The word translated “dwelling place” in the original Hebrew language means “refuge, shelter from danger or hardship, habitation.” Many of the psalms describe God in similar terms: “Because you have made the LORD your dwelling place—the Most High, who is my refuge—no evil shall be allowed to befall you, no plague come near your tent” (Psalm 91:9–10, ESV). “You are my hiding place,” says Psalm 32:7 of the Lord, “You will protect me from trouble and surround me with songs of deliverance.” Psalm 71:3 declares, “Be to me a rock of habitation to which I may continually come” (NASB95).
The concept of God as our dwelling place expresses the stability, dependability, and eternal constancy of God. Perhaps better than most, Moses understood and could accurately communicate the permanence of God in the believer’s life. Moses continued the portrayal in Psalm 90:2, “Before the mountains were born or you brought forth the whole world, from everlasting to everlasting you are God.” God is our fixed address for all of time and eternity. Moses uttered this assurance again to the people of Israel as they were about to enter the Promised Land: “The eternal God is your dwelling place, and underneath are the everlasting arms” (Deuteronomy 33:27, ESV). Moses wanted the people to comprehend that God Himself had always been and would always be their permanent, immovable, unshakeable, eternal home. The Lord was their place of shelter and refuge, and His everlasting, all-powerful arms would forever be under them to uphold and carry them through life.
God’s being described as our dwelling place is also a picture of the unbroken, intimate fellowship God desires to have with His people. He longs to bring us home, near to Himself, so we can dwell in His courts and “be satisfied with the goodness” of His house and the holiness of His temple (Psalm 65:4, ESV). He wants our desire to match His own so that we might pray like David, “One thing I ask from the LORD, this only do I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze on the beauty of the LORD” (Psalm 27:4).
David loved being in God’s presence (Psalm 26:8). He often prayed, “I long to dwell in your tent forever and take refuge in the shelter of your wings” (Psalm 61:4). Like the Lord’s “dwelling place,” “refuge,” or “house,” His “tent” is a symbol of His presence and protection. Only God’s children can say to Him, “Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever” (Psalm 23:6).
Today we experience the richness of God’s presence through a relationship with Jesus Christ (John 6:51–58; 15:1–17). Jesus came to dwell among us so that we might live with God forever (John 1:14). Before we accepted Christ as Savior, we were living far apart from God (Ephesians 2:12). But once we were united with Christ, we were “brought near by His blood” (Ephesians 2:13). Through His death on the cross, Jesus Christ provided “access by one Spirit to the Father” (Ephesians 2:18).
Now and forever, true believers can experience God as our dwelling place, enjoying the fullness of joy in His presence (Psalm 16:11). In the “panorama of time and eternity,” God is our dwelling place from the ancient days of Moses to the new heavens and earth when, “behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God” (Revelation 21:3, ESV).