Psalm 32:7-8 You are my hiding place; you will protect me from trouble and surround me with songs of deliverance.
Have you ever felt the need to hide away? This isn’t the same thing as running away, it is rather a taking of shelter while we recuperate, regroup, and refresh. The psalmist said God is one (The One) of those refuges. Whether it is as I have recently discussed, David using “hiding place” as a metaphor for God’s physical protection (like David found at En Gedi); or as a more general acknowledgement of God’s all loving concern for us when we are in more emotional or spiritual distress – the fact remains clear that we can shelter in him.
No matter what our trouble – the Psalm continues – God will protect us. “If God is for us, who can stand against us?” But this isn’t a shadowy cave, or being in bed with the sheets puller over our heads. It is a refuge in which we are emboldened in!
I really like this image of being surrounded with “songs” of deliverance. Music is powerful. It stirs our emotions. It empowers and uplifts. Have you ever noticed that a tune can restore you when you are down? I have had the experience of worship songs that are so mighty in both their lyrics and beat that I felt that same power radiating through me. This passage says that in our times of need, God will envelope us with music that assures us of our deliverance. Wow – just wow!
Dianne kept our home filled with music, whether she was making it herself, or whether it was just being played from a device. This flow of melody gave our house a constant feel of safety and contentment. This too comes to my mind when I read this passage.
This sanctuary of God’s presence and the idea of being surrounded by the musical promises of deliverance were dear to Dianne. This passage appears in her blog and her notes as an important point of focus. And I am happy I had the opportunity to focus on it today.
God has truly been a hiding place for me in the grief I have suffered. He has provided me with friends and family that have lifted me up. Yesterday, I had a visit from two dear sisters in Christ, who were very personifications of “songs of deliverance,” as they were tangible reminders that I am not alone, and that I am loved. Later today, a brother from church is planning to visit as well, to be a support and help in the planning of Dianne’s memorial service (a task too close to home for me to do efficiently despite the fact that I have experience in planning the funerals and memorials of others). It makes me smile as I write this that this brother is the worship leader at our assembly. Now what better metaphorical image can I have for the coming of “songs of deliverance?”
See the Psalmist captured this all so well!
Oasis at En Gedi – image: Padre’s Ramblings
I was looking, once again, at some of Dianne’s notations on putting her trust in God. One of her “notes to self” included Psalm 91:1,
“Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.”
David is usually credited with be the author of the majority of the Psalms. If he is indeed the writer of the 91st Psalm, I wonder if his experience at En Gedi was on his mind as he penned it.
In I Samuel 23, we find that David had fled into the Judean Desert as he was pursued by King Saul. He took refuge at En Gedi. This natural fortification of high walled canyon, punctuated with caves was truly a shelter provided by the Most High.
Later in chapter 24, Saul catches up with David, and in a reversal of position, David in the refuge of En Gedi has the opportunity to finish off Saul. He does not do so however, as he honours the Lord’s anointed.
David is at that moment acknowledged by Saul as King. David dwelt in the shelter of God, both spiritually/figuratively and literally is the safety of the Oasis. But the second part of the verse also has a resonance for those who have seen En Gedi. The surrounding area is bleached rock, with dazzling light, and oppressive heat. Yet, in the oasis there is shade and flowing water. A shadow of God’s love both literally and figuratively. The wonderful palms provide wonderful relief from the unrelenting sun.
While this is purely conjecture on my part, as I have no idea what images David had in his mind’s eye as he was inspired by the Spirit to compose the Psalm, it does at least to me make a wonderful image.
En Gedi can therefore be a metaphor for the truths of David’s words. But metaphor aside Psalm 91 is powerful on its own. It is a promise of protection, and care no matter what life throws at us.
Walls of Jerusalem
“I love you, Lord, my strength. The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold (Psalm 18: 1-2).”
This brief passage says so much! God is a focus of our love and affection, but he is so much more. He is our strength giver (in fact The strong One for us). He is a rock on which we can find refuge. A rock or strong physical feature offers sanctuary. He is a refuge or hiding place in times of trial or trouble. He is a shield – again a form of defense. He is the ultimate stronghold.
The world may throw at us what it may, but it is God who is greater!
Dianne saw this. Her entry for 26 January reads,
“Had a visit from Pastor Vince and Lisa. Lovely to see them and spend time praying with them. I appreciate all of my friends who support us and lift me up in prayer. However ill I may become or feel, much as I face the reality that I may die soon, I am constantly aware that my God is able to completely heal me. I live accepting death and [yet] believing for full health.”
She made God her rock and strength.
The Reformer Martin Luther penned these words which are fitting:
A mighty Fortress is our God,
A Bulwark never failing;
Our Helper He amid the flood
Of mortal ills prevailing:
For still our ancient foe
Doth seek to work us woe;
His craft and power are great,
And, armed with cruel hate,
On earth is not his equal.
Let’s take refuge in the mighty fortress today!
Oasis at En Gedi
One of the themes in the worship this Sunday was refuge. The dictionary says refuge is a noun meaning “a place or situation providing safety or shelter.” In our praise we thanked God for being our refuge. This world can be unkind, and harsh, but in God we have our place of safety and shelter.
This is not all “pie in the sky” stuff though. In our fellowship with the people of God, we often find that same rest and comfort He promises us. The listening ear, the kind word, and the gentle hug are outward signs of God’s promise of our inner peace.
Many of us from time to time feel this need to just run away and hide. Sometimes in spiritual and emotional terms; and sometimes in practical terms. David knew both of these.
David in Psalm 46:1-3 (KJV) says “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore will not we fear, though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea; Though the waters thereof roar and be troubled, though the mountains shake with the swelling thereof.” God was to David that refuge and strength in times of trouble.
David also sought physical refuge as well. A safe place (while never loosing is spiritual trust in God). He found this at En Gedi. I Samuel 23:29 says: “And David went up from there and lived in the strongholds of En Gedi (NIV).” This oasis stronghold is a wonderful symbol of God’s protection and provision in our lives. In the midst of a desert, at the side of the Dead Sea, there is a cool palm-filled refuge with running water, fresh pools, waterfalls, and caves of providing cover and safety. Food is abundant, and the surrounding mountains and desert make it a natural fortress. No wonder David fled here.
But, as I have said En Gedi is a symbol. For God is all this and more. “He makes us lie down in green pastures.” “He leads us by still waters.” “He is our refuge and strength.” Let us remember this next time we feel the need to run!