In March 2014 a tribal conflict broke out in my hometown area, forcing my father’s household, along with other refugees, to take cover in the region’s capital city. Throughout history, people who have felt unsafe in their homelands have traveled to other places searching for safety and something better.
As I visited and talked with people from my hometown, I thought of the cities of refuge in Joshua 20:1-9. These were cities designated as places of safety for those fleeing from “relatives seeking revenge” in the case of an accidental killing (v. 3 nlt). They offered peace and protection.
People today still seek places of refuge, although for a variety of reasons. But as needed as these sanctuaries are, supplying shelter and food, they cannot completely meet the needs of refugees and fugitives. That rest is found only in God. Those who walk with God find true shelter and the safest protection in Him. When ancient Israel was sent into exile, the Lord said, “I have been a sanctuary [safe haven] for them in the countries where they have gone” (Ezek. 11:16).
With the psalmist, we can say confidently to the Lord, “You are my hiding place; you will protect me from trouble and surround me with songs of deliverance” (32:7).
18 Loners who care only for themselves spit on the common good.
2 Fools care nothing for thoughtful discourse; all they do is run off at the mouth.
3 When wickedness arrives, shame’s not far behind; contempt for life is contemptible.
4 Many words rush along like rivers in flood, but deep wisdom flows up from artesian springs.
5 It’s not right to go easy on the guilty, or come down hard on the innocent.
6 The words of a fool start fights; do him a favor and gag him.
7 Fools are undone by their big mouths; their souls are crushed by their words.
8 Listening to gossip is like eating cheap candy; do you really want junk like that in your belly?
9 Slack habits and sloppy work are as bad as vandalism.
10 God’s name is a place of protection— good people can run there and be safe.
11 The rich think their wealth protects them; they imagine themselves safe behind it.
12 Pride first, then the crash, but humility is precursor to honour.
13 Answering before listening is both stupid and rude.
14 A healthy spirit conquers adversity, but what can you do when the spirit is crushed?
15 Wise men and women are always learning, always listening for fresh insights.
16 A gift gets attention; it buys the attention of eminent people.
17 The first speech in a court case is always convincing— until the cross-examination starts!
18 You may have to draw straws when faced with a tough decision.
19 Do a favour and win a friend forever; nothing can untie that bond.
20 Words satisfy the mind as much as fruit does the stomach; good talk is as gratifying as a good harvest.
21 Words kill, words give life; they’re either poison or fruit—you choose.
22 Find a good spouse, you find a good life— and even more: the favor of God!
23 The poor speak in soft supplications; the rich bark out answers.
24 Friends come and friends go, but a true friend sticks by you like family.
(WOMEN) What a friend we have in Jesus, all our sins and griefs to bear! What a privilege to carry everything to God in prayer! (ALL) O what peace we often forfeit, O what needless pain we bear, all because we do not carry everything to God in prayer. (MEN) Have we trials and temptations? Is there trouble anywhere? We should never be discouraged; take it to the Lord in prayer. (ALL) Can we find a friend so faithful who will all our sorrows share? Jesus knows our every weakness; take it to the Lord in prayer. (ALL) Are we weak and heavy laden, cumbered with a load of care? Precious Saviour, still our refuge; take it to the Lord in prayer. Do thy friends despise, forsake thee? Take it to the Lord in prayer! In his arms he’ll take and shield thee; thou shalt find a solace there.