The six cities of refuge provided a place of safety for people who had unintentionally killed another person. In addition to providing the place itself, God also sets up a justice system, allowing for the accused to make himself heard and given an opportunity to be found innocent or guilty by elders of the city, while in their protection.
I can’t help but think about when my two toddlers boys get in a fight. The wronged son comes to me to make a full (loud, and often lengthy) report of the wrong done to him by his brother. At the same time, the accused brother is also coming to me, crying out in fear (with tears, also usually loudly) sharing his side of events and begging for mercy. These little boys look to me for comfort, mercy, safety and justice.
It is easy to relate to both children. It is horrible to feel wronged and hurt, it is even worse to be blamed for doing something wrong when you didn’t do it, or did – but didn’t mean to.
Spiritually speaking, the events in our lives that necessitate fleeing to a city of refuge are less obvious than the ones between my two and four year old. But whether I’m seeking refuge because I unintentionally hurt someone, because I am hurting from what was done/said to me, or just because my faith is struggling and the weight of that is overwhelming, I have a refuge.
“God is our refuge and our strength, a very present help in times of trouble.” Psalm 46:1