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Home, Sweet Home

Lord, you have been our dwelling-place throughout all generations. Psalm 90:1.

‘Dwelling place’ is the literal translation of mâ’ôn but the word is also used in the sense of “refuge” as well as of “home”. Though, come to think of it, a refuge is what a real home is. In the days when I used to work long hours in Leeds, what a joy it was to set off home each evening and look forward to being back with Yvonne in the peace and shelter of the four walls we live within.

Here, the Psalmist says that God has been the home and the refuge of the Israelites from (as the NIrV puts it) “the very beginning”; and to understand the force of that we need to remember that throughout their early history the Israelites were a nomadic people. None of them had a permanent home. Until the start of the settlement of Canaan about 1500 BC they didn’t even as a nation have a land. But, wherever they were, whatever was happening to them, the Israelites had four walls in which to find peace and shelter, warmth and comfort, love and rest … and those four walls were “the Lord”.

“Keep me safe, O God, for in you I take refuge” (Psalm 16:1). “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble” (Psalm 46:1). “For you have been my refuge, a strong tower against the foe” (Psalm 61:3) … the references are numerous.

But how about me and you? Does the fact that, unlike those nomadic Israelites, we do in fact have four walls that contain everything we can think of to comfort and satisfy us cause us to treat the Lord as less of a “home” than he should be? Jesus reminded his disciples that the secret of a fruitful Christian life is precisely to avoid that happening. “Live in me. Make your home in me just as I do in you” (John 15:4 The Message). Five verses later, he says it again: “Make yourselves at home in my love.” And the reason for all this “abiding”, “remaining”, “living” in Christ is very simply — John 15:11, “that your joy might be full”.

Only when the Lord is my dwelling-place, each day, every day, all through the day, will I know all the riches of his grace.

Lord Jesus, I come home to you once again. Thank you for the ever open door. Amen.

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