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"We exist to train God-hungry people in the disciplines of prayer."

40-Day Devotional Guide & Study of
The Wonderful Names of Jesus
by Richard W. LaFountain

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Listen to Sermons on The Name

Mother Hen
orniv ornis (or'-nis)

"O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you that kills the prophets, and stones them which are sent unto you, how often would I have gathered your children together, even as a hen gatheres her chickens under her wings, and you would not!" - Matthew 23:37

A Mother Hen
We don't often think of God in the female gender, but then we must remember that God is not Spirit, and neither male nor female. All illustrations of God are metaphors or anthropomorphisms.

In several passages God depicts himself as a "hen." In this passage, as in Matthew 23:37 and Luke 13:34 Jesus likens himself to a mother hen or a nesting, brooding, mother bird. We westerners always think of a chicken, but the word is generic enough to refer to a mother eagle, a mother pheasant, or a mother bluebird.

The picture is of the mother hen with wide, safe wings outstretched for her young to run to her for protection and shelter in the time of storm or trouble.

There is a wonderful painting of a tempest on a rocky cliffed shore. The artist expresses the violence of the wind, the waves crashing, the dark storm clouds, driving rain, and the lightning. Everything in the picture is foreboding except for one small detail. In a small cleft in the rock face is a mother bird, face to the wind, with its wings extended over its chicks in the nest. They are safe and secure under his wings.

Jesus called to Jerusalem (his people) with tears in his eyes, "O Jerusalem, Jerusalemů how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing." (Matthew 23:37 and Luke 13:34)

The message should be clear, He is waiting with outstretched wings in the times of our storms, but we must be willing to run there and take our refuge under his (her) wings.

Use in Scripture
There are just two references to "hen" (ornis) in the New Testament, but the Old Testament often uses the metaphor of "wings," which (03671 kanaph) makes an interesting study of the 85 references.
  • Matthew 23:37 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!
  • Luke 13:34 O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, which killest the prophets, and stonest them that are sent unto thee; how often would I have gathered thy children together, as a hen doth gather her brood under her wings, and ye would not!
  • Psalms 91:4 He shall cover thee with his feathers, and under his wings shalt thou trust: his truth shall be thy shield and buckler.

Questions to Discuss
  1. What is your earliest memory of your Mother? What was she doing?
  2. As a parent have you ever had to hold your sit baby during the night? How did you feel? Were you willing even to give your life that he/she might live?
  3. What circumstances might motivate you to choose this name of the Lord to walk with you through the coming year?


Under His Wings
Under His wings I am safely abiding, Though the night deepens and tempests are wild, Still I can trust Him; I know He will keep me, He has redeemed me, and I am His child. Refrain Under His wings, under His wings, Who from His love can sever? Under His wings my soul shall abide, Safely abide forever.

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