This picture used to hang on a wall in my grandmother’s house…..and, yes, you have probably guessed….it now hangs on a wall in my bedroom! As a young girl when I used to help her with some housework, I would often stop and look at it and think about what it was saying. I wish to share some thoughts about it in this blog…

Underneath are the Everlasting arms
Underneath are the everlasting arms

The picture depicts a beautiful calm scene of the milkmaid in early morning. Just look at how still the water is. There’s not a tree blowing in the wind. The fire is lit and the smoke is rising straight up from the quaint old cottage, so there is no sign of a storm. The pathway is dry showing it has not been raining. Look at how contented the cattle appear and the cow lying down chewing her cud.  The milkmaid is dressed so prime and proper as she leaves the meadow after milking the cows. The meadow scene is just so calm and idyllic with the brightness in the sky as a new day has dawned.

The Bible text “Underneath are the everlasting arms” just seems so appropriate for this picturesque scene that the artist has portrayed. The Everlasting LORD brings such wonderful peace into our lives when we rest in His everlasting arms.

The natural beauty of this scene from a bygone era is unspoiled with man-made paths or neatly cut hedges. I can imagine the meadow hiving with insects and wildlife as the sun gets up. There are a few flowers blooming (looks like some briers too). The picture is calming on mind, portraying tranquility and serenity but there are a few questions that bother me:

  • Why is there only one tree depicted as deciduous, possibly an ash whose leaves appear later than other trees? Perhaps it is to have the effect of showing a new dawn and new season appearing. But, if it is spring, where are the baby calves?
  • Why is the milkmaid walking in opposite direction from cottage? And is she left handed?
  • What is she thinking as she walks away looking back?

But then, my thoughts drift to think of how difficult life may have been for the milkmaid. Very early mornings and no excuse for not being there. Heavy pails full of milk to carry back to the dairy on the farm before straining and cooling it and making butter or whatever. Perhaps a master who was not so kind to her or appreciative of her work. No leisure centres or keep fit classes for her….hard work was her exercise. What of the dangers she may have faced in the fields alone as she walked in the twilight of the early morning? (Remember there were no mobile phones then!) Life was not all easy then, no matter how idyllic and romantic it is portrayed.

Perhaps your life appears so calm on the outside and people would almost think you never have a problem in life. But you know different. You have problems that you do not share: problems with health, finance, family, work, education, temptation, bullying, abuse, etc. etc. Well, this scripture text is for you too. No matter how difficult life is or how much you struggle to cope….Let the LORD carry you in His everlasting arms. He will never let you go and He will carry you safely through it all and bring you out the other side when a new day will dawn for you to praise His name.

“The eternal God is thy refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms.”

Deuteronomy 33v27 KJV

Is the Eternal God you refuge and do you rest in His everlasting arms?

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