THE ABIDING LIFE
The Shelter of His Wings
By Gwen Sellers
Have you ever noticed all the bird imagery in Scripture? Jesus laments over Jerusalem, "O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing!" (Matthew 23:37). In Exodus 19:4 God says, "You yourselves have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how I bore you on eagles' wings and brought you to myself." Isaiah 40:31 declares, "but they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint." Boaz told Ruth, "The LORD repay you for what you have done, and a full reward be given you by the LORD, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come to take refuge!" (Ruth 2:12). In Psalm 17:8 David prays, "Keep me as the apple of your eye; hide me in the shadow of your wings." Psalm 36:7, 57:1, 61:4, 63:7, and 91:4 have similar sentiments about wings being a refuge. Malachi 4:2-3 says, "But for you who fear my name, the sun of righteousness shall rise with healing in its wings. You shall go out leaping like calves from the stall. And you shall tread down the wicked, for they will be ashes under the soles of your feet, on the day when I act, says the LORD of hosts."
My pastor has told us several times how the Jewish prayer shawl, or tallit, can be seen as representative of wings, its tassels akin to feathers. The ESV Bible uses "wings" in Ruth 3:9 and notes that the word can also be used to mean corners of a garment. The Malachi 4 prophecy is, in part, why the woman with the issue of bleeding believed touching the hem (which would be the tassels) of Jesus' garment would bring her healing (Mark 5:25-34).
A bird's wings are quite strong, particularly in comparison to body size. Wings enable a bird to fly. The outside of the wings is fairly rigid, meaning it is actually a good shield over that which lies beneath. But birds also have soft feathers, usually known as down. So there is strength, ability, and softness in a bird's wings.
The bird imagery brings with it a sense of safety, of comfort, of refuge, of rescue, of healing, of youthfulness, of strength, of nurturing, and of freedom. Recently the image of God as a mighty bird has become particularly meaningful to me. But rather than tell you how this concept of God has ministered to me, I want you to think about how God is using it to speak to you. Is He drawing you close enough to hear His heartbeat? Providing food for you each morning as a mother does her chicks? Shielding you with the strength of His wings? Teaching you to fly? Flying with you? Rescuing you? Sheltering you?
As you think about how God wants to teach you through His Word, I pray He will become ever more personal to you. He is mighty and He is love. He is our refuge and our strength.
Photo credit: Peter Femto; Some rights reserved
Tags: Christian-Life | God-Father
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