“The bird also has found a house, And the swallow a nest for herself, where she may lay her young, Even Your altars, O Lord of hosts, My King and my God. How blessed are those who dwell in Your house! They are ever praising You.”
“All these with ceaseless praise his works behold; Both day and night. How often, from the steep; Of echoing hill or thicket, have we heard Celestial voices to the midnight air.1”
As winter slowly and begrudgingly loses its grip on life here in North Dakota, one of the sure signs that it is beginning to concede is the increased bird activity seen and heard. So, as I stepped out of the house on an early Saturday morning, just as the eastern sky was being sliced away by a brilliant blaze of red, a familiar sound found its way to my ear. It had been months since the morning silence had been broken by the crisp notes of the American Robin’s song. Now his song beckoned spring to surge over the scars of the harsh winter. It reminded me that years ago I had written a Dribble essay entitled; “The Robin’s song.” In it I noted the words of the reformer, Martin Luther which said; “I have one preacher I love better than any other; it is my little, tame robin, who preaches to me daily. I put his crumbs upon my window sill, especially at night. He hops onto the sill when he wants his supply, and takes as much as he desires to satisfy his need. From thence he always hops to a little tree close by, and lifts up his voice to God, and sings his carol of praise and gratitude, tucks his little head under his wings, and goes fast to sleep, to leave tomorrow to look after itself.”
The Psalmist in the citation above seemed to have observed two common birds that not only frequented the temple area, but had in fact made their homes among the altars. The temple was an extremely busy place from the hour before sunrise until the hour following sunset. So, for the writer to have taken note of these birds in their activity is interesting. But he goes on to say that these birds are ever praising God. It is surprising that the Psalmist had his attention drawn away from the noise of crowds of people talking above the moans and pleas of the various sacrificial animals that came through the temple each day. It would have been like the old Indian who was taken to the hustle and bustle of downtown New York City. As he was walking with his guide, they struggled to carry on a conversation above the noise of carriages, cries of the street venders and people. Suddenly, the old Indian paused, tilted his head a bit and asked his guide if he heard it. “What,” said his guide? The Indian walked over to a large potted plant filled with flowers and reaching in, retrieved a cricket from the flower arrangement. So, we often only hear what we tune our ears to. The Psalmist had tuned his ear to hear the praises of the sparrows and swallows that had made their dwelling among the alters.
From his distraction, the Psalter had touched on a vital element in the daily walk of the saint, mainly that these small birds had tuned their lives to praising God in the presence of God and were privileged to dwell constantly near Him. It is an area of the Christian life that likely, more often than not, is found far down on the to do list of our daily lives. True praise is not exclusively the subject of songs and hymns. The Psalter describes for us the manner in which we praise God in verses 1-4 when he gives us five qualities that are characteristic of genuine praise to God; admiration (v.1), adoration (v.2a), acclamation (v.2b) accommodation (v.3) and appreciation (v.4). These all can be and should be the fabric of our lives in everything we do before God. The great 19th century Preacher Charles H. Spurgeon said; “Brethren, praise cannot be a second-class business; for it is evidently due to God, and that in a very high degree. A sense of justice ought to make us praise the Lord; it is the least we can do, and in some senses it is the most that we can do, in return for the multiplied benefits which He bestows upon us.2” It is certain that our lips will find little room to grumble and murmur if they are constantly filled with praises. Praise to God is a principle quality of those who have grasped the magnitude of His grace. Praise is the eternal currency that purchases for His saints the blessing of delight from God’s heart. Have we abused God with the excesses of praise to Him?
The Rev. Ray Druckenmiller is the Pastor at Manning Community Church.