/ Guest Author

Our Hiding Place

The following article is a guest post from Dr. C.J. Williams, Professor of Old Testament Studies at Reformed Presbyterian Theological Seminary and author of The Shadow of Christ in the Book of Job.

I call the place sitrî– “my hiding place” in Hebrew. It is a secluded embankment at the edge of a pond, about a ten-minute walk through the woods from my house. In my daily struggle to be more like Christ, who “often withdrew into the wilderness and prayed” (Luke 5:16), I go there as often as I can to meet the Lord in prayer. The place itself is easy to find; it is the Lord Himself who is my true hiding place. This is a shared blessing that all believers have in Him.

David calls the Lord “my hiding place’ (Psalm 32:7; 119:14), and his Psalms are rich with the imagery of being hidden in the Lord (17:8; 31:20). David often had need for a tangible hiding place when he was persecuted, but with the eyes of faith he could see that his true spiritual solace came only from the Lord Himself. David’s other metaphors for God (shield, tower, fortress) picture His protection, but “a hiding place” is different. It is a secret and private refuge, shared by no one else, away from the world and its turmoil. It is where a believer can go to find rest for the mind and spirit in the privacy of personal communion with the living God.

People often talk of “getting away” when the pressures and worries of life become great, and they devise all kinds of temporary escapes from their stressful routines. There are a thousand different ways that people try to hide themselves from the cares of this world, hoping that they will be better equipped to deal with them after a little time away. The need for an occasional vacation is one thing, but there is a real spiritual need that corresponds with this notion of “getting away.” At times, the believer does need to take flight from the world, but this is not a flight away from reality with false hopes of escaping it. Instead, it is a flight back to the one most basic reality of all. We have the privilege of fleeing to the Lord Himself as our hiding place.

The Christian life is not to be withdrawn. We have lives to live for Christ, work to do, ministry to perform, and a witness to bear. Our Savior expects and commands us to be fully engaged in this world for His glory. But we are mere men – “handfuls of animated dust” – and there are many pressures and storms in this life. God is our hiding place because we will often need one. To take the Lord as your hiding place is to go to Him and be still, undisturbed, and undistracted, and to set Him only before your mind and soul, letting everything else wait.

We do this first of all through prayer. Christ counseled us to go to our rooms, shut our doors, and pray to our Father who is in the secret place (Matt 6:6). That “secret place” of prayer was precious to Christ, and He counseled us to go to it often, as He did (Luke 5:16). Regular, personal, secret communion with God through prayer is one way we take Him as our hiding place.

Another way to hide ourselves in the Lord is through His word. Psalm 119:14 says, “You are my hiding place and my shield; I hope in Your word,” conjoining the solace of our divine hiding place and the comfort to be had from the Scriptures. Having the Lord as our hiding place is a mounting experience as we not only read the Scriptures but fully place our hope in His Word.

Finally, hiding ourselves in the Lord seems to mean more than reading or praying. If Paul could say that God has “made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus” (Eph 2:6), we have the full liberty to sit there indeed, even if only in our hearts at the present time, and be fully conscious that we are not of this world but our lives are “hidden with Christ in God” (Col 3:3).

If we thus make it our practice to regularly hide ourselves in the Lord, we can be fully engaged to our lives and our callings while kept safe in our hearts in a way that the world can not see or fully understand. We can, as it were, be hidden in plain sight. But the whole idea of a hiding place has in view the storms of life and the spiritual refuge that we will need in such times. David spoke of the Lord as his hiding place particularly in the context of earthly troubles, and specifically a few that we are sure to experience ourselves. Here are three things that make the unbeliever want to “get away from it all,” but things that should move us to flee to Christ and find our hiding place in Him.

Worry: This includes all the “what ifs” that we entertain, the bad possibilities we play out in our minds, and all the variables of life that we can not control. If you feel overcome by worry, hide yourself in the Lord. Be still in His presence, find comfort in the truth of His Word, and recognize that your life is “hidden with Christ in God.”

Conflict: If you are at odds with someone, and you find yourself angry and fed up, you don’t need to stew over the situation and plot your next move. You need the guidance of the Lord and the spiritual composure to re-engage the problem with the grace and love that comes from the Holy Spirit. Before you go back to that person, first go hide yourself in the Lord.

Weariness: This may be another pandemic around us. People are busy – too busy – and too tired from being too busy. We need to do better at focusing on what is truly important, but the fact is that if you seek to be faithful and diligent in your calling you will have a busy life. God designed it that way, but also gave us himself as a hiding place. If you ever find yourself feeling just plain tired, hide yourself in Christ.

While hiding yourself in the Lord is a spiritual exercise, it can hardly be done without hiding yourself in a more literal sense. This is no doubt why Isaac went out in the evenings to meditate in the fields (Gen 24:63). David also seemed to prefer the setting of nature when drawing near to his divine hiding place (Psalms 8, 19). The natural world is a natural place for communion with God. The forms of our dominion – walls, rooms, and buildings – have a hard geometry to them, but every crooked tree and meandering stream eschews the logic of man for the wisdom of the Creator.

We can hide ourselves in the Lord virtually anywhere, but there is an added blessing when we hide ourselves in the Lord within the wonder of His creation, undistracted by all the contrivances of culture. Find such a place to call sitrî — “my hiding place” — and let this blessing entice you to meet the Lord there on a regular basis: “You are my hiding place; You shall preserve me from trouble; You shall surround me with songs of deliverance” (Ps 32:7).