The historical importance of the ark of Noah (Wis 14:6-14:7)

“For even in the beginning,

When arrogant giants were perishing,

The hope of the world

Took refuge on a raft.

Thus guided by your hand,

You left to the world

The seed of a new generation.

Blessed is the wood

By which righteousness comes.”

Here we have an allusion to Noah and his ark as in Genesis, chapters 6-9, in the beginning (ἀρχῆς). That was when arrogant giants were roaming the world (τοῦ κόσμου). The righteous men and women with Noah took refuge on a raft of blessed wood (εὐλόγηται γὰρ ξύλον). Guided by the hands (χειρί) of God, they left a new eternal seed (αἰῶνι σπέρμα γενέσεως) for a new generation of righteous people (γίνεται δικαιοσύνη). Although this is clearly a blessing for the wood of the ark of Noah, some Christians have interpreted this passage to mean the blessed wood of Christ’s cross.

Fear of Yahweh (Prov 14:26-14:27)

“In the fear of Yahweh

One has strong confidence.

One’s children will have a refuge.

The fear of Yahweh

Is a fountain of life.

Thus one may avoid the snares of death.”

The fear of God is the beginning of wisdom. Thus, those who fear God have a strong confidence that their children will be fine. This fear of God is a refuge, the fountain, or the source of all life. If you have fear of Yahweh, you will avoid the snares of death.

Deliver me from my enemies (Ps 143:9-143:10)

“Yahweh!

Save me from my enemies!

I have fled to you for refuge!

Teach me to do your will!

You are my God!

Let your good Spirit lead me

On a level path!”

David wanted to be saved from his enemies. He fled to Yahweh as his refuge. He wanted Yahweh to teach him his will. Yahweh was his God. He wanted Yahweh’s spirit to keep him on a level path so that he would not fall down.

I am alone (Ps 142:3-142:4)

“In the path where I walk,

They have hidden a trap for me.

Look on my right hand!

See!

There is no one who takes notice of me.

No refuge remains to me.

No one cares for me.”

David feels abandoned. His enemies have a set a hidden trap for him so that they can catch him when he walks. He says that he should be careful, looking on his right hand. However, no one seems to notice him. No one cares for him since there is no refuge for him.

Yahweh as a refuge (Ps 91:9-91:10)

“Because you have made Yahweh your refuge,

The Most High is your habitation.

No evil shall befall you.

No scourge shall come near your tent.”

Going back to the first verses, due to the fact that Yahweh is your refuge and the Most High your habitation, no evil shall come to you. No scourge will come near to your tent. You are safe because of God.

The names of God (Ps 91:1-91:2)

“You live in the shelter of the Most High.

You abide in the shadow of the Almighty.

You will say to Yahweh.

‘My refuge and my fortress.

My God,

In whom I trust.’”

Psalm 91 has no title, unlike many of the other psalms. This psalm starts with 4 different names for God, which is unusual since normally only 2 or 3 names are used, God or Yahweh. First we live in the shelter of the Most High God that is El Elyon in Hebrew and gphyistos in Greek, the highest one. Next we abide in the shadow of the Almighty God that is El Shaddai in Hebrew and the more familiar Greek pantokrator, creator of all. Normally when the Israelites speak to God they call him with the more familiar Yahweh that is the proper name for the God of Israel, more commonly the Hebrew epigram YHW. He seems to be an Israelite warrior God who gets angry a lot. He could not be depicted with any statues or idols. Later Jewish prayer life changed the pronunciation of Yahweh with the word Adonai in its place. The common translation of Yahweh into Greek was kurios, or Lord. Thus many bibles use this term “Lord” for Yahweh. So what did he say to Yahweh? Yahweh is his refuge and fortress. However, then we have the 4th term for God, Elohim in Hebrew and Theos in Greek. Using Theos in Greek put God at the same level as other gods, but clearly Adonai or Yahweh was the monotheistic God in the later writings. Obviously this psalmist trusted in God.

God is near (Ps 73:27-73:28)

“Indeed those who are far from you will perish.

You put an end to those who are false to you.

But for me,

It is good to be near God.

I have made Yahweh God

My refuge.

Thus I may tell of all your works.”

This psalm concludes with the familiar praise of God as a refuge. Those who are far away from God will perish. God will put an end to those who are false to him. However, Asaph the psalmist was glad to be near God. Yahweh had become his refuge. Thus he was able to tell everyone about all his good works.

Yahweh is my rock (Ps 71:1-71:3)

“In you I take refuge!

Yahweh!

Let me never be put to shame!

In your righteousness,

Deliver me!

Rescue me!

Incline your ear to me!

Save me!

Be to me a rock of refuge!

Be to me a strong fortress!

Save me!

You are my rock!

You are my fortress!”

Psalm 71 has no introduction or titles. This psalmist seems to be an old worshiper who wants help against his enemies, an old man’s prayer. Many of the themes of his lamentation with God as the rock and the fortress can be found in Psalm 31 also. The psalmist did not want to be put to shame. He wanted to be rescued and delivered. He wanted God to listen to him since Yahweh was his refuge, his fortress, and his rock. He wanted to be saved.

The righteous will rejoice (Ps 64:10-64:10)

“Let the righteous rejoice in Yahweh!

Take refuge in Yahweh!

Let all the upright in heart glory!”

This psalm ends with the righteous rejoicing in Yahweh, the God of Israel. They have taken refuge in Yahweh. The upright of heart can now glory in Yahweh. Thus we have a happy ending to the complaints about the wicked enemies. God has justified the righteous. Once again, they can be self-righteous.

David praises God (Ps 63:5-63:8)

“My soul is satisfied

As with a rich feast.

My mouth praises you

With joyful lips.

I think of you

On my bed.

I meditate on you

In the watches of the night.

You have been my help.

In the shadow of your wings

I sing for joy.

My soul clings to you.

Your right hand upholds me.”

David’s soul was satisfied like as if it were at a great feast. His mouth praised God with his joyful lips. At night when he was in bed, he meditated on God. During the 3 night watches, God had been a help to him. Once again, there is allusion to the refuge in the shadow of the wings of God, when in fact God did not have wings. The cherubim in the Holy of Holies had wings. David sang for joy. His soul clung to God because God helped him with his right hand. Once again, God did not have hands. These metaphorical phrases of a thirsty soul and a winged God with a right hand are ways of explaining his trust in God.