In the first chapter of Job, God points out to Satan that Job is "blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil" (Job 1:8). Satan replies, "Does Job fear God for nothing?...Have you not put a hedge around him and his household and everything he has?" (verses 9–10). It is common for Christians to adapt this verse and pray a "hedge of protection" around a friend or family member, but few people understand the original inspiration behind the phrase.
In the time of the Old Testament, wild animals were much more prevalent in the Middle East than they are today. The Bible mentions lions (Judges 14:5), wolves (Jeremiah 5:6), bears (1 Samuel 17:34), leopards (Hosea 13:7), and hyenas (Isaiah 13:22). Although stone walls could keep predators away from living areas and livestock, the walls would have to be very tall and would take a long time to make. Wood was not plentiful enough to waste on a fence. Instead, a hedge of thorn bushes could be induced to grow around a living compound. Thorn bushes would be too dense to crawl through, too sharp to chew through, and too deep for all but the most determined leopard to jump over. A hedge would also be a deterrent to sheep and goats seeking to escape their pen. As Satan is compared to a "lion looking for someone to devour" (1 Peter 5:8), a thorn hedge is an appropriate metaphor for the protection God gives His followers.
Is it wrong to ask God for a hedge of protection around yourself or someone else? Absolutely not. In addition to putting on the armor God gives us (Ephesians 6:13-17), there is nothing wrong with asking for God’s protection. As seen with Job, a hedge is an apt illustration for what God’s protection looks like.