THE SHADOW OF GOD’S WINGS
By Wayne S. Walker
"How precious is Your lovingkindness, O God! Therefore, the children of men put their trust under the shadow of Your wings" (Psalm 36:7). The first four verses of Psalm 36 are "an oracle…concerning the transgression of the wicked" (v. 1). The next five verses contrast man’s wickedness with God’s perfections–His mercy, faithfulness, righteousness, and judgments–and how they provide for all our needs. The final three verses offer a prayer to God asking Him to continue His lovingkindness to the righteousness and not let them be driven away by the hand of the wicked. In the midst of this, David wrote, "The children of men put their trust under the shadow of Your wings."
The reason why this is true is, "How precious is Your lovingkindness, O God!" The English word "lovingkindness" is obviously a compound word consisting of "loving" and "kindness" put together. It is defined as "kindness resulting from or expressing love." According to Strong, the word in the original language carries with it the idea of favor, goodness, and mercy. The term "merciful kindness" is used as an equivalent. "Hear me, O LORD, for Your lovingkindness is good; turn me according to the multitude of Your tender mercies" (Psalm 69:16).
Thus, the Psalmist is saying that because the Lord is a God of lovingkindness, we can put our trust under the shadow of His wings. The picture is that of a mother bird opening her wings so that her little ones can run and hide under them for protection and comfort. "O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing!" (Matthew 23:37). While so many of the people in Jesus’s day refused His offer, it still stands open for us today.
"In the shadow of His wings There is rest, sweet rest; There is rest from care and labor, There is rest for friend and neighbor….In the shadow of His wings There is peace, sweet peace, Peace that passeth understanding, Peace, sweet peace that knows no ending….In the shadow of His wings There is joy, glad joy; There is joy to tell the story, Joy exceeding, full of glory….There is rest, There is peace, There is joy, In the shadow of His wings" (Edwin O. Excell, #491 in Sacred Selections for the Church). In spite of the trials and tribulations of this life, we can still put our trust under the shadow of His wings. "Keep me as the apple of Your eye; hide me under the shadow of Your wings" (Psalm 17:8).