A Mother Hen
We don't often think of God in the female gender, but then we must remember that God is 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.
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.
Under His wings, under His wings,
Who from His love can sever?
Under His wings my soul shall abide,
Safely abide forever.