Metaphors rock. In English class you may have learned that a metaphor is a comparison between two objects that does not use “like” or “as.” Ug. How un-poetic! A metaphor happens when words form two separate images in your mind and then meld them together into one fascinating new picture.
And I especially love this metaphor that God uses for Himself on multiple occasions in our Bible: that God is the mother bird with wings outspread, and we are the little chicks who must run to the shelter of His wings.
I confess that I especially love this metaphor for God because I am a mother, and this is a motherly image. If you want an overload of cuteness, do an image search for “mother bird with chicks under her wings.” Tiny, fuzzy fluff-balls huddle close to mom whose impressive feathers cover each one and whose cocked head clearly indicates, “If you try to touch them, I will peck you!”
In Ruth 2:12, Boaz compliments Ruth for her care for her mother-in-law and says, “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 for refuge.” (ESV) You see, when Ruth left her country and her family, she also left her gods behind. And her arrival in Bethlehem was an outward show of her inmost heart. She now placed her hope in Naomi’s God, the God of Israel.
In Matthew 23 after Jesus pronounces woe after woe on the scribes and Pharisees, He says, “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!”
How tender and motherly is the heart of Jesus! He offers his salvation to any willing to run under his wings. And you hear the heartbreak in His voice over those unwilling to come, don’t you?
Deuteronomy 32:10-14, several Psalms, and Jeremiah 49:22 all contain this metaphor. But my favorite is Psalm 91.
Verse 4 promises that “under His wings you will find refuge.” While I would like to interpret this to mean that I will have no more problems in life, the text would only support that interpretation if I use selected phrases and leave out some verses entirely. Psalm 91 depicts a life with snares, terror, arrows, pestilence and destruction.
But as we walk the warzone of the world, we believers have a shelter under His wings. We who have run in faith under the shelter of God’s wings for salvation, must “hold fast to (God) in love” (verse 14). In keeping with our metaphor, we must snuggle.
How does one snuggle with God? Look again at verse 14. “I will protect him because he knows my name,” God says. Knowing God’s name means reminding yourself continually of who God is. When finances get shaky, I know God is my Provider. When relationships fall apart, God never leaves me. When I sin, He is Mercy. When it’s dark, He’s my Light. Feel the comfort of those promises, little chick. Snuggle.
And, most importantly, little chick, know that your soul is safe. Nothing can separate you from God’s love. No one can pluck you out of His hand.
Psalm 91: 9-10 Because you have made the Lord your dwelling place – the Most High, who is my refuge- no evil shall be allowed to befall you, no plague come near your tent.
When you choose to dwell under God’s wings, physical sickness may still attack your body and your loved ones; difficulties will come. But, little chick, you have a spot under the shelter of His wings. No evil in this universe can harm your soul. So trust, relax, and enjoy a snuggle!