1 JULY 365 Days with Calvin

Finding Refuge under his Wings

O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not! Matthew 23:37

suggested further reading: Romans 3:10–18

We now perceive the reason why Christ, speaking in the person of God, compares himself to “a hen.” It is to inflict deeper disgrace on the wicked nation that had treated with disdain his gentle invitation. This invitation proceeds from more than maternal kindness. It is an amazing and unparalleled example of love that God does not disdain to stoop to those persuasions by which he might tame rebels into subjection.

Prophets were sent to “gather together” wandering and dispersed people into the bosom of God. By this he means that whenever the Word of God is exhibited to us, God opens his bosom to us with maternal kindness. Not satisfied with this, he condescends to the humble affection of a hen watching over her chickens. When he compares himself to a mother, he descends very far below his glory; how much more, then, when he takes the form of a hen and deigns to treat us as his chickens?

Besides, if this charge was justly brought against the ancient people who lived under the law, it is far more applicable to us. For though the complaints that we find in Isaiah are just in saying that in vain God spread out his hands every day to embrace a hard-hearted and rebellious people (Isa. 65:2), that though he rose up early (Jer. 7:13), he gained nothing by his incessant care of them; yet now, with far greater familiarity and kindness, he invites us to himself by his Son. Therefore, whenever he exhibits to us the doctrine of the gospel, dreadful vengeance awaits us if we do not quietly hide ourselves under his wings, by which he is ready to receive and shelter us. At the same time, Christ teaches us that all enjoy safety and rest who by the obedience of faith are “gathered together” to God; because under his wings they have an impregnable refuge.

for meditation: If neither God’s awesome majesty and power nor his gracious condescending love can draw us to him, what other proofs do we need that our hearts are deceitful and desperately wicked? Go to him with all your heart today, asking for forgiveness and mercy.[1]


[1] Calvin, J., & Beeke, J. R. (2008). 365 Days with Calvin (p. 201). Leominster; Grand Rapids, MI: Day One Publications; Reformation Heritage Books.

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