“Father to the fatherless and protector of widows is God in his holy habitation.”
Whenever I read about God being father to the fatherless, I thought of it as applying to someone else. I had an earthly father who fulfilled all the traditional roles of father for me. He provided for our family. He protected us. He led us and gave counsel, especially on our driving. So I would immediately dismiss verses like this as a comfort and see them more as a call.
A verse like Psalm 68:5 speaks about God’s heart for those most vulnerable – the fatherless may be orphans or children who have lost their father through some tragedy. In ancient Israelite culture, this was catastrophic. Since men were the only ones “allowed” to have paying jobs, losing a father meant a loss of most of the family income. So children who suddenly became fatherless lost their protector and provider. Likewise, widows were particularly vulnerable. They were easily ignored since they did not have a public voice. If they did not have extended family who looked out for them, some were driven to prostitution.
God constantly watched out for these most vulnerable in the society. In fact, His measure of health for any society or community was their level of concern for the most vulnerable – like Isaiah 1:15-17.
“When you spread out your hands, I will hide my eyes from you; even though you make many prayers I will not listen; your hands are full of blood. Wash yourselves; make yourselves clean; remove the evil of your deeds from before my eyes; cease to do evil, learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression; bring justice to the fatherless, plead the widow’s cause.”
This calls all of us to keep an eye out and help read for the fatherless, widows and other vulnerable members of society.
But today, it struck me that in some ways Psalm 68:5 even applies to me as a comfort. I have been “fatherless” for 15 years. There are still times when I wish I could talk to my father about something I face or what he might do in a situation.
Yet God is my ultimate Father. He is “Our Father in Heaven (Matthew 5:9).” He is the “Father of mercies and God of all comfort (2 Corinthians 1:3).” I can gain His wisdom and receive His comfort when I stop to read His Word, listen and pray.
Some of us today still have our earthly fathers who influence our lives positively. Some don’t have a great relationship with their fathers. Some no longer have our earthly fathers. But we have a Heavenly Father who perfectly and completely cares for us.
“Father God, thank you for revealing yourself as Our Father in Heaven. This makes you so approachable and personal. Thank you for making the way for us to be in close relationship with you by sacrificing your own Son. Help us guard against stubbornly refusing your counsel or going our own way because we think we know best. Instead, we need your help, protection, provision, counsel and strength for whatever we face. Thank you Father.”