Question: "What does it mean that God is father to the fatherless?"
Answer: Psalm 68:5 says, “A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in his holy dwelling.” Of all the ways the Lord God Almighty could have chosen to relate to humanity, He chose the language of family. He could have described Himself as a benevolent dictator, kind boss, or patient landlord. But instead, He chose the word father.
He presents Himself as a Father because we all know what a father is and does. Even if we did not have earthly fathers who treated us well, we have an intrinsic understanding of what a good father should be. God planted that understanding in our hearts. We all have a need to be loved, cherished, protected, and valued. Ideally, an earthly father will meet those needs. But even if he doesn’t, God will. Jesus taught His followers to address God as Father (Luke 11:2). Throughout Scripture, God describes His love for us as that of a caring parent (Isaiah 49:15; John 16:26–27; 2 Corinthians 6:18). Although He possesses characteristics of both father and mother (Isaiah 66:13), He chooses the masculine word because it also denotes strength, protection, and provision (Psalm 54:4).
God has a special place in His heart for the orphans and fatherless (Deuteronomy 24:20; Jeremiah 49:11; James 1:27). Psalm 27:10 says, “Though my father and mother forsake me, the LORD will receive me.” God knows that many times earthly fathers have been absent or have not done their job (Ephesians 6:4). He offers to fill the role of a Father (John 6:37; Deuteronomy 1:31). He invites us to call out to Him when we are in trouble (Psalm 50:15), to cast all our worries on Him (1 Peter 5:7), and to enjoy His company (1 Corinthians 1:9: Psalm 116:1; 1 John 5:14). He models for us the characteristics He had in mind when He designed fatherhood. Although many times earthly fathers do not live up to the ideal, God promises that, in Him, no one has to be without a perfect Father.