“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.” Psalm 84:3
I’m not a person who regularly does yardwork or gardening. It’s actually a little embarrassing how often I kill plants. But the one thing I try to do at least a couple times a year is trim the holly bushes in the front of my house. I could use a manual hedge trimmer but I have a lot of holly bushes and I don’t want my arms to be sore for days afterwards. So at least twice a year a drag out the electric hedge trimmers, search in the garage for the extension cord, and crouch down on my front stoop to plug them in.
Many years ago I was doing my duty, filled with energy and determination. I wanted these bushes to look nice. But as I started hacking away I noticed a bird making a lot of noise. I ignored it for awhile but as I went down the row of bushes, the squawking and carrying on just got louder. “What is up with this bird?!” I thought to myself. Then I heard something else. The high-pitched beggings of baby birds. Oh no! In my haste to make these bushes look just so, I hadn’t noticed the fragile little family that had made its home in the bush. That poor mama was doing the only thing she could do to prevent me from killing her young, besides going full on Alfred Hitchcock and pecking my eyes out!
I thought of that experience with hedge trimming as I was meditating on this verse in Psalm 84. Even the sparrow finds a home, and the swallow a nest for herself, where she may lay her young. Birds don’t build nests in dangerous places. They take time to find places that are hidden and secure from harm. As they gather the tiny twigs, bits of grass, and pine needles for their nests, they are preparing a place where they will lay their eggs, where they will sit patiently for their defenseless young to emerge. Those little ones won’t be able to leave the nest for a while so these mama birds find places where they know their fragile eggs and soon to be needy babies will be safe and undisturbed.
But look where these sparrows and swallows, some of the smallest and most humble creatures, find a perfect haven to hatch their families. At your altars, O Lord of Hosts, my King and my God.
If these tender creatures could find safe refuge for their offspring at the epicenter of the Temple, the place where the psalmist yearns and faints to be, what is keeping us from drawing near to God? Through our precious and great High Priest, Jesus Christ, we have gained entrance to that epicenter, to the very Holy of Holies. And we are exhorted to draw near with boldness. Yes, boldness to this throne of grace.
“Therefore, let us approach the throne of grace with boldness, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in time of need.” Hebrews 4:16
Let me share Spurgeon’s thoughts on these verses. He once preached a whole sermon on Psalm 84:3. You can find it here. But here is a part of what he says:
Let us learn, then, from the sparrow finding her house near to God’s altar, that although we are inconsiderable and insignificant, although we are full of needs and although we may even deem ourselves to be uninvited, yet we are at liberty to come to the Savior and find in Him our eternal dwelling place! There we may find a safe refuge from every danger, a perfect security for all time, and even for all eternity. O you who think yourselves despised and forgotten, remember that the sparrow has found a house on God’s altar! Come, then, and see if there is not also space there for you! Jesus said, “Him that comes to Me I will in no wise cast out.”