Good morning refugees~
I remember a dream my wife had one night several years ago. This dream has significance to both of us. I often recall the physical and spiritual imagery the dream spoke of. Whenever I need reminding of a few things, this dream is the picture I run to.
She was walking in a tunnel, it turned out to be a train tunnel. You guessed it, a train came along. The wall of the tunnel was so close to the tracks and the ensuing train, there was literally no where to go. The end of the tunnel was way too far to outrun the oncoming train. Just behind her was a cleft in the rock, a small crack of sorts which was the exact shape and depth her body could fit into as the train sped by. Had the cleft been any smaller or if she moved just an inch outward, she would have been obliterated.
What we both learned from this dream is that there are times when people or life’s circumstances are heading our way. Those head-ons could possibly wipe us out. With the improper mental state, attitudes, and decisions, those “trains” could make life difficult for us. Instead, we learned that the only safe place in life when difficulties and trouble want to run us over is in the Cleft of the Rock. Biblically, that expression or one very close to it, speaks of safety, protection, and strength. We know that Jesus is the Rock of our Salvation. There is a hiding place in Him which can provide such comfort, peace, and refuge. The danger does not go away, just a place where we are safe from it. So whenever a fear or negative thoughts creep our way, we are reminded that there is nothing to fear, and that Father has a “Mark and Christie” shaped cut-out in Himself which provides the proper amount of protection for any particular trouble that may come along. It is important to stay there. Any slipping or fudging on that space, even sticking out our little pinkie toes, just a little bit, could cause more damage than imagined.
In reading through Psalms, there are particular words and phrases used by the psalmists which repeat often enough to catch ones attention. One of those words is refuge. As I read past each of those occurrences, I was reminded of Christie’s dream. There is a place of refuge when we hide in the Rock. I decided to do a little word study on it just for fun. ‘Refuge’ in the Psalms shows up a bunch, both in verb and noun form. It is used in the Bible 98 times and is only found in the Old Testament. Of those uses, it appears 42 times in Psalms. So it is a pretty important word in song and worship. It was first used in Exodus to reflect an idea that certain cities were chosen as places of refuge for some who may have murdered innocently and needed a place to participate in an Identity Protection Program.
The Hebrew word which is translated ‘refuge’ more than any other word is chasah. It is pronounced khaw-saw’. The first sound, the ’ch’ is the hard throaty, clear your esophagus hack, with the accent on the last syllable. Chasah is used 37 times in the OT as a verb and the noun is found 36 times. The King James predominantly translates hsh as ‘put trust in.’ The word is much more pictorial than that, so refuge is a better fit. It is also translated ‘rock’ (Deut 32:37), ‘shield’ (Ps 144:2), and even a mothering bird with outstretched wings (Ps 57:1).
The Psalms especially depict God himself as a refuge for the righteous. This recognition of God as a shelter and haven in times of distress affirms the adequacy of Yahweh as a covenant-making and covenant-keeping God. This epithet for God also serves as tangible evidence of Yahweh’s mercy and grace. Yahweh can be trusted (does that even need to be stated?). It is better to seek refuge in God than any human being, including rulers (Ps 118: 8, 9). Theologically, hsh emphasizes human insecurity and inability in the face of calamity, and diving security and ability to harbor and preserve those in distress (Ps 5:11; 7:1; 11:1; 16:1; 17:7; 18:1, 30; etc.). Notice where the word shows up most of the time, in the first part of the address to Father in each song! So for us we either petition Yahweh for refuge or praise him for providing such deliverance in the past. Also, the cities of refuge reflect the nature and character of God and his interface with the ANE and OT world.
Have a good day refugees. We are just about halfway through. Keep at it. You are doing a fabulous thing.
(Some of the above info was gleaned from Andrew E. Hill. hsh, #2879. New International Dictionary of Old Testament Theology and Exegesis. Willem A. VanGemeren, General Editor. Vol. 2, pp. 218-220.)