Bread – Sanctuary

March 24, 2017


Psalm 57

Be merciful to me, O God, be merciful to me, for in You my soul takes refuge; in the shadow of Your wings I will take refuge, until the storms of destruction pass by.” Ps. 57:1

The idea of sanctuary or refuge seems to be having a strong pull on all people today, as we seek what the secular press calls “safe places” or “safe zones.” We feel surrounded by a mist of confusion and doubt, loss and turmoil, anxiety and depression, and, as the Psalmist put it, “the storms of destruction,” and we reach out to safe places.

But what the world calls a “safe place” is a place where the gathered people are told that they are OK, that they are safe, that their thoughts and opinions are worthy, and that their view of the world is correct. The world’s safe places are places where they may be a guard at the door, fluffy couches to lay on, and donuts and coffee (or tea) to drink. These safe places may be infilled with soft music of a type to be found in a massage studio, murmured conversation and soft touches, and calming words. They are a place where people may retreat from what is going on outside the room, but they are not places of solution.

In this Psalm’s title, there is reference to this Psalm having been written “in the cave.” This is probably the cave where David lived while escaping from Saul. It is a place where the walls are defined, where the entrance is guarded, where the fires of evening warm the area and light it. The cave for David is a relatively safe place, and from a secular and worldly point of view, it qualifies as a sanctuary or a refuge.

Many people refer to our churches as places of safety, refuge, and sanctuary. In fact, my place of worship calls its main building a “sanctuary” because there we can meet God, worship Him, and leave the world outside. But is the church worship building really a sanctuary, whether we call it one or not? Do we really leave the world’s way of thinking outside when we walk in? Is all of our sinfulness immediately dropped at the foot of the door to the church sanctuary? Is the sanctuary free from politics, strife, worry, fear, and squabbles? If you have been in a church building any length of time, you know that the reality of the world exists inside the building as well as outside.

This is why David does not refer to his cave as his sanctuary or refuge. It may be the place where David has time and focus to think about where his real sanctuary is, but the place itself is not the place of sanctuary or David would refer to it as such.

No, David’s real place of refuge, his real sanctuary, as well as ours is “in You [in God Himself]” and in “the shadow of Your [God’s] wings.”

As we seek peace in our lives, we need to understand something fundamental. Peace is not found in ourselves. Peace is not found in others. Peace is not found in a place. Peace is only found in God – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

But, you may say, that you find peace in good music, in good wine, in good company, in contemplation, in reading a good book, and in comfortable places surrounded by familiar things and people. And that sense of peace may very well be real…for the moment. As soon as the music is over, the wine is done, the company leaves, the book is over, and the door is shut on that special place, the peace is over. At best it is a temporary peace; at worse it is a false peace. The real peace, the peace which passes understanding, the peace which is eternal, comes from only one source and can be found in only one relationship – “for in You [God] my soul takes refuge…”

Seek sanctuary where it may really be found. Seek the mercy under the wings of the Almighty, the God Most High. And rest.
________
© 2017 GBF   All Scripture quotations are from the English Standard Version (2001), unless otherwise indicated.

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