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God—The Father Who Adopts

by Dan Cruver Published Sep 25, 2008

In his book Knowing God the Father Through the Old Testament, Christopher Wright has a very helpful section entitled “God—The Father Who Adopts.”  In it he shows how the Old Testament calls us to find our security in God by portraying him as “the Father who adopts the homeless or fatherless.”  For example, commenting on two Psalms that compare God with a human father (Psalm 27:9-10; 68:4-6), he writes:

“They have in common the idea that God will step in as an adoptive father in circumstances where human parents have either disowned their child, or have left him orphaned.  God, as Father, takes over where human fatherhood fails for one reason or another” (36).

Here is what he says about Psalm 68:5 in particular (“A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows is God in his holy habitation”):

God’s special concern for the orphan and widow is well documented, of course, throughout the Law and the Prophets, in the wisdom tradition (as for example in Job’s echo of this text in Job 29:12-16), and in narratives such as Elijah’s temporary accommodation with the widow of Zarephath or the story of Ruth.  But here the concept is expressed not merely in the form of commands to human action (to care for the orphan and widows), but in picturing Yahweh himself as the adoptive father who takes care of the orphan, and the defending advocate who represents the widow in court and sees that she gets justice.

It is striking that in one of the very few Old Testament texts that actually speak directly of God as ‘father,’ the prime focus is on God’s loving, protecting and defending stance toward the weak and vulnerable in human society—as typified in the most vulnerable of all, orphaned children. God is Father to those who have lost the natural bonds of human protection, whether because of rejection, or because of natural bereavement” (37).

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