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Under the shelter of His wings

Under the shelter of His wings
Under the shelter of His wings
The Rev. Kathy Brumbaugh
By the Rev. Kathy Brumbaugh, Special Writer

Background text: Psalm 91
Devotional text: Psalm 91:4

I’m kind of a bird watcher. I don’t take it to any great lengths nor am I a member of any bird-watching club or organization, but I like to sit on my back porch and watch the birds that come to my feeder.

I also like to take walks around the church parking lot. While doing so, I am always scanning for bird feathers on the ground. I have a small collection of special ones I have found.

Almost always I can identify which bird the feather came from, but one day I found a feather I had never seen before. It was black with a white tip and the black part of the feather was dotted with white. My first thought was that it came from a loon. They have white dots on their feathers. I do not live in loon country, so I started to research what other kind of bird it may have come from.

It wasn’t long before I paired it up with that of a woodpecker. There is a woodpecker that visits the trees around the parsonage, making its loud rat-a-tat sound during the day. This feather is now a special one in my meager collection.

As I’ve been thinking about the birds and their clothing of feathers, it reminds me of the Psalms. So many of them speak about taking refuge under the wings of the Almighty. Psalm 91 is one of the best.

In Psalm 91:4 we read, “He will cover you with his pinions, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.”

This entire Psalm of David speaks of God’s protection. In verses 1 and 2, we read, “He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, ‘He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust’.”

Actually, as we read the Psalms, we find a number of references to finding refuge in the shadow of his wings. To read some of these Psalms, look up Psalm 17:8, Psalm 36:7, Psalm 57:1, Psalm 61:4 and Psalm 63:7.

Some of these Psalms direct us to seek shelter under his wings, while others speak about our singing for joy in the shadow of his wings. The scripture in Psalm 36 speaks of “the children of mankind,” taking refuge in the shadow of his wings. Psalm 57 tells us to stay under his wings while “the storms of destruction pass by.”

Let’s take a look at the nature of parent birds in caring for their young to get a better understanding of David’s analogies.

When baby birds, or hatchlings, are born, they are usually naked, without feathers, or they may be born with a fluffy down. The parent bird keeps them both safe and warm by concealing them under its wings. Even as they grow up, and before they are ready to leave the nest, the young birds find warmth and safety under the protection of the parent’s wings.

Just as the parent bird keeps its young safe from wind, rain and snow, we find in the Psalms that God keeps us safe from the storms of life. This analogy of comfort and protection comes to us as we stay close to God.

Just as the parent birds hide their young and vulnerable hatchlings under the shelter of their wings for protection, God knows when we are vulnerable and offers to us a safe haven of rest.

The Psalms advise us again and again to “dwell in” and to “abide in the shelter of his wings.” These words are telling us we need to stay close to God, trusting in his help, comfort and protection, just as the baby birds trust the safe covering found under their parent’s wings.

When we refer to God as our refuge and our strength, we are learning to stay close to our God every day. It’s a committed closeness to God. When we do so, we begin to understand that God’s protection is a place of peace, a place where we find security and also hope and joy.

As we daily converse with God through thoughts and prayer, we come to realize that, like a loving parent, his love surrounds us in all circumstances. He is there celebrating with us when we are joyful. He is there helping us when we are crying out for help. He is there when we are going through circumstances we do not yet understand, offering peace and patience.

The Old Testament also speaks of a number of specific parent birds and how they treat their young. From the eagle mentioned in the Song of Moses in Deuteronomy 32:11-12 that speaks about God’s leading of Moses to Isaiah 34:15 that speaks of owls and falcons and the care for their young, we see our caring God.

God does the same for us today. When we begin to get side-tracked from his teachings about the new life, when temptation and worldly idols begin to take his place in our hearts, he is still there calling us back.

Does God care for us? Does he reach out for us? Does he want to keep us safe, offer us protection, give us patience and peace? In his love, God wants these things for us and more.

Today, I leave you with a scripture from the New Testament. In Matthew 23:37, Jesus spoke to the lost people of Jerusalem: “Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together; as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing” (also in Luke 13:34).

Jesus came to Earth to save us. He came to express the love of God and to show us the new life of God’s kingdom. Many in Jerusalem at that time, including the religious leaders, had either forgotten God or made a mockery of him.

God calls to us daily. He has room for us under the shadow of his wings.