Refuge in the Lord

But my eyes are toward you, O God, my Lord; in you I seek refuge; leave me not defenseless!
— Psalm 141:8

King David is in great distress and is crying out to God in lament here in this Psalm. He pleads to be heard, to be protected both from himself and from outside enemies, and for God to draw near. David’s two responses in the midst of his distress are prayer and fixing (as the NIV renders it) his eyes on the Lord. The dictionary defines “fix” as: to direct one’s eyes, attention, or mind steadily or unwaveringly toward something. Just as you would stare at a fixed object on the horizon to combat seasickness, our gaze should be locked on the Lord to combat distraction.  

We live in a world of distraction. Even as I write this my cell phone is pinging, my cat is pawing at the door, my children are yelling, and there is a vacuum whirring somewhere downstairs. If you have ever been to Times Square in New York City, you know the feeling of having an overdose of stimuli; the sights, sounds, and smells of a bustling tourist area in the midst of a busy city is overwhelming. The distractedness we experience in the physical world is also true in the spiritual world. David isn’t telling us to close our eyes in indifference or despair but to fix our eyes on the Lord and seek our refuge in Him. 

There are many places to seek refuge; family, entertainment, food, work, exercise but ultimately they will fail. The only true place of refuge is in the Lord. David is not comparing God to a deserted island or a cabin in the woods, those are escapes from difficulty. Instead David says that the Lord is his refuge. A refuge is a stronghold in the midst of battle or in the midst of trial, not an escape from them. David certainly desires this conflict to end but more than that, he desires an intimacy with the Lord his God. David’s hope is secure because he has a shelter in the storm, a fortress in the battle, and a harbor from the waves.

Psalm 46:1 tells us, “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.” That verse was the inspiration for Martin Luther’s famous hymn, A Mighty Fortress Is Our God. “God is a bulwark never failing, our helper He amid the flood of mortal ills prevailing.” Luther is correct, God never fails. As we seek God’s face, draw near through prayer, and fix our eyes on Him He will be our refuge just as He was for King David.

Heavenly Father what a comfort to know that we have a refuge in You. That when the storms rage or the battle breaks out, we have shelter in Your wings. You and You alone, Lord, are our strong and secure defense. Forgive us when we seek refuge in worldly things and help us to fix our eyes on You. Father, we give thanks that You have already won the greatest battle which is Your victory over sin and death through Your son, Jesus. Amen!

Noah Crane
Interim Ministry Director, Christian Union Vox

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