Shadows Psalm 91:1

He . . . shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.— Psa_91:1.

Shadows are funny things, are they not? You like watching your own shadow and playing with it, especially on a lamp-lit road. One time it is in front of you, and makes you seem taller than any of the lamp-posts; then when you try a race with it, you suddenly find that it has made itself quite small and is all round about your feet.

I have a little shadow that goes in and out with me,
And what can be the use of him is more than I can see.
He is very, very like me from the heels up to the head;
And I see him jump before me, when I jump into my bed.

The funniest thing about him is the way he likes to grow—
Not at all like proper children, which is always very slow;
For he sometimes shoots up taller like an india-rubber ball,
And he sometimes gets so little that there’s none of him at all.

Who has not made shadows on the wall by the light of the fire or a lamp? Wonderful swans and rabbits and butterflies they were! I have seen a father making them to please a sick boy; the little fellow liked seeing them, for he cried, “Do it again, father, do it again.”

No wonder Barrie makes Peter Pan weep when he discovers that he has not a shadow like other children,

But shadows can be useful as well as funny. Long ago people read the time from shadows, for they had sundials instead of clocks, and if you live in the country you may chance to hear someone say, “The children should be coming back from school; the shadows tell me.” These words make one think of long summer days, for shadows are seen only when the sun is shining.

Shadows are beautiful too. If you are learning to be a designer, one of the first things you will be told is that the best ornaments are those which are both useful and beautiful. Shadows are useful, but they are beautiful as well. You see them just black, ugly things; an artist sees all sorts of wonderful colors in them. I should not wonder if he takes more pains over the painting of his shadows than he does over the object that makes them. He will even throw one shadow after another into his picture till it is quite full of them. He knows there is light in the shadow that seems to ordinary people only grey and gloomy.

Once there was a man who was very poor indeed. He was clever and used to write books; but sometimes people are paid very little money for writing books, even when they do it remarkably well. There were days on which this poor man hardly knew how his lodgings were to be paid. But the time came when his books began to be popular; then he earned money, and went to live in a fine house. But he used to love to go back and linger near the poor tenement where he knew all the hardships. “Those days were the happiest in my life,” he said to himself. He saw the beauty of the shadows in life.

Boys and girls may have sickness or sorrow sent to them. They cry, and think, “Why is God so unkind?” There seem to be shadows everywhere— black, ugly shadows too. But there are many good men and women who look back to days of trouble and say, “It was good for me to have the sorrow and the sickness.” The sun was shining behind the shadow.

Clever people who have studied this psalm say that when the psalmist wrote about the shadow of the Almighty he was thinking of God as a great bird with protecting wings. Under the shadow of God’s wings, boys and girls, we are safe from all harm or danger. For being under the shadow of God’s wings means that we are close to God Himself. And where could we be safer?