“Be merciful to me, O God, be merciful to me! For my soul trusts in You; and in the shadow of Your wings I will make my refuge, until these calamities have passed by.” Psalm 57:1

Shelter in a storm is a great blessing, especially when one of the weatherman’s dire predictions actually comes true. I often think weathermen tend to over-dramatize for two reasons. On the one hand, it is better to be safe than sorry and so they do not just predict, they seem to go into prophet mode. On the other hand, big drama makes you stay listening. I wonder if the over-dramatized weather prognostications did not cause the USPS to distance itself from the familiar inscription on the James Farley Post Office Building in New York City—“Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds.” In these days instruction to find shelter trumps a government service, not so when I was growing up.

Of course, shelter is a very human necessity. It is nice to have the shelter of clothing, a roof over your head, and the warmth of a family in which to find shelter. In the event of very real calamities of life, shelter is a supremely important necessity. Living in this fallen world is fraught with danger, pestilence, and disaster…and then we get to the age of six! The possibilities of troubles multiply every decade of life after that.

Then there are the troubles of our own making. Choices we make can leave us exposed to devastating consequences, not the least of which is the potential failure to trust in the shed blood of Jesus Christ. To trust is to roll all the care of your life on the efficacy of the Redeemer’s work on the cross of Calvary and bow to His lordship over you. Just as you cannot live long without physical shelter, you cannot live eternally without the divine shelter only found in Christ Jesus.

With the need for shelter being a common human condition, it is no wonder that there are many texts in the Scriptures about divine shelter. David wrote Psalm 57 as he fled before the king of Israel, who was out to take his life. David knew that he must not lay his hand on King Saul, “the Lord’s anointed.” David’s enemies were everywhere. Spies gleefully snitched on him. What was he to do, where was he to go? He was totally dependent upon God for his shelter from prying eyes and from desperate foes. In his very first verse he cries out for mercy and pleads his cause. He declares that he seeks his refuge in God alone. It was under the “wings” of God that he took his refuge.

In Matthew 23:37ff we read of another generation who refused to take refuge in God. Our Lord says to the Jerusalem of His day, “How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing! See! Your house is left to you desolate; for I say to you, you shall see Me no more till you say, ‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the LORD!’”

Mark the difference. Jerusalem refused God’s shelter and was destroyed. Now read the words of David in Psalm 57:2ff, “I will cry out to God Most High, to God who performs all things for me. He shall send from heaven and save me; he reproaches the one who would swallow me up. God shall send forth His mercy [steadfast love] and His truth.” David trusted God just as we should, “until these calamities have passed by.”

God’s shelter may be described as God’s overshadowing providence. “In the shadow” of His wings appears several times in the Psalms. Psalm 63:7, “Because You have been my help, therefore in the shadow of Your wings I will rejoice.” Psalm 91:1f, “He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the LORD, ‘He is my refuge and my fortress; my God, in Him I will trust.’” Psalm 121:4ff, “Behold, He who keeps Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep. The LORD is your keeper; the LORD is your shade at your right hand…The LORD shall preserve you from all evil; He shall preserve your soul. The LORD shall preserve your going out and your coming in from this time forth, and even forevermore.”

David was familiar with God’s words Abraham found in Genesis 28:15: “Behold, I am with you and will keep you wherever you go, and will bring you back to this land; for I will not leave you until I have done what I have spoken to you.” David was also acquainted with the words of God to Israel in Deuteronomy 32:11: “As an eagle stirs up its nest, hovers over its young, spreading out its wings, taking them up, carrying them on its wings, so the LORD alone led him….” Deuteronomy 33:27 states, “The eternal God is your refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms.”

Lest you think this is only an Old Testament benefit, take note of the hint of how our Lord intercedes for you and me, sheltering us under His wings, even on this very day. John 17:11 reads, “Now I am no longer in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to You. Holy Father, keep through Your name those whom You have given Me, that they may be one as We are.” Review 2 Thessalonians 3:3, 2 Timothy 1:12, 1 Peter 1:5, and Jude 24. Secure your shelter under the overshadowing providence of God in Christ Jesus. Trust and obey.