The word “pinion” appears several times in the Bible, primarily in the Old Testament. But what exactly does this word mean?
Pinions refer to the wings or feathers of a bird. The Bible uses the word metaphorically to refer to speed, protection, and freedom. God is also described as having pinions, meaning He provides refuge like a mother bird sheltering her young under her wings.
In this comprehensive blog post, we will explore the meaning of pinions throughout Scripture. We will look at the various contexts where this word appears and what it signifies. Understanding the imagery of pinions in the Bible gives us a richer picture of God’s nature and His relationship with His people.
- Pinions refer to the wings and feathers of a bird and are used metaphorically in the Bible.
- God is described as having pinions, picturing His protective care over His people.
- Pinions represent speed and freedom of movement.
- The pinions of the dove are mentioned specifically as a symbol of beauty and sacrifice.
- Scripture urges us to take refuge under God’s pinions, trusting in His loving protection.
- Cutting off the pinions represents limiting mobility and freedom.
Pinions Represent God’s Protection
One of the most significant uses of “pinion” in Scripture is describing God’s wings protecting His people. We see this in several verses:
“He will cover you with His pinions, And under His wings you may seek refuge; His faithfulness is a shield and bulwark.” (Psalm 91:4 NKJV)
“How precious is Your lovingkindness, O God! And the children of men take refuge in the shadow of Your wings.” (Psalm 36:7 NKJV)
“Keep me as the apple of Your eye; Hide me under the shadow of Your wings.” (Psalm 17:8 NKJV)
These verses portray the Lord as a mother bird sheltering her young under her wings. The pinions or wings represent God’s enveloping presence watching over and guarding His people. Just as baby birds find refuge, protection, and warmth under their mother’s wings, God invites us to take shelter under His pinions.
This imagery shows God’s deep tenderness and care for His children. He is always near, spreading His wings of love and faithfulness over us. We can have confidence in His constant presence and find rest in the safety of His pinions.
Pinions Symbolize Speed and Freedom
In other contexts, the word “pinion” refers to the ability to move rapidly. We see this in descriptions of eagles and other winged creatures:
“Saul and Jonathan were beloved and pleasant in their lives, And in their death they were not divided; They were swifter than eagles, They were stronger than lions.” (2 Samuel 1:23 NKJV)
“Do you give the horse strength? Do you clothe his neck with thunder? Can you frighten him like a locust? His majestic snorting strikes terror. He paws in the valley, and rejoices in his strength; He gallops into the clash of arms.” (Job 39:19-21 NKJV)
The strength and speed of the eagle’s pinions are contrasted with the galloping horse. The bird’s wings allow swift, powerful movement through the air.
This imagery emphasizes how using our “pinions” provides freedom and mobility. When our lives are aligned with God’s purposes, He gives us strength to rise above earthly limitations and swiftly follow His calling. Our pinions allow us to freely navigate the currents of His Spirit.
The Dove’s Pinions Represent Beauty and Sacrifice
One specific mention of pinions is in reference to doves:
“Though you have doves’ wings covered with silver, And feathers of yellow gold.” (Psalm 68:13 NKJV)
Doves were used as sacrifices in the temple because they were considered pure and innocent. Their delicate wings were beautifully colored, as described here. Dove’s wings specifically represent beauty, purity, and sacrifice to God.
Jesus later used this imagery when He drove out the money changers from the temple courts:
“Then Jesus went into the temple of God and drove out all those who bought and sold in the temple, and overturned the tables of the money changers and the seats of those who sold doves. And He said to them, “It is written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer,’ but you have made it a ‘den of thieves.'” (Matthew 21:12-13 NKJV)
By forcing merchants to sell sacrificial doves in the temple, they had disrupted the true worship of God. Jesus boldly corrected this, re-establishing the temple as a house of prayer and restoring the dove’s symbolism of purity and sacrifice.
Scripture Urges Us to Take Refuge Under God’s Pinions
As we’ve seen in various passages, the Bible frequently invites us to find shelter, protection, and rest under the shadow of God’s wings:
“He shall cover you with His feathers, And under His wings you shall take refuge; His truth shall be your shield and buckler.” (Psalm 91:4 NKJV)
“How excellent is Your lovingkindness, O God! Therefore the children of men put their trust under the shadow of Your wings.” (Psalm 36:7 NKJV)
These verses urge us to make God our refuge. Just as a mother bird shelters her young, when we face danger or uncertainty, we can hide ourselves under the Almighty’s pinions. As He spreads His wings over us, we experience His truths shielding us like armor.
Taking refuge under God’s pinions requires childlike trust. As we draw near to Him, we allow Him to enfold us with His tender love and protection. We can release our anxiety knowing He cares for us under the covering of His feathers.
Cutting Off the Pinions Represents Losing Freedom
In contrast to the refuge of God’s pinions, some verses reference pinions being cut off as a metaphor for losing freedom and mobility:
“Nebuchadnezzar spoke, saying, “Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego, who sent His Angel and delivered His servants who trusted in Him, and they have frustrated the king’s word, and yielded their bodies, that they should not serve nor worship any god except their own God! Therefore I make a decree that any people, nation, or language which speaks anything amiss against the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego shall be cut in pieces, and their houses shall be made an ash heap; because there is no other God who can deliver like this.” Then the king promoted Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego in the province of Babylon.” (Daniel 3:28-30 NKJV)
Here, King Nebuchadnezzar decrees that anyone who speaks against the God of Israel should have their houses destroyed. The word “promoted” can also be translated as “made to prosper.” After witnessing God’s deliverance, the king elevated these three men’s positions in Babylon.
The implication is that prior to their deliverance from the fiery furnace, Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-Nego’s “wings” had been “clipped.” They were captives in a foreign land, unable to fully follow and serve God. But God miraculously freed them, restoring their pinions and allowing them to “take flight” spiritually once again.
When our wings get clipped—through hardship, bondage, or sin—we lose the ability to freely follow God’s purposes for our life. As we yield to Christ, He gives us back our pinions so we can fully serve and glorify Him.
In summary, pinions in Scripture provide a rich metaphor of God’s enveloping protection, speed and freedom, purity and sacrifice, and the danger of losing liberty when our wings get clipped. As children of God, we can find refuge under His pinions as He shelters us in love. And as we walk in His ways, He gives us spiritual wings to live boldly and swiftly for His Kingdom.
What a beautiful picture of our relationship with the Heavenly Father! He cares for us as His precious ones, covering us gently beneath His feathers. And He wants us to soar on the wind of His Spirit, unhindered in our calling to glorify Christ.
The next time you read verses referencing pinions, remember how God longs to spread His wings over you. Turn to Him as your shelter and strength. He promises to lift you up as you trust in His abundant grace and tender mercies.