Scripture: Ps 84
Text PS 84:3 “Yea the sparrow hath found an house, and the swallow a nest for herself, where she may lay her young, even Thine altars O Lord of hosts.”
Some time ago, the Moody Monthly carried an article entitled, “Seven Days Behind the Iron Curtain”, in which the author described the heart hunger of the Russian people, both the young and old, for the things of God. Christians in Russian have learned by bitter experience that a day in the courts of the Lord is better than a thousand years of promised victory, pleasure, and security behind the Iron Curtain. Today, Russian Christianity meets under strict observation of the government authorities. Russian Christians are restricted in their propagation of the Gospel. They are unable to do door to door evangelism. They do not publish Gospel literature. They have no way of replacing their Bibles which are gradually wearing out. The Russian Christians have learned that it is a terrible thing to lose freedom of religion.
David, banished from Jerusalem, tells us in Psalm 84 how he longed to go back, not to regain his throne and kingly privileges, but his heart longed for a return to the house of God. How different he was from the thousands of nominal Christians who find it less desirable to frequent the Lord’s house. But David missed the Lord’s house so much, that as he hid in the wilderness he envied the little birds which had built their nests near the altars of God far more than he envied the privileges of the one who had stolen his throne. These birds found in the sanctuary what we may find in fellowship with God. First of all:
I. Dwelling Places for Themselves
That they should be satisfied to dwell in and around the temple is a wonderful ting in itself, for the temple was not a quiet place. It literally buzzed with activity. People were going and coming. The lowing of the cattle was heard. The sparrows didn’t mind. They felt secure. David meditated upon it with pleasure when he considered what kind of birds the sparrows were. In Jesus’ day 5 could be purchased for the fraction of a penny. They were unworthy creatures. Let a sparrow die, and who cared? Save God, who must have loved them since He had created so many of them. The priests in the temple could have gotten along without them. They were almost worthless, and undeserving, yet they were needy creatures. They needed something to eat and a place to stay. They had found a resting place on the altars of the Lord. The altar was a place of safety for the law would not allow them to be driven away, much less killed. There they found safety and peace.
Two artists were asked to paint a picture to illustrate peace. One painted a beautiful evening scene. In the foreground was a lake, its surface absolutely calm. Trees surrounded it and meadows stretched away to the distant horizon. A little cottage and the setting sun all suggested peace. The second artist drew a wild stormy scene. Heavy lack clouds hovered overhead. In the center of the picture a huge waterfall poured volumes of water. One could imagine its roar, yet almost the first thing to catch the eye was a small bird nesting in the cleft of a great rock, absolutely sheltered from the outside elements and pouring forth a song of joy. That, too, pictured perfect peace.
B. Perfect peace is what God would have us know, whatever our lot in live. Like the sparrows we are welcome in God’s presence, for Jesus has said, “Come unto me all ye that labor and are heavy-laden, and I will give youa rest. Him that cometh unto me I will in no wise cast out.” We find in our Lord’s invitations, so much universality they are addressed to the whosoevers.
An elderly man once wanted to know what whosoever meant and he was told that it meant “Thy body that likes” In the picture of Christ knocking at the heart’s door, the invitation is addressed to all who hear and respond. According to Jesus, not even a sparrow could fall to the ground unnoticed by the creator. Jesus said, “Ye are of more value than many sparrows.” The Lord will make greater provision for you. He will keep you in perfect peace when your trust is placed in Him. As Isaiah wrote, “Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on thee because he trusteth in thee.”
This was Gladstone’s favorite text and the text was on a motto in his bedroom. They were the last words he saw before retiring, and the first words that he saw upon awakening. For 40 years this message was one of the sources of his strength. “God honors sincere faith with perfect peace. In God’s house the sparrows found safety, rest, delight, provision, nearness, not because they were worthy, but because they were welcome.”
One of Spurgeon’s quaint sayings was: “If an ant came to the door of your storehouse begging for help, it wouldn’t ruin you to give it a grain of your wheat. You are as a tiny insect at the door of God’s all sufficiency. If a great king should issue an order that your needs should be supplied as long as you live, you would cease to worry, for here is a source of supply that will not fail. How much more should the promise of the king stop our worrying. His promises are so many bonds that may be cashed in the day of our need. Our only concern needs to be that sufficient faith be exercised, for it is sad when one stands with the king’s promises in hand, and fears to face the cashier with them.
As Horace Bushnell once said, “Faith is the act of trust by which one person, a sinner, commits himself to another person, a Savior.” And as G. S. Robinson says, “When you have given yourself to Christ, leave yourself there and go about your work as a child of His household.” By faith, let us take to ourselves what Christ has done for us. Forgiveness and reconciliation may be ours. The sparrows finding what they needed appreciated it. They weren’t worthy.
We aren’t worthy, but we are just as needy. A woman was trying to wind a friend to the Savior. The friend was in despair and kept saying, “I am lost, I am lost.” She said “Thank God for that!” “Why do you say that? Christ came to seek and to save that which was lost.” The friend said. “But I am so unworthy.” “But it is not a question of your worthiness, but of your welcome. Our Lord has promised that when we search for him with our whole heart we all find him.”
There is a place of quiet rest near to the heart of God. The sparrows found it, and we may find it also.
A man once came to his pastor and said, “Yesterday I was filled with joy but now all is gone and I don’t know what to do. It is as dark as night for me.” The pastor said, “I am glad to hear that. You have been resting upon your emotions instead of upon the promises of God, so God has removed your joy that He may turn you to Himself. You have lost your joy but you have Christ nonetheless. Did you ever pass through a tunnel?” “ Yes.” “Were you alarmed and melancholy about it?” “Of course not!” “And did you finally come out into the light again?” “Yes, and I’m out now, feelings or no feelings. Christ is my surety from now on.”
II. These birds found a secure place for their nests and built them for their young.
Birds try to build their nests in a safe place. With the cat population in Santa Cruz, as high as it is, I often wonder how any of the nestlings reach maturity, but in spite of all the outside dangers, the bird population holds its own. The sparrows built their nests near the altars of God. They were safe in His presence.
Having found the place of safety for themselves, parents should seek that place for their children, and never be satisfied until their children are safely enjoying the security of God, under his wings safely abiding.
Talmage says, “The wings of God are broad wings covering up all our needs, our sorrows, our sufferings. There comes a time when we may feel forsaken, but the Lord never leaves us very long at a time. When we cry out ‘Lord, undertake for me’ His answer comes on swift wings. His wings are strong. He is mighty to save and strong to deliver. His wings are gentle. There is room in the nest for ourselves an dour loved ones. However unworthy, wretched, or even forsaken, there is room in the Savior’s presence for us all.
The sparrows teach us that even the most worthless have access to the presence of God, that there is a place of quiet rest to those who seek it. The invitation is “Come.” There is room for you. The sparrows tell us that the best place to rear our children is next to the altar, for here is security, shelter, a refuge from evil and harm. May we learn from the sparrows that God is all sufficient for pardon, protection, guidance and preservation. The sparrows teach us that God cares.