The prophet Jeremiah must be one of the most tragic figures of the Bible – commissioned primarily with the harsh task of warning the people of Israel of the imminent destruction of Jerusalem and captivity by invading Babylonian forces. His message of course was not a popular one – after all how could such a thing happen to the people of God – His chosen? Jeremiah lived to see much of what he spoke of come to pass, and in the end he looked over the desolation of Jerusalem and mourned, “How doth the city sit solitary, that was full of people! How is she become as a widow! She that was great among the nations, and princess among the provinces, how is she become tributary!” –Lamentations 1:1
Centuries later Jesus also mourned over Jerusalem, mindful of what had happened before and what was to come – “Oh Jerusalem, Jerusalem, which killest the prophets, and stonest them that are sent unto thee; how often would I have gathered thy children together, as a hen doth gather her brood under her wings, and ye would not! Behold, your house is left unto you desolate…”-Luke 13:34-35 The imagery that Jesus uses here to describe the people is especially powerful – they are compared to chicks that refuse the protection of a mother hen. The hen is grieved at the choices of her offspring – and greatly desires to provide protection from the dangers outside the covering of her wings, but the chicks willingly choose to stay outside that protection.
The image of chicks huddling under the protective wing of a mother hen is a beautiful portrait of what it is like to be submitted to God. Under God’s wing is warmth, love, peace, and protection from all the destructive elements of the world. If we willingly choose to depart from the protection of His wings we are automatically subject to all of those elements and their effects. Romans 6:16 says, “Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness?” Sometimes it seems like ‘freedom’ lies outside the shadow of God’s wing, but in reality we are only submitting to a different and cruel master – which is sin. The book of Lamentations gives us stark visual contrasts of the effects of that cruel master verses the place of God’s protection, and should serve as a warning to us today.
For many the picture of chicks underneath the wings of a hen may be a picture of weakness – but for those who understand it is a source of great strength. Psalm 91 has been quoted by many soldiers over the years in the heat of battle – and it alternates the picture of abiding under God’s wings with having a fearless heart in war. Verse 4 declares, “He shall cover thee with his feathers, and under his wings thou shalt trust: his truth shall be thy shield and buckler.” This is followed in verse 7 with one of the most profound and awe-inspiring promises in the Bible, “A thousand shall fall at thy side, and ten thousand at thy right hand; but it shall not come nigh thee.” Tell me that is a picture of weakness!
We may not all be soldiers in battle today – but we all need protection from the elements of this world every day. The only place we can find that is in His presence, in the shadow of His wings. My prayer is that we would all learn the secret that David understood, “He that dwells in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.”-Psalm 91:1
Read more articles by Jesse L. Smith or search for articles on the same topic or others.