One day, totally unplanned, I looked in the mirror and saw my father looking back at me. On another day, I caught myself saying something to my boys that I know I’ve heard come out of my mother’s mouth. I often quote one of my Aunt’s favorite sayings, even though no one outside of my family knows where I learned it from. And I am certain there are plenty of other things I do and say that were directly influenced by my family and upbringing.
In Psalm 61:4, there is an attention-grabbing phrase which David wrote to clearly express the kind of shelter and protection he was looking for as he turned to God:
I will live in Your tent forever
and take refuge under the shelter of Your wings.
Now compare that verse, with the first verse of Psalm 57:
Be gracious to me, God, be gracious to me,
for I take refuge in You.
I will seek refuge in the shadow of Your wings
until danger passes.
In fact, several other psalms written by David use a similar metaphor to illustrate the close, intimate protection David sought as he physically ran from enemies and spiritually ran toward God.
But where did David learn the idea that God would protect him in a similar manner as an adult bird would protect their offspring?
From his great-grandparents.
A woman called Naomi was destitute. She had no husband, no children, no income – just her daughter-in-law Ruth, who was a foreigner. They had recently returned to Israel, in the hopes of finding food and shelter. Ruth did what she could to provide for the two of them, gathering the leftover grain from fields as the Law allowed the poor to do. The owner of the field was named Boaz. When he found out what Ruth was doing and whom she was doing it for, he had this to say to her:
Ruth 2:12 May the Lord reward you for what you have done, and may you receive a full reward from the Lord God of Israel, under whose wings you have come for refuge.
Later on, when Ruth is petitioning Boaz for help, she said
Ruth 3:9 Spread your cloak over me, for you are a family redeemer.
Another way to translate the verse would be “Spread the wing of your cloak over me.”
At the end of the story, Boaz and Ruth are married. They later give birth to David’s grandfather.
Even if the phrase was culturally common for Boaz and Ruth…the concept of being protected under the wing of God was so instilled in their descendants that David repeatedly used that idea when he was in trouble and reaching for God.
We are so focused on today’s agenda, making sure ends meet, and keeping on top of the moment – and those things need to be done. However, we often do these things without recognizing the long-term influence we have on our families. Every day, we communicate ideas and instill patterns in our children that will echo for generations, much further down the line than we likely think about.
If you could have one idea, one aspect of your relationship with God burned into your great-grandson’s mind…what would it be?
Then let’s make sure we’re saying that to our children.