The Lord is a refuge for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble.
Psalm 9 was written by King David and is a psalm of prayer and praise, petition and intercession for God’s just rule over his people. The first half of this psalm constitute to a series of great exaltations of the Lord, while the second half is made up by a series of great pleas for God to intercede and deliver the people from their suffering. Psalm 9:9 comes in between verses that exalt God’s rule and justice, and gives us a very powerful image of God in times of our affliction. The image of God as refuge and God as a fortress has been very commonly repeated in the Bible, and it’s so commonly found in the psalms that we’ve sung it again and again. In this study, we will be dissecting these two images bit by bit as we look into how great exactly our God is, even when we are down and out.
The Lord is a refuge for the oppressed – Who are the oppressed? The poor and the weak, the minority, the voiceless, the disadvantaged, the handicapped, the others. Those without might nor authority, and have no power, stature, fame, money or lineage. They are oppressed, suppressed, repressed, trampled on, bullied over, muscled around and they have no place to hide, no place to escape to, everywhere they go, the oppression follows in constancy. Such are the Lord’s people – they are constantly oppressed by sin and the temptations of the evil one; often they find themselves too weak to defend against the attacks of the evil one. Often overpowered, often outmuscled, often pressed into a corner – they are persecuted and they bear the weight of guilt and sin; suffering in grief. For these people, there is no refuge in anywhere but the Lord. He is a refuge for all sinners who desire a reprieve, fleeing from the constant barrage of evil – You evildoers frustrate the plans of the poor, but the LORD is their refuge [Psalm 14:6]. He rescues them from their accusers [Psalm 12:5], defends the fatherless and the oppressed [Psalm 10:18] and protects [Psalm 32:7] them from violent people [2 Sam 22:3].
a stronghold in times of trouble – we are always in times of trouble. Saints – Christians – are always in times of trouble. Temptations never leave our side as we continue to reside in this sinful world, and evil deeds are never too far away from us that we can rest on our laurels and take a breather – no, we are perpetually in troubled times, for this is a troubled world. Yet at times God especially seem to be sleeping – not that he is sleeping, but at times it feels as if God isn’t doing anything, and evil temporarily seem to reign supreme. When wave after wave of affliction hits us, when wave after wave of spiritual attacks flood us; when our hope is running low and faith is wavering – then, and even then, Christ continues to be a stronghold for us – that light upon the darkness, that one path amongst many dead ends. When all else fails, God is still there, our refuge is still in him. At anytime, any when, anywhere – he is an ever present help in trouble [Psalm 46:1] – he is the fortress for the prisoners of hope to return to [Zech 9:12|Article], and his name is a fortified tower [Prov 18:10]. He is the rock [Psalm 94:22] and our strength [Psalm 59:9] and he is always with us [Psalm 46:7].
What does the image of a stronghold, a fortress, a rock, a shield, a tower defence, a refuge and so on invoke? What are strongholds, anyway? Strongholds are mini-bases of sturdy structures that serve as a base for the soldiers when they are at war, and offers protection and a steady stream of soldiers behind its tough exterior. A stronghold is usually the beacon of hope for any fleeing unit being pursued, for it means assistance, it means rest, it means a chance to regroup and a chance to defeat the enemy. A place of refuge is simpler as it is without the connotations of war – it is simply a place for anyone who needs hiding, anyone who needs a place to take a breather. Indeed, it is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in men [Psalm 118:8|Article].
Let us put our trust in Him and keep faith in His words. Even in times of trouble, and even when it seems as if God is not doing anything, let us trust in his time and let us trust in his promises, and continue doing as his words commanded us to do, acting righteously in faith and in goodness. It is hard to stay righteous in hard times, but the salvation of the righteous comes from the LORD; he is their stronghold in time of trouble [Psalm 37:39]. Even when we are oppressed and persecuted, let us keep fighting the good fight, because even if we end up battered and injured, we can have confidence that the stronghold is near. Let us be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you [Deut 31:6].