In 1995, a killdeer had a nest of offspring on the back side of a bump-stop in the parking lot of Wall Data where I was working. Why the nest was in that spot rather than someplace safer, I have no idea. Any time a seeming threat came close to the juveniles in the nest, the mother would pretend to be injured, dragging one of her wings and hobbling away from where the nest was in her effort to draw the threat away.
Last Monday we looked at God’s tear bottle in which he collects our tears, whether literally or metaphorically. This week, we look at another (I think) very cool attribute of God – God’s shadow.
Twelve times, scripture mentions God’s shadow as a metaphorical statement regarding his invisible, yet undeniable, presence. The first of those is here:
Keep me as the apple of your eye; hide me in the shadow of your wings
– Psalm 17:8, ESV
Other references in the Psalms . . .
How precious is your steadfast love, O God! The children of mankind take refuge in the shadow of your wings.
– Psalm 36:7, ESV
Be merciful to me, O God, be merciful to me, for in you my soul takes refuge; in the shadow of your wings I will take refuge, till the storms of destruction pass by.
– Psalm 57:1, ESV
My soul will be satisfied as with fat and rich food,
and my mouth will praise you with joyful lips,
when I remember you upon my bed,
and meditate on you in the watches of the night;
for you have been my help,
and in the shadow of your wings I will sing for joy.
– Psalm 63:5-7, ESV
There is something comforting, safe, and protective about being in God’s shadow and under the protection of his wing. He is our keeper, the protective shade to our right.1
We have this beautiful picture and promise from Psalm 91.
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.”
– Psalm 91:1-2, ESV
In prophesying of the Messianic age, Isaiah makes reference to Jesus as a great rock in a weary land, a rock in whose shadow or shade we find shelter from the storm.2 He covers us with the shadow of his hand,3 the very same one who stirs up the seas and makes them roar.4
Other places, God in general, or the Messiah in particular are said to protect us as a stronghold against the storm and a shade against the heat.5 In the Messiah we will find protection in his shadow even though we live among the heathens.6
In the apostolic age, the shadow of the apostle Peter was sought out as a healing balm to those afflicted with various ailments.
And more than ever believers were added to the Lord, multitudes of both men and women, so that they even carried out the sick into the streets and laid them on cots and mats, that as Peter came by at least his shadow might fall on some of them. The people also gathered from the towns around Jerusalem, bringing the sick and those afflicted with unclean spirits, and they were all healed.
– Acts 5:14-16, ESV
The text does not state outright that people were healed through Peter’s shadow falling on them, but it is clear that the people held the shadow of God and the shadow of his apostles in high regard. It reminds me of the woman with the twelve-year-long issue of blood. She thought, “If only I could even just touch the hem of Jesus garment…” and she was healed of her bleed.7
Those times you feel unsafe, unsure, exposed, unprotected, let your heart and mind rush back to the reality that you are protected under the shadow of God’s wing. Just like the mother killdeer, with her pretend broken wing, attempts to protect her young, the mighty wing of God encompasses us to protect us from any and every threat.
1. Psalm 91:1-8, a beautiful song, with the shadow/shade in verse 5
2. Isaiah 32:1-2
3. Isaiah 49:2, 51:16
4. Jeremiah 31:35
5. Isaiah 4:6, 25:4-5
6. Lamentations 4:20