What does the word refuge make you think of? Maybe an imposing building with locks on the doors, maybe a thick-walled fortress, or perhaps something as simple as a canopy to keep you dry in a rainstorm. Whatever picture comes to mind, it can be agreed that a refuge is a safe place. When the Bible describes God as our refuge, it is saying that God is our safe place when we need protection from something.
Knowing God as our refuge enables us to trust Him more freely. We need not fear situations or people who threaten our well-being, whether in a physical or spiritual sense. There is no situation we will ever face that is out of God’s control, so the best place to be, always, is right with Him. “The name of the LORD is a fortified tower; the righteous run to it and are safe” (Proverbs 18:10).
A question that arises is “how do I make God my refuge?” It’s easy to picture a physical refuge protecting us from some danger, but how can we make God—whom we can’t see—our refuge?
David is a great example of someone who knew God as his refuge. At different points in his life, David was on the run from people who literally wanted to kill him, but he always found safety in God. “My salvation and my honor depend on God; he is my mighty rock, my refuge. Trust in him at all times, you people; pour out your hearts to him, for God is our refuge” (Psalm 62:7–8). An easy way to make God our refuge is to simply ask Him to be. David said, “Pour out your hearts to him”; that’s what David did all the time. He poured out his heart to God about what was going on in his life and asked God to intervene on his behalf. When we turn to God for help or protection, we begin to know Him as our refuge.
In contrast to David’s faith, the leaders of Israel in Isaiah’s day tried to find security in things other than God. In Isaiah 28:15, the Lord rebukes them for making “a lie our refuge and falsehood our hiding place.” God then offers them a true refuge: “See I lay a stone in Zion, a tested stone, a precious cornerstone for a sure foundation; the one who relies on it will never be stricken with panic. I will make justice the measuring line; hail will sweep away your refuge, the lie, and water will overflow your hiding place” (Isaiah 28:16–18). We may be tempted to look for safety in things other than God, but such things can only provide a false sense of security. God is the only real refuge we’ll ever find.
God is our refuge. However, that does not mean He will never lead us into difficult or dangerous situations. Jesus led the disciples into a boat, knowing full well that a violent storm was brewing; the disciples were terrified, but Jesus, their refuge, calmed the storm (Matthew 8:23–27). When we are in God’s will, we can face even the most dangerous situations with confidence, because God is with us.
Countless times, God led the Israelites into battles against armies much more powerful than they, yet when they trusted God and obeyed Him, they always came out victorious (see Joshua chapters 6 and 8 for some examples). Jesus told us, “In me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).
No matter what our circumstance, the safest place to be is always in the center of God’s will. He promises to be our refuge: “‘Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.’ So we say with confidence, ‘The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?’” (Hebrews 13:5–6).