Machsi – Word Nerd Wednesday

In this week’s Word Nerd Wednesday, Sherry Stahl shares with us what a privilege it is that we can call on the Name of the Lord, Machsi, our Refuge.

Jehovah Machsi—The Lord My Refuge

This week’s Word Nerd Wednesday word evokes a deep sense of safety, security and love.  In this world of unknowns, constant changes and harrowing headlines, to understand the Hebrew word machsi; when it comes after the word for Jehovah, means “the Lord is my refuge” brings a host of peace… that real sense of shalom.  Today, we’re defining the Hebrew word machsi, along with the English equivalent refuge as they’re used in Psalm 91:9.

“Because you have made the LORD–my refuge,the Most High
–your dwelling place”

Psalm 91:9 (CSB)

As we take time to look at the original language of this word used in Psalm 91:9 we would be wise to consider what this word would have meant to its original hearers and then consider what it means for us today.  

To a nomadic people living in the desert, having a God who is your refuge means everything.  Life is difficult in the desert, survival not a given but a sacred goal.  Grasping the truth that God wanted to be their refuge in the heat of the day, when the sun is beating down on soft skin would mean everything.  In the harshness of life, He was their refuge.  

Refuge Is NOT for Everyone

Psalm 91:9 starts off with phrasing that introduces the conditional blessing of knowing the Lord as your refuge. No, it’s not a given. This verse starts off with:

If you…Because you have… for you have…

Experiencing God as your refuge is a right as a believer but sadly not everyone will utilize this privilege.  Too many leave the gift of God being their place of shelter as an unopened present waiting to be opened.  

To fully grasp the depths to which God wanted to be their refuge, you need to read the whole chapter of Psalm 91. Let’s go back to the beginning of this chapter and start with the most referenced verse used to bring encouragement after the September 11, 2001; terrorist attacks on the US.

God Answers Our 911 Calls

“Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High
will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.”

Psalm 91:1 (NIV)

Our Response to God’s Goodness

I will say of the LORD,
“He is my refuge and my fortress,
my God,
in whom I trust.”

Psalm 91:2 (NIV)

The inference in the first two verses of Psalm 91 is echoed throughout Psalm 91:9. There is refuge for us all, if we position ourselves close, and I mean really close to God Almighty. You can’t find shade in someone’s shadow without being close to them. God wants you close.

Psalm 91 doesn’t describe God as a cold military General providing refuge, but as a mother hen who longs to pull us in close. 

“He will cover you with his feathers,
and under his wings
you will find refuge;
his faithfulness
will be your shield and rampart.”

Psalm 91:2 (NIV)

God wants you close.

Machsi: Breaking it Down

The original Hebrew word used in Psalm 91:1 is a form or derivative of machaseh or machaseh.

machaseh or machseh: refuge, shelter

Original Word: מַחֲסֶה
Part of Speech: Noun Masculine
Transliteration: machaseh or machseh
Phonetic Spelling: (makh-as-eh’)
Definitions in NASB: refuge (19), shelter (1)

Word Origin: from chasah1

The exact form of this word machaseh used in Psalm 91:9 is maḥ·sî which is pronounced like the more current Hebrew spelling machsi.  There are six times in the Bible where this form of the word is used and it has been most often translated as refuge but sometimes as shelter.2


You can really start to understand the connotations of the word refuge when you take a look at its root word.

chasah: to seek refuge

Original Word: חָסָה
Part of Speech: Verb
Transliteration: chasah
Phonetic Spelling: (khaw-saw’)
Definition: to seek refuge3

The root word chasah is a verb.  This emphasizes our active role in finding, taking, making God our refuge.  Dwelling in God’s refuge will take effort.  In tough times our propensity is to fight, flight, or freeze but we need to take the posture of a young chick and nestle into our God to experience His refuge, His shelter, His protection.

What God’s Refuge Means for Us 

With the world still trying to help the millions of displaced Syrian refugees, this word refuge is commonly heard, but not well-understood. Before this crisis, the word refuge wasn’t a regular part of our North-American vocabulary, so we’d do well to understand this word as it was intended. Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary is one of the few that acknowledges shelter as both a noun and a verb.  It defines refuge as:

1shelter or protection from danger or distress

2a place that provides shelter or protection

3something to which one has recourse in difficulty


to give refuge to

to seek or take refuge4

Is God Your Machsi, Your Refuge?

This is a picture of what God wants to be for you and me!  I don’t know what it’s like to live in a Middle East desert land, but I do know what it’s like to live in a desert of circumstance. In those times, I’ve made God my refuge.  I’ve taken shelter in His love and snuggled under His wing as He’s provided protection.  God has been the ONE to get me through the difficult times.  The Lord—my refuge is mine.   

Will you let Him be the LORD your refuge

In His Grip,

What does it mean to you that God is your refuge? #machsi #wordnerdwednesday #namesofgod @sherry_stahl Click To Tweet

Meet Sherri

Sherry Stahl


Sherry Stahl is an International Speaker Certified with the John Maxwell Team.  You can find her amusing audiences at Conferences, Retreats, Women’s Events and in Business Training Seminars.  She’s a fun, passionate Bible Teacher whose desire is to lead others to the life-giving Water in the Word! Sherry’s the Author of Water In The Desert with Study Guide & the Soul H2O Women’s Devotional; taken from her refreshing and Award-Winning blog. Sherry’s weekly Soul H2O devotions bring refreshment to the soul. She’s the VP of Operations for Women In Music & Media ( and Canadian Ambassador for the Christian Women In Media Assoc. ( 


  1.  Bible Hub Website Accessed 2019-04-28
  2. Bible Hub Website Accessed 2019-04-28
  3.  Bible Hub Website Accessed 2019-04-28
  4. Merriam-Webster Dictionary Website Accessed 2019-04-28


  1. Oxford Dictionary Website Accessed 2019-04-28
  2. Dictionary Website Accessed 2019-04-28
  3. Cambridge Dictionary Website Accessed 2019-04-28
  4. Collins Dictionary Website Accessed 2019-04-28
Word Nerd Wednesday Machsi by Sherry Stahl

2 thoughts on “Machsi – Word Nerd Wednesday

  1. My brother-in-law signs off “in His grip”…I love that. And nestle under God’s protecting wing. Thank you, Sherry.

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