June 02, 2008

The Shelter of God's Wings

Psalm 17

Keep me as the apple of your eye; hide me in the shadow of your wings.
Psalm 17:8


As we saw yesterday, a refuge from the storm offers rest, protection, and hope.

But in Psalm 17 we find an image that speaks not only about protection but also about comfort, nurture, and warmth.

It takes some imagination to think of ourselves as little birds flocking to God, who hovers over us with wings that surround us, protect us, and nurture us.

This image speaks to a profound need that we all have from the day we are conceived and begin to grow in the safety of our mother’s womb: the need to be nurtured.

Tiny babies love to be cuddled. And, truth be told, the parents, the guardians, the grandparents who offer those cuddles need them just as much.

When it comes to hiding in God’s protective embrace, both CEOs and the homeless stand in line. Both the exalted and lowly among all the earth’s people find refuge in the shadow of God’s wings (Psalm 36:7).

It doesn’t matter how isolated, how lonely, or how afraid of emotions you might be: the Bible invites you to imagine God, in part, as the Lord who not only governs the universe but also shelters you with comforting, bird-like wings.

This God not only protects you but also nurtures you.

Strong, loving God, open our eyes to see you as the nurturing presence in our lives. Truly your embrace offers us more than anyone or anything else on earth can provide. Amen.

About the author — John D. Witvliet

Dr. John D. Witvliet has served as a professor at Calvin College and Calvin Theological Seminary for the past 11 years, as well as serving as Director of the Calvin Institute of Christian Worship. He and his wife, Charlotte, have four children.

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