Psalm 34:8 is one of my all-time favorite verses and I'm excited to start 2012 with a devotional that goes straight to our hearts - from the heart of God, who wants to be our place of refuge.
Credit: background images from istockphoto.com
I love how the psalmist, David, refers to God as his refuge - his sanctuary - throughout his writings. David was a guy with a whole lot of drama going on. Often on the run from people who were trying to kill him, David knew that he could find safety and security in the care of the God he loved. He also knew something about refuge that we in our modern culture know little about.
David was familiar with "Cities of Refuge" - places that had been set aside for the safety of people who were in need of protection. You can do your own in-depth studies on these cities by reading Deut. 35 and Josh. 20, 21...but for today I'll hit the high spots so we can have a glimpse of this incredible picture of God's care. If you look closely, you'll see the redemption story written all over it. It's like God was giving us a big, giant clue that pointed to His Son, Jesus Christ.
There are eight characteristics about these cities that I want to share with you, and as I do, take a moment to consider their spiritual applications.
1. They were established by God - the cities were HIS idea (grace).
2. The cities were available and easily accessible - highways were to be wide and carefully maintained so that someone in need of refuge would be unhindered in their quest.
3. The gates were always open, never locked.
4. The cities were widely advertised. Signs were at road intersections, pointing the way.
5. They were prominently located - in the middle of plains or upon hills.
6. They were within a day's journey from anywhere in the country. Anyone, at any time, from anywhere could reach them.
7. Whosoever could come - Jew or Gentile.
8. Refugees who fled to these cities could live freely after the High Priest's death. Very symbolic of the freedom we receive from Christ's death.
Jesus is our ultimate "City of Refuge," isn't He? He is always available, always open. Access to Him is as easy as running to him in simple prayer, and He offers protection from the avenger in our time of need. His grace is poured out on anyone who asks - no matter what your past, your social standing, your race or your "issues." Perhaps you've been noticing signs all around you that are pointing you to Him? Lay down your burdens and run, don't walk, to Him. Make Jesus your City of Refuge today...the gate is never locked.
"Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good," rings in my heart as 2012 dawns. This year, I want to taste and see - truly experience - God's goodness. And I pray this for you as well. You see, the only way we will experience all He has for us is if we pull in close to Him as our refuge. In His presence there is blessing and joy, no matter what is going on all around you. He is our sanctuary, our rock, our fortress, our high tower. We can trust in Him because He holds everything in His hands.
Today's Small Thing is to print, save, store or share my Psalm 34:8 graphic. It is for your personal use to enjoy and meditate on.
You can simply drag the image to your desktop or you can use this pdf if that works better.
UPDATE: The original pdf was huge...this one is smaller.
Song of the Day: My Refuge, Sonic Flood
How has the Lord been your place of refuge during life's difficulties? How can you make Him your refuge today?