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Summer in the Psalms - Psalm 61

When I Need a Safe Refuge by Marlene Houk

Oh hey, short on time? No worries! I'd love to join you on your commute or daily walk/run, or shoot, even while you take care of that to-do list. We can't let these things get in the way of this friendship. It's just starting to get good! Click below to listen to the blogcast.

Do you know the meaning of your name or the reason you were given it?

When I was younger, I would sometimes wish my parents gave me a different name because "Candace" was never on any of the personalized pencils at the craft store. Yet, as I learned the meaning of my name as "glowing," I see my name as a gift.

I once heard a friend share of how her name is the only thing she has from her biological mother since she was adopted at birth. This has never left me.

Today, my friend, Marlene Houk, is sharing her reflection of Psalm 61 with us and beautifully tying in the gift her name has been in her adult life and the promise it represents for all of us.

Marlene Houk opens doors of truth through her passion to resurrect the stories of women in the Bible. She reveals patterns that lead to biblical thinking and empower emotional healing. Determined to find and apply truth, she connects the Bible’s wisdom to everyday living through thought-provoking questions that help others to embrace wholeness and freedom. Leading women’s Bible studies for ten years has increased her passion to share profound and life-changing truths with others. After work, you might catch a glimpse of her at the lake, watching the sun on the water or staring at an old-style Challenger charging down the road. Find out more at

“Mom, why did you name me Marlene?” I asked.

“Because I liked the name of the German actress, Marlene Dietrich.”

That’s all I remember from our conversation (except for the part about me not having a middle name because she couldn’t find one she thought sounded good with Marlene). Being her third baby may have relaxed my mother, and she chose to be playful with naming me. She probably never thought about the Hebrew meaning and could not have known my future deep need for spiritual encouragement.

The God of the Hebrews tenderly inspired mom to choose Marlene, and I’ve answered to my moniker for more decades than necessary to record. My given name means "tower" in Hebrew, and I looked up the word in the Bible. Drama filled scenes of death and victory lay a foundation for the description of a tower: protection, rescue, shelter. Finally, I tumbled over historical Old Testament drama and into the sweet Psalms—a quiet pool of reflection. In Psalm 61:3 my soul rested on a breathtaking assurance from King David himself:

For thou hast been a shelter for me, and a strong tower from the enemy. - Psalm 61:3 

I’ve often fled into the soul-reviving refuge found within the Lord Himself. My heart rests in the tower of the Almighty as I catch my breath while leaning on Him. Surges of life’s thunder and faint battle sounds fall away while listening to God’s heartbeat within the protective walls. The strong tower in Psalm 61 echoes with the calming words of David as he confidently shares similar testimonies earlier in Psalm 18:2 and later in Psalm 144:2. I lean in toward his wisdom in finding shelter located within the King of Kings.

In the valleys of life, far away from His tower, I’ve often encountered enemies—those who desire to dominate and damage. But the healing power of God’s stormproof tower beckons me, and I flee into His Word—feeling the rock-solid strength of His presence. The fog of anger disappears and earthly views fade away as the Lord occupies my thoughts. His strength enfolds me within the fierce protectiveness of His eternal plan for me, and I find myself quieted, renewed.

God calls my name, and the loving timbre of His voice echoes within the chamber as He sings over me (Zephaniah 3:17).

When my friends call my name, which means "tower," they remind me that Jesus calls my name to help me find the shelter of His strong tower. He calls me “o’er the tumult of life’s…sea” as the song says. The first verse of “Jesus Calls Us O’er the Tumult” (public domain) reads like an invitation to flee to the strong tower of the Lord Almighty. Listen to the words:

Jesus calls us o'er the tumultof our life's wild, restless sea;

day by day His sweet voice soundeth, saying, "Christian, follow me."

Jesus calls us from the worship of the vain world's golden store,

from each idol that would keep us, saying, "Christian, love me more."


May you find the same rich solace I’ve discovered along with King David as we shelter within God’s strong tower.

Now, It's Your Turn!

Before opening God's Word, take a moment to pray and ask God to meet you there. Then...

Read Psalm 61 a couple times. Highlight what stands out to you.

Circle verbs or specific wording you notice.

Then, write down a bullet point takeaway based on this. "I-statements" help make this personal. Think of this as a challenge statement.

  • In the valleys of life, I will seek refuge in the power of God’s stormproof tower and flee into His Word—feeling the rock-solid strength of His presence.

Then, jot down a question or two to think about today. You don't have to have the answer to this question now. And yield to the Holy Spirit - prayerfully ask God to search your heart and lead you to more truth and grow your faith through the Holy Spirit.

  • Though I know God is my strong tower, I sometimes forget. What false refuge have I been running to and hiding in?

Again, we don't have to be Bible scholars and talk only in the thou's and art's of King James version to read this book. ...because when we pray before we read, we are not alone. The Holy Spirit is with us, guiding and teaching us.

Praise God for this!

And praise God for refreshment as we are intentional to spend a summer in the Psalms together, for if we want His truth to ever be on our lips, it must first be planted in our hearts.

Our strength grows as we rely on strength from above. Our joy grows as we see God transforming us from the inside out. Our peace grows as we spend time in God's presence, and we find rest when we intentionally seek the Lord first in our lives, for the Lord is ever our portion.

The good life, well it starts with a good day. Then another. Then another. Let's choose to live #TheGoodDay one day at a time.

I love hearing from you, so go ahead. Leave a comment. Be brave. Maybe your comment will speak life into someone else!

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