This song speaks of God’s ingenuity and care. In an overcrowded city God made sure there was somewhere secluded for His Son to be born.
I have always loved singing this song. My favorite verse is the last one where it is a prayer for Jesus to watch over the children. I felt comforted by this thought as a child and still do as I am a ‘child’ of God.
When Mary and Joseph made it to Bethlehem the city was overflowing with people. All the inns were full and even in Mary’s desperate condition there wasn’t one person willing to give up their accommodations for her. We aren’t told that the inn keepers even asked. We also aren’t told if it was an inn keeper who volunteered a stable for the couple’s use.
Is it possible that Joseph searched out this site on his own after being turned away? I never thought of this before. I had always heard the story include a resourceful and remorseful inn keeper offering the family somewhere to stay.
Did God instead guide Joseph to this humble place? Did He speak peace to Joseph’s heart as he looked around at the stable? A stable is not an ideal place for anyone to stay. Animal droppings, left over feed, dirt, dampness, and even animals themselves filled this place. I don’t know Joseph’s station in life but I would lay odds on it being above a shepherd’s. Did Joseph wrinkle his nose in disgust at the thought of staying the night in a stable?
Then again, what were his alternatives? Sleeping in the street or the city square would have given Mary NO privacy as she brought the Son of God into the world. So maybe the stable looked a LOT better, considering the alternatives.
I started looking into what stables looked like in the time of Jesus’ birth and came across two articles that questioned if Jesus might have been born instead in the lower level of a house, where the animals were kept at night. Their reasoning was the translation of the word for ‘inn’ which also means ‘guest room’. As a mother and a decent human being, I can’t see a house full of people ignoring the cries of a young girl in labor and leaving her to give birth among the animals. That isn’t to say it couldn’t have happened this way.
Truthfully, we don’t know how they found their way to this hide away for the animals. Or what it even looked like. What we can say is that God brought His Son into the world with as little fanfare FROM MEN as possible. The angels made His birth known to the lowliest of people, who went out and shared it with others. But the rulers of the very people God sent Him to save knew nothing of it at the time. Wise men from a distant land noticed but not those who were on the very streets with Him.
God hid His Son in plain sight. Who would ever expect a King to be sleeping among the animals? And God prepared this simple place for His Son’s birth. His mother was not left to give birth on the roadside but in a place of safety and seclusion.
Who knows what other amazing gifts God ‘wraps’ for us in plain packaging. Just because it isn’t sparkly doesn’t mean it isn’t special. Look beneath the wrapping! Who knows what wonders might be waiting there.
Father God, thank You for providing a safe place for Mary. I believe You had a purpose for every step of this journey. I also believe You held that stable especially for their use so Satan wouldn’t know where to look either. He figured it out later on but failed in his attempt to stop Your plan.
Thank You Father for the gifts You give to me in ‘plain brown wrapping’. It sometimes takes me quite a while to realize just how special the gifts I receive really are. It is a lot like reading Your word. The stories are nice but I don’t find the ‘pearls’ in them until I look a little deeper. Hidden in plain sight are the deeper things, for those who bother to look! Keep me searching Lord!