God is our refuge and our strength! David, more than anyone else in the Bible, professes this nature of God again and again. God is his provider, hiding place, shelter. He is his R E F U G E.
Before David experienced this, God designed an infrastructure of the Cities of Refuge through Moses and Joshua (Deut 19). These real cities are sprinkled across Israel, and all about a day’s journey from the different areas of God’s people. It’s fascinating to learn all of the purposes and plans for these cities – from the Israelites to the foreigners, to what the city leaders were required to do. Hosting a refugee was no small feat. But the most important component of these Cities of Refuge, is that they highlight God’s heart for true justice. He provides a safe place for those being chased and persecuted unfairly (giving the example of unintentional murderers), until the situation can be evaluated and judged. God makes a way for fairness over quick revenge, for everyone.
A couple of things stand out to me about these cities. First, the responsibility was on the accused to get to the safe place. They had to seek out and travel to the City of Refuge. It wasn’t enough that it existed. It wasn’t enough that there was a law that said they should get a chance to be fairly judged. And the leaders of the location the person committed the crime weren’t required to transport them. They had to seek refuge as an individual. It was up to them to flee and get to safety.
What does my seeking after the Lord look like, in times of distress? Is it active and focused? Am I running to the Lord first, as diligently as I can?
The other thing that stands out to me is the host leaders of the Cities of Refuge. This put a lot on them to be prepared, to host the refugee, protect the wanted man, and provide for him. People would stop what they had going on when a refugee would arrive. It wasn’t always convenient. They may have worried about having enough for their own family, let alone provide for this stranger. They may have been concerned of the character of this person. There had to be a lot of things, perceived or real, that gave them pause when these situations arose.
What’s stopping me from providing for others that are seeking fair treatment? What are excuses I use to turn a blind eye to injustices around me?
I love this example that God outlined for us! He didn’t only rescue his people from Egypt (where they were being unfairly used and abused)… he then used the people to set up rescue centers for others. To whom much has been given, much is required. The Israelites knew too well of being treated unfairly – what better group to provide for others being potentially wrongly punished?
What trials has God delivered me from, that I can in turn support others in?
While we may not be hunted or wrongly accused for intentional murder, we may have:
- Made a big mistake at work and had a boss that owned it on our behalf
- Had a friend growing up whose family took us in and invested in us when we needed it.
- Had financial help when tight on cash and in a bind.
God is such a faithful refuge!
I’m thankful for this example of the Cities of Refuge. What a beautiful foreshadowing for us and our sin. He is our refuge from ourselves! He gives us time to seek him, work out our salvation and be judged by Him.
Don’t be caught by the enemy – race as fast as you can to our perfect Refuge!