Day 11 of Lent, Psalm 17:
My boys are in the process of building an awesome fort under and between several trees behind our house, with secure branches for the walls and ceiling. They love the challenge of constructing it and making it sturdy. As I stood in the fort today under the woven branches, I was amazed at their ingenuity, skill and patience. It is very cool, and I might even want to hang out there! Even though I admire their work and it’s sturdiness, I would not want to stay in this “shelter” tonight as the temperatures drop once again into the 30’s and the winds rise to 25mph.
Of course, we all want a reliable and comfortable home. We don’t relish feeling the cold wind in our house, or rain dripping through our roof. A home like that doesn’t stand the storms or the test of time. There is a reason the Big Bad Wolf could blow down two of the three Little Pig’s homes. Bricks stand and provide a stronger shelter than hay or sticks. A moral of the story might be: if you have a wolf after you, choose a dependable shelter! Hopefully there are no wolves near my kid’s fort.
For the birds
Psalm 17 today, speaks of God’s shelter provided for us. It might surprise you what it is. At times God speaks of being a stronghold, a strong tower or a rock to run to. Here, He shelters us in the most interesting way.
Wondrously show Your lovingkindness, O Savior of those who take refuge at Your right hand from those who rise up against them. Keep me as the apple of the eye; hide me in the shadow of your wings, from the wicked who despoil me, my deadly enemies who surround me.
Psalm 91 is also a favorite Psalm of mine, and explains Psalm 17 a little better. It says this:
He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty.
I will say to the Lord, “My refuge and my fortress, My God, in whom I trust!”
For it is He who delivers you from the snare of the trapper and from the deadly pestilence.
He will cover you with His pinions, and under His wings you may seek refuge; His faithfulness is a shield and bulwark.
You will not be afraid of the terror by night, or of the arrow that flies by day; or of the pestilence that stalks in darkness, or of the destruction that lays waste at noon.
A thousand may fall at your side and ten thousand at your right hand, but it shall not approach you.
You will only look on with your eye and see the recompense of the wicked.
For you have made the Lord, my refuge, even the Most High, your dwelling place.
No evil will befall you, nor will any plague come near your tent.
I love this imagery. God must enjoy birds, because He often uses them to explain things in a way we can better understand. I once saw a picture of a mother bird with two baby birds, all fluffy and cute, on each side of her. She had a wing over and covering each of the birds that sat next to her. She sat contently on her limb protecting her little birdies from the rain with the covering of her wings. Her wings were their shelter and protection from the weather.
In the same way, God lovingly seeks to cover us with His wings for our protection and provision. The psalm says that under His wings is a place of shelter, refuge, shielding– a dwelling place. This is where He wants us to abide—close to Him, by His side, under His wings. It is like we are the little birds that need protecting. It is a very motherly, warm, secure place, away from harm.What do you like about this imagery, of God covering us and hiding us in the shelter of His wings? I like to picture myself being covered by God’s big wing, and there I long to stay.
The Big bad Wolf named, “Doubt”
God has provided this beautiful picture of His shelter for us. Yet, often we get pulled out or lured from His covering. As the storms of life hit, it is easy for doubt to settle in. Doubt is like the Big Bad Wolf, attempting to blow down our shelter and tempt us to come out from under the covering of God. Doubt leads us to look for other protection and provisions, undermining trusting in God. It is as if we choose to wander out and stay in my kid’s fort of sticks, instead of in my warm house for some reason– even though we once knew the house was much better.
Doubt subtly begins to question God and His ways– His protection and provision. It would be like having a secure covering during a battle, but deciding to stick our head out to look around and see what is going on. We come out from under the protection and then are assaulted by questions, doubt and uncertainty. We become an easy target with our head sticking out! Feelings overtake faith. It feels better to trust the known than the “unknown.” Soon we slowly begin to wonder about God’s character and truth. Thoughts creep in: “Does God even love me? Is He trustworthy? Does He care? Maybe I need to make things happen, since things do not seem to be working.”
How do we get back under the shelter of His wings or stay under His wings? One thing these verses speak about is “dwelling” or “abiding” under His wings. We need to be with Him and close to Him. We need to have things that help us stay connected to Him. As we do, He will produce fruit in our life that will help us to remain in His shelter. Some things to consider:
- Regularly being in God’s word, is a first step for staying sheltered.
- Also, stay connected with others who encourage you in this.
- Remember, even though feelings are real, they do not always indicate what is true. Sometimes they prompt us to ignore faith and choose sight.
- Practicing giving thanks, fills our minds with reminders of His provision, instead of dwelling on doubts.
- Ultimately, trusting in God day by day, keeps us under His wings.
I love being near God. Why would I want to be or go anywhere else? Ask yourself this question. Under His wings is a safe place, the safest and most reliable shelter. His shelter will stand against the storms of life and even against the blows of the Big Bad wolf!
To go along with this, check out “It’s pouring outside, find shelter.”