If you’re reading Beachcombing the Psalms, every Tuesday is Worship Day. Here is Worship Day 2.
The Psalms we read last week showed us that God is our refuge. We begin with a few verses on that topic. Read them slowly, two or three times. We move on to a poem from Mark and a story from the Gospels showing Jesus being a refuge. Next, we have a new Prayer Exercise, and a sample of that Exercise.
Lord my God, I seek refuge in you… (Psalm 7:1)
…Let all who take refuge in you rejoice;
let them shout for joy forever… (Psalm 5:11)
The Lord is a refuge for the persecuted,
a refuge in times of trouble. (Psalm 9:9)
I love you, Lord, my strength.
The Lord is my rock, my fortress, and my deliverer,
my God, my rock where I seek refuge,
my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.
I called to the Lord, who is worthy of praise,
and I was saved from my enemies. (Psalm 18:1-3)
But You, O Lord, are a shield for me,
My glory [and my honor], and the One who lifts my head. (Psalm 3:3 Amplified)
In peace [and with a tranquil heart] I will both lie down and sleep,
For You alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety and confident trust. (Psalm 4:8 Amplified)
Eternal Father, strong to save
In spite of dungeon, fire and sword
Now, as in ages past, our help
For all who take refuge in You
Entering Your sanctuary
Seeking Your perfect protection
Taking the long-offered respite
Escaping the accuser’s spite
Be our just Judge, our Rescuer
Undo the wrong done against us
Ring us ‘round with Your mighty shield
Guard us from evil, in and out
In our blindness be our vision
Seeing the unseen threat, defend
Turn aside the flaming arrows
Under Your wings we take shelter
Near to Your ever-loving heart
Safe from the buffeting tempest
Ever covered by Your strong hand
Resting in Your sufficient grace
God, our bulwark never failing
Over every foe triumphant
To You we run, fleeing evil
Taking refuge in You alone
–Mark J. Leamy, 2019
Note: if you read the first letters of each line of the poem, they spell the German title of the hymn “A Mighty Fortress.”
Jesus our Refuge
Jesus showed himself to be a refuge in the New Testament. This section in Matthew demonstrates Jesus’ welcoming attitude to those who recognized their failings.
As Jesus went on from there, he saw a man named Matthew sitting at the toll booth, and he said to him, “Follow me,” and he got up and followed him.
While he was reclining at the table in the house, many tax collectors and sinners came to eat with Jesus and his disciples. When the Pharisees saw this, they asked his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?”
Now when he heard this, he said, “It is not those who are well who need a doctor, but those who are sick. Go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy and not sacrifice.’ For I didn’t come to call the righteous, but sinners.” (Matthew 9:9-13)
These verses imply that taking refuge is a conscious choice. What actions do you think could be involved in choosing to take refuge in the Lord?
The poem mentions “taking refuge in you alone.” Where else might people seek refuge?
What titles for God does the poem use?
Looking back at the Scriptures and the prayer, how do you see the concepts of safety and protection expressed?
How was Jesus a refuge in the Scripture passage we read from Matthew? Can you think of other examples from the Gospels?
Have you enjoyed the exercise of finding verses to treasure over the last two weeks? What has been helpful or difficult about this?
How would you describe the Scriptures you read this week? Accessible? Challenging? Emotional? Poetic?
Which genres of psalms (praise, wisdom, messianic, trust, penitential, imprecatory) are you finding interesting or relevant right now?
Prayer Exercise: String of Treasures Prayer
Remember the walk on the beach we read about in the introduction? Sometimes beachcombers choose to seek a specific thing. For example, they might focus on sea glass. After a few beach walks, they’ll have a small collection of different shapes and colors. As they pour over their treasures, they might decide to put all of the green pieces into a necklace.
This week as we beachcomb the psalms we’ll look for verses on three specific topics, and then we will string a few of those verses or phrases into a prayer.
We’ll begin by finding verses on these topics:
- Verses that express worship or praise to God.
- Verses that are cries of help or expressions of sorrow.
- Verses that you can use to pray for growth, for yourself or others.
As you read your psalms each day, look for verses on those topics and mark them. You could underline them or just put a colored dot in the margin (purple for worship, black for cries of help, green for growth). If you don’t want to mark your Bible, just make a list in this study guide. (It might say, “Worship, verses 5, 7, 8 and 10.”)
Don’t try to mark every verse on all three topics. Look for verses that you would pray—not every verse that anyone might possibly pray. The topics will overlap a bit, and that’s ok.
After you have marked or listed the verses, read over the verses you marked. Then just take phrases from them and assemble them into a prayer. You don’t have to use verses from each topic every day, but sorting them into topics will make it easy to put a prayer together.
Prayer Exercise Example: String of Treasures Prayer
Here are a few verses I underlined in last week’s readings. I sorted them by the three topics.
Worship and Praise
You reveal the path of life to me;
in your presence is abundant joy;
at your right hand are eternal pleasures. (Psalm 16:11)
Cries for Help
Listen to my words, Lord;
consider my sighing. (Psalm 5:1)
Return, O Lord, and rescue me.
Save me because of your unfailing love. (Psalm 6:4 NLT)
Show me your unfailing love in wonderful ways. (Psalm 17:7 NLT)
Prayers for Growth
May the words of my mouth
and the meditation of my heart
be acceptable to you,
Lord, my rock and my Redeemer. (Psalm 19:14)
I read the verses a few times, and then assembled them into this prayer. Notice that I added a few simple phrases.
Listen to my words, Lord; consider my sighing.
Rescue me, Lord, and save me because of your unfailing love.
Show me your unfailing love in wonderful ways.
Watch over the words of my mouth today, Lord,
and keep my heart meditating on you.
Lord, you are my Rock and my Redeemer.
I trust that you will reveal the path of life to me—
the steps you are calling me to take today.
Using the Scripture in this way may seem awkward at first. You might feel like you are changing the Scripture. I’d like to suggest that you are actually praying the Scripture and responding to it. Of course if you take your prayer with your own words inserted and you claim that your prayer is the Word of God, that is changing his word, and that is a problem! But that’s not what you’re doing. You’re having a conversation with God about his word.
There are days when I use all three themes in one prayer, and other days when I am focused on just one kind of prayer. I love the way the psalms show me all of them.
Underlining the themes reveals to me where my heart is today. If I’m using the black pen most of the time, I realize that I am discouraged and I need to cry out to God. Sometimes I look back and add another color because I read the verse differently on a new day.
We’ll use this prayer exercise for the next two weeks. If it feels awkward or you just need something simpler for a day or two, just return to our previous exercise of treasuring one verse.
God is our refuge and strength,
a helper who is always found in times of trouble. (Psalm 46:1)
Trust in him at all times, you people;
pour out your hearts before him.
God is our refuge. Selah (Psalm 62:8)
…I will sing of your strength
and will joyfully proclaim your faithful love in the morning.
For you have been a stronghold for me,
a refuge in my day of trouble. (Psalm 59:16)
He is my faithful love and my fortress,
my stronghold and my deliverer.
He is my shield, and I take refuge in him…
Photo credit: Amy Mayfield