Be gracious to me, O God, be gracious to me,
For my soul takes refuge in Thee;
And in the shadow of Thy wings I will take refuge
Until destruction passes by.
Is there destruction in your life? Another translation calls it “calamity.” The definition of the Hebrew word even covers things like evil desires and cravings and wickedness. What is there in your life that is threatening to overwhelm you… and what are you doing about it?
People have different responses to difficulties in their lives. “Destruction” wears many faces, from cancer to car trouble to addictions to relationships… the list is endless. But God’s manifold grace perfectly matches each challenge. The question, again, is not “what is the problem?” but “what are you doing about it?” The Psalmist runs for refuge under the shadow of God’s wings.
Does God have wings? I don’t know; I haven’t seen Him. He is Spirit, and yet He walks and talks and sees and hears and sits in the heavens and laughs and takes me by the right hand. He is a strong tower and a rock. He’s my shepherd.
When I think of Him being a strong tower, I feel safe. In Him I am protected. And when I think of Him being a rock, I know that He is immovable – a safe place to stand, unchanging. Policies and doctrines may change, but He does not. His word is settled forever – it is absolute truth, authoritative on our lives yesterday, today, tomorrow, and forever. And when I think about Him being my shepherd, I feel cared for, tended, managed, provided for.
In a barnyard, when a hen senses danger, she clucks and her chicks run to her. She fluffs out her wings, and shelters them, and they are safe. I heard a story about a fire that roared through a barn and the area around it, destroying everything. The farmer discovered the devastation as he returned from town. As he was surveying the damage, saw his prize hen lying dead near the barn. He absently nudged at her body with his boot, and to his surprise and amazement, half a dozen little chicks scurried away as he turned the body over. They had taken refuge in the shelter of her wings until the destruction passed by.
When we know our God, and we know that all His intent toward us is for our good and His glory, it makes sense to run to Him when the circumstances of our lives are painful or confusing or challenging or grievous. In Him alone will we find comfort and strength and wisdom and peace and security. What chance would the chicks have had of surviving on their own – of putting out the fire? Of outrunning the blaze? Of finding a safe place of their own making? None. There was safety only under the shelter of the wings.
For us it is the same. We can’t defeat our problems and temptations, outsmart them, outrun them, or hide from them. They are a fact of life. There is safety only as we choose to take refuge in the shelter of His wings. There are several other verses that talk about taking refuge in the shelter of God’s wings (Psalm 61:4, Ruth 2:12, Psalm 36:7, Psalm 17:8), but one takes it a little further. What do you do while you are taking refuge under His wings?
For Thou has been my help,
And in the shadow of Thy wings
I sing for joy.
Destruction is all around, and I’m singing for joy? Yes, because my soul is safe. Life may be unfair, hard, painful, confusing… or all of those things, but because, as Timothy said, “…I know whom I have believed and am convinced that He is able to guard what I have entrusted to Him until that day…” I can rejoice. And I will… will you?