The book of Psalms is a wonderful book filled with poetry and songs. I love the flowery language, the beautiful word pictures and the sweet promises. Not too long ago I read a verse that fit in all three of those categories – yet, I must confess that all the loveliness captured my imagination and I almost missed what one, very little, yet, very powerful verse said! Here it is…
“God is known in her palaces for a refuge.” – Psalm 48:3
Wonderful little promise, isn’t it? Indeed, it is! But when I first read it, I wondered how “palace” and “refuge” could relate to each other. The two, in my mind, don’t mix at all!
When I think of a refuge, the image of a small cave comes to mind. Hidden among the side of the mountain by thick vines and foliage, the location, may be known only by a few. This would be a place where folks hide when they’re on the run. A cold, little spot where criminals, bandits and fugitives live. For fear of being discovered, they emerge from their den in the night watches to search out food and water…the purpose of their time at the refuge is to scrape by just enough until the danger passes, and then they can move on.
On the other hand, a palace is made to be seen. It’s a large place, it can hold many, many people and usually can be viewed from a distance. If you’re in the area, it shouldn’t be hard to find. Everybody in the village knows where the palace is…it’s usually the talk of the town! A palace is where the royal families live. Lavish tapestries adorn the rooms, a feast can be found at the table at meal times and though I hate to pick on ‘em, the gentry did little real work. Most of the time, the rich and famous are portrayed lounging around, enjoying a lifestyle of leisure.
Each place has its pros and cons. While the refuge may be safe, it can be a lonely hard life. The palace may be filled with enough room, food and company for everyone – but when you’re on the run, it’s a poor place to hide. Yet, Psalm 48:3 implies that its possible to have both a palace and refuge in the same go. The question may arise, “How can that be? The case you built in the above paragraphs say otherwise!” Well, the answer is simple. The palace and the refuge really have nothing to do with it – the key word in this verse is, GOD. Refuges can be found out and palaces can be broken in to, but when God is your refuge and palace…you’re safe.
“God is known in her palaces for a refuge” it says. Kings live in palaces right? Psalm 47:7 calls God our King. “For God is the King of all the earth: sing ye praises with understanding.” We have a wise King, He has taken the pros from both the palace and the refuge and made them all available in Himself…without the presence of the cons. He has given us the companionship of the palace in the local church, the feast in His written Word, and the rest that accompanies a rich life through His peace. He has also bought the safety of the refuge with His blood – assuring us that nothing can harm our eternal state, once we are in Him. He has offered us protection in our daily life through the power of prayer, if we so choose to use it. Yet, sometimes even the palaces get held under siege and those who live inside don’t feel very safe at all, no matter how thick and strong the surrounding walls. Even in those times of hard trial, the King has given us a way to feel completely safe. It’s found in a relationship with Him. The enemy knows they can’t defeat the King…so the closer you are to Him, the safer you will be, and feel. “Thou art my hiding place; thou shalt preserve me from trouble; thou shalt compass me about with songs of deliverance. Selah.” – Psalm 32:7
With these thoughts in mind, we can only conclude that if you want to enjoy the peaceful life of the palace and experience the safety of the refuge at the same time – stay close to God.
“Cast thy burden upon the LORD, and He shall sustain thee: He shall never suffer the righteous to be moved.” – Psalm 55:2