"THERE IS A PLACE OF REFUGE"
"Ye have shamed the counsel of the poor, because the Lord is his refuge" (Ps. 14.5)
INTRO.: A song which emphasizes the fact that in both life and death the Lord will be our refuge is "There Is A Place Of Refuge." The text was written by Thomas Obadiah Chisholm (1866-1960). Among his other well-known hymns are "Bring Christ Your Broken Life," "Great Is Thy Faithfulness," "Living For Jesus," "O To Be Like Thee," and "Only In Thee." The tune was composed by George Coles Stebbins (1846-1945). Among his other well-known melodies are those used with the hymns "Have Thine Own Way, Lord," "I’ve Found a Friend, O Such a Friend," "Jesus Is Tenderly Calling," "Must I Go, and Empty-Handed?", "Jesus, I Come," "Savior, Breathe an Evening Blessing," "Saved By Grace," "Take Time to Be Holy," "Throw Out the Lifeline," "True-Hearted, Whole-Hearted," and "Ye Must Be Born Again," as well as his arrangement of "Though Your Sins Be As Scarlet."
In Christian Hymns (No. 1) "There Is A Place Of Refuge" is noted as copyrighted in 1935 by L. O. Sanderson. However, Christian Hymns No. 3 says that the renewal was done in 1959 by the Gospel Advocate Co. Usually, renewals were done 28 years after the original copyright, which would make it 1931 for this song. It is possible that it was originally copyrighted in 1931 and the copyright transferred the Sanderson in 1935, then renewed in 1959. Yet, Christian Hymnal says that the renewal date was 1963 (28 years after 1935). It is also possible that it was originally copyrighted by Sanderson in 1935, that the copyright became the property of the Gospel Advocate Co. in 1959, and was renewed by them in 1963. There is no copyright notice in my copy of Hymns of Praise. Among hymnbooks published by members of the Lord’s church during the twentieth century for use in churches of Christ, the song appeared in the 1935 Christian Hymns (No. 1), the 1948 Christian Hymns No. 2, and the 1966 Christian Hymns No. 3 all edited by L. O. Sanderson; the 1963 Christian Hymnal edited by J. Nelson Slater; and the 1978 Hymns of Praise edited by Reuel Lemmons.
The song points out the refuge that we can have in the Lord and the things from which He protects us.
I. Stanza 1 reminds us that the Lord will give refuge from troubles and tempests
"There is a place of refuge For every troubled soul
Where tempests beat no longer, Where billows cease to roll;
A calm and quiet haven, A harbor safe an blest,
Where storm-tossed barques may anchor, Where weary hearts may rest."
A. The tempests and billows of a storm often represent the troubles and tribulations of life: Ps. 107.23-30
B. However, just a ship seeks a calm and quiet haven, so the Lord offers peace to those who come to Him: Phil. 4.6-7
C. Thus, through Him we have an anchor that will help us find a refuge from troubles and tempests: Heb. 6.18-20
II. Stanza 2 reminds us that the Lord will give refuge from loads and cares
"There, heavy loads are lifted; There mysteries dark grow plain.
There, pain and care forgetting, Sad faces smile again.
There broken lives find healing; There, sorrow’s tears are dried.
There, all the soul’s deep longings Are fully satisfied."
A. In Christ, heavy loads are lifted because we can cast our cares upon Him and exchange them for His yoke which is easy: Ps. 55.22, Matt. 11.28-30
B. In this way, those who have been sad with pain and care can smile again with joy: Phil. 4.4
C. Thus, in this refuge from loads and cares they can find healing for the broken lives: Mal. 4.2, Matt. 9.12-13
III. Stanza 3 reminds us that the Lord will give refuge from trials and temptations
"There, may we find, in trial And in temptation’s hour,
The needed grace and comfort, The overcoming power.
There, foes no more distress us, Nor troubling fears annoy;
There, life is all contentment, And pure and holy joy."
A. All at one time or another will face trial and temptation’s hour: Jas. 1.2-3
B. However, the Lord has promised that He will not suffer us to be tempted above what we are able but will provide grace to help in time of need: 1 Cor. 10.13, Heb. 4.14-16
C. Thus, instead of fear we can have contentment as we seek the Lord’s refuge from trials and temptations: 2 Tim. 1.7, Heb. 13.5-6
IV. Stanza 4 reminds us that the Lord will give refuge from sin and its woes
"There, One is always with us, The Friend all friends above,
The Christ who died to save us, Whom, though not seen, we love;
O precious, precious refuge! How dark this world would be
If, when its woe’s o’ertake us, We could not hide in Thee."
A. Even though we have sinned, Jesus came to be with us because He is our friend: Matt. 28.20, Jn. 14.15
B. He showed His love and concern for us by dying to save us from our sins, and this is why we love Him though we have not seen Him: Rom. 5.8, 1 Pet. 1.8
C. Not only does He offer salvation from sin but also a refuge from its woes that we might be hidden in Him: Col. 3.1-3
CONCL.: Each stanza ends with the refrain, drawn from another familiar hymn:
"Rock of Ages, cleft for me,
Let me hide myself in Thee."
The refuge that the Rock of Ages offers to us from all the problems of this life helps to point our minds to the final refuge from eternal punishment that He will grant to the righteous in heaven, so that both here and in eternity we can know that in Christ Jesus "There Is A Place Of Refuge."