He will cover you with His pinions, and under His wings, you may seek refuge.
When you picture a magnificent flying bird, it is usually not a chicken that comes to mind. I’ve never seen a chicken pictured in flight—many eagles, but no chickens. We quote the Scripture from Isaiah 40:31 that talks about being borne up on the wings of eagles or with wings like eagles. There is a difference, however, between being “on” His wings and being “under” His wings. This promise in Psalm 91 is not elaborating on the flying wing—but on the sheltering wing. One indicates strength and accomplishment, while the other denotes protection and familiarity. When you picture the warmth of a nest and the security of being under the wings of the nurturing love of a mother hen with chicks, it paints a vivid picture of the sheltering wing of God’s protection that the psalmist refers to in this passage.
Is everyone protected under the wings? Did you notice it says He will cover you with His pinions (feathers), and under His wings, you may seek refuge? Again, it’s up to us to make that decision! We can seek refuge under His wings, if we choose to.
The Lord gave me a vivid picture of what it means to seek refuge under His wings. My husband, Jack, and I live out in the country, and one spring our old mother hen hatched a brood of baby chickens.
One afternoon when they were scattered all over the yard, I suddenly saw the shadow of a hawk overhead. I then noticed something very unique that taught me a lesson I will never forget. That mother hen did not run to those little chicks and jump on top of them to try to cover them with her wings. No!
Instead, she squatted down, spread out her wings and began to cluck. And those little chickens, from every direction, came running to her to get under those outstretched wings. Then, she pulled her wings down tight, tucking every little chick safely under her. To get to those babies, the hawk would have to have gone through the mother.
When I think of those baby chicks running to their mother, I realize it is under His (God’s) wings where we may seek refuge—but we have to run to Him. “He will cover you with His pinions, and under His wings, you may seek refuge.” That one little word may is a strong word! It is up to us! All that mother hen did was cluck and expand her wings to tell them where to come.
Oh, Jerusalem, Jerusalem... How often I wanted to gather your children together, the way a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were unwilling.
Notice the contrast between His willingness and our unwillingness—His wanting to against our not willing to—His would against our would not. What an amazing analogy to show us theologically that there is protection offered that we don’t accept!
It is interesting that Jesus uses the correlation of maternal love to demonstrate His attachment to us. There is a certain fierceness to motherly-love we cannot overlook. God is deeply committed to us—yet, at the same time, we can reject His outstretched arms if we so choose. It is available, but not automatic. God does not run here and there, trying to cover us. He said, “I have made protection possible.
You run to Me!” And, when we do run to Him in faith, the enemy will have to go through God to get to us! What a comforting thought!
-Peggy Joyce Ruth
From Psalm 91 - God Umbrella of Protection