“You are my hiding place; You shall preserve me from trouble;
You shall surround me with songs of deliverance.
I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go;
I will counsel you with my loving eye on you.
Do not be like the horse or like the mule, which have no understanding,
which must be harnessed with bit and bridle, else they will not come near you.” Psalm 32:7-9
This passage tethers my roving and restless soul to the unalterable promise that He instructs us and teaches us the way to go and guides us with His eye. There is an admonition to not be like the horse or mule, which have no understanding; it is not in His heart toward His children to muzzle us, but rather He is like a nurturing mother who encourages her baby to practice sound and to say “mama” or “dada.” Our Daddy-God (Abba in Aramaic) can’t wait for us to address Him with that intimate and childlike trust. Let Psalm 32 convince you that His intentions toward you are to draw you toward an intimate relationship with Him of your own free will. He will watch over you; He cannot lead you wrong.
I know I want to respond in like manner: I want to remain hidden in His Word and His promises. Psalm 27:5 gives us a lovely illustration of being hidden inside of a pavilion:
“For in the time of trouble, He shall hide me in His pavilion; In the secret place of His tabernacle He shall hide me; He shall set me high upon a rock.”
There it is again. I am pavilioned. Tabernacled. Hidden.
He tells me He will hide me, but then He is going to set me “high on a rock.” This imagery does not give me the feeling of hiddenness, but rather exposure. What gives? Let’s go back to the beginning of verse 5 to establish some definitions. “In the time of trouble, He shall hide me in His pavilion.” This concept is repeated in Psalm 31:20, “You shall hide them in the secret place of your presence from the plots of man; You shall keep them secretly in a pavilion from the strife of tongues.”
The pavilion is His presence. When we praise, we are in His presence. When we worship, we are in His presence. So we could refer to this pavilion as a pavilion of praise. Literally, a pavilion is used in gardens for pleasure and cover from the elements, like the harsh rays of the summer sun or burst of a rainstorm. If we are so immersed in praising God, then any words of negativity that fly around us will fall to the ground, missing their mark when we pavilion ourselves under His shelter. Praising God hides us to the degree that we don’t get distracted by the harsh elements of gossip or idle chatter that would aim to do us harm, burning us or saturating us with distracting thoughts.
Navigating back to Psalm 27:5, after He hides us in his pavilion, He promises a “secret place of His tabernacle.” In the Old Testament, the Mosaic tabernacle was a holy sanctuary that was 1) portable and tent-like, 2) preceded the people when they moved from place to place, 3) inhabited God’s presence (Biblestudytools.com).
High upon a rock. At first glance, it looks to me like I would feel a bit exposed to the enemy. Taking a closer look, this “high upon a rock” illustrates a stronger reference of being inaccessible and out of reach. The peace of mind that accompanies this imagery is security. I am safe. The rock is a solid foundation. It is high and out of reach from enemy arrows. I have already entered into the “secret place” where none can reach me without passing through the tabernacle of intimacy with God. Verse 6 moves us to the place where “my head shall be lifted up above my enemies all around me.” I am above the clamor, for “My eyes are ever toward the Lord,” (Psalm 25:15).
Sometimes, when stressful conditions kick me into “fight or flight” mode, I can have a tendency to feel cut off from the Lord’s purposes, instead of keeping my heart hidden in His promises. David knew that experience, as well, except he had a different term for fight or flight:
I said in my haste, “I am cut off from before Your eyes”; nevertheless, You heard the voice of my supplications when I cried out to You, (Psalm 31:22 NKJV).
As a child, I remember my sweet mom repeating an age-old proverb, Haste makes waste. The psalmist agrees: I said in my haste, “I am cut off…”
The Message helps drive this point home, in Psalm 31:19-22:
“What a stack of blessing you have piled up for those who worship you,
Ready and waiting for all who run to you to escape an unkind world.
You hide them safely away from the opposition.
As you slam the door on those oily, mocking faces, you silence the poisonous gossip.
Blessed God! His love is the wonder of the world.
Trapped by a siege, I panicked.
“Out of sight, out of mind,” I said.
But you heard me say it, you heard and listened.”
The New International Version uses the phrase “In my alarm.” The New Living Translation echoes the sentiments of The Message with the phrase, “In panic.”
I’ve been in panic mode; fight or flight; stress mode. In our broken world, there are some who tragically live in that constant state of alarm. But what follows is an important interjection to help us navigate these stressors in healthy ways, albeit small in stature, that should give us pause and take notice of the truth that serves to remind us to not be hasty, not be alarmed, not panic. That interjection is “But.”
Yes; acknowledge the stress of the situation. Acknowledge that this is, indeed, a misfortunate set of circumstances. Acknowledge that this is unexpected; but, the circumstances do not negate the fact that He hears us. Psalm 31:22b reminds us:
Nevertheless You heard the voice of my supplications when I cried out to You. (NKJV)
But you heard my request for mercy when I cried out to you for help. (CEB)
He hears us, oh loved one of God! So “be of good courage, and He shall strengthen your heart, all you who hope in the Lord,” (Psalm 31:24).
And this brings us back to our original exhortation—David’s own “string on a finger” reminder of who God is in the space and place of life, a where in the places of our turmoils:
You are my hiding place;
You shall preserve me from trouble;
You shall surround me with songs of deliverance. (Psalm 32:7)
Heart-hidden in the palm of your nail-scarred hand, Yet seen by my maker Creator, being guided. You are my hiding place; You will protect me from my own brain gossip and surround me with your song.
“In the shadow of His hand He has hidden me, and made me a polished shaft; in His quiver He has hidden Me. And He said to me ‘You are My servant, O Israel, in whom I will be glorified,’” Isaiah 49:2-3.
Let my life be hid in Thee
Life of life and Light of light!
Love’s illimitable sea,
Depth of peace, of power the height!
Let my life be hid in Thee
From vexation and annoy;
Calm in Thy tranquility,
All my mourning turned to joy. ~John Bull