Birds in the Bible
There are many references to birds in the Bible – nearly 300 of them! In an archived article in Ministry magazine, the author, a professor from Emmanuel Missionary College, writes “More than one hundred of these merely use the word “fowl” or “bird,” leaving the reader to guess at the species. It is interesting to note that the Old Testament writers knew more about birds, and apparently were more interested in birds than were the New Testament writers. Paul, for instance, refers to birds only twice in all of his epistles.”
Some of these mentions of birds in the bible, are simply referring to birds, themselves (fowl or bird) while others, the ones that I’d like to focus on today, are used to teach us spiritual lessons. Doves are mentioned frequently (nearly fifty times) in the Bible, sometimes as a symbol of the Holy Spirit.
16 As soon as Jesus was baptized, he went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him. Matthew 3:16
22 and the Holy Spirit descended on him in bodily form like a dove. And a voice came from heaven: “You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.” Luke 3:22
The Holy Spirit is just that—a spirit—He is not visible to us. In these accounts, however, the Spirit took on a visible appearance and was then seen by the people. The dove is an symbol of purity and harmlessness (Matthew 10:16), and the form of the dove at Jesus’ baptism signified that the Spirit with which Jesus was endowed was one of holiness and innocence. Doves also symbolize peace thus representing our Savior bringing peace to mankind through His sacrifice.
Sparrows are next in the most referenced birds in the Bible. In Smith’s Bible Dictionary, the commentator explains that “sparrow” is from the Hebrew word “tzippor” , “from a root signifying to “chirp” or “twitter,” which appears to be a phonetic representation of the call-note of any passerine (sparrow-like) bird). This Hebrew word occurs upwards of forty times in the Old Testament.”
“Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. …
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.
Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? And not one of them is forgotten before God.
In the above verses, the disciples are reminding us that we are so valuable to God. To be transparent with you, I struggle with this. Although I believe and trust God when He tells us that our sins were wiped clean when Jesus died on the cross for us, I sometimes feel so unworthy of His unyielding love. I look at my sin and feel shame when I know that He has taught us that “as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.” Psalm 103:12. When I’m feeling this way, I like to refer to these scriptures that emphasize just how loved we are by our Heavenly Father.
In a future post, we’ll talk about some more birds of the Bible including eagles, ravens and unclean birds.
What is your favorite Bible verse about birds? Do you, like me, sometimes struggle with feeling deserving of the value our Lord God places on us? I’d love to hear your story.
In His Perfect and my imperfect Love,
For references in the Bible on Open Doors see HERE or Closed Doors see HERE