Taking Refuge In the Lord

There is a Hebrew word which means “to take refuge” that is consistently translated “to trust” in the King James Version.  There is a difference in meaning between the two ideas. So, you can imagine my surprise to find such a rarity.The word “trust” has a long history signifying a sense of security originally based on the economy (the “haves” had security; the “have nots” didn’t) and then eventually for those devoted to God, on knowing Him who—as we say—owns the cattle on a thousand hills. Knowing that the Lord provides (Jehovah-Jireh) brings a sense of peace.

Even the common term “Peace” (SHALOM) was tied to ones’s health and prosperity, not just a time of no war.  The ancients were tied to the land. They had a natural inclination to rely on natural resources—not the Lord—for any sense of personal security.  National security included an army, whether their own or through an alliance with another nation.

Even with us, devoted to God as we might be, “trust” in God could be just a religious concept that during times of prosperity we do not need to learn.  Our faith in God might be more a belief or a commitment to church than a genuine and necessary dependence on God for sustenance and support.

Isaiah gave these terms new meaning when he tied our trust and peace solely to a relationship with the Lord. This is a lesson often learned in times of want when we are absolutely dependent on God.

You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you. Isaiah 26:3

We also are dependent on certain emotional/spiritual resources like “being loved,” “christian fellowship,” and the “encouragement/support of others to remain faithful to God.” We require these even if our finances are comfortably in order.

So I was surprised to read even in the NIV of Nahum 1:7 the word “to trust” instead of “to take refuge.”

The LORD is good, a refuge in times of trouble. He cares for those who trust in him.

A far better translation would be the NASB:

The LORD is good,
A stronghold in the day of trouble,
And He knows those who take refuge in Him.

The word is found 37 times in the Old Testament and each time the King James Version translates it “trust” when it means “take refuge”

Psalm 91:4 reads in the KJV:

He shall cover thee with his feathers, and under his wings shalt thou trust: his truth shall be thy shield and buckler.

but the NIV reads better:

He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.

The NIV reads more naturally, metaphorically calling God’s protection his wings. (Like a mother eagle protecting her eaglets or a hen her chicks.) This is the point: This word speaks of fleeing to the Lord for protection from circumstances that might otherwise harm or ruin us.  The context of both Psalm 91 and Nahum’s prophecy is fraught with danger and trouble.  It isn’t a statement of faith alone that is required here but an action: fleeing to the Lord for protection.  We flee to Him because we trust Him, but flee we must to survive spiritually as well as in any natural sense.

Isaiah 30:1-2 makes this point clearer:

“Woe to the obstinate children,” declares the LORD, “to those who carry out plans that are not mine, forming an alliance, but not by my Spirit who  go down to Egypt without consulting me; who look for help to Pharaoh’s protection, to Egypt’s shade for refuge!” [KJV: to trust in the shadow of Egypt!]

Judah didn’t just hope that Pharaoh would come to the rescue, they didn’t just trust in Egyptian military might to shoo away the Assyrians.  They went to Egypt and formed an alliance, etc.

God wants us to form that alliance with His Spirit, with Him. Trust is a passive idea, while taking refuge for a believer is active: praying, remaining faithful to God, and living a Christ-centric faith: Christian love in action.

You might want to call “taking refuge under His wing” an active trust or active faith. ..and rightly so…

God … is a shield to those who take refuge in him. Proverbs 30:5

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