Theme: Safe in God’s Shadow
This week’s lessons teach us of the need to rest in the Lord during difficult trials, and to praise him for his faithful care.
Scripture: Psalm 57:1-11
The wings of God. The problem with the first image has led other commentators to explain David’s reference as to the wings of God himself. To the objection that God does not have wings or that the image is unworthy of the Almighty we answer that God speaks along these lines himself in several places. Indeed, the earliest biblical use of the word “wings” is an example. In Exodus 19:4, God declares, “You yourselves have seen what I did to Egypt, and how I carried you on eagles’ wings and brought you to myself.” This initial use of the image later lends itself to several variations. Thus, in the Song of Moses God is compared to an eagle that stirs up its nest and hovers over its young, that spreads its wings to catch them and carries them on its pinions (Deut. 32:11).
The phrase “shadow of your wings,” occurring in Psalm 57:1, is also in Psalms 17:8; 36:7; 61:4 and 63:7. In Psalm 91:1 the phrase becomes “shadow of the Almighty,” and verse 4 of the same psalm says, in words that are very close to Psalm 57, “He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.”
In the second stanza of part one (vv. 2, 3) David refers to God as “God Most High.” This name occurs first in the Bible in the story of Abraham and Melchizedek, where Abraham presents offerings to this otherwise unknown king of Salem. Melchizedek blesses Abraham by “God Most High, Creator of heaven and earth…who delivered your enemies into your hand” (Gen. 14:19, 20). Derek Kidner thinks this name is intended to draw attention to Abraham as “another homeless man.”4 But in David’s situation it is more likely that it is chosen for the sake of the accompanying phrase “who delivered your enemies into your hand.” This is what David needed (as well as being delivered from his enemies), and it is what God did. First God delivered David. Then he delivered Saul, David’s chief enemy, into David’s hand. He did it more than once (cf. 1 Sam. 24 and 26).
In these desperate early days wherever David went he seemed to be “in the midst of lions” (v. 4). But when he lay down in the cave of Adullam “in the shadow of God’s wings,” he was as safe as Daniel in the lion’s den. Indeed, if Daniel had lived before David and if David had known Daniel’s words, David might well have used them to tell Saul, “My God sent his angel, and he shut the mouths of the lions. They have not hurt me, because I was found innocent in his sight. Nor have I done any wrong before you, O king” (Dan. 6:22).
How does David’s use of the word “wings” teach us about God?
Why might David identify God by the name “God Most High”?
Reflection: How does one hide in God and rest in the shadow of his wings?
4Derek Kidner, Psalms 1-72: an Introduction and Commentary on Books I and II of the Psalms (Leicester, England, and Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 1973), p. 206.