David wrote I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress; my God, in Him I will trust.” Psalm 91:2b
If the LORD is our Refuge and our Fortress does ‘Refuge and Fortress,’ what does that mean and how are they different?
REFUGE— In my mind’s eye, I see a formidable middle ages castle on the top of a high hill. It is a place where you need a signed pass from the king to get in without being shot. But, is that what it is? Let’s see.
Refuge—is Strong’s #4268 and its primitive root is #2620. The primitive root root looks like this: and the definition is to flee for protection, to confide in, to have hope, to trust.
Here is the break down in Hebrew:
Chet 8 = New Beginnings. Means: Fence, Gate, Tent wall to Separate, Protect, Cut off. Torah
Samekh 60 = Pride, Conceit, Earthly. Picture: A Tree propped up by a piece of wood. Means: To Lean Upon, a Prop or Aid, Hold, Assist or Support – the heart of God
Hey 5 = Grace. Means: Revelation – 5 is the number of Torah, Behold, Give Attention – (at the end of a word: comes from letter before)
Thus, when we say the LORD is our REFUGE, we are saying He is our protector who separates us from the enemy (Chet). He holds us in His heart, gives us the support we need (Samekh) and we receive revelation from the Father’s heart so we can see clearly(Hey).
In God is my salvation and my glory;
The rock of my strength,
And my refuge, is in God.
8 Trust in Him at all times, you people;
Pour out your heart before Him;
God is a REFUGE for us.
God is our REFUGE and strength,
A very present help in trouble.
2 Therefore we will not fear,
Even though the earth be removed,
And though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea;
3 Though its waters roar and be troubled,
Though the mountains shake with its swelling. Selah
But how about FORTRESS, isn’t it the same thing? Let’s see:
Fortress—is Strong’s #4686 which actually means wilderness or mountainous place for hiding, defense, and gathering supplies for battle. But its primitive root is #6679 that has an entirely different meaning: to lie alongside-in wait, by implication, to catch an animal or man.
Here is what #6679-the primitive root looks like:
Tzade 90 = Humility. Picture-Fishhook. Means: Righteousness, to pull toward, Desire, Trouble, Harvest
Vav 6 = Man. Means: Nail or Hook, to Secure, Pin together, Connect -Yeshua
Dallet 4 = Earth or creation. Means: Door, Gate, Impoverished man, to come from indicates a pathway, a place of decision, or an entrance to life or death.
When we say that the LORD is our FORTRESS, we are saying, He is our Righteousness (Tzade). It is Jesus who went to the cross to connect us with heaven (Vav). He is the Door that gave us entrance. He became the impoverished man, by taking on our sin, so that we could become rich and inheritors of His kingdom.(Dallet)
Do you see the similarities? Do you see the differences? Both refuge and fortress are defined as a place of protection or defense. Refuge in particular is defined as being a place where one can have hope or can put their trust or confidence.
As a child, were you ever threatened by the neighborhood bully and ran home as fast as your legs could carry you? Flinging open the door, you lunged into the house and slammed the door with an immediate sense of relief. You knew you were safe now. This is the weight behind the meaning of the word REFUGE.
FORTRESS is a strong place as well, but it’s that primitive root where we find the difference: “To lie alongside in wait to catch an animal or man.”
When I was in Israel, our tour guide pointed to a herd of sheep and told us, “Shepherd’s fields now, and in Jesus’ time, are very rocky. If a cave can be located, the shepherds put their sheep in the cave at night and sleep across the opening to protect them. If a cave cannot be found, the shepherds stack stones creating a stone corral eighteen to twenty inches tall and gather the sheep inside the enclosure. Shepherds then heap thorns and briers on top of the barrier of stones and station themselves at the opening of the enclosure during the night. They become the gate of the sheepfold, literally laying down their lives for the sheep. If anything comes to attack, the shepherd is the first line of defense. When Jesus taught about the Good Shepherd in John 10, He was referring to this kind of care.”
“Then Jesus said to them again, “Most assuredly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. All who ever came before Me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not hear them. I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture. The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly. I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep.”
In April 2007— the Lord spoke to me about this fortress:
I woke up hearing, “Return to your rest, O prisoner of hope and put on Christ.”
“Come back to that place of abiding in Me, your Fortress and Stronghold. In Me—resting in My presence and ability and not in your own, you are inaccessible to the enemy. Come back and let Me array you and prepare you, twisting you together with Me and with your husband in that tightly braided rope that will lasso the lost, harness the unruly, and lead the newly broken. The only way you can do that is to sink down into My character and My way.”
It is comforting to think that when we dwell and abide in the secret place, we have no need to worry about the enemy, because the vigilant God, who by His very presence chases off anything that could harm us, is protecting us. Plus, as we yield to His ways, we take on His character and live in His grace.
Are you starting to think this may be a great place to live? Tomorrow we will finish up this verse.