christine's bible study

The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God stands forever. Isa 40:8

psalm 91, the place of refuge

Read Psalm 91 at Bible Gateway.

We saw that the benefits of protection described by Psa 91, belong to a certain group of people, not all people:

He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress; My God, in Him I will trust.” Psa 91:1-2

Because you have made the Lord, who is my refuge, even the Most High, your dwelling place, Psa 91:9

Besides dwelling, there is another interesting parallel in these two passages that make up the A pair in the chiastic structure of this Psalm. And that is “refuge.”

I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge;” Psa 91:2

Because you have made the Lord, my refuge;” Psa 91:9

“Refuge” in Webster’s, is a shelter or protection from danger or distress, or, a place that provides such shelter or protection. In Hebrew, the word is Strong’s H4268, machaceh, a refuge or shelter from rain, storm, danger, or falsehood. Genenius’ Hebrew Lexicon says that when applied to Yehovah, this word means, “the One to whom one flees.”

The primary root is Strong’s H2620, chacah,  חָסָה, chet + samech + hey, “to seek refuge or flee for protection.” In the ancient Hebrew pictographs, the chet is the fence or wall, so with the meaning of outside, divide, or half. The samech is the thorn, so with the meaning of to grab, to hate, to protect. The hey is the man with his arms upraised, so with the meaning of look, reveal, breath.

My initial sense of the story this word is painting by its pictures, is that of a man with his arms upraised in worship (hey), who is surrounded by a hedge of thorns (samech) as a wall (chet).

Yehovah, the place of refuge, as a strong tower of protection and defense, is always there. But we have to go in to Him and avail ourselves of that refuge. These passages concerning refuge are not passive truths but active ones.

How do we go in to His refuge? First of all, when the bad news hits, when the storms hit, when the winds begin to blow, we have to say, “The Lord is my refuge, He is my God, in Him will I trust.” The emotion of fear assails us with that bad news and with the howling of the storm. We can wait all day for God to twang us with His fairy godmother wand and make the fear and the bad news and the storms go away. It won’t happen. We are the ones who do not let that fear be the last word. We are the ones who must speak truth to it: “I am placing my trust in my God in the middle of this storm.”

Second, we do not neglect to make the Lord our dwelling place. We continue our relationship and our intimacy with Him. In the ancient pictograph of hey, the man’s arms are upraised in worship, not hanging down in despair. Continue to worship Him as the storms batter against the house!

Third, do not neglect the first commandment: loving the Lord our God with all our hearts, minds, and strength! We do not abandon Him because trouble has come upon us as it comes upon the whole world. We do not get mad and stomp off because we did not get our way. Because we trust the good heart and great love of our Abba Daddy, we continue to pour out our love upon Him no matter what storms are raging! (The portion of Torah which explains setting our love upon the Lord our God is Deu 6-11).

At the end of the chiastic structure, Yehovah begins speaking of the man who does these things:

“Because he has set his love upon Me, therefore I will deliver him;
I will set him on high, because he has known My name.
He shall call upon Me, and I will answer him;
will be with him in trouble;
I will deliver him and honor him.
With long life I will satisfy him,
And show him My salvation.” Psa 91:14-16

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