It’s Monday morning, so it must be my turn to do Zeph@10am. It’s very quiet at the moment in my house because it’s officially the Easter school holiday now. No homeschooling today. However, it doesn’t feel much like the start of a normal holiday.
I’m carrying on with my meander through the Psalms of David today, and I’m going to be focusing on Psalm 34. You might want to grab a Bible and have a read through.
For a moment cast your mind back to the BC (Before Coronavirus) era. Think about a time or times when you were struggling or facing difficulties, and think about how God was there for you – how he helped and supported you, how he strengthened you or helped you resolve the situation.
For me, I always think about when my dad had cancer, and how especially close God felt at that time. When the cancer came back, while I was away at university, God made sure that I had amazing friends around me to support me when my family was so far away. My friend Susie literally stood behind me, with her arms around me, while my mum broke the news on the phone, and she was there throughout what was a really tough time. I thank God all the time that my dad recovered and is still with us.
Psalm 34 was written when David was going through a really tough time. He’s escaped Saul, by climbing out the window of his house, and gone to see Samuel. From there, he’s eluded Saul again, and kept running until he ends up seeking sanctuary with King Achish of Gath. However, they are fearful of David because of his reputation, so once again he is in danger, so he pretends (Hamlet-like) to be mad. King Achish says, “Must you bring me a madman? We already have enough of them around here! Why should I let someone like this be my guest?”, so he sends him away. One wonders how they ended up with so many ‘interesting’ people in Gath!
Despite this, Psalm 34 isn’t a psalm of despair, but one of praise for what God has done. David doesn’t just reflect on his current situation, or what God is doing now, but what he has done for him in the past.
In my desperation I prayed, and the Lord listened;
he saved me from all my troubles.
For the angel of the Lord is a guard;
he surrounds and defends all who fear him.”
Despite being in the middle of fear and trouble, he’s able to say “I prayed – and he freed me. I prayed – and he saved me from all my troubles. Look at what the Lord can do for you too!”
Verse 8 says, “Taste and see that the Lord is good. Oh the joys of those who take refuge in him!”
I have a friend, Rosie, who works as an aid worker in South Sudan. She genuinely knows what it means to take ‘refuge’. A couple of years ago civil war re-erupted in South Sudan, and they were confined to their compound, in Juba, until they could try and get to the airport to evacuate. The fighting in the streets was fierce, and bullets were raining into the compound, some coming through the roof. They took refuge in the most secure part of the building – the small bathroom. Imagine spending hours, huddled with 3 or 4 other people on the floor next to a toilet, not knowing when you were going to be able to escape.
‘Refuge’ is a last resort. It’s scary, it’s uncomfortable, it’s the place you go when you have no other option.
But Psalm 34 tells us that the refuge God provides is anything but. The Psalm tells us that it’s free of fear, full of joy, safe, and lacking in no good thing.
With God, we aren’t huddling in a metaphorical toilet. Rather, we are being put up in a hotel that we wouldn’t normally be able to afford, with king-size beds, plumb pillows, unlimited tea and coffee (and those little individually wrapped biscuits), and a breakfast menu that keeps you going until teatime.
Thank God now for being our refuge – with all the blessings it has. Thank him for the times he was there in the past, knowing that he’s still here now.
Thank God for all the people – and things – that we have that are making life much better right now.
Let’s pray that we’ll open our eyes to see all the ‘good things’ that God has got for us right now.
Pray for someone you know who needs to feel the peace and security that refuge in God can bring. Pray that they will be able to ‘taste and see’.
It would be rude not too! Have a listen: https://soundcloud.com/johnfroud/taste-and-see
I hope that your week of refuge is full of joy and peace, and adventures with God, especially as we head towards Easter. Have a good one!