By Whitney Hopler, Crosswalk.com
Sparrows are small yet special birds. They’re sometimes overlooked because they’re so tiny. Getting to know sparrows, however, reveals how wonderfully God has designed them. Jesus encourages us to consider sparrows when we think of God’s loving care. These Bible verses about sparrows show why these little birds can teach us big spiritual lessons.
What Is the Significance of Sparrows in the Bible?
In the Bible, sparrows are mentioned in two key verses that show their significance. They were common in biblical places. The Hebrew people generally considered sparrows unimportant because they were so plentiful, and even annoying, because of their busyness and tendency to nest around people’s homes. But in the Gospels of Matthew and Luke, Jesus used sparrows as an example of how God values all the creatures in creation. Jesus points out in Matthew 10:29-31: “Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care. And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.” Luke 12:6-7 records Jesus making a similar statement: “Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten by God. Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.”
Sparrows in the Bible represent how far the Creator’s love extends for creation. While people may overlook sparrows, God always sees them and cares about them. Sparrows show us that no creature – no matter how small or common – is beyond the reach of God’s love. These diminutive birds call attention to the fact that God values everyone and everything he has made. Jesus is saying in these two Gospel verses that since God takes good care of even seemingly insignificant creatures like sparrows, we can trust that God will take good care of us.
3 More Bible Verses about Sparrows
Besides those two key verses in the Gospels, the Bible also mentions sparrows in these verses:
“Even the sparrow has found a home, and the swallow a nest for herself, where she may have her young – a place near your altar, Lord Almighty, my King and my God.” – Psalm 84:3
“‘They will come from Egypt, trembling like sparrows, from Assyria, fluttering like doves. I will settle them in their homes,’ declares the Lord.” – Hosea 11:11
“Like a fluttering sparrow or a darting swallow, an undeserved curse does not come to rest.” – Proverbs 26:2
3 Things We Can Learn from These Verses
These Bible verses about sparrows can teach us that:
We can find God’s wonder at work anywhere if we make time to discover it: The wonder of God’s work is all around us, but we won’t notice it if we’re too rushed to pay attention to it. Sparrows and many other small, ordinary parts of creation may not seem to be worthy of our attention when we’re busy. However, they still call to our souls to notice them, and to discover God’s wonder in the process. In my book Wake Up to Wonder, I tell a story about how I discovered all sorts of wonder from rescuing another type of small bird – an American robin – with my daughter Honor. We were just taking a brief walk in our neighborhood when we discovered the robin injured on a sidewalk. At first, I hesitated to help, not wanting to take time out of my busy schedule that day. But Honor and the persistent bird – which was peeping loudly and staring at us – convinced me that the interruption could be a divine opportunity. By the time we transported the robin to an animal shelter for a wildlife rehabilitator to treat it, God had revealed huge amounts of wonder to us through that tiny creature. Romans 1:20 tells us that every part of creation reflects the wondrous handiwork of the Creator: “For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities – his eternal power and divine nature – have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.” God is doing so much wonderful work in our world that there is constantly more for us to discover. Psalm 40:5 points out: “Many, Lord my God, are the wonders you have done, the things you planned for us. None can compare with you; were I to speak and tell of your deeds, they would be too many to declare.”
We are valuable: God treasures everything and everyone he created. Sparrows, which people usually don’t consider to be valuable, have tremendous value from God’s perspective. As Jesus says, if even sparrows are worthy enough for God to remember them and keep watch over them, how much more are human beings (who are made in God’s image) worth? Sparrows show us that we’re a treasured part of creation. Jesus points out in both Gospel verses about sparrows that God values us so much that even, “the very hairs of your head are all numbered.” God knows us completely – even down to the smallest details such as the exact number of hairs on our heads – and with all that knowledge, God loves us completely. Psalm 139:1-5 describes how well God knows each one of us: “You have searched me, Lord, and you know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways. Before a word is on my tongue you, Lord, know it completely. You hem me in behind and before, and you lay your hand upon me.” A verse from another Psalm, Psalm 36:7, uses bird imagery to describe how much God loves us: “How priceless is your unfailing love, O God! People take refuge in the shadow of your wings.” Just like sparrows have wings, we can think of God – our mutual Creator – with wings that cover us all with love, because we’re all valuable.
We can trust God to take good care of us: Since God cares so much for sparrows, which are so tiny and commonplace, we can trust God to care for us too. Jesus encourages us not to be afraid when we think of our needs, but to keep in mind that we’re worth more than many sparrows in God’s sight. Philippians 4:19 assures us: “And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.” Birds like sparrows help to show us the reality of God’s loving care, and inspire us to rely on his care for us. Job 12:7-10 declares: “But ask the animals, and they will teach you, or the birds in the sky, and they will tell you; or speak to the earth, and it will teach you, or let the fish in the sea inform you. Which of all these does not know that the hand of the Lord has done this? In his hand is the life of every creature and the breath of all mankind.”
Bible verses about sparrows show us that even the smallest and most ordinary parts of creation are worthy of God’s care, so we can be confident that God cares for us with his wondrous love. We never have to worry that God has forgotten about us. If he watches over sparrows, how much more will he watch over us?
Photo Credit: © Unsplash/Fred A
Whitney Hopler is the author of the Wake Up to Wonder book and the Wake Up to Wonder blog, which help people thrive through experiencing awe. She leads the communications work at George Mason University’s Center for the Advancement of Well-Being. Whitney has served as a writer, editor, and website developer for leading media organizations, including Crosswalk.com, The Salvation Army USA’s national publications, and Dotdash.com (where she produced a popular channel on angels and miracles). She has also written the young adult novel Dream Factory. Connect with Whitney on Twitter and Facebook.