Series: “The Names of God” (post #3)
One of the three rounds of temptation that Satan inflicted upon Jesus involved the suggestion that Jesus leap from the pinnacle of the Jewish temple and expect God the Father to dispatch angels to ensure His safe landing. As part of that temptation, Satan even quoted a certain passage of scripture. The passage was Psalm 91:11-12, which says:
For He shall give His angels charge over you, To keep you in all your ways. In their hands they shall bear you up, Lest you dash your foot against a stone. (N.K.J.V.)
Jesus refused to play along with Satan’s game, choosing instead to quote a portion of another passage (Deuteronomy 6:16), “You shall not tempt the Lord your God.” It is interesting, however, that Jesus didn’t say, “Come on now, Satan, you know that you are blatantly misinterpreting Psalm 91.” No, the fact is that all of Psalm 91 is about one subject: God’s protection of the one who abides in His presence.
It is in the midst of this Psalm that we find yet another name for God. In the Hebrew, the name is Jehovah Machis. In English, that means “The Lord My Refuge.” The specific passage is Psalm 91:9-10:
Because you have made the Lord, who is my refuge, Even the most High, your dwelling place, No evil shall befall you, Nor shall any plague come near your dwelling… (N.K.J.V.)
Another verse that can be placed alongside Psalm 91:9-10 is Proverbs 18:10, which says:
The name of the Lord is a strong tower; The righteous run to it and are safe. (N.K.J.V.)
The Bible’s most famous tower is the ill-fated tower of Babylon (Genesis 11:1-9), but many ancient cities had less elaborate towers. Towers are mentioned in several passages from both the Old Testament and the New Testament. The simplest of these towers acted as mere watchtowers, but the more elaborate ones were small fortresses into which the citizens could find shelter when an enemy army was coming against the city. The latter type is being referenced in Proverbs 18:10 when the Lord is described as a strong tower into which the righteous can find safety.
The general promise in all of this is that God protects His people from bodily, physical harm. Obviously, not only history but also scripture teaches us that this doesn’t mean that a child of God will never get sick. The apostle Paul left his Christian friend, Trophimus, in Miletus sick (2 Timothy 4:20), and that’s not even mentioning the millions of devout Christians who have died from cancer and other diseases over the course of the centuries. It also doesn’t mean that a child of God will never get injured or martyred. The likes of Abel, John the Baptist, and Stephen can attest to that.
How, then, do we Christians claim the name Jehovah Machis (The Lord My Refuge) in prayer? We do it by boldly citing that specific name when we ask the Lord to protect us during dangerous times. We do it by citing that specific name when we ask Him to be the shelter that keeps us safe during enemy attacks. We do it by citing that specific name when we ask Him to shield us from the trouble that is creeping all around us.
Again, it’s impossible to use either the Bible or own personal history to prove that God will always say, “Yes” to such prayers. If you think about it, even Jesus couldn’t claim Psalm 91 to keep Him from being roughly arrested, beaten, scourged, and crucified. Still, though, we are living beneath our privilege if we don’t regularly ask God to be our Jehovah Machis. Sure, there will be times when He will allow us to experience sickness or bodily injury. That’s a byproduct of being part of a sin-cursed race who lives in a sin-ruined world. But, on the other hand, think of all the hours, days, weeks, months, years, and decades when God does provide us with the refuge of safety and health. Most of us have had far more good days than bad ones, haven’t we?
It is because of this that we shouldn’t hesitate to call out to the Lord and ask Him to be our refuge. When trouble comes our way, our first instinct should be to run to Him just like the citizens of ancient cities ran inside their towers. Even if He chooses, in His sinless righteousness, not to keep the trouble from touching us, He will provide us with the grace and strength to face it. As He said to Paul after Paul had asked Him three times to take away the “thorn in the flesh,” “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:9).
You see, God never abandons His people. He always has our back one way or the other. If He doesn’t grant us protective refuge He will certainly grant us grace-induced strength. Our problem is that human logic tells us that protective refuge is always better. Divine wisdom, however, knows that certain “good” simply cannot be accomplished from safety.