Father is one of the most common images God uses to help us understand who he is. God could–and has–chosen many ways to describe his relationship with us. But when it comes to revealing his patience, compassion, protection, discipline, and love, God chooses to reveal himself to us as Father. And one thing God’s father-heart reveals is his concern for the most vulnerable. He is the father to the fatherless.
A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in his holy dwelling (Psalm 68:5)
In the biblical world, orphans and widows were among the most vulnerable members of society. Without a husband or father to care for them, orphans and widows were without provider or protector. They were dependent on members of their extended family to care for them. And if family did not take them in, orphans and widows were left destitute and vulnerable to exploitation. They had no one to advocate for them or call for justice on their behalf.
But God is the father of the fatherless and the defender of widows. He cares for the most vulnerable among us. Rather than withdrawing to his palace and walling himself off from the world, God makes his holy dwelling the place from which he cares for the disadvantaged and vulnerable. He adopts the fatherless as his own. He speaks on the widow’s behalf. And throughout the Old Testament, one of the things God most strictly judged Israel for was how they treated the most vulnerable among them (Amos 2:6, Isaiah 1:23).
Injustice does not reflect God’s heart for his people. God always intended Israel to be a place where even the most vulnerable could find a place among God’s covenant people. And when children were left without protector or defender, God himself stepped forward to take them under his wing. God is the father of the fatherless, providing, protecting, and advocating for those who cannot do so for themselves.
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God’s character has not changed. He still guards the most vulnerable among us. When you feel rejected, abandoned, cast out, and alone, know that God is for you. He still reaches out for you, inviting you to find a home in his embrace. In Christ, we are adopted as sons and daughters of our heavenly father–a father who never disappoints or lets us down.
And as children of the Father, we are called to reflect our Father’s heart. We are still called to care for the vulnerable and dispossessed–making room for those who society has rejected around the banquet table. Orphans, refugees, widows, the homeless, prisoners, the terminally ill–the list goes on. But when we extend hospitality, lift our voices for justice, and reach out in compassion, we demonstrate God’s faithful love. There is room in God’s family for all who will come. Will you invite others to find the welcome of our father’s love?
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