The God of the Vulnerable

Daily Reflection / Produced by The High Calling

Father to the fatherless, defender of widows—this is God, whose dwelling is holy.

Psalm 68:5

Psalm 68 celebrates God’s care for Israel. It does so with a wide variety of images, many of which highlight God’s power and justice in stirring and even disturbing ways (68:2, 21-23). Yet Psalm 68 also pictures the tenderness of God in caring for his people. In verse 5, for example, God is the “father to the fatherless, defender of widows.” In the Ancient Near East, children without fathers and women without husbands could be vulnerable, lacking the protection and provision found in a household led by a man. Orphans and widows, if they managed to survive, might become beggars, slaves, or prostitutes. But God, according to Psalm 68, cares for those who are socially helpless.

How, specifically, does God’s care manifest itself? In part, it comes in the form of legal protection. Deuteronomy 24:17-22, for example, calls for justice for “foreigners, orphans, and widows.” This justice includes leaving behind in one’s field some of its produce, so that the vulnerable in society might help themselves to it.

This passage from Deuteronomy reminds us that God’s care for people in need comes, not only through divine intentions and divine laws, but also through the people who live according to God’s ways. His care for the vulnerable takes on human form in you and me. As it says in James 1:27: “Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you.” We honor the Lord by reaching out in love to those he cares so much about.

QUESTIONS FOR REFLECTION: How have you expressed God’s care for the vulnerable in your life? How is your church living out God’s commitment to orphans, widows, and others in need?

PRAYER: Merciful Lord, how good you are to your people. Today I’m impressed again by your special care for those who are vulnerable, for orphans, widows, foreigners, and others. Thank you, dear Lord, for being the “father to the fatherless” and the “defender of widows.”

Your Word makes clear, Lord, that I am to share in your concern for the vulnerable. Through my life, you express your special care for them. So help me to be faithful in caring for those who don’t have power, privilege, or protection. May I share my belongings with those who need them. May I seek justice for those who often don’t receive it.

Help my church, Lord, to practice what James calls “pure and genuine religion” in your sight. May we faithfully and sacrificially extend ourselves for the sake of the weak and needy in our community and world. To you be all the glory. Amen.

Image courtesy of Laity Lodge, one of our sister programs in the Foundations for Laity Renewal.