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What does God say about orphans?

God cares deeply for orphans and commands His people to do the same. Throughout the Bible, God emphasizes the need to care for and protect orphans, widows and the vulnerable in society. As Christians, we are called to reflect God’s heart for the fatherless and live out His love in practical ways. In this article, we will explore what the Bible teaches about God’s heart for orphans and our responsibility as followers of Christ.

God’s Heart for the Fatherless

The Bible makes clear that caring for orphans is extremely important to God. Here are some key verses that reveal God’s heart for the fatherless:

Deuteronomy 10:18

“He defends the cause of the fatherless and the widow, and loves the foreigner residing among you, giving them food and clothing.”

This verse shows that God actively cares for and defends the vulnerable, including orphans. As His people, we are called to reflect His loving character.

Psalm 10:14

“But you, God, see the trouble of the afflicted; you consider their grief and take it in hand. The victims commit themselves to you; you are the helper of the fatherless.”

God sees the affliction of the fatherless and cares deeply about their suffering. He acts on behalf of those who cannot defend themselves.

Psalm 68:5

“A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in his holy dwelling.”

This verse emphasizes that caring for orphans and widows is central to God’s nature. He is a loving Father to the orphaned children.

Psalm 82:3

“Defend the weak and the fatherless; uphold the cause of the poor and the oppressed.”

Here God commands us to follow His example in defending and caring for the vulnerable members of society. This includes taking practical steps to help the orphaned.

Isaiah 1:17

“Learn to do right; seek justice. Defend the oppressed. Take up the cause of the fatherless; plead the case of the widow.”

In this passage, God makes clear through the prophet Isaiah that it is our duty as God’s people to “take up the cause of the fatherless.” We cannot ignore their needs.

James 1:27

“Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.”

James emphasizes practical religion that reflects God’s heart includes caring for widows and orphans in their time of need.

Old Testament Laws About Orphans

In addition to revealing His heart for the orphaned, God provided specific laws and instructions in the Old Testament about how to care for the fatherless:

Do Not Mistreat Orphans

Exodus 22:22 – “Do not take advantage of the widow or the fatherless.”

God commands His people not to mistreat or exploit orphans. This reflects His care and concern.

Defend the Rights of Orphans

Isaiah 1:23 – “Your rulers are rebels, partners with thieves; they all love bribes and chase after gifts. They do not defend the cause of the fatherless; the widow’s case does not come before them.”

Israel is rebuked for failing to defend the rights of the orphaned. God expects societal justice and protection.

Provide Food and Clothing

Deuteronomy 24:19-21 – “When you are harvesting in your field and you overlook a sheaf, do not go back to get it. Leave it for the foreigner, the fatherless and the widow, so that the LORD your God may bless you in all the work of your hands. When you beat the olives from your trees, do not go over the branches a second time. Leave what remains for the foreigner, the fatherless and the widow. When you harvest the grapes in your vineyard, do not go over the vines again. Leave what remains for the foreigner, the fatherless and the widow.”

Farmers were commanded to leave behind crops to provide food and income for the vulnerable.

Include Orphans in Feasts

Deuteronomy 16:11, 14 – “And rejoice before the LORD your God at the place he will choose as a dwelling for his Name—you, your sons and daughters, your male and female servants, the Levites in your towns, and the foreigners, the fatherless and the widows living among you…Be joyful at your festival—you, your sons and daughters, your male and female servants, and the Levites, the foreigners, the fatherless and the widows who live in your towns.”

Orphans were to be included in the celebratory feasts as part of the community. This showed value and belonging.

Leave Gleanings for Orphans

Leviticus 23:22 – “‘When you reap the harvest of your land, do not reap to the very edges of your field or gather the gleanings of your harvest. Leave them for the poor and for the foreigner residing among you. I am the LORD your God.’”

Farmers were to leave portions of their land unharvested so the poor and needy, including orphans, could gather food for themselves.

How the Early Church Cared for Orphans

The early Christians took God’s commands to care for the orphaned very seriously. Here are some examples from the Book of Acts:

Tabitha Made Clothes for Widows

Acts 9:39 – “Peter went with them, and when he arrived he was taken upstairs to the room. All the widows stood around him, crying and showing him the robes and other clothing that Dorcas had made while she was still with them.”

Dorcas (or Tabitha) served the vulnerable by providing handmade clothes for widows in Joppa. This was part of the local church’s ministry.

Paul Collected Offerings for the Poor

Acts 11:29-30 – “The disciples, as each one was able, decided to provide help for the brothers and sisters living in Judea. This they did, sending their gift to the elders by Barnabas and Saul.”

The early church made sacrificial offerings to help poor believers, including orphans, living in Judea. Paul delivered the collections.

Elders Cared for the Needy in the Church

Acts 6:1-3 – “In those days when the number of disciples was increasing, the Hellenistic Jews among them complained against the Hebraic Jews because their widows were being overlooked in the daily distribution of food. So the Twelve gathered all the disciples together and said, “It would not be right for us to neglect the ministry of the word of God in order to wait on tables. Brothers and sisters, choose seven men from among you who are known to be full of the Spirit and wisdom. We will turn this responsibility over to them.”

The early church had a specific ministry to care for neglected widows. Elders like Stephen were appointed to distribute food fairly.

Adoption in the Bible

Along with caring for the physical needs of orphans, the Bible also speaks positively about adoption. Adopting a child into one’s family was seen as a generous act of love:

Joseph Adopted Jesus

Matthew 1:24-25 – “When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife. But he did not consummate their marriage until she gave birth to a son. And he gave him the name Jesus.”

Though not biologically His father, Joseph adopted Jesus as his own son and raised Him as part of his family.

Adoption as God’s Children

Romans 8:14-17 – “For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God. The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.”

Through faith in Christ, we are adopted into God’s family as His beloved children and heirs. This is cause for great joy and thankfulness.

Adoption’s Blessings

Ephesians 1:3-6 – “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will— to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves.”

Adoption blesses us with every spiritual blessing as God’s dearly loved children. It was His gracious plan to give us sonship.

How Christians Can Care for Orphans Today

In light of the Bible’s strong emphasis on caring for orphans, what are practical ways that Christians today can obey God’s command to “look after orphans and widows in their distress”? Here are some suggestions:

Give Generously

– Support an orphanage financially
– Sponsor a foster child’s needs
– Provide scholarships for orphan’s education
– Give to ministries that care for orphans

Get Involved

– Volunteer at local foster care agency
– Mentor orphaned children
– Provide respite care for foster parents
– Organize drives for orphan’s needs

Open Your Home

– Become a foster parent
– Adopt a child in need
– Provide short-term respite care
– Host orphaned kids for holidays/outings

Speak Up for Orphans

– Advocate for policy reform
– Educate others on orphan care
– Support adoption agencies
– Partner with global orphan ministries

Start a Ministry

– Launch a community orphan care outreach
– Develop church partnerships for adoption/fostering
– Create a welcoming space for foster families
– Train couples interested in adoption

Trusting God’s Heart for Orphans

Caring for orphans can be challenging at times. But we can trust that God will provide the strength, resources and support needed to care for orphaned children in ways that honor Him. He calls every believer into His work of looking after the vulnerable. When we step forward in faith, we can trust that our Heavenly Father, who deeply loves every child, will guide our efforts and open doors that only He can open. He who said “Do not be afraid, for I am with you” (Isaiah 41:10) will lead the way as we follow His heart for the fatherless.


God’s love and care for orphans is a central theme throughout Scripture. He hears their cries, defends their cause and commands His people to provide practical help that reflects His compassion. As Christians, we glorify God when we give generously, get personally involved, open our homes, speak up for their needs and start ministries that extend care to the orphaned in Jesus’ name. May our lives overflow with the Father’s heart for the vulnerable as we live out the gospel through orphan ministry.