Titles of the Father in the Psalms – Part 1

Titles of the Father in the Psalms – Part 1

Titles of the Father in the Psalms – Part 1. 

Then Manoah, father of Samson, asked the Angel of Yahweh, ‘What is your name, so that we may honor you when your words come true?’ The Angel of Yahweh replied, ‘Why do you ask my name? It is a name of wonder. It is unknowable, and too wonderful for you to understand!’” (Judges 13:18).

Trying to determine a list of God’s titles in the Hebrew Bible can be a tricky business, a daunting task. For one thing, the differences between a name and a title are unclear and they often overlap. There are times, too, when one is tempted to consider a common noun or adjective or metaphor to be a title if it happens to reference God. And there are plenty of times when we read of a character description of God, or a unique ability of God, and we find ourselves turning them into titles. So the titles of the Father that I will highlight in this series is a list, not the list. For all I know, there may not even be a definitive list of God’s titles. I aim to provide varied glimpses of God the Father in the Hebrew Bible, the Old Testament… who He is, what He can do, what He represents, what He has done. Most importantly, I pray the readers of these titles are able to maintain the Jewish tradition of using God’s titles as ways of addressing the Almighty. As we address God in prayer and worship, may we feel free to put a capital letter at the beginning of each title, making the title an aspect of His identity. In that way each title could be another way to honor God and recognize His greatness.

“Blessed are all who take refuge in the Lord.” (Psalm 2:12)

It is common knowledge that we need four things to physically survive: Food, water, clothing, shelter. The same things apply to our spiritual survival… for food, we need to eat Scripture: chew it, swallow it, digest it, flesh it out; for water, we need to drink Christ: slurp the Gospels especially as you slake your spiritual thirst on the living water; for clothing, we put on the robe of righteousness: cover yourself with Jesus as you live into your garment of goodness.

Finally, we need shelter, we need protection from the elements, from the extremes of weather, and enemies and pests. Without a refuge, we are vulnerable to everything that the world has to throw at us. Without shelter, our souls are unprotected from the enemies of the spirit.

If there is one dominant theme in the Psalms, it’s that God has promised to be a shelter for His followers. And it pays to be reminded of that fact as we walk through our journey with God, when we seem to be surrounded with difficulty and with those who wish us ill. The following meditations in the Psalms will hopefully serve to encourage us and remind us that the Lord will be a constant spiritual refuge to keep us safe. I have read through the Psalms, from Psalm 1 through Psalm 150, and I have excerpted every descriptive title of the Lord that highlights Him as Shelter (Sater), Refuge (Machsi), Dwelling Place (Ma’on), High Tower (Misqabbi), Stronghold (Misqabbi), Shield (Magen), Fortress (Metsudhathi), Rock (please refer to the article on the Rock in this series on Titles of the Father), Sure Defense (Misgab), Haven (Machoz) and Hiding Place (Satar). These titles are sometimes interchangeable in Hebrew, they are synonyms regarding how the psalmist addressed God. Since they are very parallel in their application, we will take a look at all these titles wrapped together.

As with all Scripture meditations, chew on these inspired words, digest them, believe them as the truth, and live in light of them. These words are life-giving, and they are our survival. These portions of the Bread of Life give us confidence that we are not exposed to the elements that would destroy us, that God is our sure protection and safety, our refuge. Dwell in the shelter, in God, and be blessed.

3:1          You are a shield around me, O Lord, my Glorious     One, who lifts up my head.

4:8          I will lie down and sleep in peace, for you alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety.

5:11-12   Let all who take refuge in you be glad, let them even sing for joy. Spread your protection over them, that those who love your name may rejoice in you. For surely, O Lord, you bless the righteous; you surround them with your favor as with a shield.

7:1,9,12  O Lord my God, I take refuge in you; save and deliver me from all who pursue me. O righteous God, who searches minds and hearts, bring to an end the violence of the wicked and make the righteous secure. My shield is God Most High, who saves the upright in heart.

9:9-10      The Lord is a refuge for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble. Those who know your name will trust in you, for you, Lord, have never forsaken those who seek you.

11:1,3        In the Lord I take refuge. How then can you say to me… ‘When the foundations are being destroyed, what can the righteous do?’

14:5-6       God is present in the company of the righteous. Your evildoers frustrate the plans of the poor, but the Lord is their refuge.

16:1-2        Keep me safe, O God, for in you I take refuge. I said to the Lord, ‘You are my Lord; apart from you I have no good thing.’

17:7-8       Show the wonder of your great love, you who save by your right hand those who take refuge in you from their foes. Keep me as the apple of your eye; hide me in the shadow of your wings.

18:1-2       I love you, O Lord, my strength. The Lord is my rock, my fortress, and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge. He is my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.

18:1-3      I adore you, O Lord, my strength, O Lord my crag, my fortress, my rescuer; my God, my rock in whom I take refuge, my shield, my mighty champion, my haven.

18:30-31  As for God, his way is perfect; the word of the Lord is flawless. He is a shield for all who take refuge in him, for who is God besides the Lord? And who is the Rock except our God?

18:46       The Lord lives! Praise be to my Rock! Exalted be God my Savior!

19:14        May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O Lord, my rock and my Redeemer.

25:20-21 Guard my life and rescue me; let me not be put to shame, for I take refuge in you. May integrity and uprightness protect me, because my hope is in you.

27:1,4,5    The Lord is my light and my salvation – Whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life – Of whom shall I be afraid? One thing I ask of the Lord, this is what I seek: That I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord and to seek him in his temple. For in the day of trouble, He will hide me in the shelter of his tabernacle and set me high upon a rock.

28:1,7,8    To you I call, O Lord, my rock… The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and I am helped. My heart leaps for joy, and I will give thanks to him in song. The Lord is the strength for his people, a fortress of salvation for his anointed one.

31:1, 2-5, 19-20    In you, O Lord, I have taken refuge. Turn your ear to me, come quickly to my rescue; be my rock of refuge, a strong fortress to save me. Since you are my rock and my fortress, for the sake of your name lead and guide me. Free me from the trap that is set for me, for you are my refuge. Into your hands I entrust my spirit; Redeem me, O Lord, the God of truth. How great is your goodness, which you have stored up for those who fear you, which you bestow in the sight of men, on those who take refuge in you. In the shelter of your presence you hide them from the intrigues of men; in your dwelling you keep them safe from the strife of tongues.