Bread – Sanctuary

March 14, 2016

Psalm 11

“In the Lord I take refuge…Flee like a bird to your mountain…”  Ps. 11:1

One of the reasons I like to capitalize the personal pronouns which reference God is that the direction of the personal pronoun reference is more clearly seen.  For example, here the phrase “your mountain” does not refer to God’s mountain, but to David’s.

When we are in trouble today or this week, there are two basic sanctuaries we can seek out, our mountain and God.

“Our mountain” may not be a literal mountain, but simply a place.  And there are three types of places.  The first place is the one we go to most often, and yet we rarely think about it as a sanctuary – and that is ourselves, our minds.  How many times, when we are in the midst of difficulty, do we reach into ourselves for the solution?  In fact, we know that some people so retreat into their mind that they stay locked up in it, becoming withdrawn, recluses or hoarders, or evidencing psychological disturbances.  So one place of sanctuary is our mind.

The second type of mountain could be a collection of minds, or the society of others.  We do this every day.  When we are in trouble, we seek the advice of other people or, if not their advice, at least their friendship.  These groups may be family, best friends, co-workers, respected peers, or others with whom we find comfort and safety.  People then are our sanctuary.  But, like all people and people-groups, they are fickle and have their own issues, and so the reliability and effectiveness of the sanctuary may be in doubt from time to time.

The third type of mountain is more of a physical place, a true “mountain.”  Now this physical place may not be a literal mountain, but it has the same elements – perceived permanence, earthly, strong, defensible, calming, and peaceful.  Our mountain may be a favorite chair to which we run when we are in trouble.  Our mountain may be a particular room in the house where we can escape the various demands being put upon us.  Our mountain may be our office if we are escaping from the house, or our house if we are escaping from the office.  Our mountain may be the place we like to take vacation.  Our mountain may just be a place of respite, a fountain, a bench, a park, a museum, a gallery … any place where we can escape the troubles we have.


When we are in trouble, when our enemies surround us, when we are paying the consequences of our sin or others’ sin, how often do we seek the sanctuary of our mind, other people, or a special place?  I think, if we are honest, the answer is most of the time.  Although God may be found in every one of these places, atop every one of these mountains, He is not necessarily there if we are not seeking Him there.  The mountaintop house, perched over the valley, where we drink our coffee while we watch the world come to life is, in itself, a man-made place of refuge.  My mountain is my mountain.  It is a choice to seek refuge there, but God may or may not be present there unless I also seek Him.

Which then, of course, leads us to the second place of refuge – God Himself.  In this Psalm 11, someone is advising David to flee to his mountain, and David’s response is “In the Lord I take refuge.”

Can we say that?  Can we truly say that we take refuge in the Lord when we face difficulties, or do we try to work it out ourselves first?  When we are faced with danger, do we seek first a well-defended sanctuary made of brick and stone, of a well-defended fortress of well-armed men and women, or do we first seek the Lord?

As we begin today, Monday, there is an entire week when we will be attacked from every side, by people who we thought loved us and respected us, by people who we known neither love us nor respect us, by circumstances, by events, by sin, by trouble, by Satan himself.  When this happens and we need respite, where will we seek sanctuary?

Will we flee to the mountain (ourselves, our friends, our good places) or will we flee to God?

What I think I tend to do is to first seek the comfortable chair, the book, the place of peace … and then, if I think about it, I will talk to God.  And isn’t this our true selves, our true order of events.  Flee first to our mountain and, once we get there, talk to God, maybe?

What would happen if I first sought refuge “in the Lord?”  Would I then need the chair, the book, the drink, the conversation with a friend, the self-analysis?  Perhaps, but then it would be because God led me there and not because I led myself there.

Have you ever fled to your mountain to find that your place of sanctuary was not very helpful, that it did not protect you as well as you thought it would?  How often have we retreated to vacation only to return from vacation unrested?

Perhaps our failure to find true sanctuary, to find true refuge, is because we have it in the wrong order.  We flee first to our mountain and then, maybe, to God.  Instead, we should flee first to God and then, if He says, go find the place of His choosing to rest ourselves.

“In the Lord I take refuge.”  Is this a reality or just a motto?


© 2016 GBF   All Scripture quotations are from the English Standard Version (2001), unless otherwise indicated.



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