Lord, Become for Me a Rocky Summit of Refuge

At first glance, a lot of the Psalms don’t apply to my life right now. So many Psalms are about a person who is in trouble. Someone is depressed, or being overtaken by enemies, or running away from trouble, and crying out to the Lord in search of rescue and relief.

My life? It doesn’t reflect this kind of anguish. Sure, there have been some difficult transitions in the last few months. But nothing close to persecution or seemingly insurmountable barriers reflected in many verses of the Psalms.

These differences might tempt me to pass over Psalm 31 and move on to Psalm 32. After all, I wouldn’t say, “my strength fails because of my affliction” (Psalm 31:10) or “I am the utter contempt of my neighbors” (Psalm 31:11) or “I am forgotten as though I were dead” (Psalm 31:12).

But then I look at what David is doing with those feelings. And there, I see a lesson I need to learn.

David looks to God to be his refuge.

When I need refuge, I often don’t run to God first. I seek protection against how people might perceive me by running towards clothes and make up. I retreat from the quiet boredom of loneliness by running towards social media. I shelter myself from self-doubt by running towards achievement at work.

I shelter and protect myself in all sorts of places besides the arms of my God.

Psalm 31 convicts me when it begins with the cry,

“In you, Lord, I have taken refuge” – Psalm 31:1

And expands on that with

“Turn your ear to me, come quickly to my rescue; be my rock of refuge, a strong fortress to save me.” – Psalm 31:2

In Hebrew, “be my rock of refuge” is literally, “become for me a rocky summit of refuge.”

That language reminds me of when I travelled to Machu Picchu. I cannot imagine the number of people who died building that rocky city on the top of a mountain. But the people thought it was worth the effort. Because there, at the top of the mountain, they were protected. The rocks provided them shelter from storms that might brew overhead. The mountaintop provided them the safety of the high place, a view of their enemies as they approached.

I wonder what it would look like if I ran to God as my rock of refuge. Not just when the big trials came, but all the time. What if I lived there, in God’s rocky city at the top of the hill.

Perhaps if my identity took refuge in who I am as God’s child, then I could see the enemy of comparison as it made its way on the path to my heart.

Perhaps if my longings found their shelter in God, then I could be protected from the effect of consumerism as it rained down its stuff into my life.

Perhaps if I ran to God as the refuge of my soul, then I could live with a sense of security and peace greater than what I feel now. And then maybe when the bigger enemies do come, and I feel the anguish of this Psalm, my journey to find refuge in the hands of God would only be an arm's length away.

Since you are my rock and my fortress, for the sake of your name lead and guide me. Keep me free from the trap that is set for me, for you are my refuge. Into your hands I commit my spirit; deliver me, Lord, my faithful God. Be strong and take heart, all you who hope in the Lord. – Psalm 31:3-5, 24

What could it look like for you if you made God your rock of refuge?

Walk through the Psalms is a series reflecting on the beautiful and timeless poetry found in the middle of the Bible. It is an intentional study of God’s Word, grounded in the belief that God gave us the Bible so we could meditate on it, whether that takes us through inspiring or frustrating territory.

My Hope for a Faith that Stays

It is not hard for me to be a Christian. I mean, sure, my faith has had its rocky patches. I’ve had challenges and doubts. I’ve questioned God’s existence. I’ve chosen to follow my own way.

But really, when I take a step back, my life makes it easy to be a person of faith. I am happily married to a husband who shares my beliefs. We have kids that bring us joy. We have friends and family and a home and a car and clothes. We. Have. So. Much.

It is not difficult to follow God when life is easy.

And this can bring on its own faith questions.

It’s effortless to say I have faith when that faith has so rarely been tested. I wonder how I would respond if my life were different. If choosing faith meant my family would disown me. If following God meant leaving a dream behind. If instead of blessings, life brought trials and hardships that made God seem distant.

I honestly don’t know how I would respond if my faith were challenged. And I can’t pretend I would.

All I can do is hope. Hope that I would have the faith of David.

In Psalm 11, David is in some sort of crisis. And he gets advice.

David's advisers tell him this crisis is too much. That he should run away to the mountains. For David, running away means more than seeking shelter. As the King of Israel, if David runs, he runs away from everything God had asked him to do with his life.

If David runs for cover, He runs away from God.

And so the Psalm begins with David’s response. Will he listen to the advice to run or will he stay faithful to God?

I've already run for dear life straight to the arms of God. So why would I run away now – Psalm 11:1 (Msg)

David does not run for shelter. His shelter is already with him. His shelter is his God.

David has faith. But as he goes on, David does not describe a faith based on a belief that God will rescue him from his present crisis. He does not presume to know what God is doing in the midst of it.

Faith does not mean blindly believing that everything will be happy and good.

Faith means believing that God rules, even when He is not ruling the way we want Him to.

But the Lord is in his holy Temple; the Lord still rules from heaven. He watches everyone closely, examining every person on earth. – Psalm 11:4 (NLT)

Faith means believing that God sees, even when we feel overlooked.

For the Lord is righteous, he loves justice; the upright will see his face. – Psalm 11:7 (NIV)

 Faith means believing that God is just, even when we are surrounded by injustice.

God rules. God sees. God is just. This is the faith of David. I hope it will be the faith of me.

I hope that when pressed with a situation that could make me run from God, I would have the faith to stay.

Walk through the Psalms is a series reflecting on the beautiful and timeless poetry found in the middle of the Bible. It is an intentional study of God’s Word, grounded in the belief that God gave us the Bible so we could read it and think about it, even when that is difficult.

How do I respond?

Bleh. This is the seventh week of my Walk Through the Psalms series, and all I can think when I read Psalm 7 is


David is in trouble. Again. He asks God to bring justice to his enemies. Again.

Where are the psalms about deer and water and beauty? I know they are in this book somewhere. All these psalms about evil and vengeance and justice are making my eyes gloss over.

How did David get himself into so much trouble? I mean, seriously, did he ever get to sit on his throne? So far, the Psalms make it look like he spent all his time running and hiding and suffering.

I can’t stay here in this “bleh.”

For one, because that can’t be the content of a blog post. But, even more importantly, because that can’t be the content of my heart.

The Bible can be difficult to read. It is written by ancient people. There are culture and language differences to muddle through. But still, it is written for us. There is a purpose to Psalm 7, just as there is a purpose to every Psalm in this book.

The Psalms is a collection of prayers. It is a book that shows us something about the human experience. And what it looks like to connect that experience with our powerful and loving God.

And, so, though I see a consistency in David being in trouble that makes me want to skip to the next Psalm, I also see consistency in David’s response to trouble that causes me to pause.

He does not throw a pity party. He does not turn to his military strength. He does not turn to his wealth. He does not turn to his own strategies.

He turns to God.

In just this one psalm, Psalm 7, David calls to God again and again and again,

“O Lord my God, O Lord my God, O Lord, my God, O Lord, O Most High, O righteous God.”

And again and again, David lays his heart before God. He boldly makes requests, according to his need and according to God’s character,

“Save and deliver me, decree justice, judge the peoples, bring to an end the violence of the wicked, and make the righteous secure.”

And again and again, even before those requests are answered, David affirms

I take refuge in you, my shield is God Most High, I will give thanks to the Lord, and I will sing praise to the name of the Lord Most High.”

These psalms make me wonder about my response to trouble.

Sure, I pray about it. But is that the first thing I do? And is it the thing I do most relentlessly?

Probably not.

I whine. I ask for help. I cry “poor me.” I avoid. I strategize. I change course. And maybe just throw in a prayer or two for good measure.

And even when I do pray, am I as secure in God’s character as David is?

Do I, before my prayer is answered, give thanks to the Lord? Do I affirm that He is good, even if things are not done in my way or in my timing?

Probably not.

So maybe there is a reason for all these psalms that turn to God in times of trouble. Maybe it gives me practice. Maybe I can only pray this way, truly pray this way, when big trouble strikes, if it is a habit. If it is something I have read, over and over again. If it is something I have prayed for others, over and over again. If it is something I have done for the small hardships of my life, over and over again.

Maybe then, when I have made it a practice to repeatedly turn to God, repeatedly pour out my requests, and repeatedly affirm His character before those requests are answered, maybe then, when the big troubles come to my life, I will be able to affirm, with David,

“O Lord my God, I take refuge in you.”- Psalm 7:1

How do you respond when trouble comes? Are you able to pray like David?