Wings as we know them are an illustration of the possibilities of flying and rising. They signify lightness and to a large extent, the spirituality of the beings that bear them. But what do wings symbolize in the Bible?
Humans have always aspired to grow into a stature higher than those and wings captures just that-an expression of the soul towards a condition that is higher than human.
Reading through the Bible, one can’t help but take note of the instances where wings are mentioned. They always bring up lofty concepts such as imagination, cognitive faculty, victory, and freedom.
Whether you read about God’s protection over his people by covering them with the shadow of his wings, or about the winged creatures as explained by the prophet, Ezekiel, there is a lot of symbolism in wings.
In the sections that follow, we shall look at the various symbolism of wings as mentioned in the Bible.
What You'll Learn Today
Vitality and Strength
The Bible talks of the empowering ability of God on his people. This empowerment can take different forms and be explained using different objects. In Isaiah 40: 31, the Bible says:
“But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary; they will walk and not be faint.”
It refers to the people who trust and serve the Lord. That God will renew their strength in the walk of faith. Believing in God and the journey of faith needs spiritual empowerment and enlightening.
Without the vitality and strength expected of a Christian, it can be tough trying to manoeuvre. God, through Jesus Christ, is the strengthening power behind Christians.
In Psalm 29:11, the Bible records that:
“The Lord gives strength to his people; the Lord blesses his people with peace."
This is proof that indeed the Lord is the strength-giving power behind those who wait on him.
The world we are living in today is characterized by both physical and spiritual forces. While the physical is visible, the spiritual is not visible at least to the naked eye. For humans to navigate both realms, they need direction and protection.
The Bible uses the allegory of God covering his people with his wings to mean divine protection. In Psalm 91:4, the Bible notes that:
“He will cover you with his pinions, and under his wings, you will find refuge; his faithfulness is a shield and buckler.”
For you to be under the wings of God, he must be above you or hovering at a height higher than where you are.
Still, in Psalm 17:8, the Bible says something a little different still involving wings. It says:
“Keep me as the apple of your eye; hide me in the shadow of your wings,”
It introduces an aspect of whether wings are used to block some light so that a shadow is cast on the object being protected. Looking at Psalm 121:5-6, the aspect of protection comes out very clearly. The Bible reads:
“The LORD himself watches over you! The LORD stands beside you as your protective shade. The sun will not harm you by day, nor the moon at night.”
In Ruth 2:12 the Bible also alludes to the fact that the wings of God are a refuge to those who seek it. It is that point of safety where those who are tormented by the issues of the world can run to for solace.
The expansiveness of a Kingdom
In the Old Testament, Ezekiel the prophet describes the great eagle that has expansive wings of diverse colours. This is an illustration of the Babylonian kingdom that had spread its influence over many nations and cultures.
At the time, the Babylonian kingdom had also made a lot of exploits winning battles over other kingdoms. In Ezekiel 17:3-4, the Bible reads:
“saying, ‘Thus says the Lord God, “A great eagle with great wings, long pinions and full plumage of many colors came to Lebanon and took away the top of the cedar. He plucked off the topmost of its young twigs and brought it to a land of merchants; he set it in a city of traders.”
In the book of Jeremiah 48:40 and Jeremiah 49:22, the eagle is mentioned again and, in this case, just like in Ezekiel represents King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon.
Symbolizes the Instruments of Gods war
God is a warrior and a God of battle. In the book of Psalm 18:10 the Bible records:
“He rode upon a cherub and flew; And He sped upon the wings of the wind.”
God uses a cherub and the wings of the wind as his transport mechanism.
God is a rapid responder when his servants are in dire need of help. In this instance, God comes to the rescue of David from his enemies. Being a divine God, he uses divine means of intervention. In the book of Psalm 104:3, the same is repeated:
“and lays the beams of his upper chambers on their waters. He makes the clouds his chariot and rides on the wings of the wind.”
Symbols of Angelic Creatures
The book of Ezekiel talks about the winged creatures to mean God’s angels that surround the throne. In Ezekiel 1:8-9 the Bible says:
“Under their wings on their four sides they had human hands. All four of them had faces and wings, and the wings of one touched the wings of another. Each one went straight ahead; they did not turn as they moved. “
This is one of the most vivid illustrations of angelic beings. They are depicted as having wings. Probably, it is from such depictions that art on angels always shows them as having wings.
In all the verses in the Bible where wings are mentioned, they symbolize something deeper and spiritual. Whether it is a depiction of angels, God’s instruments of war, the expansiveness of a kingdom and influence or God’s protection, the Bible is never silent.
There are many other meanings of wings in the Bible but the ones discussed here are the main ones.