I would wager that this word means a variety of things to different people. Until recently, I didn’t use that word much. I would say it’s because I never felt that my safety was threatened. In hindsight, though, I feel maybe it’s because I didn’t know what safe really was.
Most think of it in the physical realm: safety from harm. That is definitely a factor. In the Bible belt, we throw around the term “saved”, meaning that we are exempt from eternal judgment because of our acceptance of Jesus’ sacrifice for our sin.
But hear me on this: just because a person is saved doesn’t mean he is safe.
When I speak of safe, I feel warmth. I immediately picture people and houses and memories. Safe conjures up in me a feeling of security and acceptance. My secrets are kept secrets and my shortcomings are addressed but forgiven and my name is protected behind my back. My goodness is not measured and my flaws are not showcased and my bad hair days are not terms for divorce. My opinions matter and my voice is heard and my likes and dislikes are recognized and my words are cherished. Safe also means that there is equal give-and-take, whether in conversations or sharing of gifts or in heart-bearing. Safe means that it matters if I am in the room.
At first, I thought this idea of safe being an emotion not related to physical protection was preposterous. But when I started searching it out in God’s Word, I was amazed to see that the Lord confirmed this idea. He speaks often of safety from fear (Job 21:9), from the fear of man (Proverbs 29:25), from fear of evil (Proverbs 1:33), and even from “him that puffs” (Psalm 12:5)! A puffer in the Hebrew is the word puwach, meaning “to kindle (a fire), scoff, bring into a snare.”
Proverbs 18:10 speaks of the Name of the Lord being a strong tower, and while He could be speaking of physical protection, I most often find myself whispering His Name when I am feeling overwhelmed. Don’t you?
Job 11:18 speaks of security bringing about HOPE so that we can rest in safety. That’s not often a word associated with safety. But I feel safe with people who have dreams for me. Because they can hope for me when I’ve given up.
Psalm 31:20 says, “Thou shalt hide them in the secret of Thy Presence from the PRIDE OF MAN: Thou shalt keep them secretly in a pavilion from the STRIFE OF TONGUES” (emphasis mine). (Whatever happened to “sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me”?)
Proverbs 1:33 says that WISDOM causes safety. The free will we are given makes us responsible for deciding what situations are safe to be in and with whom we should feel secure.
Proverbs 31:11 gives a stunning report that the Virtuous Woman’s husband “safely trusts in her” not to bring him ruin. That was the degree to which he trusted her. He felt safe with her, in EVERY way possible. Do most husbands fear their wives will harm them? I think it would be rare if they did. But Mr. VW knew he could trust her to protect his name behind his back, provide financially for their family, and not squander his resources or his reputation.
I love the Hebrew and Greek definitions of the words “safe”, “safety”, and “safely.”
Yasha contains the meaning “free, avenging, preserve, get victory.”
Betach was one of my favorites to define “safe”: “both the fact (security) and the feeling (trust); place of refuge, assurance, boldly, confidence, hope, surely.”
Shelah means “prosperity” and shalah means “to be tranquil, successful, secure, happy, to be in safety.”
Sagab goes beyond the act of rescuing to include these words in its definition: “exalt, set up on, be too strong.” I don’t think He is simply speaking of physically pushing a kid on a swing to touch the clouds. Job 5:11 says, “To set up on high those that be low; that those which mourn may be exalted to safety.” Jesus recognized that true safety goes way deeper than surface physical security. It has everything to do with our emotions, our mental capacity, and even our melancholy. The feeling of safety not only describes our physical condition, but also our spiritual condition.
I think I could go so far as to say that if I am to feel safe with a person, not only do I not fear harm, but I can trust in that person to lift me up and promote my success and ensure my peace in any way possible.
My intention is not to make you unsatisfied with the people or situations in your life, but to encourage you to run to Jesus for your safety. While wisdom can be used to create a place of safety, I know there are positions you will find yourself in that require you to remain. I encourage you to determine if you really are bound by the Word to remain in those relationships or situations, or if living in fear of the unknown is just easier than courage.
Don’t miss that.
If you are currently surrounded by things and people who do not scream SAFE to you, but you know you are where you need to be, take heart. Let me be clear: Jesus very well may call us to do un-safe things or to surround ourselves with un-safe people. But He does call us to remain in His love and claim His peace and security regardless of the unsafe things He may call us to do.
Similarly, if you are in your comfort zone now and feel safe simply because you have created such an environment for yourself, then your safe is in the wrong place and will only last as long as your circumstances cooperate.
The freedom for me came when I recognized that I did not feel safe and dug deeper to find out why. And when I realized that my safety came SOLELY from Jehovah, it changed everything.
As you think about your life in light of these definitions, do you truly feel safe? I will tell you from experience that it is possible to create an environment of safe for others with cards of affirmation and calls of care and gifts of graciousness and have it somehow create in you that feeling of safe. But it is temporary.
Jesus intends to fulfill safe in us. And until you feel safe with Him and His character, it will be well-nigh impossible for you to find safe in the world around you. Security and safety go hand-in-hand. People who act insecure do not feel safe. And you do not feel safe with them because they do not emit security in and of themselves. They are desperately trying to create a place of safety and are going about it from the wrong angle. You can’t create that place of safety. Only God can give it to you. This final Scripture is the most important. Proverbs 21:31 says that safety is of the Lord. He is the source.
The Hand with the power to save ultimately has the power to keep you safe.
And when you beg for it, He will give. Abundantly above anything we could ask or think. He can bestow better work places and happier family members and truer friends and peaceful homes where we feel safe. We can have hearts to confide in and hands to hold and souls who are just as concerned with our interests and ministries as they are their own. And if He doesn’t, we can rest in the safety that we find in Him even though everything around us might be falling to pieces.
This is the desire He has for us: to take our insecurity and replace it with safety.
It’s part of what we call the Great Exchange.
Cara Cobble Trantham is a freelance writer whose passion is to encourage women of all ages to draw closer to the Lord. She lives in Greeneville, Tennessee, with her husband and one-year-old daughter. She loves to send cards in magazine envelopes, counsel ladies over sugar and cream (with a little bit of coffee), and read a good book at the beach. Her bucket list includes eating pizza in Chicago, staying at a bed and breakfast in Savannah, and following a recipe without leaving out an ingredient.