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"He shall cover thee with His feathers, and under
His wings shalt thou trust."— Psalm 91:4.
THE 91st Psalm very clearly applies to the Church, and would seem to be especially applicable to the Church in the end of this Age. But since it is addressed in a personal way, as though to one person, it may be The Christ as a whole that is referred to, from the Head to the last member of the Body. Our Lord Jesus had trials and difficulties, and needed protection and care. He went to the Heavenly Father and sought the necessary aid. And so with all the Lord's people continually.
But the Psalmist seems especially to refer to our day: "A thousand shall fall at thy side, and ten thousand at thy right hand, but it shall not come nigh thee." Of course, there have been times in the past when thousands have fallen through persecution, etc., but the falling away mentioned here seems to be the falling away from God's people. Many will be turned aside, injured, wounded, if not killed, in the great battle pictured.
This battle, we understand, is at the conclusion of this Gospel Age. The powers of darkness are now specially arraying themselves against the consecrated people of God, and all associated with them. There never was a time when God's people, as a whole, had so large opportunities or so great success as Christendom has had in the past century. Under the attacks of Satan that have been in progress for the last fifty, sixty or seventy years, many have fallen into unbelief, Higher Criticism, infidelity, the various features of which are represented as a great pestilence. We see that there is a pestilential infidelity abroad in the land. Its votaries are misled by the Adversary—quite probably without any such intention on their part.
Very probably in the future, as they see the Truth, many of these will acknowledge their error; but for the time being there is a great drouth in Christendom. Church attendance is falling away. Many of the ministers are preaching what they themselves doubt. They have fallen from grace, fallen from Divine favor, fallen from an appreciation of the Word of God.
This Scripture points out, too, the "feet" of this Christ class living in our day. "He shall give His angels charge over thee, lest thou dash thy foot against a stone." All the members have a relationship to the Head and to one another. These "angels" we understand to represent Divine promises and helpful assistances of the saints. These "angels" are represented as bearing up the feet, that they may not stumble over the Stone of Stumbling at this time. (Isa. 8:14.) Instead of stumbling over this Stone, they will be lifted up by it to greater appreciation and higher conditions. The feet shall not be moved.
In the figure of our text, these who are to be covered represent all who are of this one class. As a hen gathereth her brood under her wings, so God will be as a mother-hen to His people, and will gladly gather them close to Himself and give them the necessary protection—under His wings. They may fully trust that all things shall work together for their good, because they are His, abiding "under the shadow of the Almighty."
The Almighty here represents Himself as a mother-bird. The patience of the mother-bird with her young is remarkable, and she would sacrifice her own life for her little nestlings. So the Lord represents that He is ready to do anything for the protection of His own, who are under His care. Jesus would have received the Jews thus under His protecting care; but the people as a nation did not appreciate their need, and hence were overthrown in a great time of trouble. Jesus said to them, with weeping, [R5438 : page 110] "How often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not!"
We might exercise a particularity of inspection of our text, and say that the word feathers might carry a little further thought than the word wings. "He shall cover thee with His feathers, and under His wings shalt thou trust." The soft, downy feathers under the mother-hen's wings serve to keep the little chicks warm and to shield and hide them from enemies that would attack them. Not only the strong sheltering wings, but also the feathers of the hen-mother's breast are used to protect her young. We have seen alarm on the part of a mother-hen at the approach of danger, and heard her cluck to her little ones. Then they would run to her, nestle under her wings, and seem perfectly satisfied and free from fear in their place of safety. Presently you would see the little heads or eyes peeping out; but the chicks felt perfectly secure.
And so with us. Our Heavenly Father's love and care and protection are His wings and His feathers, shielding us from all harm, keeping us warm and safe. He is able to make every experience in life work out for our good. We are, however, to remember that the promise that God will make all things work together for our good is a promise to the New Creature, not to the old creature. Oftentimes the interests of the New Creature and of the old creature are diverse. God has an interest in all that concerns us, but He overrules our temporal affairs for our best spiritual interests. If we were too prosperous, it might not be of advantage to us as New Creatures.
Our temporal affairs may be permitted to go awry. We are not wise enough to know what is for our own best interests as New Creatures, and what would help us the most in our fight against the world, the flesh and the Devil. We are, therefore, to flee to the Lord and accept whatever experiences may come, as those which will be best for us; and we are to seek to get the designed lessons of faith and obedience from them.