I love how the created world reflects God’s character and His relationship with His creation. There is one picture of God that is repeated several times in Psalms that is a vivid illustration of His care and concern for us. It is the idea of finding refuge under His wings.
Psalm 17:8 – Keep me as the apple of the eye; hide me in the shadow of Your wings.
Psalm 57:1 – Be gracious to me, God, be gracious to me, for my soul takes refuge in You; and in the shadow of Your wings I will take refuge until destruction passes by.
Psalm 61:4 – Let me dwell in Your tent forever; let me take refuge in the shelter of Your wings. Selah.
Psalm 91:4 – He will cover you with His pinions, and under His wings you may take refuge; His faithfulness is a shield and wall.
Take 30 seconds and watch this video.
I’ve watched several videos of mother hens protecting their young; they can be quite ferocious! It’s also amazing how many baby chicks can fit under a hen’s wings, gathered so closely that you can’t even see them anymore. God created the mother hen with the instinct to pro-actively defend herself and her family against predators. He also equipped her to act on her instincts: sharp teeth and talons, wings that spread wide to cover her young, and a body that is perfectly shaped to create a safe haven.
Jesus used this same illustration when He described how he felt about Jerusalem. Looking out over the city that was chosen by God to be the place where His name and His glory dwelled, He wept over it, knowing God’s people, the Jews, would soon reject the One sent for their salvation, and crucify their Messiah.
Matthew 23:37 – Jerusalem, Jerusalem, who kills the prophets and stones those who have been sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, the way a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were unwilling.
There are two things to remember if we want to find refuge under God’s metaphorical wings. First, the mother hen is the one who alerts her chicks to danger. According to one farmer, a hen has a variety of informative “clucks.” One sound might be used to call them to eat. Another special clucking sound would be uttered if she sensed a predator was nearby; this would call her chicks to gather under her wings.1
We must know the voice of God so that we recognize when He is warning us of danger. Jesus taught us this principle in John 10, in the parable of the Good Shepherd.
The sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he puts forth all his own, he goes ahead of them, and the sheep follow him because they know his voice. (John 10:3-4)
We know God’s voice by spending time in His Word and allowing the Holy Spirit to enlighten our minds and hearts to hear Him. The more time we spend in His Word, the more we are able to discern the truth.
Second, the closer the chicks stay to the mother hen, the safer they are when danger comes. The mother hen does not run around the barnyard chasing down each individual chick. Instead, she calls out to them, and they obey, immediately running to the safety of her wings. When the hawk circles and begins his dive, it is the “loner” chick, the “rebellious” chick, the “apathetic” chick, and the “unbelieving” chick who are likely to find themselves dangling in the clutches of the enemy.
The place of greatest protection is close to the Savior. God tells us to draw near to Him, where we find safety and protection from our enemy (James 4:8). He tells us not to forsake assembling together, and that we are to build one another up as the body of Christ. We are part of God’s family, and we need one another. When we allow ourselves to grow distant from God we are in danger.
It’s our choice to find refuge in God. Jesus said He is willing, but so often, we are unwilling. How about you?
I want to stay close to the Savior, listening carefully and obeying quickly. I want the safety of knowing I am in His care, the only One who can protect and care for me in the shelter of His mighty wings.