Psalm 104:17

 

EXPOSITION

Verse 17. Where the birds make their nests: as for the stork, the fir trees are her house. So far from being in need, these trees of God afford shelter to others, birds small and great make their nests in the branches. Thus what they receive from the great Lord they endeavour to return to his weaker creatures. How one thing fits into another in this fair creation, each link drawing on its fellow: the rains water the fir trees, and the fir trees become the happy home of birds; thus do the thunder clouds build the sparrow's house, and the descending rain sustains the basis of the stork's nest. Observe, also, how everything has its use -- the boughs furnish a home for the birds; and every living thing has its accommodation -- the stork finds a house in the pines. Her nest is called a house, because this bird exhibits domestic virtues and maternal love which make her young to be comparable to a family. No doubt this ancient writer had seen storks' nests in fir trees; they appear usually to build on houses and ruins, but there is also evidence that where there are forests they are content with pine trees. Has the reader ever walked through a forest of great trees and felt the awe which strikes the heart in nature's sublime cathedral? Then he will remember to have felt that each bird was holy, since it dwelt amid such sacred solitude. Those who cannot see or hear of God except in Gothic edifices, amid the swell of organs, and the voices of a surpliced choir, will not be able to enter into the feeling which makes the simple, unsophisticated soul hear "the voice of the Lord God walking among the trees."

 

EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS

Verse 17. -- Birds. The word rendered "birds" here is the word which in Psalms 84:3 is translated sparrow, and which is commonly used to denote small birds. Comp. Leviticus 14:4 (margin), and Leviticus 14:5-7 14:49-53. It is used, however, to denote birds of any kind. See Genesis 7:14 Psalms 8:8 6:1 148:10. --Albert Barnes.

Verse 17. -- The stork is instanced as one of the largest of nest building birds, as the cedars of Lebanon were introduced in Psalms 104:16 as being the largest of uncultivated trees. -- A.C. Jennings and W.H. Zowe, in "The Psalms, with Introductions and Critical Notes", 1875.

Verse 17. -- The stork, the fir trees are her hoarse. In many cases the stork breeds among old ruins, and under such circumstances it is fond of building its nest on the tops of pillars or towers, the summits of arches, and similar localities. When it takes up its abode among mankind, it generally selects the breeding places which have been built for it by those who know its taste, but it frequently chooses the top of a chimney, or some such locality. When it is obliged to build in spots where it can find neither rocks nor buildings, it builds on trees, and, like the heron, is sociable in its nesting, a whole community residing in a clump of trees. It is not very particular about the kind of tree, provided that it be tolerably tall, and strong enough to bear the weight of its enormous nest; and the reader will at once see that the fir trees are peculiarly fitted to be the houses for the stork.

The particular species of fir tree to which the Psalmist alludes is probably the Aleppo pine (Pinus halepensis), which comes next to the great cedars of Lebanon in point of size. It was this tree that furnished the timber and planks for Solomon's temple and palace, a timber which was evidently held in the greatest estimation. This tree fulfils all the conditions which a stork would require in nest building. It is lofty, and its boughs are sufficiently horizontal to form a platform for the nest, and strong enough to sustain it. On account of its value and the reckless manner in which it has been cut down without new plantations being formed, the Aleppo pine has vanished from many parts of Palestine wherein it was formerly common, and would afford a dwelling place for the stork. There are, however, several other species of fir which are common in various parts of the country, each species flourishing in the soil best suited to it, so that the stork would never be at a loss to find a nesting place in a country which furnished so many trees suitable to its purposes. --J.G. Wood, in "Bible Animals".

Verse 17. -- The stork, the fir trees are her house. Well wooded districts are for the most part the favourite resorts of the storks, as they constantly select trees both for breeding purposes and as resting places for the night; some few species, however, prove exceptions to this rule, and make their nests on roofs, chimneys, or other elevated situations in the immediate vicinity of men. --From "Cassell's Book of Birds." From the Text of Dr. Brehm. By T.R. Jones, F.R.S.

Verse 17. -- The fir trees. The doors of the temple were made of the fir tree; even of that tree which was a type of the humanity of Jesus Christ. Consider Hebrews 2:14 . The fir tree is also the house of the stork, that unclean bird, even as Christ is a harbour and shelter for sinners. "As for the stork", saith the text, "the fir trees are her house;" and Christ saith to the sinners that see their want of shelter, "Come unto me, and I will give you rest." He is a refuge for the oppressed, a refuge in time of trouble. He is, as the doors of fir of the temple, the inlet of God's house, to God's presence, and to a partaking of his glory. Thus God did of old, by similitudes teach his people his way. -- John Bunyan, in "Solomon's Temple Spiritualized."

Verse 17. --


The eagle and the stork
On cliffs and cedar-tops their eyries build. --John Milton.

 

HINTS FOR PASTORS AND LAYPERSONS

Verse 17,. 18. -- "Lessons from Nature." (See "Spurgeon's Sermons," No. 1,005.)

  1. For each place God has prepared a suitable form of life: for "the fir trees," "the stork"; for "the high hills" "the wild goat," etc. So, for all parts of the spiritual universe God has provided suitable forms of divine life.

    1. Each age has its saints.

(b) In every rank they are to be found. The Christian religion is equally well adapted for all conditions.

(c) In every church spiritual life is to be found.

(d) God's people are to be found in every city.

  1. Each creature has its appropriate place.

    1. Each man has by God a providential position appointed to him.

(b) This is also true of our spiritual experience.

(c) The same holds good as to individuality of character.

  1. Every creature that God has made is provided with shelter.
  2. For each creature the shelter is appropriate.
  3. Each creature uses its shelter.