“Adonai is stronghold for the oppressed, a tower of strength in times of trouble.”
-Psalm 9:9 CJB
Like the writer of this Psalm, David, we all face challenges and go through troubling times in life.
Some believe Psalm 9 describes the celebration of praise over the death of Goliath (Golyat in Hebrew), as this victory of a shepherd boy over a giant was a defining moment for the people of Israel, showing the powerful hand of Adonai (God) and that he alone was worthy of following.
You know the story I’m sure.
Like David, we all face our Giants from time to time as they show up in life.
And like him, we too sometimes feel the pressure of those around us looking to us to carry them through whatever is happening or about to happen.
David, however, had a different view of life than many of us today.
His life as a shepherd in a very tough environment has taught him how to survive and who to trust.
At the heart of his life was his unwavering belief and trust in Adonai, as Lord and God.
So after he overcame Goliath, he wrote these powerful words …
“Adonai is a stronghold for the oppressed”, the tower of strength in times of trouble.”
And with that, he paints a beautiful picture of how he saw and experienced God’s help in times of oppression and trouble.
One that might give us a different perspective on how God takes care of us in these storms of life.
I used to believe that the only way God helps me get through the challenging times, is to get alongside me and take me “through” it … whatever “it” might be.
It’s a picture of someone leaning and fighting against a strong headwind, but knowing that God is with me amidst the storm.
And that knowledge helps you move forward, even when you get knocked back or don’t understand the reason for the storm.
But David paints a different picture in Psalm 9:9.
When he is referring to God as a “stronghold” and a “tower of strength,” he uses the Hebrew word “sagav” (translated as “refuge”), which means “to be high.”
This creates a picture of a “refuge” that is a very high inaccessible place away from the threat at hand, like in the heavens.
The Hebrew word for “oppressed” is “adah” which means “to be crushed under affliction” or “to have a heavy weight on top of something.”
The word for “trouble” is “tsarar” which means “to be bound up.”
When you put all of this together, David is painting a picture of, God being our sagav (or refuge), meaning that rather than surrounding and protecting us amidst the storm, He lifts us up and carries us away from all the problems, threats, and stresses that are crushing us with their weight and having us bound.
In short, Psalm 9:9 paints a picture of a God that makes us inaccessible to the storm when the storms of life threatening us.
Personally, I think there is some healing and power in this idea.
So many times we buy into the idea that we have to struggle through the struggle in order to get through it. Hopefully as better people who have learned something in the end.
But some people’s storms are simply too overwhelming. Their situation is soul-crushing They are prisoners in their own life.
For people such as these the promise is, when we seek Adonai, he will be our sagav (high inaccessible refuge).
He will give us the distance we need to rise above the storm raging in our life in order to get through it.
That might mean many things, and each situation is different and requires a different response.
One thing is the same, however.
In order to get through difficult times, we need the ability to find psychological, emotional, and most of all spiritual “distance” between us and the storm in our life in order to deal with it best.
Especially, when creating physical distance isn’t always possible in the moment.
David saw God as the sagav (refuge) that gives us the means to escape in order to ultimately be free.
I do know what’s going on for you at the moment.
I do know however that we are all facing various challenges of different degrees.
And when we feel threatened in some way or another, the temptation is always to freak out first and stress second.
Only after we’ve done that, do we tend to find some way to calm down and do what needs to be done.
David provides us a shortcut.
He suggests Adonai as sagav.
The one who lifts us high above the storm in order to get through it.
Perhaps you will find some truth in it for yourself as well.
May peace and light fill your life.