Seriously? Take Refuge and be glad? Aren’t we fighters? Can’t we take care of ourselves? Why should we settle for just taking refuge instead of going on a counterattack?
Psalm 5 For the director of music. For flutes. A psalm of David. Ps 5:1 Give ear to my words, O LORD, consider my sighing. Ps 5:2 Listen to my cry for help, my King and my God, for to you I pray. Ps 5:3 In the morning, O LORD, you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait in expectation. Ps 5:4 You are not a God who takes pleasure in evil; with you the wicked cannot dwell. Ps 5:5 The arrogant cannot stand in your presence; you hate all who do wrong. Ps 5:6 You destroy those who tell lies; bloodthirsty and deceitful men the LORD abhors. Ps 5:7 But I, by your great mercy, will come into your house; in reverence will I bow down toward your holy temple. Ps 5:8 Lead me, O LORD, in your righteousness because of my enemies— make straight your way before me. Ps 5:9 Not a word from their mouth can be trusted; their heart is filled with destruction. Their throat is an open grave; with their tongue they speak deceit. Ps 5:10 Declare them guilty, O God! Let their intrigues be their downfall. Banish them for their many sins, for they have rebelled against you. Ps 5:11 But let all who take refuge in you be glad; let them ever sing for joy. Spread your protection over them, that those who love your name may rejoice in you. Ps 5:12 For surely, O LORD, you bless the righteous; you surround them with your favor as with a shield.
Are we so weak that we need to take refuge?
Take refuge? Is that really the answer to life in this broken world? Take refuge on some deserted place where no one wants to go?
Shouldn’t we fight back?
But let’s get real. Fighting back ultimately results in coming up against someone stronger, meaner, willing and able to crush us.
And yet, is this really the solution? Go to some island like the one with that dead tree out in the middle of the water? Some miserable place where no one wants to go?
We’ll soon see why answer is an unquestionable yes.
Take a close look at the image of that island. Yes, there’s a dead tree. But there’s also a bird. Approaching the island.
We’ll get into what that means in a moment.
Here’s some background on Psalm 5.
I have called this psalm “a prayer for coming to God’s house” because of verse 7: “But I, by your great mercy will come into your house; in reverence will I bow down toward your holy temple.” However, we must not think of it as restricted to a formal worship setting. This is actually a generic prayer showing how we must approach God, if we would be heard by him, and what we can expect of him when we do. 1
Yes, take refuge in God
Let’s look at a few verses from the psalm.
Ps 5:4 You are not a God who takes pleasure in evil;
with you the wicked cannot dwell.
Ps 5:5 The arrogant cannot stand in your presence;
you hate all who do wrong.
Ps 5:6 You destroy those who tell lies;
bloodthirsty and deceitful men
the LORD abhors.
Ps 5:7 But I, by your great mercy,
will come into your house;
in reverence will I bow down
toward your holy temple.
How many of us don’t like the way the world is now? There has always been evil. And yet, somehow it feels worse now than it’s ever been in my lifetime.
But then how many of us acknowledge that God’s doesn’t take pleasure in evil? In fact, how many of us feel like God Himself causes evil? Either that, or people who follow God cause lot’s of evil?
If we only knew, acknowledged, believed, the truth, we could take refuge in verse 4: You are not a God who takes pleasure in evil; with you the wicked cannot dwell. The truth is, even many Christians don’t appreciate the depth of that statement.
Even for me, it’s something I’ve had issues with. Trust, even in God, is hard to come by for those of us who suffer from anxiety and depression.
Part of our growth as Christians involves deeper understanding of verse four and the ability to trust God.
So take refuge on a dead island?
Am I saying to take refuge on a dead island? Of course not!
Did you look at the bird approaching the island? It’s a dove. The Christian symbol for the Holy Spirit of God.
Let’s look at these verses from the Psalm to see why that’s important.
Ps 5:10 Declare them guilty, O God!
Let their intrigues be their downfall.
Banish them for their many sins,
for they have rebelled against you.
Ps 5:11 But let all who take refuge in you be glad;
let them ever sing for joy.
Spread your protection over them,
that those who love your name may rejoice in you.
Ps 5:12 For surely, O LORD, you bless the righteous;
you surround them with your favor as with a shield.
Those verses indicate that everything in this world is going to be reversed. In more ways than one.
Here’s what’s promised in Psalm 5 – what’s going to happen in the end, and what we can begin to feel even now.
- God will declare the evil guilty. Something that seems to happen less and less in our ownjustice system these days.
- The very things people do will be the things that bring them down. Not the peripheral issues, like lying to investigators or eluding taxes.
- Evil people will be banished. Why? Because the evil they perpetrated on us is also evil perpetrated against God.
- That’s why followers of Jesus can and should take refuge in God.
- But how can we be glad and sing for joy?
- We will be protected. Not necessarily from evil people in this world. But from Satan and the separation from God what would result from us not taking refuge in Him.
- And let’s not forget the dove. The Holy Spirit and everything that comes with His presence.
What does the Holy Spirit bring?
Jesus Promises The Holy Spirit
Jn 14:15 “If you love me, you will obey what I command. 16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever— 17 the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you. 18 I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. 19 Before long, the world will not see me anymore, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. 20 On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you. 21 Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me. He who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love him and show myself to him.”
Jn 14:22 Then Judas (not Judas Iscariot) said, “But, Lord, why do you intend to show yourself to us and not to the world?”
Jn 14:23 Jesus replied, “If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching. My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. 24 He who does not love me will not obey my teaching. These words you hear are not my own; they belong to the Father who sent me.
Jn 14:25 “All this I have spoken while still with you. 26 But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. 27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.
Jn 14:28 “You heard me say, ‘I am going away and I am coming back to you.’ If you loved me, you would be glad that I am going to the Father, for the Father is greater than I. 29 I have told you now before it happens, so that when it does happen you will believe. 30 I will not speak with you much longer, for the prince of this world is coming. He has no hold on me, 31 but the world must learn that I love the Father and that I do exactly what my Father has commanded me.
“Come now; let us leave.”
There’s a whole lot in the passage where Jesus promises the Holy Spirt to those who love and follow Him. For today’s topic, let’s focus on what has been one of my favorite verses ever since I was a little kid.
Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.
Christians speak of God’s peace as something beyond understanding. I waited what feel like way too long to feel that peace. More than 50 years to experience a peace that fit that description. But it was more than worth waiting for.
I felt it during a week in the hospital. A week that was expected to, at a minimum, leave me with permanent organ damage. Possibly death. But I was never even a bit anxious the entire week or for the five weeks after that while wearing a portable IV pump to give me antibiotics to kill a staph infection. Totally beyond belief.
And so, that far away island that appeared to be dead was actually the source for an incredible encounter with the peace of God. My life hasn’t been the same since then.
Add to that, I firmly believe it was that experience that enables me to also feel peace these last three-plus with prostate cancer.
All-in-all, amazing for someone who has, and still does with some things, struggle with anxiety and depression.
You might ask – so what does all this have to de with evil people? Everyone gets sick. Sometimes very sick.
Well, here’s the thing. If you’re a regular reader, you probably know more of my history. Since I was very young, both strangers and my family gave me more than enough reason to be anxious and depressed. Add to that my career and people there. More reason.
And as we all know, emotional stress can and does cause physical harm.
What God offers us is refuge from all those things.
What did Jesus say about Take refuge and be glad?
Consider what Jesus said in the passage below.
Rest for the Weary
11:25-27 pp — Lk 10:21, 22
Mt 11:25 At that time Jesus said, “I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children. 26 Yes, Father, for this was your good pleasure.
Mt 11:27 “All things have been committed to me by my Father. No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.
Mt 11:28 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
Conclusion – 2023.01.07 Psalms 005 – Take refuge and be glad?
Since this is supposed to be somewhat of a journal on what these passages bring to my mind each day, rather than a long lesson, let me borrow some words from Warren Wiersbe to describe what that last part represents.
“Come.” The Pharisees all said “Do!” and tried to make the people follow Moses and the traditions. But true salvation is found only in a Person, Jesus Christ. To come to Him means to trust Him. This invitation is open to those who are exhausted and burdened down. That is exactly how the people felt under the yoke of pharisaical legalism (Matt. 23:4; Acts 15:10).
“Take.” This is a deeper experience. When we come to Christ by faith, He gives us rest. When we take His yoke and learn, we find rest, that deeper rest of surrender and obedience. The first is “peace with God” (Rom. 5:1); the second is “the peace of God” (Phil. 4:6–8). To “take a yoke” in that day meant to become a disciple. When we submit to Christ, we are yoked to Him. The word “easy” means “well-fitting”; He has just the yoke that is tailor-made for our lives and needs. The burden of doing His will is not a heavy one (1 John 5:3).
“Learn.” The first two commands represent a crisis as we come and yield to Christ; but this step is into a process. As we learn more about Him, we find a deeper peace, because we trust Him more. Life is simplified and unified around the person of Christ. This invitation is for “all”—not just the people of Israel (Matt. 10:5–6). 2
So by all means, go to that deserted place where the the Holy Spirit is. Not physically, by spiritually. Find God. Feel His peace. And then venture out into the world again. With your salvation protected. With God’s peace. And with God’s strength to not only persevere, but to help others with the same things God’s helping you with. In other words, help others by being a disciple yourself.
Image by Anja from Pixabay
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