| 'Under His Wings' Series|
[b]Under His Wings[/b]
Yesterday morning in my personal time with the Lord, I was led to meditate on some verses in the psalms that talk about the wings of God. Have you ever thought about the wings of God? When I think of wings, I think of birds ... and hens ... and mother birds taking care of their little ones.
Most of the time I have a wreath on my front door at home, and it's interesting how often birds find that wreath to be a great place to make a nest. I've had so much fun over the years watching during that season of the year as the bird not only makes the nest but then lays the eggs and guards those eggs and sits on them and watches over them. And then those eggs hatch these tiny, helpless little birds. And I watch that mother with her instincts to provide protection and care, taking those birds under her wing and providing for her young a place of protection and security. Those wings become a shelter and a refuge.
In fact, I heard a story recently about a hen that apparently perished in a barnyard fire; but after the rubble was cleared out they found, under that hen, the baby chicks, alive. The mother's wings had protected those little ones; she had laid down her own life, and those little chicks under the hen were safe and were preserved.
Now as we look into the psalms, there are a number of verses that talk to us about how the wings of God provide for us a place of safety and security and refuge. Today and tomorrow I want to look at some of those verses, to just see what God's wings provide for us. I think this will be encouraging to you, wherever you are, as a child of God, as a young one with Him, to find security and protection and blessing under His wings.
The first thing that I see in these verses is that the wings of God are, for me and for you, a place of satisfaction, and a place of refreshment when we're in the midst of a dry place. Psalm 63 is a psalm that was written by David when he was out in the wilderness of Judah. The early verses of that psalm tell us that he was in a dry and thirsty land where there was no water. He was in a dry, parched place. And in the midst of that dry place, he found the wings of God to be a place of satisfaction and a place of refreshing.
Let me read, beginning in verse 3 of Psalm 63. He says to God, "Because Your lovingkindness is better than life, my lips shall praise You." Now remember where David is. He's in the wilderness, in a dry place where there is no water. But instead of focusing on the dryness and what he doesn't have, he looks heavenward, and he finds something very rich that he does havethe lovingkindness of God. He says, Your lovingkindness, O Lord, is better than life. In other words, if I perish out here in this wilderness, I have something that is more enduring than life itself. So, he says, I'm going to praise You by faith.
Verse 5, "My soul shall be satisfied as with marrow and abundance." Now he's not in a place of abundance; he's in a place of need and desperation, but he says, In Your presence and in Your love, I will be satisfied as if I had plenty and more than enough, "and my mouth shall praise You with joyful lips."
Then verse 7, "Because You have been my help, therefore in the shadow of Your wings I will rejoice." He finds under the wings of God a place of satisfaction, a place of refreshment, even though it's a dry land. He goes on in verse 8 to say, "My soul follows close behind You; Your right hand upholds me."
You see the same thought in Psalm 36. In verses 5 and 6 of that passage, David talks about the mercy of God, the faithfulness of God, the righteousness of God, the judgments of God. And then he says in verse 7, "How precious is your lovingkindness, O God! Therefore the children of men put their trust under the shadow of Your wings." Because of God's lovingkindness and care, therefore we find our place of satisfaction and refreshment under the shadow of His wings.
He goes on in verse 8, "They are abundantly satisfied with the fullness of Your house, and You give them drink from the river of Your pleasures." In a dry and thirsty land, the presence and the wings of God provide for us a place of satisfaction, a place of abundance and refreshment and joy.
Now I'm reminded as I read these passages that you and I will never find true, lasting, deep, soul satisfaction in anything or anyone other than God. And I think that's one of the reasons God presses us into wilderness placesto realize that we need Him, and that in Him we have everything that we need.
The other thing these psalms say to me is that you and I can have joy and fullness, we can have abundance, even in the midst of the desert. Even in a dry and thirsty land. It may be the desert of an unbelieving mate; it may be the desert of endless demands and questions and jabber from your three or four toddlersthat can be a desert experience some daysthe physical exhaustion and weariness that comes with certain seasons of life. But in the midst of those deserts, as we put our trust under the wings of God and take our place under His wings, you and I find satisfaction, refreshment, abundance, and joy.
Now I see also in the psalms that the wings of God are a place of shelter and refuge from storms. That was quite a storm we had here last night. I was lying in bed listening to that wind and wondering from the sound if this could be the makings of a tornado. I don't know this part of the country very well, but that was quite a storm, and I was thinking about how we find refuge and safety and shelter under the wings of God.
Psalm 57 paints for us a picture of the wings of God providing us refuge. The setting of this psalm is, again, David speaking when he was fleeing from King Saul, who was a violent and insanely jealous king. So he cries out to the Lord, Psalm 57, verse 1, and he says, "Be merciful to me, O God, be merciful to me! For my soul trusts in You; and in the shadow of Your wings I will make my refuge, until these calamities have passed by."
I would not want to have been outside in that storm last night. I'm glad I had a shelter in the midst of that storm. And David is saying, Lord, there's a storm passing by; there are calamities that are pouring in on my life. But I have a shelter. The shelter is the wings of God; that's a refuge, and I'm going to stay in that shelter until these calamities have passed by.
We see the same thought in Psalm 61 [verses 1 and 2], where David says, "Hear my cry, O God; attend to my prayer. From the ends of the earth I will cry to You, when my heart is overwhelmed." We don't like to be in places where calamities are passing by or where our hearts are overwhelmed. But more often than not that's what it takes in our lives, I find, to get us to the place where we cry out to the Lord. When there are no storms, we can just go through life without ever thinking about God! But when the storms come, that's when we think, I need a refuge! I need a way to get out of this storm; I need some protection, a shelter in the midst of this storm!
So David says, In the midst of this storm I will cry out to You, "when my heart is overwhelmed; lead me to the rock that is higher than I. For You have been a shelter for me, a strong tower from the enemy. I will abide in Your tabernacle forever; I will trust in the shelter of Your wings" [ verses 2-4].
You see what he keeps coming back to? Lord, You have provided a shelter, a refuge for me. So what do I have to do? I have to run into that place, and then I have to trust. As those little birds, those little chicks come under the wings of the mother, the wings of the hen, and trust, and wait on that parent to meet their needs.
A few moments ago some of you shared some of the storms, some of the challenges that you're walking through in your life. There are a number who mentioned physical challenges and health issues. Someone mentioned that a daughter's marriage is in crisis. Some of you are facing the challenge of an empty nest (no pun intended here). And then some were challenges and storms even bigger than what we have mentioned. I was just reminded, as we were listing these challenges: you and I have a safe place, a refuge, a shelter in the midst of the storm.
So we come to the Lord and we say, "Lord, I come to find refuge under Your wings. You are enough; You are sufficient; You are my hiding place; and in You I am safe."
| 2005/4/23 10:08||Profile|
| Re: 'Under His Wings' Series|
The Father's Arms
We've been talking about the wings of God, and how the wings of God are a place of refreshment and satisfaction even in a desert place. The wings of God are also a place of shelter and refuge when we find ourselves in the midst of storms.
We're looking in the psalms at references to the wings of God. There's a third aspect of what we find under the wings of God that has been especially encouraging to me in recent days. The wings of God provide for us a place of safety and protection from our enemies.
In Psalm 17, verse 8, David says to the Lord, "Keep me as the apple [the pupil] of your eye." The Scripture tells us that God does care for us as the apple of His eye. You know, our eyes are something that we guard pretty carefully. Especially if you go somewhere and there is debris blowing and there is danger of dust getting into your eyes, you find yourself really guarding them. The Scripture says that God guards us, He cares for us, as a man would the pupil of his eye. So David says, "[Lord,] keep me as the apple of Your eye; hide me under the shadow of Your wings, from the wicked who oppress me, from my deadly enemies who surround me" (verses 8 and 9).
Now as I think about this matter of enemies who come up against us, times when we need protection from the Lord, I think there are two kinds of enemies. First are those external enemies. These might be people, they may be circumstances that threaten to attack us and undo us. Our culture is filled with enemies against God. You turn on your television or you pick up a lot of books and magazines, you listen to the music of our culturethis is something that comes from outside of us and threatens us to think in ways that are not godly.
Those enemies may be people in our own families who are not walking with God. They come up against us and they rub against us, and it's like sandpaper. We feel sometimes that we're living in a war zone, with people coming up against us.
Enemies can be circumstances over which we have no control. We say, Lord, I can't handle this! These arrows and darts are flying fast and furiously. They're just coming at me one after another.
Now external enemies are hard enough; but then I find that I've got a lot of internal enemies. I think those are sometimes even harder to deal with! The enemy of my own fleshI'll tell you, everything can be going right around me, but I've still got this flesh inside of me that wants to have its way. I find myself wrestling against these temptations that come against us from within. (I see some heads noddingI think I'm not the only one.)
The internal enemy can have to do with wrong ways of thinking, with our minds. "Where did that thought come from?!" Those thoughts can be enemies. "Why am I thinking such thoughts?" and "Why do I have such emotions within me, of self pity, of anger, of despair?" "Where do these suicidal thoughts come from?" I hear women talk about these from time to time, these thoughts that say, It's not worth going on. These are enemies within.
David said, Lord, there are enemies in my life. They come from without, they come from within. What do I do to help me be protected against the enemy? I can't fight these enemies myself. I can't fight those thoughts, those emotions, those temptations, those external circumstances; I can't deal with those people or those situations. What do I do? I need a place of safety and protection in the midst of the battle. David found that place. That place is under the wings of God.
There's another wonderful passage that makes this same point. Many of you are familiar with Psalm 91. Perhaps some of you have memorized that psalm. David here uses several word pictures to talk about God being for us a place of safety and protection from our enemies.
He says in verse 1, "He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty." The secret place of the Most High. That's a word that means "a hiding place, a shelter." When I think of that word, I think of the story of Corrie ten Boom and the Hiding Place; how her family had this special room in their house where they hid the Jews from the Nazis. It was a hiding place. The Jews whose lives were in danger were safe as long as they went into that hiding place.
David says that the Most High God is a hiding place for our hearts; He's a hiding place for our lives; He's a shelter. In Him we are safe. So David goes on to say, "I will say of the Lord, 'He is my refuge and my fortress; [He is] my God, in Him I will trust'" [ verse 2].
And then he goes on to give assurance based on his own experience of God being a safe place. He says, "Surely He shall deliver you from the snare of the fowler, and from the perilous pestilence. He shall cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you shall take refuge; His truth shall be your shield and your buckler" (verses 3 and 4). That brings to mind for me a picture of my mind being protected by the truth of God; the shield of God's Word is a protection for my mind. It keeps my thoughts stable when they threaten to run away and go crazy.
He goes on to say, verse 5, "You shall not be afraid of the terror by night, nor of the arrow that flies by day." In this hiding place there is freedom from fear, because no one and nothing can get to me in the hiding place, under His wings, unless they first go through God Himself.
So he says you won't be afraid of terror or of arrows, "nor of the pestilence that walks in darkness, nor of the destruction that lays waste at noonday" (verse 6). This is a kind of "fill in the blank" sort of verse. Just fill in the blank with what are the "perilous pestilences" in your life. What are the terrors, the arrows, the things that fly at you? He says you don't have to be afraid of those things. They hold no terror for the one who finds refuge under God's wings.
He says, "A thousand may fall at your side, and ten thousand at your right hand; but it shall not come near you" (verse 7). Why? Because you are under the wings of God. "He shall cover you with his feathers, and under His wings you shall take refuge."
When we're fearful, when we're feeling overwhelmed, as some even this morning have expressed that you are feeling at this season of life, when we're feeling attacked or threatened, perhaps going through a season of grief, when we're feeling desperately needy, when we're facing deserts or storms or enemies . . . what are we to do? Run for the wings. Take refuge under His wings.
What does that mean? It means I draw near to Him, as the Scripture commands me to. It means I look up to Him, and I trust myself to Him. I trust that He is capable to handle these circumstances, and then I stop wrestling. I stop striving, and I just do what the Scripture says: be still. Be safe; be protected; trust, in that place of dependence, that He is going to provide all that I need.
There's a wonderful phrase in the book of Ruth, where Boaz says to Ruth, "You have come to take refuge under the wings of the Lord God of Israel" (Ruth 2:12, paraphrased). God has wings that are there and available for us. And really, we do one of two things in relation to those wings. We either take refuge under those wings, or we refuse to take refuge under them.
When I come under His wings, He takes all of my troubles, all of my cares, all of my responsibilities as His own, as a mother bird or hen does for her little ones. But if I'm unwilling to come under His wings, if I insist on handling things myself, then I find that I have to take all those burdens on myself. I have to fend for myself; I have to make it on my own.
But the fact is, we can't make it on our own. So if we want to experience the protection of the wings of God, we have to humble ourselves, admit our neediness, and stop pretending that we're so strong, that we have to impress anybody with how strong we are or how "put together" we are. You and I never will outgrow our need for the wings of God. They will always be there.
I love this old hymn that speaks of the wings of God:
Under His wings I am safely abiding;
Though the night deepens and tempests are wild.
Still I can trust Him; I know He will keep me.
He has redeemed me, and I am His child.
Under His wings, what a refuge in sorrow!
How the heart yearningly turns to His rest.
Often, when earth has no balm for my healing,
There I find comfort, and there I am blessed.
Under His wings, oh what precious enjoyment!
There will I hide till life's trials are o'er.
Sheltered, protected, no evil can harm me;
Resting in Jesus, I'm safe evermore.
Under His wings; under His wings;
Who from His love can sever?
Under His wings my soul shall abide,
Safely abide forever.*
| 2005/4/23 10:09||Profile|