trust from my youth.” (Psa 71:5)
The Hebrew word for hope here is, “תּקוה”, Romanized form is tiqvâh (pronounced as tik-vaw') which means expectancy, thing that one longs for.
He was always expectant of the Lord wherever he goes, even when he has nothing with him, he believes God would divinely provide that at the nick of time.
2. He is His Trust: Trust is having confidence in something. While in Hebrew it is “מבטח”, Romanized form is mibṭâch (phonetic spelling is mib-tawkh') which means assurance, confidence, sure.
The writer always has confidence in the Lord that he is always with him. We need to also have a confidence like this author in all our undertakings in life.
- The Period: The time when he starts to put his confidence in the Lord was clearly stated in this book and he says it is from his youthful days. Like as the dictionary defines Youth to mean the period before a child becomes an adult. This is the period when he starts to put his entire confidence in the Lord.
He was not a “gate-crasher” like some people are in the world today, it is when they are in trouble that they would remember God, but before they got into troubles they would not think about God.
This does not mean that those who “gate-crash” would not be accepted by God, that is not what I mean, but what I am saying is he started from the time of his youth when he perhaps knew little about God to put his entire trust and confidence in the unseen God.
It was because he has been doing this from the early stage of his life that makes him confident that Goliath would be killed before the end of that day. (1 Sam 17)
For God to also become our refuge we also need to put our trust in him in all situations even at the early phase of our lives.
3. Holden up From Womb: When he was yet a mixture of “sperm and egg” of his parents in the womb of her mother, God has been holding him up, else his pregnancy could have been aborted.
“By thee have I been holden up from the womb: thou art he that took me out of my mother's bowels: my praise shall be continually of thee.” (Psa 71:6)
There are embryos who got aborted before they could be delivered by their mothers, but his was not like that because God holds his embryo even when he was yet to be fully formed in the womb of his mother.
Is this not true of us all? God also is the one who has holden our embryos when we are in the wombs of our mothers. We should always have the mind like this in us to continue to make God our refuge, for the Lord who could uphold us when we were in the wombs of our parents worth to be made our refuge and we should stop seeking for refuge among the gods of the heathens that has eyes but cannot see, ordinary images.
Other reasons why he makes God his refuge shall be seen, which of course would motivate us to also be like him making God our refuge in all our daily dealings in the world.
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