Sparrows are small, and, generally considered to be insignificant little creatures. Yet this plays right into the purposes of God. The lyrics of Psalm 84 use this perceived insignificance to illustrate the great reach and provisions of God’s care for His creatures:
“Even the sparrow finds a home, and the swallow a nest for herself, where she may lay her young, at your altars, O Lord of hosts, my King and my God.” (Ps. 84:3 esv)
Can you hear that emphasis, presented so well in the ESV translation? “Even the sparrow finds a home…” In the New Testament, Jesus makes use of the insignificant sparrow to teach us the great extent of God’s care and His compassion for His people. It’s found in Matthew’s Gospel:
“Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. But even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows.” (Matthew 10:29-31 esv; emphasis added)
Here the small, almost negligible value of a sparrow is highlighted by our Lord (two for a penny — the smallest coin in circulation back then), who argues from the lesser to the greater, in order to assure his disciples that you are of more value than many sparrows! If God has a careful eye upon every ‘landing’ of every sparrow on the earth, how much more must He care for His spiritual children!
My thoughts turned to these things when reading the most recent issue of the Banner of Truth Magazine, which quotes Douglas Taylor on this text — “From his words, we can clearly see that men are of far greater intrinsic value than sparrows. Because this is so, because our origin and destiny are so much higher than those of the other creatures, we are to trust in God, and in his meticulous sovereign providence over every detail of our lives.” Taylor writes as a man dying of cancer, sharing his own struggle with being content in his difficult circumstances:
…discontentment with our own estate comes, in part, from our not believing in or trusting the providence of God, who has promised to order every circumstance of our estate and condition for the best. And he brings in as proof the passage about the sparrows.
May the Lord help me, and all similarly (and far worse) placed, to look at the sparrows and trust entirely in the God of absolute, controlling, and all-loving providence! The Lord fill me with sweet contentment to be dying – slowly – of cancer in his arms. What better estate or condition could I desire?
While the illustration of the little sparrow is easy to understand, the Lord’s intent is that we should believe the Word of God, and trust Him — not fearing our own weakness, or our dark circumstances, or the ferocity of our enemies. Does God care for you? Look at the sparrow… even the sparrow!