God is not “like a father” to us; He IS our good Father.
Psalm 68:5 (NLT)
Father to the fatherless, defender of widows—
this is God, whose dwelling is holy.
A few months after my dad died, I came across this verse during my quiet time. It struck me that it doesn’t say God will be “like” a father. It doesn’t even say He will be near to those or protect those who are fatherless. He’s not just a good substitute. It says He IS Father. That is God, who He is. It’s not a role that He plays but who He is.
I think it’s really easy for us to pass over these verses as “feel good” sayings and not give them the weight they deserve. I also think it’s really easy for us to have the wrong view of what a father is and does, especially when our earthly one is gone or has left us with hurt.
I've been thinking today about what it really means for God to be our Father, not in a cliche saying kind of way, but in a practical day-to-day kind of way.
Not just like a father, not a “father figure,” but to BE OUR FATHER.
A few things have come to my mind as I reflect on this. For one, the Bible is full of genealogies, a sort of who’s whose dad, grandad, and great-grandad. King David was “David, son of Jesse.” Again and again, we see that lineage is everything in this time—who you belonged to and your status in society. Noah’s kids were spared not because of their own righteousness but because of the righteousness of their dad.
So God BEING our Father means we are grafted into that genealogy. We are “daughters or sons of God,” so much a part of our identity it could be a part of our name—just like it was for David. We are spared not by our own righteousness, but by the righteousness of our dad, just like Noah.
The coolest part about this to me is that God chooses to adopt us. He picks us and fights to make a way for us. He suffered and paid the ultimate price to make a way to have a relationship with us. This relationship where He nurtures us, protects us, guides us, and holds us. This relationship, that not only could we never earn, but we absolutely do not deserve. Yet He chooses us anyway, and Jesus made a way to graft us in as a full-fledged son or daughter. If you’re like me, and your earthly parents didn’t fight for you as they should have, this is absolutely mind-boggling. We don’t have to do anything but accept His love, and He loves us more than we can ever imagine.
It doesn’t say He will protect and defend us AS IF we were His children. It says we ARE His.
What is the role of a good father?
- He does what's best for the child. Not in a self-serving way. Not in a hurtful way. But what’s TRULY best. Even if that means metaphorically setting a bone or performing surgery. Even when it’s painful.
- He provides. When all else fails, we can run back to Him, and He will always be waiting with open arms, just like the example of the father in the prodigal son. Always willing to run and meet us where we are. No matter how far we’ve gone.
- He is compassionate and spends time with His children. He is empathetic to our struggles and counts every tear (Psalm 56:8)
- He loves His children. Even when they run, even when they throw a tantrum. He is patient and kind.
Like a toddler in his arms, He nurtures and protects us.