Under His Shadow

It’s hot. I’ve run errands in a high temperature, humidity, and heat index. My car has air conditioning, but the seats are hot and the AC takes a few minutes to cool off. After several hot-then-cool transitions, I’m feeling a little nauseated.

When I get home, shoes come off, the AC is turned up, the ceiling fan is turned on. I get a cold drink, and I sit down to cool off and dry out. I may even have ice cream or a root beer float.

Not so many years ago, all those options weren’t available. We didn’t have central air conditioning in our house when I was a child. We didn’t even have a room unit. We attempted to take parent-mandated naps with windows open and an oscillating fan cooling off head or feet, but not both at the same time.

When my aunt bought a home with central air, I thought it was so luxurious to nap in the coolness of her room with dark blue curtains that shut out the sunlight.

In older times, and even now in some countries, refuge from the scorching heat is first sought in shade: under a tree, in the shadow of a building, anything that will put a barrier between people and the blazing sun.

Shadows can represent many things: the Bible uses the metaphor of shadows to illustrate the brevity of life or the nearness of death. But often Scripture speaks of shadows in reference to God. His shade provides:

Protection. Keep me as the apple of your eye; hide me in the shadow of your wings (Psalm 17:8). David prayed this seeking refuge from enemies. We can pray it when weary of a world that opposes God or weary of our own fight against sin. Some of those seeking David’s life were a former friend and his own son. People will fail us: God never will.

Refuge. 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).

Provision. How precious is your steadfast love, O God! The children of mankind take refuge in the shadow of your wings. They feast on the abundance of your house, and you give them drink from the river of your delights (Psalm 36:7-8).

Joy. For you have been my help, and in the shadow of your wings I will sing for joy (Psalm 63:7).

Shelter. 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).

For you have been a stronghold to the poor, a stronghold to the needy in his distress, a shelter from the storm and a shade from the heat; for the breath of the ruthless is like a storm against a wall (Isaiah 25:4).

Keeping and care. The Lord is your keeper; the Lord is your shade on your right hand. The sun shall not strike you by day, nor the moon by night. The Lord will keep you from all evil; he will keep your life. The Lord will keep your going out and your coming in from this time forth and forevermore (Psalm 121:5-8).

Delight and sweetness. As an apple tree among the trees of the forest, so is my beloved among the young men. With great delight I sat in his shadow, and his fruit was sweet to my taste (Song of Solomon 2:3).

Forgiveness and fruitfulness. The prophet Hosea pleads, “Return, O Israel, to the Lord your God, for you have stumbled because of your iniquity. Take with you words and return to the Lord; say to him, ‘Take away all iniquity” (Hosea 14:1-2a). God promises that if they will do this, “I will heal their apostasy; I will love them freely, for my anger has turned from them. . . . They shall return and dwell beneath my shadow; they shall flourish like the grain; they shall blossom like the vine (Hosea 14:4-7b).

In the March 30 reading of Edges of His Ways, Amy Carmichael wrote, “If the Bible had been written in England, there would not have been nearly so many words about the comfort a shadow can be. But it was written in countries where the heat could be very great and where great open plains of burning sand make the shadow of a great rock something to be remembered.” She then shared her poem “I Follow Thee,” which captures the idea of shelter from heat as well as Israel’s flight from Egypt:

Shadow and coolness, Lord,
Art Thou to me;
Cloud of my soul, lead on,
I follow Thee.
What though the hot winds blow,
Fierce heat beats up below?
Fountains of water flow –
Praise, praise to Thee.

Clearness and glory, Lord,
Art Thou to me;
Light of my soul, lead on,
I follow Thee.
All through the moonless night,
Making its darkness bright,
Thou art my heavenly Light –
Praise, praise to Thee.

Shadow and shine art Thou,
Dear Lord, to me;
Pillar of cloud and fire,
I follow Thee.
What though the way be long,
In Thee my heart is strong,
Thou art my joy, my song –
Praise, praise to Thee.

Are you hot, weary, depleted, in need of shelter and refuge? Come under His shadow.

This is a beautiful piece based on the Song of Solomon passage, set to music by Elizabeth Poston: “Jesus Christ the Apple Tree”:

(I often link up with some of these bloggers)

21 thoughts on “Under His Shadow

  1. What new and interesting thoughts — the comfort of shade/shadow, the idea that all the emphasis on Christ as shadow could relate to the Bible’s origin desert regions, etc. Nice word study! I appreciated your comment at my place too re. personality types and evangelism. For most of my youth I felt guilty for not eagerly doing that extroverted-style evangelism that was emphasized. What a relief to realize that it’s not the only way.

  2. My husband says to the grandchildren, that he’s got them under his wing – and it just goes straight to my heart. There are days, I can feel the comfort of being under God’s wing – cooled by the shade of it, the snuggled up, tucked in, protected comfort. This post has been a shadow under His wing today, bringing me joy! Thank you, Barbara! ~ Shalom, Maryleigh

  3. Beautiful post, Barbara. May we remember the comfort and peace and relief we find when we rest in the shadow of His wings!

  4. I just saw the temperature here is 64 degrees which sounds like the middle of winter for this August morning! I know it won’t last, so I may go for a walk this morning instead of doing my regular workout inside. I definitely need the cool shade of the Lord, to bask in his safe place of refuge, after a very difficult week (and it’s only Wednesday???). Thanks, Barbara. Pointing us to God’s shade is a beautiful metaphor and truth.

  5. Love the scriptures you picked out!
    One of my favorite things is sitting under the shadow (or in the shade of) of trees at our favorite lake. It’s crazy how much cooler it is under those trees!

  6. Love this beautiful encouragement! What a great reminder of God’s protection, provision and refreshment! Thanks for sharing.

  7. You post a good reminder, “In some countries, refuge from the scorching heat is first sought in shade.” And Amy Carmichael’s thoughts, “It was written in countries where the heat could be very great and where great open plains of burning sand make the shadow of a great rock something to be remembered.” Thanks for the encouragement to seek shelter under the shadow of His wings.

  8. Pingback: August Reflections | Stray Thoughts

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