*Pastor’s Note: Keeping with the theme of God being our Fortress and Rock, I thought I would put together some Bible descriptions that go along with the names that God was referred to in the Bible describing Him as our Refuge.
God Our Fortress and Refuge, Our Rock
Unlike Europe and Asia, America has little history of refuges and fortresses. But in Old Testament days, refuge or fortress was a very real need. Unwalled villages were clustered around walled stronghold cities, where residents in the region would flee in times of war. High towers and ramparts could be defended against a force many times their size. A number of words describing fortresses are used as metaphors of God’s defense and protection.
God is a place of refuge during siege, but also a place of personal refuge. The Ancient Near East was plagued by bandits, gangs of marauding raiders who would pounce on an unprotected village, take its plunder, rape its women, and perhaps take slaves or slaughter the inhabitants. In times like these, God is seen as a great rock in which to hide, a hiding place.
“Fastness, stronghold, fortress.” Masada, Herod the Great’s fortress-palace plateau near the Dead Sea comes from the word fortress. In 1 Samuel 23:14, 19, and 29, David hides from Saul in the natural mountain strongholds in the wilderness and near Engedi
“Place of refuge, shelter, to seek refuge, flee for protection.”
“Great or tall place, tower, grow up, become great.” Probably deriving from early times when the tower was the largest (greatest) structure in a town. Strong tower is a pair of words.
Stronghold, high tower:
“High place, refuge, inaccessibly high,” and is used in Psalm 91:14 with the connotation, “to set on high,” and “to defend” or “protect.” It’s also used as a descriptor of God in 2 Samuel 22:3 and Psalm 46:7, 11.
“Place of escape. To flee,” which denotes rapid movement away from, or escape from real or imagined danger.
“Place of strength,” hence, of safety. It is most commonly used figuratively, designating God as the refuge of his people.
Refuge, strong habitation:
“Place of habitation, dwelling,” from the word meaning “to dwell.”
“Split rock, cleft rock, rock, cliff, to split.” Thus this also refers basically to a cleft in a rock, such as a rock or cliff. Also, massive rock. This word is used for boulders or formations of stone, and for the material which composes mountains. The caves of the rocks are places where David and his men sought safety when they were being hunted by King Saul and his armies. Yahweh is called a Rock many times.
While each of these words has its own flavor, when used as a metaphor of God’s protection, they are often used closely as synonyms, rather than emphasizing the major differences between the words.