“May the LORD answer you in the day of trouble; May the name of the God of Jacob defend you.” Psalm 20:1
In reminding us of our reliable refuge, David talks about “the name of the God of Jacob.” You say, “But, I thought that God’s name wasn’t revealed to Jacob. In fact, I thought that the night-long wrestling match took place because the Angel refused to give Jacob His name.” That’s true, but even though Jacob didn’t receive His name, he did receive His blessing. When the Angel departed, he left behind something that would distinguish Him from any and every other presence – something that would clearly mark His identity from everyone else. This is what I think the Psalmist is referring to, and encouraging us to grab hold of, in this verse.
David says, “May the place you run to for refuge not be a philosophical idea or some religious denomination or even a physical structure for worship. No. Let it be that one thing that you cannot exactly put into words, but which you have felt deep within your spirit. May God’s name to you be ‘the God of Jacob.’ The One who in the midst of a man’s struggle of soul sent a blessing in the form of physical pain – a shrunken sinew and a dislocated joint. This really is the only reliable refuge that will suffice when trouble remains – in a “day of trouble.”
The God of Abraham and Isaac had provided refuge by removing trouble. Abraham saw his son Isaac returned, and Isaac’s saw his wells renewed. That’s not what we discover when we read about Jacob. His blessing came in the midst of his struggle. In fact, it came through the very touch that injured him. For Jacob, then, it was the struggle itself that was the blessing, not its end. The angel with which Jacob wrestled was, even in the midst of the struggle, a messenger of a bright new day. His refuge wasn’t from the flood, but rather through the flood.
All the men who had come before Jacob had been saved by rescue. Enoch escaped death – he took one step on the dusty path of this planet and the next on Heaven’s streets of gold. Noah was brought through the raging waters on dry ground. Not so for Jacob. His rescue came in the midst of the raging the waters. His strength was found in the midst of the storm.
May Jacob’s God be my refuge! May the angel that strengthened him, strengthen me! Let the Lord’s Angel that appeared at His tomb be present in my life. It’s not very often that an angel comes and rolls away a sealing stone in my life. I’ve rarely seen the calamities and struggles of this life lifted from me. There is still a refuge that remains – “the name of the God of Jacob.”
Gethsemane’s strength isn’t dead. The spot where Jacob and Jesus stood awaits me still. Therefore, I can find a strength not named and a peace that passes all understanding. That’s why I can drink from His cup and not faint, and can bear His cross and not die. It’s not that He will divert the cup or even remove it altogether. The true refuge is that He can strengthen me to tolerate the cup.
It’s not often that I can expect the exemption that God gave to Abraham from the wood and the fire, but I can always run to the refuge found in His name. In His name, I can trust the voice coming from the burning bush – the one that commands it not be consumed. In His name can claim peace in the midst of my pain, rest in the midst of my wrestling and calm when the conflict in my soul is raging. In His name, I can find the rainbow in the middle of the cloud, refreshment in the dust of the desert and the blooms by the side of the tomb. These miracles are those that we find in the name of the God of Jacob. He is our reliable refuge.